Topics for financial research

Topics for financial research: how to start the work

Jan 31, 2013
Finance is a crucial field of study in today's economy; many people are looking to financial experts and advisors as well as economist for answers, advice, criticisms, recommendations, and sometimes a miracle. And like any other discipline, research and term papers are just another requirement of professional-level finance courses. Similarly dissertations and thesis are often required for M.Fin, MBA and other post graduate degree programs dealing with finance, business, and economics. For larger works such as dissertations, the time that it takes to research, evaluate, and construct a considerable paper may take anywhere from a few months to a year- depending on the complexity of the topic and the particular graduate program it is prepared for. Despite this huge time-investment many students unfortunately waste a lot of it struggling with topic selection.

So how can a student overcame the topic struggle?

Narrowing in on a realistic topic, in most cases, involves a bit of imagination and creativity-along with wit and visualization. Instead of looking for that 'one amazing topic' and not really knowing how to get there, its best to start off with a few average topics and work diligently turning one of them into something worth writing about.

Topics in finance: some simple sources of inspiration

Selecting a research topic doesn't have to be an arduous task. Some good tips and a cup of tea or coffee should actually suffice. Often times the issue is not that there aren't a lot of obvious choices floating around, its just that many of us don't really want to think! We live in a very instant and digital world, and usually very little energy is exerted in much of anything-especially thinking. So before you even look to some inspirational sources, work to prepare your mind for a bit of a workout-do a math puzzle, solve a word find, study a new language-something to get your mind cooking. Once you have that out the way, now you're ready to be inspired.
The following are a few suggestions as to where you can start to identify suitable research topics.

#1 Look for trends and patterns in finance publications

This is often suggested for any field of interest. The idea is to 'stay on top of things' by browsing through different headlines in the finance sections of the newspaper or relevant publications on business and finance. Those hot topics or current issues of importance-if developed correctly-generally make very good research projects. Why? Because they usually answer the Why should I care? question pretty well. People, including professors, like topics that are helpful, useful and can address real concerns. So something that touches home, deals with the here and now or can possibly produce a reasonable solution, is usually something that will grab the reader's attention.
* As long as the topic is not 'oversaturated' (meaning that everybody is doing it) it should be something worth considering. But since 'oversaturation' is subjective, you may just have to use your best judgment with that one.

# 2 Speak with your professor and individuals 'active' in finance

Sometimes a brief conversation with a teacher, whether it be a question about a particular concept or theory or some other issue, often times can lead to very a useful conversation that will spark your interest in a particular topic. In addition to this, also speaking to individuals currently involved in financial positions, leaders, higher ups or middle managers, may be helpful in painting a clearer picture regarding the concerns of the industry (also any particular issues that heavily affect their jobs and may even put them in jeopardy).

#3 Concentrate on your future occupation

Especially in cases of dissertations, its wise to choose a topic that is not only valuable to the field but also to your future career. Dissertations are often used to assist in job placements and can definitely demonstrate your expertise and research in a particular field. This can also be helpful in lieu of job experience for inexperienced graduates. For instance, if interested in a position with no real job history, you can demonstrate some level of competency in the field by explaining the work you completed with your dissertation. So with this approach you can carefully select a topic that you are not only interested in but it will also improve your knowledge base for a particular job or position.

Sample broad topics

Based on the above methods to be used in topic hunting, it should be quite easy for you to come across a suitable topic to jump start your research. In addition to this, a listing of simple categories and broad topics may also be beneficial . Some clear examples can be seen below.

Basic finance categories

  • Personal Finance (for example, saving for retirement)
  • Corporate Finance (for example, acquiring equity)
  • Public finance (for example, finance related policies and proper distribution of citizen wealth)

Some topics connected to these categories

  • Finance and politics
  • Capital structure of failed corporations
  • Mergers and acquisitions
  • Financial markets by location
  • Investment Management
  • Analysis of GDP for any country
  • Personal investment strategies
  • Monetary governmental policies
All of the above mentioned categories, for the most part, are a bit too broad to be used as a research topic; therefore some refining should take place before attempting to do any type of research regarding them. Simple ways to refine include focusing on a certain market or sector, applying a particular theory, concept or perspective, or concentrating on a unique geographical area or market.
For example, in a finance paper, written by Jose Fernandes for the Charles III University in Spain, the topic Risk taking in Financial Markets: A behavioral Perspective approached a common financial subject, financial markets (particularly risk taking) and attempted to explain it using a theoretical perspective (the well-known behavioral perspective). In this way a common subject matter with many possibilities was developed into a suitable and feasible research paper topic. This too can be done many times over with other financial subjects as well.
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