How can one find relevant and new open research topics?

When working on my PhD thesis, I find it hard to find open questions in my very specific research area. Which approach do you take to find new and relevant topics?

  • 4
    Ask your advisor. Commented May 30, 2014 at 14:33
  • 3
    Read a number of papers written by top researchers in your field. If you do not know the top researchers, ask your advisor.
    – user4511
    Commented May 30, 2014 at 14:45
  • On top of the comments above, I find that goes through the most recent proceedings of conferences in your subfield is helpful for finding open problems. If you're from a non-CS field, then replace conference proceedings with recent issues of relevant journals. Find the limitations of current work and build on that. Commented Sep 27, 2018 at 23:13

2 Answers 2


Try to find papers giving a state of the art review on your field. They'll be easy to find, they generally have a lot of citations and written by the experts in the field. Some of those review papers (ones I've read at least) provide suggestions to researchers as to what needs improvement in the field. Good luck.

  • 1
    I would say really difficult without supervision. You'd walk into a trap only to find it half a year later...
    – Troy Woo
    Commented Jan 23, 2015 at 10:33

Here is a good article on choosing the research topic aimed specifically at the grad students:


Some further advice of more general nature (and partly applicable only post Ph.D.) is gathered here:


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