Thinking about what constitutes a good research question is an exciting thing. Some researchers may find it a daunting task, overthinking it until they are asking too many questions and cannot focus on one exact direction. In contrast, others could find it easy enough and say that the title of this blog entry is good enough and that unto itself makes a good research question. Done. Maybe that’s too easy.
Coming from the Anthropological qualitative world, I somehow ended up working in technology, more specifically, engineering and computer science for the last 16 years. There, research focuses on studying natural phenomena, leading to the creation of new ways to build, grow and develop complex machines and devices, which I have often broken down for students as “building a better mousetrap.” I have not ever completed a significant research project, but after our readings and my own experience, I feel I have a pretty good understanding of how to craft a response to this question.
Therefore, for myself, a good research question for me can be broken down into four parts:
1) Is the work original? Has it been done before? Now in some cases, secondary research stems from the initial principal investigations of research questions asked previously. For me, I want to study certain things in my professional career and standing on the shoulders of giants is not one of them. Being original and having some intrinsic value to me is essential.
2) Be specific and have a plan. At least have an end goal in mind. I have done work that involved various Learning Management Systems investigations in the past, where the research goal changed so often that we required a Project Management Professional to step in and guide the team’s research goal. What was our original research questions
3) Is it worth doing? Perhaps this relates to my thoughts on originality and being specific. Still, I cannot help think that just because one can formulate a research question, doesn’t mean it is worth investigating. Will this research allow us to collect meaningful data and subjectify it to a particular research paradigm?
4) Is the research question ethically sound? An essential piece of any research involving humans, usually requires the researcher to submit an ethics request to their host institution, and it appears that Royal Roads is no different. I know the research I eventually will lead to will likely require such steps, as the students I work with would be the main focus of study.
I am sure throughout the course and future readings, I will continue to add to this, and perhaps I will need to keep this thread open. I would be interested in reading what others think makes a good research question.