THE RESEARCH QUESTION
A SUCCESSFUL RESEARCH QUESTION SHOULD MEET THE FOLLOWING CRITERIA:
Choose a general topic of interest.
It should be broad at this point. Your research will give you ideas to make it more specific.
Do quick, broad research
Find some reference, news, magazine articles to give you basic information on the topic.
What questions come to mind? Jot them down.
Consider your reader(s)
Who is going to read your paper? Think about what they’ll need to know and what they’ll find interesting.
As you consider the topic, ask questions
Especially ask “why” and “how” questions which will take you deeper into the topic.
BROAD: What forces affect race relations in America?
NARROWER: How do corporate hiring practices affect race relations in America?
NEUTRAL: How does McDonald's advertise its low-fat food offerings?
MAY PROVIDE AN ARGUMENT: Does McDonalds put more money into marketing its high-fat offerings as opposed to its low-fat ones?
OBJECTIVE: How much time do youths between 10 and 15 years of age spend playing video games?
SUBJECTIVE: What are the effects of video gaming on the attention spans of 10 to15 year olds?
OPEN ENDED IDEA: Does the author of this text use allusions?
GIVES DIRECTION TO RESEARCH:Does the use of allusions in this text reveal anything about the author’s political views?
These examples are from Vanderbilt College of Arts and Sciences Writing Studio
POWERPOINT: DEVELOP A RESEARCH QUESTION
You can learn how to write a good research question by using this powerpoint:
REFINING the Research Question
A successful research question should meet the following criteria:
Begin with a general topic.
It is helpful to do some background reading. ...begin with an encyclopedia or general reference source (print or online) on a subject
Look for key words, phrases, significant people, important dates, and concepts.
Learn enough about your subject to be able to determine what you want to write about.
You will need to decide the main point of your paper or project.
Your research question should not be asking for a one word answer but should require a presentation of the issues...this will help you to create an outline