What makes a good research question?

A good research question:

  • Endeavors to answer something new – not something that has already been investigated (Steely Library NKU, 2018).
  • Does not contain inherent bias. The example given in a handout from Duke University (Porush, 1995) is “why are social networking sites harmful?” The bias inherent in this question is that social networking sites are, by nature, harmful. A better question would not make unfounded, value-based assumptions.
  • Is open-ended, needing more than a yes or no answer, or a statistic to satisfy it (Steely Library NKU, 2018).
  • Is not so broad that it can’t be answered in the scope of the paper to be written (Porush, 1995).
  • Is important to the larger readership, extending conversation about the topic (Steely Library NKU, 2018).
  • Is clear, can be read and understood by its intended audience (Steely Library NKU, 2018).


stock photo of man looking at papers and diagrams on a wall. By Startup Stock Photos.

Porush, D. (1995). A Short Guide to Writing About Science. (pp. 92-93). New York: Harper Collins.

Steely Library NKU. (2018). Developing a Research Question. [Video] Australia: Academic Skills, University of Melbourne.

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