Category Archives: Research Opportunities

The Keys to a Successful Conference Submission Process: Part Two, Choosing a Topic

Steven V. Cates, DBA SPHR, SHRM-SCP, Purdue University Global Professor, School of Business and IT

In our first discussion, we looked at the value of doing research and presenting our findings at a conference. We also began to think about how to get started. Now we are going to look at how we go about picking a topic to concentrate on.

First of all, always pick a topic you really have a lot of passion about. Otherwise, you will not have the drive and focus to commit to doing the work necessary to complete this research project. Conducting a research project takes time, energy, and effort. There are no shortcuts to completing good sound research projects. So, you must commit yourself to practicing sound time management and spending time daily in working on your research.

So, what are the “hot topics” in your field of specialization right now? Where do you find these “hot topics”? You can start with the journals, trade publications, magazines, webinars, seminars, blogs, and any other forms of forums and media in your field. What are authors saying are the “cutting edge” issues that are being discussed and problems surrounding these topics? This is a great place to pick a “hot button” that has not been researched extensively.  This will allow you to do research and then provide solutions to those problems and issues, which is your starting point.

You also might want to join and attend associations that represent your field of study.  Some meetings and conferences are held locally, regionally, nationally or globally. At each of these you will hear presentations made on the “hot button” topics, as most presentations will be on issues that are current and presently being discussed in your field.

Another great way to get your research started is by networking with your academic and professional contacts. You may find that you have similar interests with a colleague on a given research subject. This could lead to a collaboration on a great research project.

Next month, in Part Three of this series, we will begin to construct a research paper and look at the specific parts of that paper.



“Tutor experience” research opportunity

Megaphone with WC (writing center) streaming out of it

Photo courtesy from a paid subscription to

Two graduate students and tutors at the Writing Center at Indiana University of Pennsylvania, Lindsay Sabatino and Jessica Showalter, have an exciting research project they will be presenting at the 2011 National Conference on Peer Tutoring in Writing. Even though this conference focuses on peer tutors, the researchers would also welcome professional tutors to respond to their research call because, “Perhaps looking at professional tutors’ documents can even help us with suggestions about effective ways to market our skills to get jobs after graduation” (J. Showalter, personal communication, September 8, 2011).

Per Sabatino and Showalter’s request on the WCenter listserv:

We are interested in learning how tutors represent their experiences on paper and how they construct their role as tutors. We will be presenting a panel about strategies for defining and marketing our tutoring skills at the upcoming 2011 National Conference on Peer Tutoring in Writing. As part of our project, we are seeking submissions of résumés, curriculum vitae, and cover letters from current or previous tutors. We will analyze these documents to get a better idea of the various ways in which tutors represent the pedagogical, administrative, and technological skills we learn in our day-to-day experiences in the Writing Center.

If you or the tutors at your writing center are interested in participating in our study, please send your documents as a .doc or .pdf attachment to To protect your privacy, we ask that you remove any personal information such as your name and contact information. However, if you are willing, please indicate your hometown and gender in your e-mail.

The deadline for submissions is October 12, 2011.

I’m submitting my materials later this afternoon for sure! I hope you will too. This is an exciting research opportunity.


Michaella Hammond, Resource Specialist, Kaplan University Writing Across the Curriculum Program

Michaella Hammond