Unit 1, Activity 3: What makes a good research question

According to Lipowski (2008), while formulating a good research question is paramount in research, there is little guidance on how to do so, however, it is a skill that can be cultivated through colleagues and mentors. It is proposed that researchers follow these three steps to develop a good research question:

1. Ask interesting questions

Researchers should consider their personal experiences when formulating a research question by considering what is currently missing or problematic in their field of study. Emotional and reason should also be considered as it is suggested that “good questions arise from both intellectual and visceral responses to the…environment” (p. 1667).  New researchers can also rely on their inexperience in their field of study when contemplating a research question. Overall, it is important to remember that “interesting research questions always challenge assumptions, and the presence of assumptions confirms that a study poses a sound research question” (p. 1669).

2. Select the best question for research

While inquisitive minds can formulate many interesting questions, it is suggested that researchers should also consider formulating a research question from the analysis of evidence and the goal of their project, and to avoid questions that are too broad. Overall, it is important to remember that “a research question is a logical statement that progresses from what is known or believed to be true to that which is unknown and requires validation” (p. 1668). 

3. Turn the research question into a testable question

Researchers should consider formulating a research question based on a measurable hypothesis. It is suggested that hypotheses predict the answers to research questions, and thus, “hypotheses are statements, that, if true, would explain the researchers’ observations” (p. 1669). Overall, it is important to remember that “research should not be embarked on with the idea that the empirical evidence will prove truth”, but rather “research can…demonstrate the utility of an idea within a specific context” (p. 1670).



Lipowski, E. E. (2008). Developing great research questions. American Journal of Health-System Pharmacy : American Journal of Health-System Pharmacy65(17), 1667-1670. http://web.b.ebscohost.com/ehost/pdfviewer/pdfviewer?vid=1&sid=b1903395-d1c6-4880-a954-c1b3f6ad374a%40sessionmgr103