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Module 1: Getting started with research: Research Question



Once you have your topic idea, it is useful to form a research question related to your topic. Your research question states the main inquiry that your paper will answer, which is related to your thesis. Your thesis is the major claim you'll make in your paper. It may be helpful to think of your thesis as the answer to your research question

Courtesy Steely Library, NKU

Examples of Research Questions

Example 1

Getting started: Why does Anne Elliot choose to marry Frederick Wentworth?

Better: Do other characters contribute to Anne's choice to marry Wentworth?

Much better: How do Anne Elliot's relationships with other women affect (or contribute to) her relationship with Wentworth?

Example 2

Getting started: What are the effects of childhood obesity in the United States?

Better: How does childhood obesity correlate with academic performance in elementary school children?

Much better: What are the effects of intervention programs in the elementary schools on the rate of childhood obesity among 3rd - 6th-grade students?

Evaluating and Refining your Research Question


After identifying a research question, it’s important to evaluate its merit. Evaluate your research question by using the following checklist:

        ☐ Is the research question one that is of interest to the researcher and potentially to others? 

☐   Is it a new issue or problem that needs to be solved or is it attempting to shed light on a previously researched topic?

☐  Is the research question researchable?   Consider the available time frame and the required resources.  Is the methodology to conduct the research feasible?

☐   Is the research question measurable and will the process produce data that can be supported or contradicted?

☐   Is your research question clear? Research questions must be as clear as possible in order to be effective in helping the writer direct his or her research.

☐   Is your research question focused? Research questions must be specific enough to be well covered in the space available.

☐  Is your research question complex? Research questions should not be answerable with a simple “yes” or “no” or by easily-found facts. They should, instead, require both research and analysis on the part of the writer.

Courtesy: Grand Canyon University, Center for Innovation in Research and Teaching