Writing Research Questions: Purpose & Examples

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  • 0:05 Research Question
  • 1:11 Writing a Research Question
  • 1:53 Example
  • 4:42 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Devin Kowalczyk

Devin has taught psychology and has a master's degree in clinical forensic psychology. He is working on his PhD.

What is a research question, and why is it important to get it right? This lesson will explore one way to write a research question, which guides a researcher in designing his or her experiment.

Research Questions

A research question is an answerable inquiry into a specific concern or issue. It is the initial step in a research project. The 'initial step' means after you have an idea of what you want to study, the research question is the first active step in the research project.

A metaphor for a research project is a house. Your data collection forms the walls, and your hypothesis that guides your data collection is the foundation. So, what is the research question? It is the ground beneath the foundation. It is what everything in a research project is built on. Without a question, you can't have a hypothesis. Without the hypothesis, you won't know how to study what you're interested in.

A research question forms the base of where you are going, so we have to write a good research question. If your foundation is built on something shifty, like a house built on sand, then everything following that will be about correcting that initial issue instead of on making an awesome home/research project.

Writing a Research Question

Writing a good research question means you have something you want to study. Let's say you're interested in the effects of television. We will examine the steps and then look at how you could write a research question.

  • Specify your specific concern or issue
  • Decide what you want to know about the specific concern or issue
  • Turn what you want to know and the specific concern into a question
  • Ensure that the question is answerable
  • Check to make sure the question is not too broad or too narrow

This is the basic process in writing a research question. Writing a good question will result in a better research project.

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