Table of Contents
- What Is a Research Question?
- Purpose of Good Research Questions
- Examples of Research Questions
- Writing Good Research Questions
- Interesting Topics for Research
- Lesson Summary
A research question is the question that guides and centers the research process. A research question can be defined as an inquiry about a specific topic, issue, or concern that can be answered through research.
Formulating a research question is the initial step in the research process. It will form a base that guides where the research will go, and it will help the researcher identify important aspects of the subject.
A research question will also help the researcher form a hypothesis. A hypothesis is a proposed idea that can be tested, and it guides the data collection for the research.
If a researcher does not formulate a research question before starting their process of investigation, it is possible that the research will be one-sided or the researcher will miss important information.
A good research question is clear, focused, complex, and answerable.
Research questions should not be too broad or too narrow. They should be broad enough to be complex, but also narrow enough to be answerable and focused.
This question covers the general topic, but it does not guide the research in a specific way.
This question has been narrowed down and clearly specifies what the researcher is looking to learn, but it may result in very few research opportunities.
This question is not too broad or too narrow. The researcher will find a variety of search results that will allow them to use critical thinking and synthesizing skills during their research.
The specificity of the question will depend on the field of study and the point of the researcher's career. As the difficulty level of the coursework or research increases, the more specific and narrowed a research question will be. Different fields of study will also require increased specificity. The instructor or research project guidelines will help researchers write a question that is "just right" for the project.
A strong research question is clear, focused, complex, and answerable. These qualities ensure the research question guides the research effectively.
|Weak Question||Missing Qualities||Strong Question|
|How many people face discrimination at work every day?||answerable, focused||How does racial discrimination in the workplace affect employees?|
|What is romance?||clear, focused||How have societal views on romance changed in the 21st century?|
|Can a person with bipolar disorder use medication?||complex||How can medication improve the symptoms of bipolar disorder?|
The first question would be very difficult to answer. There may be studies available that use samples to create statistics about how many workers face discrimination, but because this question is all-inclusive of all workers, all forms of discrimination, and all work environments, it will be difficult to answer and will provide very broad results. The question can be strengthened by adding specific details and creating an open-ended approach.
The second question is too broad and lacks clarity. A search for this question would most likely yield many results and a variety of ideas due to the lack of clarity and focus. Narrowing the research question means adding clarity and focus.
The third question lacks complexity; it can be answered with a simple yes or no, even though the answer should be much more complex. The question's original wording was much too narrow. Approaching the research with a question that examines the impacts of medication on bipolar disorder broadens the topic enough to conduct research without too many results.
Writers can follow a process to write a good research question:
1. Select a general topic of interest: The researcher should select a topic that is interesting and relatable. By doing a little research about the topic, the researcher can identify unanswered questions and decide what they want to learn.
2. Ask questions: Next, the researcher can brainstorm a variety of questions about the topic.
3. Choose a good research question: The research question that will guide the research process can be created from the list of questions developed in the previous step. The question can be revised to ensure that it is clear, focused, complex, and answerable.
4. Evaluate the question: Ensure the question is answerable and not too broad or too narrow.
5. Start researching: Use the question to start researching. Revise the question as needed.
The researcher might need to adjust the research question after beginning the study. Research may reveal new aspects, or the researcher might discover that the question is too narrow or too broad. After some early research, the question can be revised to ensure that it is appropriately clear, focused, complex, and answerable.
It is important for the researcher to choose a topic that they find interesting and will enjoy researching. The first step is selecting a general topic for research. The specific inquiry will be determined by the research question.
These topics are all suitable for research because inquiries can be made about them. The topics are very general, but they will be narrowed down through the process of writing a research question. For example, parenting styles is a very general topic and will produce many search results. The researcher would not know where to start with all the information available; the general topic would not be able to guide the study in a specific direction. Once the topic is narrowed down through the use of a question, however, it might result in a specific topic to study.
After selecting the general topic of parenting styles, the researcher can write a variety of questions they would like to answer. From that list, the researcher can formulate the question that will guide the research. In this case, the researcher could use the question, "How does a parenting style impact discipline?" This question is clear, focused, complex, and answerable. It is neither too broad nor too narrow, and it is answerable through data collection or a literature search.
A research question is an inquiry about a topic that can be answered through research. It is the initial step in a research project, and it will guide and focus the research. The research question will help the researcher form a hypothesis, or proposed idea that can be tested.
Effective research questions are clear, focused, complex, and answerable.
Research questions should not be too broad or too narrow. By writing a question that is just right, the researcher is setting the research project up for success. A just right question will lead to a variety of search results, critical thinking, and synthesis from a variety of sources.
Following these steps will help a researcher write a question that will be the groundwork for their research:
1. Select a general topic of interest.
2. Ask questions about the topic.
3. Write an effective question (clear, focused, complex, and answerable) based on the inquiries in step 2.
4. Evaluate the question.
5. Start researching, and revise as needed.
Suitable topics allow for research and inquiries. Writers might start out with a very general topic, but this will be narrowed down during the research process.
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General research topics can be anything that suggests an inquiry that can be researched. To begin, researchers start with a general, broad topic. The topic is then narrowed down through the research question.
A research question is the question that guides research and centers the research process. A research question can be defined as an inquiry about a specific topic, issue, or concern that can be answered through research.
Writing a research question is the initial step in the research process. To write an effective research question, researchers should follow these steps:
1. Select a general topic of interest.
2. Ask questions about the topic.
3. Write an effective question based on the inquiries in step two.
4. Evaluate the question for effectiveness.
5. Start researching and revise as needed.
Research questions need to be clear, focused, complex, and answerable. They should not be too narrow or too broad. The research question should guide and refine the research.
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