How to Answer a Question with a Research Project

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  • 0:02 Analyze the Question
  • 1:13 Research
  • 2:37 Choose Your Side
  • 3:58 Narrow to a Thesis
  • 4:45 Create Project
  • 6:04 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Angela Janovsky

Angela has taught middle and high school English, Business English and Speech for nine years. She has a bachelor's degree in psychology and has earned her teaching license.

You have been given a question and your assignment is to answer it with a research project. But, where do you begin? What should you do first? This video lesson will respond to those queries in order to help you answer a question with a research project.

Analyze the Question

You have been assigned a research project. Usually, with this type of assignment, your teacher poses some general questions and expects you to answer them with your project. But, how do you go about doing so?

First, you need to really understand the question. The question might be related to a novel you have read in class. Or, it could be related to some topic or concept that you've learned. It can even be a question about an issue in today's society. Whatever it is, you need to look closely at what it is asking.

For example, if your teacher wants you to research a hot topic in today's society, he or she may ask, 'Do you support gun control?' If your teacher is asking for a research project, then you obviously cannot simply write 'yes' or 'no' as your response to this question. Look at the question and really understand what it is asking. In this case, your teacher is asking you to choose a side. The expectation for your project, then, is to make a stand and support your opinion.

This is a common theme in side research projects. Some other questions can include making comparisons between two ideas or even describing the benefits of something, like an invention. You need to realize what exactly the question is asking of you.

Research

When you've analyzed the question and really understand what it is asking, you need to begin to gather information through research. It is possible that you may not be familiar with the topic or issue. Even if you are familiar with it, you need up-to-date information to include in your research project.

For example, if your research question was the example from above on gun control, you need to research the topic in order to fully understand the issue. Look up gun control laws and the danger of guns in any kind of scholarly resource. Encyclopedias, textbooks, and websites could all hold relevant information for you. Be sure the websites you are using are reliable and credible. Someone's personal web page is usually not considered a credible resource.

Note down all research you find relevant to the issue. For example, information on the statistics of how many deaths are caused by guns legally issued to citizens is certainly information to include for your research project.

Also, be sure to find information for both sides. After you choose the side you agree with, it will still be helpful to have the facts for the other side. You might be able to use it to undermine the arguments against your opinion. Last, don't forget to note down the publishing information for your sources, which includes the author, publisher, date of publishing, and web address. You should include this in your project.

Choose Your Side

Now you know exactly what the question is asking, and you have found research with relevant information. What next? At this time, you need to formulate your opinion based on the information found in the research. You will have undoubtedly found support for both sides of the argument, but that is okay. You are entitled to make your own decisions; it is, after all, your research paper. The key here is choosing a side with solid evidence. Look over all your facts and statistics. Formulate your opinion based on the facts you have found.

For example, the gun control question definitely asks for your personal opinion. You need to choose a side. In this case, you will be either for gun control or against it. The rest of the project then needs to explain why you believe that and provide supporting details for your opinion.

If your research question has a different type of question, like comparing two ideas or describing a concept, this step is still basically the same. However, in this case there may not be a clear-cut side to choose. For example, instead of making a claim against gun control, you will make a claim that the two ideas you are comparing are very similar. Or, your claim might be the invention of the telephone was the greatest invention of mankind. You are still formulating your opinion. The key is always using evidence to support that opinion.

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