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AFRS 4000: Black Womxn Politics and Public Policy - Dr. Julia Jordan-Zachery

Developing Strong Research Questions

A good research question is essential to guide your research paper, project or thesis. It pinpoints exactly what you want to find out and gives your work a clear focus and purpose. All research questions should be:

  • Focused on a single problem or issue
  • Researchable using primary and/or secondary sources
  • Feasible to answer within the timeframe and practical constraints
  • Specific enough to answer thoroughly
  • Complex enough to develop the answer over the space of a paper or thesis
  • Relevant to your field of study and/or society more broadly

In a research paper or essay, you will usually write a single research question to guide your reading and thinking. The answer that you develop is your thesis statement — the central assertion or position that your paper will argue for.

In a bigger research project, such as a thesis or dissertation, you might have multiple research questions, but they should all be clearly connected and focused around a central research problem.


From: Scribbr

How to Write a Research Question

How to write a research question

The process of developing your research question follows several steps:

  • Choose a broad topic
  • Do some preliminary reading to find out about topical debates and issues
  • Narrow down a specific niche that you want to focus on
  • Identify a practical or theoretical research problem that you will address

When you have a clearly-defined problem, you need to formulate one or more questions. Think about exactly what you want to know and how it will contribute to resolving the problem.

Example research problem Example research question(s)
The teachers at school X do not have the skills to recognize or properly guide gifted children in the classroom. What practical techniques can teachers at school X use to better identify and guide gifted children?

Under-30s increasingly engage in the “gig economy” instead of traditional full-time employment, but there is little research into young people’s experiences of this type of work.

From: Scribbr

What are the main factors that influence young people’s decisions to engage in the gig economy? What do workers perceive as its advantages and disadvantages? Do age and education level have an effect on how people experience this type of work?



Developing a Research Question