When you are making a research paper, it's very important to formulate successful research questions. It gives you a clear understanding of what you're going to research and find out and also defines the main ways for solving a research problem. If you want to know the main secrets of creating a great research question, use our detailed guide! With our useful hints, you will make a wonderful paper without wasting a lot of time.
The Main Requirements to Research Questions
Follow the next requirements to create your questions properly:
- You should focus it on a specific issue or problem
- It must be possible to make research on this question using various sources
- It's possible to answer this question thoroughly
- Make sure it's fine to find an answer within practical constraints and specific timeframe
- Your question must be complex
- Check out if it is relevant to your future paper
Tips on How to Make a Successful Question
We suggest following this short scheme when you're making your research questions:
- Select a specific subject for your future work
- Read about the chosen theme to understand the main issues about it
- Focus on a particular niche you want to research
- Find out a clear research problem you want to solve in the paper
When you get a specific and well-defined problem for the research, you can create your questions more clearly.
Research Questions: The Main Types
In fact, there are several types of research questions. We will describe every type in this paragraph to give you the maximum information.
- Descriptive type - defines the main characteristics of a certain object.
- Comparative type - shows the main different/similar things between two objects.
- Correlational type - describes the relationship between two or more variables.
- Exploratory type - defines the factors of the object and describes its role in other objects.
- Explanatory type - defines causes and effects between objects; shows how one object impacts others.
- Evaluation type - describes the disadvantages and advantages of variables in your research.
- Action type - provides strategies on how to improve a certain object and achieve a particular value.
How to Make Sure You've Created a Successful Question
For most people, it's not very difficult to create research questions but it can be not so easy to make sure they're good enough. Follow our simple checklist to make sure you did the job well:
1. Make sure your questions are good-focused and well-researchable
- Focus your question on the one certain issue or problem
- Check out if it's possible to find a specific answer to this question
- Make sure your question doesn't ask to evaluate something
- Avoid why questions because it's not possible to give a clear answer
2. Check out if your question is specific enough
- It's possible to answer the question using particular sources
- Use only clear and well-defined terms when you address your question
- Never ask for any particular instructions or policy
3. Find out if your questions are enough complex and arguable
- Check out your question cannot be answered shortly just with "no" or "yes"
- Make sure it's not possible to answer your question using Google or looking in a single book
- Your question must leave enough space for debates and discussion
4. Make sure your questions are original and relevant
- It should contain a problem relevant to your discipline or field
- A question must produce information for future researchers to build their papers on it
- Check out that nobody has answered the specific question before
- Make sure your question has some originality (for example, it focuses on a new angle of a specific problem)
Examples of Good and Bad Research Questions
As you prepare to write your essay or thesis, use these examples of good and bad research questions to make sure you are on the right track. Start with a problem statement about the area you want to study, and then create research questions and hypotheses to learn more. These good and bad examples will demonstrate the qualities you need for an effective research question.
Questions Should Have Complex Answers
A simple question gets a simple answer. And a simple answer will not be enough information for a thesis. How you ask the question is important. Avoid questions that can be answered with "yes" or "no" or a single word or phrase.
- Bad: Does owning a pet improve quality of life for older people?
- Good: In what ways does owning a pet improve quality of life for older people?
With this "bad" question, the answer is a simple "yes" or "no." However, when you ask about the specific ways a pet can improve the quality of life for its owner, you get a much more detailed and interesting answer. This type of answer allows you to create a thesis statement.
Good Research Questions Need Focus
A good research question should be focused on a single topic or on several closely related ideas. If it isn't, you won't end up with a good thesis. If a question is too general or doesn't stay on one topic, you can fix it by deciding which part of the topic you want to research.
- Bad: Does medication help alleviate attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) symptoms? And do kids need more exercise?
- Good: How effective are the various types of medication in treating elementary students with ADHD?
Instead of covering both ADHD medication and exercise as topics, the good question focuses on medication only. It's also more specific about the age of the students. The answer to this question will provide a good thesis.
You Can Answer a Good Question
It's possible to ask a really interesting question and not be able to find the answer. Don't forget that your reason for asking this question is to come up with a really great answer - one on which you'll be able to build a paper or project. If you can't answer it, you can't write a paper or do the project.
- Bad: Is there a higher power in the universe?
- Good: What factors affect people's belief in a higher power?
You can keep the same topic but change the question to be something you have the ability to answer within the time period and use the resources available to you.
Good Questions Don't Ask for Opinions
As you write your question, think about the answer you want to receive. An opinion or value judgement isn't a good start for a strong research paper or project. Instead, you want to create a thesis based on data and objective evidence.
- Bad: Which national park is the best?
- Good: What features do the most popular national parks have in common?
Asking which national park is the best does not provide a thesis that can serve as the basis for a project or essay. It only asks for an opinion. However, you can use visitor data and lists of park features to answer the better version of this question.
Questions Should Be Specific
As you write your question, make it as specific as possible. This will give you a more detailed answer - one that is strong enough to be the topic of your project or paper.
- Bad: How do artificial sweeteners affect people?
- Good: How does aspartame affect post-menopausal women who suffer from migraines?
By specifying which artificial sweetener and which people, the question is easier to answer with facts. These facts help form a strong, focused thesis and they also lend support to your work.
Good Research Questions Are Original
If you ask a question that's already been answered a thousand times before, you're only doing research that someone else has already done. This doesn't provide you with a good thesis. Instead, ask a question with an original slant to it.
- Bad: What are the advantages and disadvantages of cell phone use in schools?
- Good: How does restricting cell phone use in school affect student social interaction?
Many people have studied the topic of cell phone use in schools, and it's easy to find information about the advantages and disadvantages. A more interesting perspective on the same topic is to examine how the restriction of cell phones affects students' interactions with one another.
A Good Question Doesn't Ask Why
If you're writing interview questions or planning to talk with a source for a feature article, "why" questions are great because of how open-ended they are. However, when you're writing a research question, that open-endedness is the opposite of what you need. You need a question that has a clear and specific answer.
- Bad: Why do some corporations pollute the water if they aren't regulated?
- Good: How do government regulations prevent corporations from polluting the water?
By changing the "why" question to a "how" question, you're asking for specifics instead of a vague opinion. This will help you create a much stronger thesis statement for your research paper.
Great Questions Need Research
If you can answer a research question without doing much research, it's a bad question. It's better to formulate your question so that you need to dig a little to answer it. If you can answer with a simple web search, you need a more complex question.
- Bad: Has the population of the world increased in the past century?
- Good: What factors have influenced population growth in the fastest growing countries?
A quick search can answer the initial question here. The revised question, by contrast, requires more digging around to find an adequate answer. You'll need to dig for data to back up your answer to this question, since some people will not agree with you.
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Frequently Asked Questions
- Choose the type of your research question;
- Identify which variables will be measured in your research;
- Select the structure for your question depending on chosen variables;
- Write down the problem you're going to solve in the form of a research question.