Developing research questions

Developing research questions

Author: Ben Creagh

    Introduce research questions and why it is important to have a question in mind before beginning research. 


    Explain how to pick a research question based on personal interests.


    Explain how to pick a research question based on finding gaps.


    Explain how to pick a research question that is relevant and not overdone.


This packet should help a learner seeking to understand how to prepare to write a paper and who is confused about how to develop an appropriate research question. It will explain strategies for choosing a research question. 

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Why Do I Need a Good Research Question?

Research questions can be difficult to come up with because often times we try to ask too big of a question.  It is important to have a question in mind before beginning research because it will help you be:

  • more efficient
  • sift through the endless amount of information available to us, and
  • make the research process more enjoyable because your searches will be more focused

Later, we will look at what makes a good research question.

Source: Ben Creagh

Research Question Based on Personal Interest and Finding Gaps

Most likely, you will be assigned to write a research paper, so next you need to take into consideration a few things to make your topic desireable. 

First, make sure it is an issue you can connect with.  If you are given a list of topics, try to search for some personal connection to the topic.  How it may affect you, your future life, people around you, your community or larger.  If you can make a personal connection to the research there will be more motivation and the research process will be more enjoyable. 

Also, if possible make sure you have some background knowledge about your research topic.  This will give you an idea of how to start your research.  Then the research can help to fill in the missing information about your topic that you do not know, or that you wish to future investigate.

Source: Ben Creagh

Research Questions that are Relevant and Not Overdone

Research questions show have some sore of application to your life and should not be a cliché question that is overdone.  If you need some examples of overdone research questions, I’m sure your instructor would be more than happy to offer a few suggestions of topics they receive more than they care for.  Usually controversial topics are not desired unless that is the purpose of the research, but effects of marijuana, abortion and euthanasia are topics that are restricted.  Strive to find a topic that is unique, interesting to you, and could possibly make a difference in the way you think.

Source: Ben Creagh

The Steps to Developing Research Questions

Here is a video explaining how to choose a research topic. The video talks about the brainstorm phase and how the topic must pass three tests.
Is it debatable?
Is it plausible?
Is is consequential?
If the answer is yet, then you can continue with the topic.

Next we need to narrow our topic.
Since we already have a topic, now we need to make sure it is of personal interest, and we have some prior knowledge to the topic.

Finally, we need to make sure it fits through the filters of theme/point of view, place, and time.

Once those are all accounted for, the research topic has been chosen, and then you are on your way to creating a great research paper.