How to Develop Research Questions
Developing research questions for your research project may seem easy on the surface but when you take a closer look, you begin to understand that it requires more than the eyes meet. Developing a good research question is an important step to ensuring the success of a research project. Having a bad or weak research question will hinder research activities, leading to the birth of superficial results. It is therefore important that you spend time and effort understanding what it takes to make a good research question.
Research questions are an important tool in any research project. These questions enable a researcher to define the aims of his research. It also enables researchers to direct the attention of their readers to the essence of the research by defining exactly what he (the researcher) is trying to find out through the research. All types of research require the use of research questions. Research questions are used by professional researchers, undergraduates and postgraduates in order to arrive at a successful conclusion of a research.
Research questions enable researchers to channel their research towards the important things that are centered around their topic, as these questions provide a path through which the important areas are highlighted. A well-developed research question helps researchers have a line of focus. This helps them avoid supporting different ideas that are unrelated to their research.
Research questions serve as catalysts for projects. They provide a focal point for the start of the project. It is important to know that some research questions may not define where the research may end up. As the research continues, with new information unfolding, the research may take a new direction. Research questions also play an important role in defining the funding and resources required to carry out research.
Qualities of a good research question
1. Specific: A good research question should be specific, clear, well-defined, and to the point. It shouldn’t address large issues; it is a question in a topic and not a whole topic. If your research addresses more than one problem, you should divide your research questions accordingly.
2. Complex: A good research question shouldn’t have simple “yes” or “no” responses. You should avoid dichotomous questions by all means because they do not make good research questions. A good research question is one that requires synthesis and analysis of ideas and sources before composing an answer. It is one that forces you to be well-grounded in theoretical and empirical knowledge centred around your research topic. A good research question should force you to weigh the evidence and evaluate divergent views on the subject.
3. Amenable: Good research questions should be amenable to the formulation of clear/new hypotheses and operational definitions. It should leave room to be influenced by a new thesis and new findings.
4. Answerable: A good research question can be easily answered with the aid of data available or data that can be collected. If information cannot be acquired to answer a research question, then it is considered a bad research question. If technologies that may be available in the future would be required in collecting data to answer your research question, your research question is not ideal. It is not a research question because it is not possible to obtain the data that would be needed to answer it ‘now’.
5. Relevant: A good research question should provide answers that are relevant to not just the research topic but also to society. A good research question should have possibilities in progressing scientific knowledge, influencing management or guiding future research. It should enable you to create solutions that the readers find interesting and important. It should contain new information. A question doesn’t have to be completely original. It may test if the results gotten from previous studies are reliable and can be replicated or test if enhanced measurement methods would affect results. A research question may also test if the current study eliminates the flaws of earlier studies.
6. Focused: A research question should be narrow enough in order to allow the researcher to explain it in-depth in the writing task. It sets the context of the research in order to focus on research evidence that is necessary to produce an answer and the conclusion.
Steps to developing a good research question
- Choose an interesting research topic: Focus on subjects that you find interesting and want to know more about. When you do this, you would enjoy the research process and thus be able to put in your best.
- Research: After you have chosen a topic, the next thing to do is to gather general knowledge on that topic. Go online, read about what others have done on and what their research lacks. This will enable you to have a better understanding of your research field.
- Ask questions: Ask yourself the why and how as related your topic. As you come up with your research questions, you should consider your audience. As a researcher or college student, your audience is majorly academia. Ask yourself if they would be interested in these questions you are developing. Remember that your questions should not be answered with a simple “yes” or “no”. The answers should require research and analysis.
- Begin investigations: Your research question would determine the kind of resources that you would need. Consider the path or direction of your research. Gather information as relates your research questions. Consider sources that would give you different perspectives to your research question.
Research questions are important in determining the success of a research project. A good research question is one that can be answered with information that already exists or that can be collected. Your research question should be always related to your research topic.