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From Topic to Research Question

Developing a Research or Guiding Question

"Developing a Research or Guiding Question" (by Arizona State University): This video will help you understand the difference between a topic and a research question. It will also help you develop good research questions.

Common Types of Research Questions

  • Comparison Questions (You are comparing two "quantities/samples/groups/etc.)
    • Example questions
      • What is the difference in caloric intake of American men and women?
      • How does the long-term health of players who used steroids compare with those who did not?
    • Results
      • Quantity A is greater
      • Quantity B is greater
      • The two quantities are equal
      • The relationship cannot be determined from the information given
  • Cause and Effect Questions (2 types of these questions)
    • ​The question gives you the "cause" and asks you to trace the probable "effect"
      • How does study time affect exam scores for university students?
      • What effect does growing up in poverty have on a person's ability to escape that poverty level?
    • The question gives you the "effect" and asks you to discuss or analyze the probable "cause(s)" of that effect
      • ​What causes some women to repeatedly get involved in destructive relationships?
      • What is the impact of genetically engineered food?
  • Measuring Questions
    • Example questions
      • What percentage of American men and women exceed their daily caloric allowance and what can be done to prevent it?
      • What proportion of American male and female university students use Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter, and Linkedin and what affect does it have on their education?
  • Process Questions
    • ​Analysis of how components (processes) of a system contribute to the whole
    • Usually chronological or linear
    • Often involve multiple, sequential steps
    • Examples
      • ​What are the procedures involved in supply and demand?
      • Explain the evolution of the two-party system in America from 1796 forward.
      • Why do you feel everyone in your group didn't agree about_____________?
      • Why do you think people have different ideas about what is correct?

Criteria For Good Researchable Question

  1. Open-ended (cannot be answered with simple yes or not)
  2. Answer to question should not result in a definition or list
  3. Addresses an issue or controversy and/or solves a problem
  4. You can take a stand on the issue