How To Write a Research Question
Research Writing

How To Write a Research Question

Deeptanshu D
Deeptanshu D
how-to-write-a-research-question

Research and writing academic papers require a clear focus and direction. A well-designed research question gives purpose and clarity to your research. In addition, it helps your readers understand the issue you try to address and explore.

You will ask a question whenever you are interested in learning more about a topic. That's why the research question is an integral part of the research process. Also, it provides the author with reading and writing guidelines.

You will need to identify a single problem or issue in your research paper. Your thesis statement should contain the specific problem or claim you want to address in order to establish your central position.

Here are some characteristics of a great research question that can help you get started if you're unsure.

  • You should include only one problem in the research question
  • You should be able to find the answer using primary data and secondary data sources
  • It should be possible to resolve it within the given time and other constraints
  • You can achieve detailed and in-depth results
  • Relevant and realistic.
  • These should relate to your chosen area of research

While a larger project, such as a thesis, may have multiple research questions to answer, every question should be focused on your primary research issue. Of course, you can use different types of research to answer different research questions. But they all need to be relevant to the research scope.

What is a Research Question?

what-is-a-research-question

A research question is an inquiry that the research attempts to answer. It is the heart of the systematic investigation. Research questions are the most important step in any research project. It is, in essence, the first step of any research project and sets the pace.

A research question is:

  • Clear: It provides enough detail that the audience understands its purpose without any additional explanation.
  • Focused: It is so narrow that it can be answered in the time allowed by the writing task.
  • Succinct: It is written in the shortest possible words.
  • Complex: It is not possible to answer it with a "yes" or "no", but requires analysis and synthesis of ideas before somebody can create a solution.
  • Argumental: Its potential answers are open for debate rather than accepted facts.

A research question usually focuses on the research and determines the methodology and hypothesis. It guides all phases of inquiry, analysis, and reporting. You should gather valuable information by asking the right questions.

Why are Research Questions so important?

Research Questions help writers and their audience focus on research by giving them a route through the writing and research process. Writers can avoid "all-about" papers by asking a straightforward research question that helps them focus on their research and support a specific thesis.

Types of Research Question

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There are two types of research: Qualitative and Quantitative. Each type of research requires research questions. The type of research you want to conduct will determine the research question you answer.

The first step in designing research involves identifying a gap and creating a focused research question.

Below is a list of common research questions that can be used in a dissertation project. It is important to remember that these examples are only examples of common research questions for dissertation projects. The actual research questions might be more complex.

Research Question Type

Question

Descriptive 

What are the properties of A?

Comparative 

What are the similarities and distinctions between A and B?

Correlational

What can you do to correlate variables A and B?

Exploratory

What factors affect the rate of C's growth? Are A and B also influencing C?

Explanatory

What are the causes for C? What does A do to B? What's causing D?

Evaluation

What is the impact of C? What role does B have? What are the benefits and drawbacks of A?

Action-Based

What can you do to improve X?

Example Research Questions

examples-of-research-question

These are examples of research questions and research problems to help you understand how research questions can be created for a particular research problem.

Problem

Question

Due to poor revenue collection, a small-sized company ('A') in the UK cannot allocate a marketing budget next year.

What practical steps can the company take to increase its revenue?

Many graduates are now working as freelancers even though they have degrees from well-respected academic institutions. But what's the reason these young people choose to work in this field?

Why do fresh graduates choose to work for themselves rather than full-time? What are the benefits and drawbacks of the gig economy? What do age, gender, and academic qualifications do with people's perceptions of freelancing?

Steps to Write Research Questions

You can use the research question to guide you and focus on the problem or research gap you are trying to solve.

steps-to-write-a-research-question

If you're unsure how to write a research question, these are the steps to follow:

  • Select an interesting topic
    You can choose a topic that interests you. And, it's advisable not to choose a topic that is too narrow or too broad.
  • Do preliminary research on the topic
    You will find articles, books, journals, and theses relevant to your topic. So, you can learn what research problem each scholar tackled in their research project.
  • Consider Your Audience
    It is essential to understand your audience to develop focused research questions for essays or dissertations. When narrowing down your topic, you can identify aspects that might interest your audience.
  • Ask questions
    Asking questions will give you a deeper understanding of the topic. Evaluate your question through the What, Why, When, How, and other open-ended questions assessment.
  • Assess your question
    Once you have created a research question, assess its effectiveness to determine if it is useful for the purpose. Refine and revise the dissertation research question multiple times.

Are you able to answer a specific research question?
After identifying a gap in research, it would be helpful to formulate the research question. And this will allow the research to solve a part of the problem.

Is your research question clear and centered on the main topic?
It is important that your research question should be specific and related to your central goal.

Are you tackling a difficult research question?
It is not possible to answer the research question with a simple yes or no. The problem requires in-depth analysis. It is often started with "How" and "Why."

  • Start your research
    Once you have completed your dissertation research questions, it is time to review the literature on similar topics to discover different perspectives.

Strong  Research Question Samples

Uncertain: How should social networking sites work on the hatred that flows through their platform?

Certain: What should social media sites like Twitter or Facebook do to address the harm they are causing?

This unclear question does not specify the social networking sites that are being used or what harm they might be causing. In addition, this question assumes that the "harm" has been proven and/or accepted. This version is more specific and identifies the sites (Twitter, Facebook), the type and extent of harm (privacy concerns), and who might be suffering from that harm (users). Strong research questions should not be ambiguous or interpreted.

Unfocused: What are the effects of global warming on the environment?

Focused: What are the most important effects of glacial melting in Antarctica on penguins' lives?

This broad research question cannot be answered adequately in a book, let alone a college-level paper. Focused research targets a specific effect of global heating (glacial  melting), an area (Antarctica), or a specific animal (penguins). The writer must also decide which effect will have the greatest impact on the animal affected. If in doubt, narrow down your research question to the most specific possible.

Too Simple: What are the U.S. doctors doing to treat diabetes?

Appropriately complex: Which factors, if any, are most likely to predict a person's risk of developing diabetes?

This simple version can be found online. It is easy to answer with a few facts. The second, more complicated version of this question is divided into two parts. It is thought-provoking and requires extensive investigation as well as evaluation by the author. So, ensure that a quick Google search should not answer your research question.

How to write a strong Research Question?

how-to-write-a-strong-research-question

The foundation of all research is the research question. You should therefore spend as much time as necessary to refine your research question.

You can conduct your research more efficiently and analyze your results better if you have great research questions for your dissertation, research paper, or essay.

The following criteria can help you evaluate the strength and importance of your research question and can be used to determine the strength of your research question:

  • Researchable
  1. It should only cover one issue.
  2. A subjective judgment should not be included in the question.
  3. It can be answered with data analysis and research.
  • Specific and Practical
  1. It should not contain a plan of action, policy, or solution.
  2. It should be clearly defined
  3. Within research limits
  • Complex and Arguable
  1. It shouldn't be difficult to answer.
  2. To find the truth, you need in-depth knowledge
  3. Allows for discussion and deliberation
  • Original and Relevant
  1. It should be in your area of study
  2. Its results should be measurable
  3. It should be original

Conclusion - How to write Research Questions?

Research questions provide a clear guideline for research. One research question may be part of a larger project, such as a dissertation. However, each question should only focus on one topic.

Research questions must be able to be answered, practical, specific, and applicable to your field. The research type that you use to base your research questions will determine the research topic. You can start by selecting an interesting topic and doing preliminary research. Then, you can begin asking questions, evaluate your question, and start your research.

Hope the article has explained everything that you needed to know about the thesis statement. In case you have any questions or doubts, join our Typeset community platform and put your questions there. We will make sure that you get your answers at the earliest.

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