What makes a good research question?


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If you’ve found yourself wondering what makes a good research question, and how to write one – you are not alone! Feeling very inexperienced in this area, I found it heartening to discover that upon further reading, there are many folks in the academic world grappling with the same question. In fact, Patrick White (2013) wrote a compelling article that details how research questions have been neglected in literature.

Although it can be tricky to formulate your research question, the following tips can serve as a starting point:

  • Identify a topic you’re curious about, which is not only relevant to you but to others as well
  • Consider what literature base you could pull from and begin with some preliminary research to help determine which you direction you’d like to explore
  • Form questions around your topic, surveying existing literature and research to avoid replication
  • Narrow in on your research question, keeping it focused and not too broad
  • Keep the topic manageable and aligned with the scope of your research ensuring it is something you can feasibly undertake

Most importantly, give yourself plenty of time to identify your topic and create your question. This is not something that can be done overnight! For further reading, consult the following sites. Good luck with crafting your research question!

Thompson Writing Program

Guide to undergraduate dissertations


One thought on “What makes a good research question?”

  1. Great post Mel and White (2013) is a good resource. Other things to keep in mind with regard to crafting a research question include: avoid ‘yes/no’ questions; avoid questions designed to predetermine a certain answer that you want or are hoping for; and try to keep the question to one issue — we often see a research question that is actually three or four or more ideas blended into one question and it often makes it undoable.

    Good post

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