Tips on Generating Initial Research Ideas

Posted on 9 September 2014 in Research


Welcome to the first in a series of blogs to focus on cognitive research to celebrate the launch of Cantab Ignition, our free collection of educational resources to help students, lecturers and researchers develop their understanding of cognitive assessment and promote brilliant cognitive science.

In this series we will cover topics to support researchers in their research funding bids and grant applications, starting with an introduction to Generating initial research ideas.

Download our free guide to Research Funding and Grant Applications


Research interns and PhD students

As a new researcher the prospect of identifying a research plan can be daunting, but you are in an ideal situation to be guided by others: supervisors should not expect you to develop a detailed research plan on your own, without support. Instead, supervisors can guide you; some may have a concrete expectation of the particular study you will undertake. Before taking up a research post such as on a PhD programme, be sure to consider your choice of supervisor carefully. Talk with other students about the supervisor in the institution/department, consider whether the supervisor’s research areas are interesting to you, and meet with potential supervisors for an informal discussion before making any decisions. Some supervisors offer opportunities to undertake a short research internship, which can represent an ideal way to see if you would fit in with the team (and vice versa) before making longer-term commitments.

By selecting a supportive supervisor working in an area you can be enthusiastic about, in an environment that has a helpful mix of people, you are setting the groundwork for a successful PhD.


Senior researchers

As a more seasoned researcher, you may already have conducted various research studies and developed a sound reputation in a particular field. Sometimes the logical choice of the next project can be obvious: conducting one study gives findings that lead to more questions; at other times, ideas may not flow so easily. We hope this guide will offer some fresh ideas for your research, especially if you have limited prior experience with objective computerized cognitive tests. 

In our next blog we'll look at the Utility of translational cognitive tests as part of a cognitive research project.

Download our Research Funding and Grant Application Guide