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How to Write a Research Question

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❶Formulating the Research Question 1 Introduction In the previous section we talked about ways to define your topic, but there is a difference between a topic and a question.


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By structure , we mean the components of a research question i. The appropriate structure for each of these quantitative research questions is set out below:. There are six steps required to construct a descriptive research question: Each of these steps is discussed in turn:. Some of these starting phrases are highlighted in blue text in the examples below:. How many calories do American men and women consume per day? How often do British university students use Facebook each week?

What are the most important factors that influence the career choices of Australian university students? What proportion of British male and female university students use the top 5 social networks? What percentage of American men and women exceed their daily calorific allowance?

All descriptive research questions have a dependent variable. You need to identify what this is. However, how the dependent variable is written out in a research question and what you call it are often two different things. In the examples below, we have illustrated the name of the dependent variable and highlighted how it would be written out in the blue text.

The first two examples highlight that while the name of the dependent variable is the same, namely daily calorific intake , the way that this dependent variable is written out differs in each case. All descriptive research questions have at least one group , but can have multiple groups. You need to identify this group s. In the examples below, we have identified the group s in the green text.

The examples illustrate the difference between the use of a single group e. Sometimes it makes more sense for the dependent variable to appear before the group s you are interested in, but sometimes it is the opposite way around. The following examples illustrate this, with the group s in green text and the dependent variable in blue text:. Sometimes, the dependent variable needs to be broken into two parts around the group s you are interested in so that the research question flows.

Again, the group s are in green text and the dependent variable is in blue text:. Of course, you could choose to restructure the question above so that you do not have to split the dependent variable into two parts. How many calories are consumed per day by American men and women? When deciding whether the dependent variable or group s should be included first or last, and whether the dependent variable should be broken into two parts, the main thing you need to think about is flow: Does the question flow?

Is it easy to read? Sometimes the name of the dependent variable provides all the explanation we need to know what we are trying to measure. Take the following examples:.

In the first example, the dependent variable is daily calorific intake i. Clearly, this descriptive research question is asking us to measure the number of calories American men and women consume per day. In the second example, the dependent variable is Facebook usage per week. Again, the name of this dependent variable makes it easy for us to understand that we are trying to measure the often i.

However, sometimes a descriptive research question is not simply interested in measuring the dependent variable in its entirety, but a particular component of the dependent variable. Take the following examples in red text:. In the first example, the research question is not simply interested in the daily calorific intake of American men and women, but what percentage of these American men and women exceeded their daily calorific allowance. So the dependent variable is still daily calorific intake, but the research question aims to understand a particular component of that dependent variable i.

In the second example, the research question is not only interested in what the factors influencing career choices are, but which of these factors are the most important. Therefore, when you think about constructing your descriptive research question, make sure you have included any words that provide greater context to your question.

Once you have these details? The example descriptive research questions discussed above are written out in full below:. Writers should choose a broad topic about which they genuinely would like to know more. Do some preliminary research on your general topic. What questions does this early research raise? For most college papers, your audience will be academic, but always keep your audience in mind when narrowing your topic and developing your question.

Would that particular audience be interested in this question? With so much research available on any given topic, research questions must be as clear as possible in order to be effective in helping the writer direct his or her research.

They should, instead, require both research and analysis on the part of the writer. Where do you think your research will take you? What will it mean if your research disputes your planned argument? At this step, you are well on your way to having a focus for your research, constructing a thesis, and then writing out your argument in a paper. Why are social networking sites harmful? How are online users experiencing or addressing privacy issues on such social networking sites as MySpace and Facebook?

The clearer version specifies sites MySpace and Facebook , the type of harm privacy issues , and whom the issue is harming users. A strong research question should never leave room for ambiguity or interpretation. What is the effect on the environment from global warming?

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It's a good idea to evaluate your research question before completing the research exercise and to ask the writing tutor for feedback on your research question. And you also should check your research question with your course tutor. Topic/Issue. A topic is what the essay or research paper is about. It provides a focus for the writing.

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Evaluate research questions. Developing a good research question is one of the first critical steps in the research process. The research question, when appropriately written, will guide the research project and assist in the construction of a logical argument. The research question should be a clear, focused question that summarizes the issue that .

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All researchers want to produce interesting and influential theories. A key step in all theory development is formulating innovative research questions that. Creating a research question is a task. Good research questions are formed and worked on, and are rarely simply found. You start with what interests you, and you refine it until it is workable. It shows your own imagination and your ability to construct and develop research issues. And it needs to give sufficient scope to develop into a.

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construct research questions from research texts is Locke and Golden-Biddle’s () investiga-tion of how researchers create an opportunity for Academy of Management Review April. contribution in scholarly journals. They con- Generating Research Questions Through Problematization. All researchers want to produce interesting and influential theories. A key step in all theory development is formulating innovative research questions that will result in interesting and significant research. Traditional textbooks on research methods tend to ignore, or gloss over, actual ways of constructing research questions.