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  • Writing Strong Research Questions | Criteria & Examples

Writing Strong Research Questions | Criteria & Examples

Published on October 26, 2022 by Shona McCombes . Revised on November 21, 2023.

A research question pinpoints exactly what you want to find out in your work. A good research question is essential to guide your research paper , dissertation , or thesis .

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

Writing Strong Research Questions

Table of contents

How to write a research question, what makes a strong research question, using sub-questions to strengthen your main research question, research questions quiz, other interesting articles, frequently asked questions about research questions.

You can follow these steps to develop a strong research question:

  • Choose your topic
  • Do some preliminary reading about the current state of the field
  • Narrow your focus to a specific niche
  • Identify the research problem that you will address

The way you frame your question depends on what your research aims to achieve. The table below shows some examples of how you might formulate questions for different purposes.

Using your research problem to develop your research question

Note that while most research questions can be answered with various types of research , the way you frame your question should help determine your choices.

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Research questions anchor your whole project, so it’s important to spend some time refining them. The criteria below can help you evaluate the strength of your research question.

Focused and researchable

Feasible and specific, complex and arguable, relevant and original.

Chances are that your main research question likely can’t be answered all at once. That’s why sub-questions are important: they allow you to answer your main question in a step-by-step manner.

Good sub-questions should be:

  • Less complex than the main question
  • Focused only on 1 type of research
  • Presented in a logical order

Here are a few examples of descriptive and framing questions:

  • Descriptive: According to current government arguments, how should a European bank tax be implemented?
  • Descriptive: Which countries have a bank tax/levy on financial transactions?
  • Framing: How should a bank tax/levy on financial transactions look at a European level?

Keep in mind that sub-questions are by no means mandatory. They should only be asked if you need the findings to answer your main question. If your main question is simple enough to stand on its own, it’s okay to skip the sub-question part. As a rule of thumb, the more complex your subject, the more sub-questions you’ll need.

Try to limit yourself to 4 or 5 sub-questions, maximum. If you feel you need more than this, it may be indication that your main research question is not sufficiently specific. In this case, it’s is better to revisit your problem statement and try to tighten your main question up.

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If you want to know more about the research process , methodology , research bias , or statistics , make sure to check out some of our other articles with explanations and examples.

Methodology

  • Sampling methods
  • Simple random sampling
  • Stratified sampling
  • Cluster sampling
  • Likert scales
  • Reproducibility

 Statistics

  • Null hypothesis
  • Statistical power
  • Probability distribution
  • Effect size
  • Poisson distribution

Research bias

  • Optimism bias
  • Cognitive bias
  • Implicit bias
  • Hawthorne effect
  • Anchoring bias
  • Explicit bias

The way you present your research problem in your introduction varies depending on the nature of your research paper . A research paper that presents a sustained argument will usually encapsulate this argument in a thesis statement .

A research paper designed to present the results of empirical research tends to present a research question that it seeks to answer. It may also include a hypothesis —a prediction that will be confirmed or disproved by your research.

As you cannot possibly read every source related to your topic, it’s important to evaluate sources to assess their relevance. Use preliminary evaluation to determine whether a source is worth examining in more depth.

This involves:

  • Reading abstracts , prefaces, introductions , and conclusions
  • Looking at the table of contents to determine the scope of the work
  • Consulting the index for key terms or the names of important scholars

A research hypothesis is your proposed answer to your research question. The research hypothesis usually includes an explanation (“ x affects y because …”).

A statistical hypothesis, on the other hand, is a mathematical statement about a population parameter. Statistical hypotheses always come in pairs: the null and alternative hypotheses . In a well-designed study , the statistical hypotheses correspond logically to the research hypothesis.

Writing Strong Research Questions

Formulating a main research question can be a difficult task. Overall, your question should contribute to solving the problem that you have defined in your problem statement .

However, it should also fulfill criteria in three main areas:

  • Researchability
  • Feasibility and specificity
  • Relevance and originality

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  • Research Questions: Definitions, Types + [Examples]

busayo.longe

Research questions lie at the core of systematic investigation and this is because recording accurate research outcomes is tied to asking the right questions. Asking the right questions when conducting research can help you collect relevant and insightful information that ultimately influences your work, positively. 

The right research questions are typically easy to understand, straight to the point, and engaging. In this article, we will share tips on how to create the right research questions and also show you how to create and administer an online questionnaire with Formplus . 

What is a Research Question? 

A research question is a specific inquiry which the research seeks to provide a response to. It resides at the core of systematic investigation and it helps you to clearly define a path for the research process. 

A research question is usually the first step in any research project. Basically, it is the primary interrogation point of your research and it sets the pace for your work.  

Typically, a research question focuses on the research, determines the methodology and hypothesis, and guides all stages of inquiry, analysis, and reporting. With the right research questions, you will be able to gather useful information for your investigation. 

Types of Research Questions 

Research questions are broadly categorized into 2; that is, qualitative research questions and quantitative research questions. Qualitative and quantitative research questions can be used independently and co-dependently in line with the overall focus and objectives of your research. 

If your research aims at collecting quantifiable data , you will need to make use of quantitative research questions. On the other hand, qualitative questions help you to gather qualitative data bothering on the perceptions and observations of your research subjects. 

Qualitative Research Questions  

A qualitative research question is a type of systematic inquiry that aims at collecting qualitative data from research subjects. The aim of qualitative research questions is to gather non-statistical information pertaining to the experiences, observations, and perceptions of the research subjects in line with the objectives of the investigation. 

Types of Qualitative Research Questions  

  • Ethnographic Research Questions

As the name clearly suggests, ethnographic research questions are inquiries presented in ethnographic research. Ethnographic research is a qualitative research approach that involves observing variables in their natural environments or habitats in order to arrive at objective research outcomes. 

These research questions help the researcher to gather insights into the habits, dispositions, perceptions, and behaviors of research subjects as they interact in specific environments. 

Ethnographic research questions can be used in education, business, medicine, and other fields of study, and they are very useful in contexts aimed at collecting in-depth and specific information that are peculiar to research variables. For instance, asking educational ethnographic research questions can help you understand how pedagogy affects classroom relations and behaviors. 

This type of research question can be administered physically through one-on-one interviews, naturalism (live and work), and participant observation methods. Alternatively, the researcher can ask ethnographic research questions via online surveys and questionnaires created with Formplus.  

Examples of Ethnographic Research Questions

  • Why do you use this product?
  • Have you noticed any side effects since you started using this drug?
  • Does this product meet your needs?

ethnographic-research-questions

  • Case Studies

A case study is a qualitative research approach that involves carrying out a detailed investigation into a research subject(s) or variable(s). In the course of a case study, the researcher gathers a range of data from multiple sources of information via different data collection methods, and over a period of time. 

The aim of a case study is to analyze specific issues within definite contexts and arrive at detailed research subject analyses by asking the right questions. This research method can be explanatory, descriptive , or exploratory depending on the focus of your systematic investigation or research. 

An explanatory case study is one that seeks to gather information on the causes of real-life occurrences. This type of case study uses “how” and “why” questions in order to gather valid information about the causative factors of an event. 

Descriptive case studies are typically used in business researches, and they aim at analyzing the impact of changing market dynamics on businesses. On the other hand, exploratory case studies aim at providing answers to “who” and “what” questions using data collection tools like interviews and questionnaires. 

Some questions you can include in your case studies are: 

  • Why did you choose our services?
  • How has this policy affected your business output?
  • What benefits have you recorded since you started using our product?

case-study-example

An interview is a qualitative research method that involves asking respondents a series of questions in order to gather information about a research subject. Interview questions can be close-ended or open-ended , and they prompt participants to provide valid information that is useful to the research. 

An interview may also be structured, semi-structured , or unstructured , and this further influences the types of questions they include. Structured interviews are made up of more close-ended questions because they aim at gathering quantitative data while unstructured interviews consist, primarily, of open-ended questions that allow the researcher to collect qualitative information from respondents. 

You can conduct interview research by scheduling a physical meeting with respondents, through a telephone conversation, and via digital media and video conferencing platforms like Skype and Zoom. Alternatively, you can use Formplus surveys and questionnaires for your interview. 

Examples of interview questions include: 

  • What challenges did you face while using our product?
  • What specific needs did our product meet?
  • What would you like us to improve our service delivery?

interview-questions

Quantitative Research Questions

Quantitative research questions are questions that are used to gather quantifiable data from research subjects. These types of research questions are usually more specific and direct because they aim at collecting information that can be measured; that is, statistical information. 

Types of Quantitative Research Questions

  • Descriptive Research Questions

Descriptive research questions are inquiries that researchers use to gather quantifiable data about the attributes and characteristics of research subjects. These types of questions primarily seek responses that reveal existing patterns in the nature of the research subjects. 

It is important to note that descriptive research questions are not concerned with the causative factors of the discovered attributes and characteristics. Rather, they focus on the “what”; that is, describing the subject of the research without paying attention to the reasons for its occurrence. 

Descriptive research questions are typically closed-ended because they aim at gathering definite and specific responses from research participants. Also, they can be used in customer experience surveys and market research to collect information about target markets and consumer behaviors. 

Descriptive Research Question Examples

  • How often do you make use of our fitness application?
  • How much would you be willing to pay for this product?

descriptive-research-question

  • Comparative Research Questions

A comparative research question is a type of quantitative research question that is used to gather information about the differences between two or more research subjects across different variables. These types of questions help the researcher to identify distinct features that mark one research subject from the other while highlighting existing similarities. 

Asking comparative research questions in market research surveys can provide insights on how your product or service matches its competitors. In addition, it can help you to identify the strengths and weaknesses of your product for a better competitive advantage.  

The 5 steps involved in the framing of comparative research questions are: 

  • Choose your starting phrase
  • Identify and name the dependent variable
  • Identify the groups you are interested in
  • Identify the appropriate adjoining text
  • Write out the comparative research question

Comparative Research Question Samples 

  • What are the differences between a landline telephone and a smartphone?
  • What are the differences between work-from-home and on-site operations?

comparative-research-question

  • Relationship-based Research Questions  

Just like the name suggests, a relationship-based research question is one that inquires into the nature of the association between two research subjects within the same demographic. These types of research questions help you to gather information pertaining to the nature of the association between two research variables. 

Relationship-based research questions are also known as correlational research questions because they seek to clearly identify the link between 2 variables. 

Read: Correlational Research Designs: Types, Examples & Methods

Examples of relationship-based research questions include: 

  • What is the relationship between purchasing power and the business site?
  • What is the relationship between the work environment and workforce turnover?

relationship-based-research-question

Examples of a Good Research Question

Since research questions lie at the core of any systematic investigations, it is important to know how to frame a good research question. The right research questions will help you to gather the most objective responses that are useful to your systematic investigation. 

A good research question is one that requires impartial responses and can be answered via existing sources of information. Also, a good research question seeks answers that actively contribute to a body of knowledge; hence, it is a question that is yet to be answered in your specific research context.

  • Open-Ended Questions

 An open-ended question is a type of research question that does not restrict respondents to a set of premeditated answer options. In other words, it is a question that allows the respondent to freely express his or her perceptions and feelings towards the research subject. 

Examples of Open-ended Questions

  • How do you deal with stress in the workplace?
  • What is a typical day at work like for you?
  • Close-ended Questions

A close-ended question is a type of survey question that restricts respondents to a set of predetermined answers such as multiple-choice questions . Close-ended questions typically require yes or no answers and are commonly used in quantitative research to gather numerical data from research participants. 

Examples of Close-ended Questions

  • Did you enjoy this event?
  • How likely are you to recommend our services?
  • Very Likely
  • Somewhat Likely
  • Likert Scale Questions

A Likert scale question is a type of close-ended question that is structured as a 3-point, 5-point, or 7-point psychometric scale . This type of question is used to measure the survey respondent’s disposition towards multiple variables and it can be unipolar or bipolar in nature. 

Example of Likert Scale Questions

  • How satisfied are you with our service delivery?
  • Very dissatisfied
  • Not satisfied
  • Very satisfied
  • Rating Scale Questions

A rating scale question is a type of close-ended question that seeks to associate a specific qualitative measure (rating) with the different variables in research. It is commonly used in customer experience surveys, market research surveys, employee reviews, and product evaluations. 

Example of Rating Questions

  • How would you rate our service delivery?

  Examples of a Bad Research Question

Knowing what bad research questions are would help you avoid them in the course of your systematic investigation. These types of questions are usually unfocused and often result in research biases that can negatively impact the outcomes of your systematic investigation. 

  • Loaded Questions

A loaded question is a question that subtly presupposes one or more unverified assumptions about the research subject or participant. This type of question typically boxes the respondent in a corner because it suggests implicit and explicit biases that prevent objective responses. 

Example of Loaded Questions

  • Have you stopped smoking?
  • Where did you hide the money?
  • Negative Questions

A negative question is a type of question that is structured with an implicit or explicit negator. Negative questions can be misleading because they upturn the typical yes/no response order by requiring a negative answer for affirmation and an affirmative answer for negation. 

Examples of Negative Questions

  • Would you mind dropping by my office later today?
  • Didn’t you visit last week?
  • Leading Questions  

A l eading question is a type of survey question that nudges the respondent towards an already-determined answer. It is highly suggestive in nature and typically consists of biases and unverified assumptions that point toward its premeditated responses. 

Examples of Leading Questions

  • If you enjoyed this service, would you be willing to try out our other packages?
  • Our product met your needs, didn’t it?
Read More: Leading Questions: Definition, Types, and Examples

How to Use Formplus as Online Research Questionnaire Tool  

With Formplus, you can create and administer your online research questionnaire easily. In the form builder, you can add different form fields to your questionnaire and edit these fields to reflect specific research questions for your systematic investigation. 

Here is a step-by-step guide on how to create an online research questionnaire with Formplus: 

  • Sign in to your Formplus accoun t, then click on the “create new form” button in your dashboard to access the Form builder.

what is research questions for

  • In the form builder, add preferred form fields to your online research questionnaire by dragging and dropping them into the form. Add a title to your form in the title block. You can edit form fields by clicking on the “pencil” icon on the right corner of each form field.

online-research-questionnaire

  • Save the form to access the customization section of the builder. Here, you can tweak the appearance of your online research questionnaire by adding background images, changing the form font, and adding your organization’s logo.

formplus-research-question

  • Finally, copy your form link and share it with respondents. You can also use any of the multiple sharing options available.

what is research questions for

Conclusion  

The success of your research starts with framing the right questions to help you collect the most valid and objective responses. Be sure to avoid bad research questions like loaded and negative questions that can be misleading and adversely affect your research data and outcomes. 

Your research questions should clearly reflect the aims and objectives of your systematic investigation while laying emphasis on specific contexts. To help you seamlessly gather responses for your research questions, you can create an online research questionnaire on Formplus.  

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Home » Research Questions – Types, Examples and Writing Guide

Research Questions – Types, Examples and Writing Guide

Table of Contents

Research Questions

Research Questions

Definition:

Research questions are the specific questions that guide a research study or inquiry. These questions help to define the scope of the research and provide a clear focus for the study. Research questions are usually developed at the beginning of a research project and are designed to address a particular research problem or objective.

Types of Research Questions

Types of Research Questions are as follows:

Descriptive Research Questions

These aim to describe a particular phenomenon, group, or situation. For example:

  • What are the characteristics of the target population?
  • What is the prevalence of a particular disease in a specific region?

Exploratory Research Questions

These aim to explore a new area of research or generate new ideas or hypotheses. For example:

  • What are the potential causes of a particular phenomenon?
  • What are the possible outcomes of a specific intervention?

Explanatory Research Questions

These aim to understand the relationship between two or more variables or to explain why a particular phenomenon occurs. For example:

  • What is the effect of a specific drug on the symptoms of a particular disease?
  • What are the factors that contribute to employee turnover in a particular industry?

Predictive Research Questions

These aim to predict a future outcome or trend based on existing data or trends. For example :

  • What will be the future demand for a particular product or service?
  • What will be the future prevalence of a particular disease?

Evaluative Research Questions

These aim to evaluate the effectiveness of a particular intervention or program. For example:

  • What is the impact of a specific educational program on student learning outcomes?
  • What is the effectiveness of a particular policy or program in achieving its intended goals?

How to Choose Research Questions

Choosing research questions is an essential part of the research process and involves careful consideration of the research problem, objectives, and design. Here are some steps to consider when choosing research questions:

  • Identify the research problem: Start by identifying the problem or issue that you want to study. This could be a gap in the literature, a social or economic issue, or a practical problem that needs to be addressed.
  • Conduct a literature review: Conducting a literature review can help you identify existing research in your area of interest and can help you formulate research questions that address gaps or limitations in the existing literature.
  • Define the research objectives : Clearly define the objectives of your research. What do you want to achieve with your study? What specific questions do you want to answer?
  • Consider the research design : Consider the research design that you plan to use. This will help you determine the appropriate types of research questions to ask. For example, if you plan to use a qualitative approach, you may want to focus on exploratory or descriptive research questions.
  • Ensure that the research questions are clear and answerable: Your research questions should be clear and specific, and should be answerable with the data that you plan to collect. Avoid asking questions that are too broad or vague.
  • Get feedback : Get feedback from your supervisor, colleagues, or peers to ensure that your research questions are relevant, feasible, and meaningful.

How to Write Research Questions

Guide for Writing Research Questions:

  • Start with a clear statement of the research problem: Begin by stating the problem or issue that your research aims to address. This will help you to formulate focused research questions.
  • Use clear language : Write your research questions in clear and concise language that is easy to understand. Avoid using jargon or technical terms that may be unfamiliar to your readers.
  • Be specific: Your research questions should be specific and focused. Avoid broad questions that are difficult to answer. For example, instead of asking “What is the impact of climate change on the environment?” ask “What are the effects of rising sea levels on coastal ecosystems?”
  • Use appropriate question types: Choose the appropriate question types based on the research design and objectives. For example, if you are conducting a qualitative study, you may want to use open-ended questions that allow participants to provide detailed responses.
  • Consider the feasibility of your questions : Ensure that your research questions are feasible and can be answered with the resources available. Consider the data sources and methods of data collection when writing your questions.
  • Seek feedback: Get feedback from your supervisor, colleagues, or peers to ensure that your research questions are relevant, appropriate, and meaningful.

Examples of Research Questions

Some Examples of Research Questions with Research Titles:

Research Title: The Impact of Social Media on Mental Health

  • Research Question : What is the relationship between social media use and mental health, and how does this impact individuals’ well-being?

Research Title: Factors Influencing Academic Success in High School

  • Research Question: What are the primary factors that influence academic success in high school, and how do they contribute to student achievement?

Research Title: The Effects of Exercise on Physical and Mental Health

  • Research Question: What is the relationship between exercise and physical and mental health, and how can exercise be used as a tool to improve overall well-being?

Research Title: Understanding the Factors that Influence Consumer Purchasing Decisions

  • Research Question : What are the key factors that influence consumer purchasing decisions, and how do these factors vary across different demographics and products?

Research Title: The Impact of Technology on Communication

  • Research Question : How has technology impacted communication patterns, and what are the effects of these changes on interpersonal relationships and society as a whole?

Research Title: Investigating the Relationship between Parenting Styles and Child Development

  • Research Question: What is the relationship between different parenting styles and child development outcomes, and how do these outcomes vary across different ages and developmental stages?

Research Title: The Effectiveness of Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy in Treating Anxiety Disorders

  • Research Question: How effective is cognitive-behavioral therapy in treating anxiety disorders, and what factors contribute to its success or failure in different patients?

Research Title: The Impact of Climate Change on Biodiversity

  • Research Question : How is climate change affecting global biodiversity, and what can be done to mitigate the negative effects on natural ecosystems?

Research Title: Exploring the Relationship between Cultural Diversity and Workplace Productivity

  • Research Question : How does cultural diversity impact workplace productivity, and what strategies can be employed to maximize the benefits of a diverse workforce?

Research Title: The Role of Artificial Intelligence in Healthcare

  • Research Question: How can artificial intelligence be leveraged to improve healthcare outcomes, and what are the potential risks and ethical concerns associated with its use?

Applications of Research Questions

Here are some of the key applications of research questions:

  • Defining the scope of the study : Research questions help researchers to narrow down the scope of their study and identify the specific issues they want to investigate.
  • Developing hypotheses: Research questions often lead to the development of hypotheses, which are testable predictions about the relationship between variables. Hypotheses provide a clear and focused direction for the study.
  • Designing the study : Research questions guide the design of the study, including the selection of participants, the collection of data, and the analysis of results.
  • Collecting data : Research questions inform the selection of appropriate methods for collecting data, such as surveys, interviews, or experiments.
  • Analyzing data : Research questions guide the analysis of data, including the selection of appropriate statistical tests and the interpretation of results.
  • Communicating results : Research questions help researchers to communicate the results of their study in a clear and concise manner. The research questions provide a framework for discussing the findings and drawing conclusions.

Characteristics of Research Questions

Characteristics of Research Questions are as follows:

  • Clear and Specific : A good research question should be clear and specific. It should clearly state what the research is trying to investigate and what kind of data is required.
  • Relevant : The research question should be relevant to the study and should address a current issue or problem in the field of research.
  • Testable : The research question should be testable through empirical evidence. It should be possible to collect data to answer the research question.
  • Concise : The research question should be concise and focused. It should not be too broad or too narrow.
  • Feasible : The research question should be feasible to answer within the constraints of the research design, time frame, and available resources.
  • Original : The research question should be original and should contribute to the existing knowledge in the field of research.
  • Significant : The research question should have significance and importance to the field of research. It should have the potential to provide new insights and knowledge to the field.
  • Ethical : The research question should be ethical and should not cause harm to any individuals or groups involved in the study.

Purpose of Research Questions

Research questions are the foundation of any research study as they guide the research process and provide a clear direction to the researcher. The purpose of research questions is to identify the scope and boundaries of the study, and to establish the goals and objectives of the research.

The main purpose of research questions is to help the researcher to focus on the specific area or problem that needs to be investigated. They enable the researcher to develop a research design, select the appropriate methods and tools for data collection and analysis, and to organize the results in a meaningful way.

Research questions also help to establish the relevance and significance of the study. They define the research problem, and determine the research methodology that will be used to address the problem. Research questions also help to determine the type of data that will be collected, and how it will be analyzed and interpreted.

Finally, research questions provide a framework for evaluating the results of the research. They help to establish the validity and reliability of the data, and provide a basis for drawing conclusions and making recommendations based on the findings of the study.

Advantages of Research Questions

There are several advantages of research questions in the research process, including:

  • Focus : Research questions help to focus the research by providing a clear direction for the study. They define the specific area of investigation and provide a framework for the research design.
  • Clarity : Research questions help to clarify the purpose and objectives of the study, which can make it easier for the researcher to communicate the research aims to others.
  • Relevance : Research questions help to ensure that the study is relevant and meaningful. By asking relevant and important questions, the researcher can ensure that the study will contribute to the existing body of knowledge and address important issues.
  • Consistency : Research questions help to ensure consistency in the research process by providing a framework for the development of the research design, data collection, and analysis.
  • Measurability : Research questions help to ensure that the study is measurable by defining the specific variables and outcomes that will be measured.
  • Replication : Research questions help to ensure that the study can be replicated by providing a clear and detailed description of the research aims, methods, and outcomes. This makes it easier for other researchers to replicate the study and verify the results.

Limitations of Research Questions

Limitations of Research Questions are as follows:

  • Subjectivity : Research questions are often subjective and can be influenced by personal biases and perspectives of the researcher. This can lead to a limited understanding of the research problem and may affect the validity and reliability of the study.
  • Inadequate scope : Research questions that are too narrow in scope may limit the breadth of the study, while questions that are too broad may make it difficult to focus on specific research objectives.
  • Unanswerable questions : Some research questions may not be answerable due to the lack of available data or limitations in research methods. In such cases, the research question may need to be rephrased or modified to make it more answerable.
  • Lack of clarity : Research questions that are poorly worded or ambiguous can lead to confusion and misinterpretation. This can result in incomplete or inaccurate data, which may compromise the validity of the study.
  • Difficulty in measuring variables : Some research questions may involve variables that are difficult to measure or quantify, making it challenging to draw meaningful conclusions from the data.
  • Lack of generalizability: Research questions that are too specific or limited in scope may not be generalizable to other contexts or populations. This can limit the applicability of the study’s findings and restrict its broader implications.

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How To Write a Research Question

Deeptanshu D

Academic writing and research require a distinct focus and direction. A well-designed research question gives purpose and clarity to your research. In addition, it helps your readers understand the issue you are trying to address and explore.

Every time you want to know more about a subject, you will pose a question. The same idea is used in research as well. You must pose a question in order to effectively address a research problem. That's why the research question is an integral part of the research process. Additionally, it offers the author writing and reading guidelines, be it qualitative research or quantitative research.

In your research paper , you must single out just one issue or problem. The specific issue or claim you wish to address should be included in your thesis statement in order to clarify your main argument.

A good research question must have the following characteristics.

what is research questions for

  • Should include only one problem in the research question
  • Should be able to find the answer using primary data and secondary data sources
  • Should be possible to resolve within the given time and other constraints
  • Detailed and in-depth results should be achievable
  • Should be relevant and realistic.
  • It should relate to your chosen area of research

While a larger project, like a thesis, might have several research questions to address, each one should be directed at your main area of study. Of course, you can use different research designs and research methods (qualitative research or quantitative research) to address various research questions. However, they must all be pertinent to the study's objectives.

What is a Research Question?

what-is-a-research-question

A research question is an inquiry that the research attempts to answer. It is the heart of the systematic investigation. Research questions are the most important step in any research project. In essence, it initiates the research project and establishes the pace for the specific research A research question is:

  • Clear : It provides enough detail that the audience understands its purpose without any additional explanation.
  • Focused : It is so specific that it can be addressed within the time constraints of the writing task.
  • Succinct: It is written in the shortest possible words.
  • Complex : It is not possible to answer it with a "yes" or "no", but requires analysis and synthesis of ideas before somebody can create a solution.
  • Argumental : Its potential answers are open for debate rather than accepted facts.

A good research question usually focuses on the research and determines the research design, methodology, and hypothesis. It guides all phases of inquiry, data collection, analysis, and reporting. You should gather valuable information by asking the right questions.

Why are Research Questions so important?

Regardless of whether it is a qualitative research or quantitative research project, research questions provide writers and their audience with a way to navigate the writing and research process. Writers can avoid "all-about" papers by asking straightforward and specific research questions that help them focus on their research and support a specific thesis.

Types of Research Questions

types-of-research-question

There are two types of research: Qualitative research and Quantitative research . There must be research questions for every type of research. Your research question will be based on the type of research you want to conduct and the type of data collection.

The first step in designing research involves identifying a gap and creating a focused research question.

Below is a list of common research questions that can be used in a dissertation. Keep in mind that these are merely illustrations of typical research questions used in dissertation projects. The real research questions themselves might be more difficult.

Example Research Questions

examples-of-research-question

The following are a few examples of research questions and research problems to help you understand how research questions can be created for a particular research problem.

Steps to Write Research Questions

steps-to-write-a-research-question

You can focus on the issue or research gaps you're attempting to solve by using the research questions as a direction.

If you're unsure how to go about writing a good research question, these are the steps to follow in the process:

  • Select an interesting topic Always choose a topic that interests you. Because if your curiosity isn’t aroused by a subject, you’ll have a hard time conducting research around it. Alos, it’s better that you pick something that’s neither too narrow or too broad.
  • Do preliminary research on the topic Search for relevant literature to gauge what problems have already been tackled by scholars. You can do that conveniently through repositories like Scispace , where you’ll find millions of papers in one place. Once you do find the papers you’re looking for, try our reading assistant, SciSpace Copilot to get simple explanations for the paper . You’ll be able to quickly understand the abstract, find the key takeaways, and the main arguments presented in the paper. This will give you a more contextual understanding of your subject and you’ll have an easier time identifying knowledge gaps in your discipline.

     Also: ChatPDF vs. SciSpace Copilot: Unveiling the best tool for your research

  • Consider your audience It is essential to understand your audience to develop focused research questions for essays or dissertations. When narrowing down your topic, you can identify aspects that might interest your audience.
  • Ask questions Asking questions will give you a deeper understanding of the topic. Evaluate your question through the What, Why, When, How, and other open-ended questions assessment.
  • Assess your question Once you have created a research question, assess its effectiveness to determine if it is useful for the purpose. Refine and revise the dissertation research question multiple times.

Additionally, use this list of questions as a guide when formulating your research question.

Are you able to answer a specific research question? After identifying a gap in research, it would be helpful to formulate the research question. And this will allow the research to solve a part of the problem. Is your research question clear and centered on the main topic? It is important that your research question should be specific and related to your central goal. Are you tackling a difficult research question? It is not possible to answer the research question with a simple yes or no. The problem requires in-depth analysis. It is often started with "How" and "Why."

Start your research Once you have completed your dissertation research questions, it is time to review the literature on similar topics to discover different perspectives.

Strong  Research Question Samples

Uncertain: How should social networking sites work on the hatred that flows through their platform?

Certain: What should social media sites like Twitter or Facebook do to address the harm they are causing?

This unclear question does not specify the social networking sites that are being used or what harm they might be causing. In addition, this question assumes that the "harm" has been proven and/or accepted. This version is more specific and identifies the sites (Twitter, Facebook), the type and extent of harm (privacy concerns), and who might be suffering from that harm (users). Effective research questions should not be ambiguous or interpreted.

Unfocused: What are the effects of global warming on the environment?

Focused: What are the most important effects of glacial melting in Antarctica on penguins' lives?

This broad research question cannot be addressed in a book, let alone a college-level paper. Focused research targets a specific effect of global heating (glacial  melting), an area (Antarctica), or a specific animal (penguins). The writer must also decide which effect will have the greatest impact on the animals affected. If in doubt, narrow down your research question to the most specific possible.

Too Simple: What are the U.S. doctors doing to treat diabetes?

Appropriately complex: Which factors, if any, are most likely to predict a person's risk of developing diabetes?

This simple version can be found online. It is easy to answer with a few facts. The second, more complicated version of this question is divided into two parts. It is thought-provoking and requires extensive investigation as well as evaluation by the author. So, ensure that a quick Google search should not answer your research question.

How to write a strong Research Question?

how-to-write-a-strong-research-question

The foundation of all research is the research question. You should therefore spend as much time as necessary to refine your research question based on various data.

You can conduct your research more efficiently and analyze your results better if you have great research questions for your dissertation, research paper , or essay .

The following criteria can help you evaluate the strength and importance of your research question and can be used to determine the strength of your research question:

  • Researchable
  • It should only cover one issue.
  • A subjective judgment should not be included in the question.
  • It can be answered with data analysis and research.
  • Specific and Practical
  • It should not contain a plan of action, policy, or solution.
  • It should be clearly defined
  • Within research limits
  • Complex and Arguable
  • It shouldn't be difficult to answer.
  • To find the truth, you need in-depth knowledge
  • Allows for discussion and deliberation
  • Original and Relevant
  • It should be in your area of study
  • Its results should be measurable
  • It should be original

Conclusion - How to write Research Questions?

Research questions provide a clear guideline for research. One research question may be part of a larger project, such as a dissertation. However, each question should only focus on one topic.

Research questions must be answerable, practical, specific, and applicable to your field. The research type that you use to base your research questions on will determine the research topic. You can start by selecting an interesting topic and doing preliminary research. Then, you can begin asking questions, evaluating your questions, and start your research.

Now it's easier than ever to streamline your research workflow with SciSpace ResearchGPT . Its integrated, comprehensive end-to-end platform for research allows scholars to easily discover, read, write and publish their research and fosters collaboration.

what is research questions for

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How to Write a Good Research Question (w/ Examples)

what is research questions for

What is a Research Question?

A research question is the main question that your study sought or is seeking to answer. A clear research question guides your research paper or thesis and states exactly what you want to find out, giving your work a focus and objective. Learning  how to write a hypothesis or research question is the start to composing any thesis, dissertation, or research paper. It is also one of the most important sections of a research proposal . 

A good research question not only clarifies the writing in your study; it provides your readers with a clear focus and facilitates their understanding of your research topic, as well as outlining your study’s objectives. Before drafting the paper and receiving research paper editing (and usually before performing your study), you should write a concise statement of what this study intends to accomplish or reveal.

Research Question Writing Tips

Listed below are the important characteristics of a good research question:

A good research question should:

  • Be clear and provide specific information so readers can easily understand the purpose.
  • Be focused in its scope and narrow enough to be addressed in the space allowed by your paper
  • Be relevant and concise and express your main ideas in as few words as possible, like a hypothesis.
  • Be precise and complex enough that it does not simply answer a closed “yes or no” question, but requires an analysis of arguments and literature prior to its being considered acceptable. 
  • Be arguable or testable so that answers to the research question are open to scrutiny and specific questions and counterarguments.

Some of these characteristics might be difficult to understand in the form of a list. Let’s go into more detail about what a research question must do and look at some examples of research questions.

The research question should be specific and focused 

Research questions that are too broad are not suitable to be addressed in a single study. One reason for this can be if there are many factors or variables to consider. In addition, a sample data set that is too large or an experimental timeline that is too long may suggest that the research question is not focused enough.

A specific research question means that the collective data and observations come together to either confirm or deny the chosen hypothesis in a clear manner. If a research question is too vague, then the data might end up creating an alternate research problem or hypothesis that you haven’t addressed in your Introduction section .

The research question should be based on the literature 

An effective research question should be answerable and verifiable based on prior research because an effective scientific study must be placed in the context of a wider academic consensus. This means that conspiracy or fringe theories are not good research paper topics.

Instead, a good research question must extend, examine, and verify the context of your research field. It should fit naturally within the literature and be searchable by other research authors.

References to the literature can be in different citation styles and must be properly formatted according to the guidelines set forth by the publishing journal, university, or academic institution. This includes in-text citations as well as the Reference section . 

The research question should be realistic in time, scope, and budget

There are two main constraints to the research process: timeframe and budget.

A proper research question will include study or experimental procedures that can be executed within a feasible time frame, typically by a graduate doctoral or master’s student or lab technician. Research that requires future technology, expensive resources, or follow-up procedures is problematic.

A researcher’s budget is also a major constraint to performing timely research. Research at many large universities or institutions is publicly funded and is thus accountable to funding restrictions. 

The research question should be in-depth

Research papers, dissertations and theses , and academic journal articles are usually dozens if not hundreds of pages in length.

A good research question or thesis statement must be sufficiently complex to warrant such a length, as it must stand up to the scrutiny of peer review and be reproducible by other scientists and researchers.

Research Question Types

Qualitative and quantitative research are the two major types of research, and it is essential to develop research questions for each type of study. 

Quantitative Research Questions

Quantitative research questions are specific. A typical research question involves the population to be studied, dependent and independent variables, and the research design.

In addition, quantitative research questions connect the research question and the research design. In addition, it is not possible to answer these questions definitively with a “yes” or “no” response. For example, scientific fields such as biology, physics, and chemistry often deal with “states,” in which different quantities, amounts, or velocities drastically alter the relevance of the research.

As a consequence, quantitative research questions do not contain qualitative, categorical, or ordinal qualifiers such as “is,” “are,” “does,” or “does not.”

Categories of quantitative research questions

Qualitative research questions.

In quantitative research, research questions have the potential to relate to broad research areas as well as more specific areas of study. Qualitative research questions are less directional, more flexible, and adaptable compared with their quantitative counterparts. Thus, studies based on these questions tend to focus on “discovering,” “explaining,” “elucidating,” and “exploring.”

Categories of qualitative research questions

Quantitative and qualitative research question examples.

stacks of books in black and white; research question examples

Good and Bad Research Question Examples

Below are some good (and not-so-good) examples of research questions that researchers can use to guide them in crafting their own research questions.

Research Question Example 1

The first research question is too vague in both its independent and dependent variables. There is no specific information on what “exposure” means. Does this refer to comments, likes, engagement, or just how much time is spent on the social media platform?

Second, there is no useful information on what exactly “affected” means. Does the subject’s behavior change in some measurable way? Or does this term refer to another factor such as the user’s emotions?

Research Question Example 2

In this research question, the first example is too simple and not sufficiently complex, making it difficult to assess whether the study answered the question. The author could really only answer this question with a simple “yes” or “no.” Further, the presence of data would not help answer this question more deeply, which is a sure sign of a poorly constructed research topic.

The second research question is specific, complex, and empirically verifiable. One can measure program effectiveness based on metrics such as attendance or grades. Further, “bullying” is made into an empirical, quantitative measurement in the form of recorded disciplinary actions.

Steps for Writing a Research Question

Good research questions are relevant, focused, and meaningful. It can be difficult to come up with a good research question, but there are a few steps you can follow to make it a bit easier.

1. Start with an interesting and relevant topic

Choose a research topic that is interesting but also relevant and aligned with your own country’s culture or your university’s capabilities. Popular academic topics include healthcare and medical-related research. However, if you are attending an engineering school or humanities program, you should obviously choose a research question that pertains to your specific study and major.

Below is an embedded graph of the most popular research fields of study based on publication output according to region. As you can see, healthcare and the basic sciences receive the most funding and earn the highest number of publications. 

what is research questions for

2. Do preliminary research  

You can begin doing preliminary research once you have chosen a research topic. Two objectives should be accomplished during this first phase of research. First, you should undertake a preliminary review of related literature to discover issues that scholars and peers are currently discussing. With this method, you show that you are informed about the latest developments in the field.

Secondly, identify knowledge gaps or limitations in your topic by conducting a preliminary literature review . It is possible to later use these gaps to focus your research question after a certain amount of fine-tuning.

3. Narrow your research to determine specific research questions

You can focus on a more specific area of study once you have a good handle on the topic you want to explore. Focusing on recent literature or knowledge gaps is one good option. 

By identifying study limitations in the literature and overlooked areas of study, an author can carve out a good research question. The same is true for choosing research questions that extend or complement existing literature.

4. Evaluate your research question

Make sure you evaluate the research question by asking the following questions:

Is my research question clear?

The resulting data and observations that your study produces should be clear. For quantitative studies, data must be empirical and measurable. For qualitative, the observations should be clearly delineable across categories.

Is my research question focused and specific?

A strong research question should be specific enough that your methodology or testing procedure produces an objective result, not one left to subjective interpretation. Open-ended research questions or those relating to general topics can create ambiguous connections between the results and the aims of the study. 

Is my research question sufficiently complex?

The result of your research should be consequential and substantial (and fall sufficiently within the context of your field) to warrant an academic study. Simply reinforcing or supporting a scientific consensus is superfluous and will likely not be well received by most journal editors.  

reverse triangle chart, how to write a research question

Editing Your Research Question

Your research question should be fully formulated well before you begin drafting your research paper. However, you can receive English paper editing and proofreading services at any point in the drafting process. Language editors with expertise in your academic field can assist you with the content and language in your Introduction section or other manuscript sections. And if you need further assistance or information regarding paper compositions, in the meantime, check out our academic resources , which provide dozens of articles and videos on a variety of academic writing and publication topics.

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Research Questions: Definition, Types, and How to Write One

Author Image

by  Antony W

March 10, 2023

research questions

If you’re looking for the complete guide to research questions, this article is for you. In this in-depth post, you’ll learn:

  • 1 The right way to develop research questions for your studies
  • 2 What research questions are
  • 3 The elements of a good research question

Plus, we’ll provide some example of research questions in the last section of this guide to make everything clear.

Keep in mind that coming up with relevant research questions is the first step to writing a killer thesis, a dissertation, or research paper .

The question you come up with should not only provide a path for the research and writing process, but also help you to about being generic and focus on an arguable, specific concept instead.

What are Research Questions?

what is a research question

A research question is the main focus of a research project. By definition, this is the question around which you’ll center your research writing.

Good research question should be:

  • 1 Clear and easy to understand without the need for additional explanation
  • 2 Relevant to your field of study
  • 3 Arguable and open for debate, not acceptable as fast
  • 4 Focused enough so you can answer it thoroughly and concisely in fewest words possible
  • 5 Feasible enough to answer with practical constraint and timeframe
  • 6 Complex that it requires synthesizing, analysis of ideas, and  sources and citation   before arrive to an answer 

A research question may be around an issue that you’re either curious or passionate about. In some cases, your instructor may give you a topic for your research project.

Either way, you’ll have to develop relevant research questions and pick the most relevant one for the project.

Types of Research Questions 

types of research questions

There are two main type of research questions. These are qualitative and quantitative research questions. Each of the type has other subtypes, and we discuss them below:

Qualitative Research Questions

This type of research question focuses on exploring meaning and experience.

It focuses on a larger group and seeks to understand a concept or experiment. It's open ended in structure as it focuses more on the experiences of more than one person.

Formulate questions from data collected from case studies, focus groups, and surveys.

Type of Qualitative Research Questions 

There are three types of qualitative research questions and they are as follows:

Exploratory Questions 

The type of question you ask because you want to understand a topic.

These kind of questions don’t require a preconceived notions or bias. You ask because you want to understand a topic.

Examples:  

what is research questions for

Interpretative Questions 

We come up with these kind of questions because we want to learn and understand how a group of people view and interpret shared experiences.

Plus, the question focuses on how they attribute those experiences to different phenomena in life.

When you ask this kind of question, you’re mainly interested in understanding the feedback on a group’s behavior.

what is research questions for

Predictive Questions

 Predictive questions are the kind you ask if you’re concerned about the future outcome of an event or an action.

As a researcher, you’ll use the past information to predict reaction to an event.

what is research questions for

Quantitative Research Questions 

Here, researchers use empirical evidence and measurable data to give an explanation for an occurrence.

This one is common in historical, statistical, marketing and psychical research studies.

Often used to confirm or disapprove a hypothesis through comparisons, descriptions, and relationships. 

Types of Quantitative Research Questions 

Relationship-based questions .

Relationship based questions are the ones you ask if you want to know the effect of two or more variables on one of more groups.

From a statistics viewpoint, relationship-based questions fall in the experimental research design where we measure the cause and effect between two or more variables.

It’s different in dissertation, especially at the undergraduate and master’s level, as the questions are often based on quasi-experimental and relationship-based research design. In this case, it’s impossible to account for casual relationship between variables. There are only trends and associations. 

We start relationship-based research questions with the phrase “what is the relationship?” followed by the terms “between or amongst”. Then we list an independent and a dependent variable.

what is research questions for

Descriptive Questions

If you want to know why, how, when, or where something occurred, then you should use descriptive questions.

This is where you use question phrases such as “what proportion?”, “how often?”, “how much?”, and “what percentage?” to quantify the variable under examination.

You’ll have to use data and stats to describe an event, a group of people or things, or a phenomenon. 

rq5 example

Comparative Questions 

These are the types of questions to ask when you want to compare one occurrence or group with another.

Your goal is to examine the difference between groups on one or more variables. This type of research question will start with the phrase “What’s the difference in?” followed by the dependent variable.

More often than not, a comparative research question uses a single dependent variable when comparing concepts or groups, but it’s also common to come across some complex questions in which case the dependent variable consists of two or more items. 

Example: 

research question 6 example

How to Develop Write Research Questions 

Now that you know the different types of research questions, let’s see how you can come up with a best research question for your study.

how to develop a research question

Step #1: Identify and Start with a Broad Topic 

We recommend you start with a broad topic because it gives you the opportunity to explore plenty of avenues that you can use to come up with as many research questions as possible.

By going broad, it becomes easier to find a topic, develop it into subtopics, and then come up with potential questions or your research project. At this stage, you should pay more attention to brainstorming and mapping your concept while organizing your thoughts at the same time. 

Don’t choose a broad topic based on its popularity. Instead, make sure the area of study is something you are passionate about and genuinely interested in examining. At the end of the day, you don’t want to focus on a topic that will demotivate your level of research when you’re even barely halfway the job.

Step #2: Do In-depth Preliminary Research for Your Topic 

Start doing preliminary research on the broad topic that you chose in step 1.

Here, your goal is to discover issues that scholars and researchers discuss so you’re up to date on the topic.

Also, this is the stage where you identify gaps and limits on the current knowledge of the topic. Often, these gaps make the best focus area for research questions.

Step #3: Narrow Down the Topic, Then Pick Research Questions 

You’ve gathered a lot of information in step 2.

Now it’s time to narrow down the topic to a more specific area of the study. While you have many options here, we recommend that it’s best to focus on the existing gaps that you identified in the previous step.

Here, you’re using the gap spotting approach first developed by Alvesson and Sandberg in 2011 to come up with research questions that touch deeply on the areas of study that researchers have overlooked.

You can use your personal experiences to develop a research question. According to Lipowski, a researcher can identify problematic areas of their practice and come up with questions to address.

Alvesson even provides a problematization technique, which mainly allows you to challenge and scrutinize a theoretical position, makes it easy for you to come up with research questions that can easily challenge your knowledge and view of the area of study.

Step #4: Determine the Relevance of Your Research Question 

You have a number of research questions at this stage already, but not all of them are sound to begin with.

So how do you know you have a good research question? You do that by using the FINER criteria developed by Hulley Et Al in 2007.

In other words, your research questions should be:

  • Feasible : Do you really have the ability to investigate the topic and come up with realistic results? What contingency plans do you have in case your research on the question flops?
  • Interesting : Pick the research question that’s not only easy to investigate but also interesting for you and the community to study.
  • Novel : If the research question you’ve picked can unveil new insights to the field of study, then you should give it the utmost priority.
  • Ethical : Can the review board and authorities approve your research question? It means that being ethical with your question is an important consideration in determining whether it’s a good research question to pursue.
  • Relevant : If the topic is relevant to the scientific community, your area of study, and the people involved, then it’s a good one. It even helps if the question aligns with the public’s interest. 

Step #5: Construct Your Research Question 

The last step in developing a research question is to use the right framework to structure the question properly.

While there are many research question frameworks that you can use, the PICOT and PEO are the most commonly used. 

Using the PICOT Framework

example of PEO framework

Using the PEO Framework

About the author 

Antony W is a professional writer and coach at Help for Assessment. He spends countless hours every day researching and writing great content filled with expert advice on how to write engaging essays, research papers, and assignments.

Enago Academy

How to Develop a Good Research Question? — Types & Examples

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Cecilia is living through a tough situation in her research life. Figuring out where to begin, how to start her research study, and how to pose the right question for her research quest, is driving her insane. Well, questions, if not asked correctly, have a tendency to spiral us!

Image Source: https://phdcomics.com/

Questions lead everyone to answers. Research is a quest to find answers. Not the vague questions that Cecilia means to answer, but definitely more focused questions that define your research. Therefore, asking appropriate question becomes an important matter of discussion.

A well begun research process requires a strong research question. It directs the research investigation and provides a clear goal to focus on. Understanding the characteristics of comprising a good research question will generate new ideas and help you discover new methods in research.

In this article, we are aiming to help researchers understand what is a research question and how to write one with examples.

Table of Contents

What Is a Research Question?

A good research question defines your study and helps you seek an answer to your research. Moreover, a clear research question guides the research paper or thesis to define exactly what you want to find out, giving your work its objective. Learning to write a research question is the beginning to any thesis, dissertation , or research paper. Furthermore, the question addresses issues or problems which is answered through analysis and interpretation of data.

Why Is a Research Question Important?

A strong research question guides the design of a study. Moreover, it helps determine the type of research and identify specific objectives. Research questions state the specific issue you are addressing and focus on outcomes of the research for individuals to learn. Therefore, it helps break up the study into easy steps to complete the objectives and answer the initial question.

Types of Research Questions

Research questions can be categorized into different types, depending on the type of research you want to undergo. Furthermore, knowing the type of research will help a researcher determine the best type of research question to use.

1. Qualitative Research Question

Qualitative questions concern broad areas or more specific areas of research. However, unlike quantitative questions, qualitative research questions are adaptable, non-directional and more flexible. Qualitative research question focus on discovering, explaining, elucidating, and exploring.

i. Exploratory Questions

This form of question looks to understand something without influencing the results. The objective of exploratory questions is to learn more about a topic without attributing bias or preconceived notions to it.

Research Question Example: Asking how a chemical is used or perceptions around a certain topic.

ii. Predictive Questions

Predictive research questions are defined as survey questions that automatically predict the best possible response options based on text of the question. Moreover, these questions seek to understand the intent or future outcome surrounding a topic.

Research Question Example: Asking why a consumer behaves in a certain way or chooses a certain option over other.

iii. Interpretive Questions

This type of research question allows the study of people in the natural setting. The questions help understand how a group makes sense of shared experiences with regards to various phenomena. These studies gather feedback on a group’s behavior without affecting the outcome.

Research Question Example: How do you feel about AI assisting publishing process in your research?

2. Quantitative Research Question

Quantitative questions prove or disprove a researcher’s hypothesis through descriptions, comparisons, and relationships. These questions are beneficial when choosing a research topic or when posing follow-up questions that garner more information.

i. Descriptive Questions

It is the most basic type of quantitative research question and it seeks to explain when, where, why, or how something occurred. Moreover, they use data and statistics to describe an event or phenomenon.

Research Question Example: How many generations of genes influence a future generation?

ii. Comparative Questions

Sometimes it’s beneficial to compare one occurrence with another. Therefore, comparative questions are helpful when studying groups with dependent variables.

Example: Do men and women have comparable metabolisms?

iii. Relationship-Based Questions

This type of research question answers influence of one variable on another. Therefore, experimental studies use this type of research questions are majorly.

Example: How is drought condition affect a region’s probability for wildfires.  

How to Write a Good Research Question?

good research question

1. Select a Topic

The first step towards writing a good research question is to choose a broad topic of research. You could choose a research topic that interests you, because the complete research will progress further from the research question. Therefore, make sure to choose a topic that you are passionate about, to make your research study more enjoyable.

2. Conduct Preliminary Research

After finalizing the topic, read and know about what research studies are conducted in the field so far. Furthermore, this will help you find articles that talk about the topics that are yet to be explored. You could explore the topics that the earlier research has not studied.

3. Consider Your Audience

The most important aspect of writing a good research question is to find out if there is audience interested to know the answer to the question you are proposing. Moreover, determining your audience will assist you in refining your research question, and focus on aspects that relate to defined groups.

4. Generate Potential Questions

The best way to generate potential questions is to ask open ended questions. Questioning broader topics will allow you to narrow down to specific questions. Identifying the gaps in literature could also give you topics to write the research question. Moreover, you could also challenge the existing assumptions or use personal experiences to redefine issues in research.

5. Review Your Questions

Once you have listed few of your questions, evaluate them to find out if they are effective research questions. Moreover while reviewing, go through the finer details of the question and its probable outcome, and find out if the question meets the research question criteria.

6. Construct Your Research Question

There are two frameworks to construct your research question. The first one being PICOT framework , which stands for:

  • Population or problem
  • Intervention or indicator being studied
  • Comparison group
  • Outcome of interest
  • Time frame of the study.

The second framework is PEO , which stands for:

  • Population being studied
  • Exposure to preexisting conditions
  • Outcome of interest.

Research Question Examples

  • How might the discovery of a genetic basis for alcoholism impact triage processes in medical facilities?
  • How do ecological systems respond to chronic anthropological disturbance?
  • What are demographic consequences of ecological interactions?
  • What roles do fungi play in wildfire recovery?
  • How do feedbacks reinforce patterns of genetic divergence on the landscape?
  • What educational strategies help encourage safe driving in young adults?
  • What makes a grocery store easy for shoppers to navigate?
  • What genetic factors predict if someone will develop hypothyroidism?
  • Does contemporary evolution along the gradients of global change alter ecosystems function?

How did you write your first research question ? What were the steps you followed to create a strong research question? Do write to us or comment below.

Frequently Asked Questions

Research questions guide the focus and direction of a research study. Here are common types of research questions: 1. Qualitative research question: Qualitative questions concern broad areas or more specific areas of research. However, unlike quantitative questions, qualitative research questions are adaptable, non-directional and more flexible. Different types of qualitative research questions are: i. Exploratory questions ii. Predictive questions iii. Interpretive questions 2. Quantitative Research Question: Quantitative questions prove or disprove a researcher’s hypothesis through descriptions, comparisons, and relationships. These questions are beneficial when choosing a research topic or when posing follow-up questions that garner more information. Different types of quantitative research questions are: i. Descriptive questions ii. Comparative questions iii. Relationship-based questions

Qualitative research questions aim to explore the richness and depth of participants' experiences and perspectives. They should guide your research and allow for in-depth exploration of the phenomenon under investigation. After identifying the research topic and the purpose of your research: • Begin with Broad Inquiry: Start with a general research question that captures the main focus of your study. This question should be open-ended and allow for exploration. • Break Down the Main Question: Identify specific aspects or dimensions related to the main research question that you want to investigate. • Formulate Sub-questions: Create sub-questions that delve deeper into each specific aspect or dimension identified in the previous step. • Ensure Open-endedness: Make sure your research questions are open-ended and allow for varied responses and perspectives. Avoid questions that can be answered with a simple "yes" or "no." Encourage participants to share their experiences, opinions, and perceptions in their own words. • Refine and Review: Review your research questions to ensure they align with your research purpose, topic, and objectives. Seek feedback from your research advisor or peers to refine and improve your research questions.

Developing research questions requires careful consideration of the research topic, objectives, and the type of study you intend to conduct. Here are the steps to help you develop effective research questions: 1. Select a Topic 2. Conduct Preliminary Research 3. Consider Your Audience 4. Generate Potential Questions 5. Review Your Questions 6. Construct Your Research Question Based on PICOT or PEO Framework

There are two frameworks to construct your research question. The first one being PICOT framework, which stands for: • Population or problem • Intervention or indicator being studied • Comparison group • Outcome of interest • Time frame of the study The second framework is PEO, which stands for: • Population being studied • Exposure to preexisting conditions • Outcome of interest

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How to Write a Research Question: Types and Examples 

research quetsion

The first step in any research project is framing the research question. It can be considered the core of any systematic investigation as the research outcomes are tied to asking the right questions. Thus, this primary interrogation point sets the pace for your research as it helps collect relevant and insightful information that ultimately influences your work.   

Typically, the research question guides the stages of inquiry, analysis, and reporting. Depending on the use of quantifiable or quantitative data, research questions are broadly categorized into quantitative or qualitative research questions. Both types of research questions can be used independently or together, considering the overall focus and objectives of your research.  

What is a research question?

A research question is a clear, focused, concise, and arguable question on which your research and writing are centered. 1 It states various aspects of the study, including the population and variables to be studied and the problem the study addresses. These questions also set the boundaries of the study, ensuring cohesion. 

Designing the research question is a dynamic process where the researcher can change or refine the research question as they review related literature and develop a framework for the study. Depending on the scale of your research, the study can include single or multiple research questions. 

A good research question has the following features: 

  • It is relevant to the chosen field of study. 
  • The question posed is arguable and open for debate, requiring synthesizing and analysis of ideas. 
  • It is focused and concisely framed. 
  • A feasible solution is possible within the given practical constraint and timeframe. 

A poorly formulated research question poses several risks. 1   

  • Researchers can adopt an erroneous design. 
  • It can create confusion and hinder the thought process, including developing a clear protocol.  
  • It can jeopardize publication efforts.  
  • It causes difficulty in determining the relevance of the study findings.  
  • It causes difficulty in whether the study fulfils the inclusion criteria for systematic review and meta-analysis. This creates challenges in determining whether additional studies or data collection is needed to answer the question.  
  • Readers may fail to understand the objective of the study. This reduces the likelihood of the study being cited by others. 

Now that you know “What is a research question?”, let’s look at the different types of research questions. 

Types of research questions

Depending on the type of research to be done, research questions can be classified broadly into quantitative, qualitative, or mixed-methods studies. Knowing the type of research helps determine the best type of research question that reflects the direction and epistemological underpinnings of your research. 

The structure and wording of quantitative 2 and qualitative research 3 questions differ significantly. The quantitative study looks at causal relationships, whereas the qualitative study aims at exploring a phenomenon. 

  • Quantitative research questions:  
  • Seeks to investigate social, familial, or educational experiences or processes in a particular context and/or location.  
  • Answers ‘how,’ ‘what,’ or ‘why’ questions. 
  • Investigates connections, relations, or comparisons between independent and dependent variables. 

Quantitative research questions can be further categorized into descriptive, comparative, and relationship, as explained in the Table below. 

  • Qualitative research questions  

Qualitative research questions are adaptable, non-directional, and more flexible. It concerns broad areas of research or more specific areas of study to discover, explain, or explore a phenomenon. These are further classified as follows: 

  • Mixed-methods studies  

Mixed-methods studies use both quantitative and qualitative research questions to answer your research question. Mixed methods provide a complete picture than standalone quantitative or qualitative research, as it integrates the benefits of both methods. Mixed methods research is often used in multidisciplinary settings and complex situational or societal research, especially in the behavioral, health, and social science fields. 

What makes a good research question

A good research question should be clear and focused to guide your research. It should synthesize multiple sources to present your unique argument, and should ideally be something that you are interested in. But avoid questions that can be answered in a few factual statements. The following are the main attributes of a good research question. 

  • Specific: The research question should not be a fishing expedition performed in the hopes that some new information will be found that will benefit the researcher. The central research question should work with your research problem to keep your work focused. If using multiple questions, they should all tie back to the central aim. 
  • Measurable: The research question must be answerable using quantitative and/or qualitative data or from scholarly sources to develop your research question. If such data is impossible to access, it is better to rethink your question. 
  • Attainable: Ensure you have enough time and resources to do all research required to answer your question. If it seems you will not be able to gain access to the data you need, consider narrowing down your question to be more specific. 
  • You have the expertise 
  • You have the equipment and resources 
  • Realistic: Developing your research question should be based on initial reading about your topic. It should focus on addressing a problem or gap in the existing knowledge in your field or discipline. 
  • Based on some sort of rational physics 
  • Can be done in a reasonable time frame 
  • Timely: The research question should contribute to an existing and current debate in your field or in society at large. It should produce knowledge that future researchers or practitioners can later build on. 
  • Novel 
  • Based on current technologies. 
  • Important to answer current problems or concerns. 
  • Lead to new directions. 
  • Important: Your question should have some aspect of originality. Incremental research is as important as exploring disruptive technologies. For example, you can focus on a specific location or explore a new angle. 
  • Meaningful whether the answer is “Yes” or “No.” Closed-ended, yes/no questions are too simple to work as good research questions. Such questions do not provide enough scope for robust investigation and discussion. A good research question requires original data, synthesis of multiple sources, and original interpretation and argumentation before providing an answer. 

Steps for developing a good research question

The importance of research questions cannot be understated. When drafting a research question, use the following frameworks to guide the components of your question to ease the process. 4  

  • Determine the requirements: Before constructing a good research question, set your research requirements. What is the purpose? Is it descriptive, comparative, or explorative research? Determining the research aim will help you choose the most appropriate topic and word your question appropriately. 
  • Select a broad research topic: Identify a broader subject area of interest that requires investigation. Techniques such as brainstorming or concept mapping can help identify relevant connections and themes within a broad research topic. For example, how to learn and help students learn. 
  • Perform preliminary investigation: Preliminary research is needed to obtain up-to-date and relevant knowledge on your topic. It also helps identify issues currently being discussed from which information gaps can be identified. 
  • Narrow your focus: Narrow the scope and focus of your research to a specific niche. This involves focusing on gaps in existing knowledge or recent literature or extending or complementing the findings of existing literature. Another approach involves constructing strong research questions that challenge your views or knowledge of the area of study (Example: Is learning consistent with the existing learning theory and research). 
  • Identify the research problem: Once the research question has been framed, one should evaluate it. This is to realize the importance of the research questions and if there is a need for more revising (Example: How do your beliefs on learning theory and research impact your instructional practices). 

How to write a research question

Those struggling to understand how to write a research question, these simple steps can help you simplify the process of writing a research question. 

Sample Research Questions

The following are some bad and good research question examples 

  • Example 1 
  • Example 2 

References:  

  • Thabane, L., Thomas, T., Ye, C., & Paul, J. (2009). Posing the research question: not so simple.  Canadian Journal of Anesthesia/Journal canadien d’anesthésie ,  56 (1), 71-79. 
  • Rutberg, S., & Bouikidis, C. D. (2018). Focusing on the fundamentals: A simplistic differentiation between qualitative and quantitative research.  Nephrology Nursing Journal ,  45 (2), 209-213. 
  • Kyngäs, H. (2020). Qualitative research and content analysis.  The application of content analysis in nursing science research , 3-11. 
  • Mattick, K., Johnston, J., & de la Croix, A. (2018). How to… write a good research question.  The clinical teacher ,  15 (2), 104-108. 
  • Fandino, W. (2019). Formulating a good research question: Pearls and pitfalls.  Indian Journal of Anaesthesia ,  63 (8), 611. 
  • Richardson, W. S., Wilson, M. C., Nishikawa, J., & Hayward, R. S. (1995). The well-built clinical question: a key to evidence-based decisions.  ACP journal club ,  123 (3), A12-A13 

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Transitive and Intransitive Verbs in the World of Research

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  • Research Basics

Developing a Research Question

  • Introduction
  • The Research Process
  • Scholarly & Peer-Reviewed
  • Primary vs. Secondary Sources
  • Quantitative vs. Qualitative
  • Evaluating Sources

What is a research question?

A research question is an essential tool to help guide your research paper, project, or thesis. It poses a specific question that you are seeking to answer in your paper. Research questions can be broad or narrow, and can change throughout the research process.

A good research question should be:

  • Focused on a single issue
  • Specific enough to answer thoroughly in your paper
  • Feasible to answer within the length of your paper
  • Researchable using the resources available to you
  • Relevant to your field of study and/or to society at large

The length of your paper and the research you're able to locate will help to shape your research question. A longer paper, like a thesis or dissertation, may require multiple research questions.

The answer to your research question develops into your thesis statement .

Writing Your Research Question

Chose a Topic

You should choose a research topic that is interesting to you. This will make the research and writing process much more bearable.

A good way to begin brainstorming research questions is to list all the questions you would like to see answered, or topics you would like to learn more about. You may have been provided a list of potential topics by your professor, if none are interesting to you ask if you can develop your own.

It is better to start broad and narrow down your focus as you go.

Do Preliminary Research

graphic depicting an upside down triangle showing the process of narrowing a research subject

Reference materials like encyclopedias can also be good for this purpose.

Narrow Your Topic

Now that you have a basic idea of what research exists on your topic, you can begin to narrow your focus.

Make sure that your question is specific enough that it can be answered thoroughly in the length of your paper.

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Research Aims, Objectives & Questions

The “Golden Thread” Explained Simply (+ Examples)

By: David Phair (PhD) and Alexandra Shaeffer (PhD) | June 2022

The research aims , objectives and research questions (collectively called the “golden thread”) are arguably the most important thing you need to get right when you’re crafting a research proposal , dissertation or thesis . We receive questions almost every day about this “holy trinity” of research and there’s certainly a lot of confusion out there, so we’ve crafted this post to help you navigate your way through the fog.

Overview: The Golden Thread

  • What is the golden thread
  • What are research aims ( examples )
  • What are research objectives ( examples )
  • What are research questions ( examples )
  • The importance of alignment in the golden thread

What is the “golden thread”?  

The golden thread simply refers to the collective research aims , research objectives , and research questions for any given project (i.e., a dissertation, thesis, or research paper ). These three elements are bundled together because it’s extremely important that they align with each other, and that the entire research project aligns with them.

Importantly, the golden thread needs to weave its way through the entirety of any research project , from start to end. In other words, it needs to be very clearly defined right at the beginning of the project (the topic ideation and proposal stage) and it needs to inform almost every decision throughout the rest of the project. For example, your research design and methodology will be heavily influenced by the golden thread (we’ll explain this in more detail later), as well as your literature review.

The research aims, objectives and research questions (the golden thread) define the focus and scope ( the delimitations ) of your research project. In other words, they help ringfence your dissertation or thesis to a relatively narrow domain, so that you can “go deep” and really dig into a specific problem or opportunity. They also help keep you on track , as they act as a litmus test for relevance. In other words, if you’re ever unsure whether to include something in your document, simply ask yourself the question, “does this contribute toward my research aims, objectives or questions?”. If it doesn’t, chances are you can drop it.

Alright, enough of the fluffy, conceptual stuff. Let’s get down to business and look at what exactly the research aims, objectives and questions are and outline a few examples to bring these concepts to life.

Free Webinar: How To Find A Dissertation Research Topic

Research Aims: What are they?

Simply put, the research aim(s) is a statement that reflects the broad overarching goal (s) of the research project. Research aims are fairly high-level (low resolution) as they outline the general direction of the research and what it’s trying to achieve .

Research Aims: Examples  

True to the name, research aims usually start with the wording “this research aims to…”, “this research seeks to…”, and so on. For example:

“This research aims to explore employee experiences of digital transformation in retail HR.”   “This study sets out to assess the interaction between student support and self-care on well-being in engineering graduate students”  

As you can see, these research aims provide a high-level description of what the study is about and what it seeks to achieve. They’re not hyper-specific or action-oriented, but they’re clear about what the study’s focus is and what is being investigated.

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what is research questions for

Research Objectives: What are they?

The research objectives take the research aims and make them more practical and actionable . In other words, the research objectives showcase the steps that the researcher will take to achieve the research aims.

The research objectives need to be far more specific (higher resolution) and actionable than the research aims. In fact, it’s always a good idea to craft your research objectives using the “SMART” criteria. In other words, they should be specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound”.

Research Objectives: Examples  

Let’s look at two examples of research objectives. We’ll stick with the topic and research aims we mentioned previously.  

For the digital transformation topic:

To observe the retail HR employees throughout the digital transformation. To assess employee perceptions of digital transformation in retail HR. To identify the barriers and facilitators of digital transformation in retail HR.

And for the student wellness topic:

To determine whether student self-care predicts the well-being score of engineering graduate students. To determine whether student support predicts the well-being score of engineering students. To assess the interaction between student self-care and student support when predicting well-being in engineering graduate students.

  As you can see, these research objectives clearly align with the previously mentioned research aims and effectively translate the low-resolution aims into (comparatively) higher-resolution objectives and action points . They give the research project a clear focus and present something that resembles a research-based “to-do” list.

The research objectives detail the specific steps that you, as the researcher, will take to achieve the research aims you laid out.

Research Questions: What are they?

Finally, we arrive at the all-important research questions. The research questions are, as the name suggests, the key questions that your study will seek to answer . Simply put, they are the core purpose of your dissertation, thesis, or research project. You’ll present them at the beginning of your document (either in the introduction chapter or literature review chapter) and you’ll answer them at the end of your document (typically in the discussion and conclusion chapters).  

The research questions will be the driving force throughout the research process. For example, in the literature review chapter, you’ll assess the relevance of any given resource based on whether it helps you move towards answering your research questions. Similarly, your methodology and research design will be heavily influenced by the nature of your research questions. For instance, research questions that are exploratory in nature will usually make use of a qualitative approach, whereas questions that relate to measurement or relationship testing will make use of a quantitative approach.  

Let’s look at some examples of research questions to make this more tangible.

Research Questions: Examples  

Again, we’ll stick with the research aims and research objectives we mentioned previously.  

For the digital transformation topic (which would be qualitative in nature):

How do employees perceive digital transformation in retail HR? What are the barriers and facilitators of digital transformation in retail HR?  

And for the student wellness topic (which would be quantitative in nature):

Does student self-care predict the well-being scores of engineering graduate students? Does student support predict the well-being scores of engineering students? Do student self-care and student support interact when predicting well-being in engineering graduate students?  

You’ll probably notice that there’s quite a formulaic approach to this. In other words, the research questions are basically the research objectives “converted” into question format. While that is true most of the time, it’s not always the case. For example, the first research objective for the digital transformation topic was more or less a step on the path toward the other objectives, and as such, it didn’t warrant its own research question.  

So, don’t rush your research questions and sloppily reword your objectives as questions. Carefully think about what exactly you’re trying to achieve (i.e. your research aim) and the objectives you’ve set out, then craft a set of well-aligned research questions . Also, keep in mind that this can be a somewhat iterative process , where you go back and tweak research objectives and aims to ensure tight alignment throughout the golden thread.

The importance of strong alignment 

Alignment is the keyword here and we have to stress its importance . Simply put, you need to make sure that there is a very tight alignment between all three pieces of the golden thread. If your research aims and research questions don’t align, for example, your project will be pulling in different directions and will lack focus . This is a common problem students face and can cause many headaches (and tears), so be warned.

Take the time to carefully craft your research aims, objectives and research questions before you run off down the research path. Ideally, get your research supervisor/advisor to review and comment on your golden thread before you invest significant time into your project, and certainly before you start collecting data .  

Recap: The golden thread

In this post, we unpacked the golden thread of research, consisting of the research aims , research objectives and research questions . You can jump back to any section using the links below.

As always, feel free to leave a comment below – we always love to hear from you. Also, if you’re interested in 1-on-1 support, take a look at our private coaching service here.

what is research questions for

Psst… there’s more (for free)

This post is part of our dissertation mini-course, which covers everything you need to get started with your dissertation, thesis or research project. 

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35 Comments

Isaac Levi

Thank you very much for your great effort put. As an Undergraduate taking Demographic Research & Methodology, I’ve been trying so hard to understand clearly what is a Research Question, Research Aim and the Objectives in a research and the relationship between them etc. But as for now I’m thankful that you’ve solved my problem.

Hatimu Bah

Well appreciated. This has helped me greatly in doing my dissertation.

Dr. Abdallah Kheri

An so delighted with this wonderful information thank you a lot.

so impressive i have benefited a lot looking forward to learn more on research.

Ekwunife, Chukwunonso Onyeka Steve

I am very happy to have carefully gone through this well researched article.

Infact,I used to be phobia about anything research, because of my poor understanding of the concepts.

Now,I get to know that my research question is the same as my research objective(s) rephrased in question format.

I please I would need a follow up on the subject,as I intends to join the team of researchers. Thanks once again.

Tosin

Thanks so much. This was really helpful.

sylas

i found this document so useful towards my study in research methods. thanks so much.

Michael L. Andrion

This is my 2nd read topic in your course and I should commend the simplified explanations of each part. I’m beginning to understand and absorb the use of each part of a dissertation/thesis. I’ll keep on reading your free course and might be able to avail the training course! Kudos!

Scarlett

Thank you! Better put that my lecture and helped to easily understand the basics which I feel often get brushed over when beginning dissertation work.

Enoch Tindiwegi

This is quite helpful. I like how the Golden thread has been explained and the needed alignment.

Sora Dido Boru

This is quite helpful. I really appreciate!

Chulyork

The article made it simple for researcher students to differentiate between three concepts.

Afowosire Wasiu Adekunle

Very innovative and educational in approach to conducting research.

Sàlihu Abubakar Dayyabu

I am very impressed with all these terminology, as I am a fresh student for post graduate, I am highly guided and I promised to continue making consultation when the need arise. Thanks a lot.

Mohammed Shamsudeen

A very helpful piece. thanks, I really appreciate it .

Sonam Jyrwa

Very well explained, and it might be helpful to many people like me.

JB

Wish i had found this (and other) resource(s) at the beginning of my PhD journey… not in my writing up year… 😩 Anyways… just a quick question as i’m having some issues ordering my “golden thread”…. does it matter in what order you mention them? i.e., is it always first aims, then objectives, and finally the questions? or can you first mention the research questions and then the aims and objectives?

UN

Thank you for a very simple explanation that builds upon the concepts in a very logical manner. Just prior to this, I read the research hypothesis article, which was equally very good. This met my primary objective.

My secondary objective was to understand the difference between research questions and research hypothesis, and in which context to use which one. However, I am still not clear on this. Can you kindly please guide?

Derek Jansen

In research, a research question is a clear and specific inquiry that the researcher wants to answer, while a research hypothesis is a tentative statement or prediction about the relationship between variables or the expected outcome of the study. Research questions are broader and guide the overall study, while hypotheses are specific and testable statements used in quantitative research. Research questions identify the problem, while hypotheses provide a focus for testing in the study.

Saen Fanai

Exactly what I need in this research journey, I look forward to more of your coaching videos.

Abubakar Rofiat Opeyemi

This helped a lot. Thanks so much for the effort put into explaining it.

Lamin Tarawally

What data source in writing dissertation/Thesis requires?

What is data source covers when writing dessertation/thesis

Latifat Muhammed

This is quite useful thanks

Yetunde

I’m excited and thankful. I got so much value which will help me progress in my thesis.

Amer Al-Rashid

where are the locations of the reserch statement, research objective and research question in a reserach paper? Can you write an ouline that defines their places in the researh paper?

Webby

Very helpful and important tips on Aims, Objectives and Questions.

Refiloe Raselane

Thank you so much for making research aim, research objectives and research question so clear. This will be helpful to me as i continue with my thesis.

Annabelle Roda-Dafielmoto

Thanks much for this content. I learned a lot. And I am inspired to learn more. I am still struggling with my preparation for dissertation outline/proposal. But I consistently follow contents and tutorials and the new FB of GRAD Coach. Hope to really become confident in writing my dissertation and successfully defend it.

Joe

As a researcher and lecturer, I find splitting research goals into research aims, objectives, and questions is unnecessarily bureaucratic and confusing for students. For most biomedical research projects, including ‘real research’, 1-3 research questions will suffice (numbers may differ by discipline).

Abdella

Awesome! Very important resources and presented in an informative way to easily understand the golden thread. Indeed, thank you so much.

Sheikh

Well explained

New Growth Care Group

The blog article on research aims, objectives, and questions by Grad Coach is a clear and insightful guide that aligns with my experiences in academic research. The article effectively breaks down the often complex concepts of research aims and objectives, providing a straightforward and accessible explanation. Drawing from my own research endeavors, I appreciate the practical tips offered, such as the need for specificity and clarity when formulating research questions. The article serves as a valuable resource for students and researchers, offering a concise roadmap for crafting well-defined research goals and objectives. Whether you’re a novice or an experienced researcher, this article provides practical insights that contribute to the foundational aspects of a successful research endeavor.

yaikobe

A great thanks for you. it is really amazing explanation. I grasp a lot and one step up to research knowledge.

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what is research questions for

The Ultimate Guide to Qualitative Research - Part 1: The Basics

what is research questions for

  • Introduction and overview
  • What is qualitative research?
  • What is qualitative data?
  • Examples of qualitative data
  • Qualitative vs. quantitative research
  • Mixed methods
  • Qualitative research preparation
  • Theoretical perspective
  • Theoretical framework
  • Literature reviews
  • Introduction

Why are research questions so important?

Research question examples, types of qualitative research questions, writing a good research question, guiding your research through research questions.

  • Conceptual framework
  • Conceptual vs. theoretical framework
  • Data collection
  • Qualitative research methods
  • Focus groups
  • Observational research
  • Case studies
  • Ethnographical research
  • Ethical considerations
  • Confidentiality and privacy
  • Power dynamics
  • Reflexivity

Research questions

The research question plays a critical role in the research process, as it guides the study design, data collection , analysis , and interpretation of the findings.

A research paper relies on a research question to inform readers of the research topic and the research problem being addressed. Without such a question, your audience may have trouble understanding the rationale for your research project.

what is research questions for

People can take for granted the research question as an essential part of a research project. However, explicitly detailing why researchers need a research question can help lend clarity to the research project. Here are some of the key roles that the research question plays in the research process:

Defines the scope and focus of the study

The research question helps to define the scope and focus of the study. It identifies the specific topic or issue that the researcher wants to investigate, and it sets the boundaries for the study. A research question can also help you determine if your study primarily contributes to theory or is more applied in nature. Clinical research and public health research, for example, may be more concerned with research questions that contribute to practice, while a research question focused on cognitive linguistics are aimed at developing theory.

Provides a rationale for the study

The research question provides a rationale for the study by identifying a gap or problem in existing literature or practice that the researcher wants to address. It articulates the purpose and significance of the study, and it explains why the study is important and worth conducting.

Guides the study design

The research question guides the study design by helping the researcher select appropriate research methods , sampling strategies, and data collection tools. It also helps to determine the types of data that need to be collected and the best ways to analyze and interpret the data because the principal aim of the study is to provide an answer to that research question.

what is research questions for

Shapes the data analysis and interpretation

The research question shapes the data analysis and interpretation by guiding the selection of appropriate analytical methods and by focusing the interpretation of the findings. It helps to identify which patterns and themes in the data are more relevant and worth digging into, and it guides the development of conclusions and recommendations based on the findings.

Generates new knowledge

The research question is the starting point for generating new knowledge. By answering the research question, the researcher contributes to the body of knowledge in the field and helps to advance the understanding of the topic or issue under investigation.

Overall, the research question is a critical component of the research process, as it guides the study from start to finish and provides a foundation for generating new knowledge.

Supports the thesis statement

The thesis statement or main assertion in any research paper stems from the answers to the research question. As a result, you can think of a focused research question as a preview of what the study aims to present as a new contribution to existing knowledge.

Here area few examples of focused research questions that can help set the stage for explaining different types of research questions in qualitative research . These questions touch upon various fields and subjects, showcasing the versatility and depth of research.

  • What factors contribute to the job satisfaction of remote workers in the technology industry?
  • How do teachers perceive the implementation of technology in the classroom, and what challenges do they face?
  • What coping strategies do refugees use to deal with the challenges of resettlement in a new country?
  • How does gentrification impact the sense of community and identity among long-term residents in urban neighborhoods?
  • In what ways do social media platforms influence body image and self-esteem among adolescents?
  • How do family dynamics and communication patterns affect the management of type 2 diabetes in adult patients?
  • What is the role of mentorship in the professional development and career success of early-career academics?
  • How do patients with chronic illnesses experience and navigate the healthcare system, and what barriers do they encounter?
  • What are the motivations and experiences of volunteers in disaster relief efforts, and how do these experiences impact their future involvement in humanitarian work?
  • How do cultural beliefs and values shape the consumer preferences and purchasing behavior of young adults in a globalized market?
  • How do individuals whose genetic factors predict a high risk for developing a specific medical condition perceive, cope with, and make lifestyle choices based on this information?

These example research questions highlight the different kinds of inquiries common to qualitative research. They also demonstrate how qualitative research can address a wide range of topics, from understanding the experiences of specific populations to examining the impact of broader social and cultural phenomena.

Also, notice that these types of research questions tend to be geared towards inductive analyses that describe a concept in depth or develop new theory. As such, qualitative research questions tend to ask "what," "why," or "how" types of questions. This contrasts with quantitative research questions that typically aim to verify an existing theory. and tend to ask "when," "how much," and "why" types of questions to nail down causal mechanisms and generalizable findings.

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As you can see above, the research questions you ask play a critical role in shaping the direction and depth of your study. These questions are designed to explore, understand, and interpret social phenomena, rather than testing a hypothesis or quantifying data like in quantitative research. In this section, we will discuss the various types of research questions typically found in qualitative research, making it easier for you to craft appropriate questions for your study.

Descriptive questions

Descriptive research questions aim to provide a detailed account of the phenomenon being studied. These questions usually begin with "what" or "how" and seek to understand the nature, characteristics, or functions of a subject. For example, "What are the experiences of first-generation college students?" or "How do small business owners adapt to economic downturns?"

Comparative questions

Comparative questions seek to examine the similarities and differences between two or more groups, cases, or phenomena. These questions often include the words "compare," "contrast," or "differences." For example, "How do parenting practices differ between single-parent and two-parent families?" or "What are the similarities and differences in leadership styles among successful female entrepreneurs?"

what is research questions for

Exploratory questions

Exploratory research questions are open-ended and intended to investigate new or understudied areas. These questions aim to identify patterns, relationships, or themes that may warrant further investigation. For example, "How do teenagers use social media to construct their identities?" or "What factors influence the adoption of renewable energy technologies in rural communities?"

Explanatory questions

Explanatory research questions delve deeper into the reasons or explanations behind a particular phenomenon or behavior. They often start with "why" or "how" and aim to uncover underlying motivations, beliefs, or processes. For example, "Why do some employees resist organizational change?" or "How do cultural factors influence decision-making in international business negotiations?"

Evaluative questions

Evaluative questions assess the effectiveness, impact, or outcomes of a particular intervention, program, or policy. They seek to understand the value or significance of an initiative by examining its successes, challenges, or unintended consequences. For example, "How effective is the school's anti-bullying program in reducing incidents of bullying?" or "What are the long-term impacts of a community-based health promotion campaign on residents' well-being?"

Interpretive questions

Interpretive questions focus on understanding how individuals or groups make sense of their experiences, actions, or social contexts. These questions often involve the analysis of language, symbols, or narratives to uncover the meanings and perspectives that shape human behavior. For example, "How do cancer survivors make sense of their illness journey?" or "What meanings do members of a religious community attach to their rituals and practices?"

There are mainly two overarching ways to think about how to devise a research question. Many studies are built on existing research, but others can be founded on personal experiences or pilot research.

Using the literature review

Within scholarly research, the research question is often built from your literature review . An analysis of the relevant literature reporting previous studies should allow you to identify contextual, theoretical, or methodological gaps that can be addressed in future research.

what is research questions for

A compelling research question built on a robust literature review ultimately illustrates to your audience what is novel about your study's objectives.

Conducting pilot research

Researchers may conduct preliminary research or pilot research when they are interested in a particular topic but don't yet have a basis for forming a research question on that topic. A pilot study is a small-scale, preliminary study that is conducted in order to test the feasibility of a research design, methods, and procedures. It can help identify unresolved puzzles that merit further investigation, and pilot studies can draw attention to potential issues or problems that may arise in the full study.

One potential benefit of conducting a pilot study in qualitative research is that it can help the researcher to refine their research question. By collecting and analyzing a small amount of data, the researcher can get a better sense of the phenomenon under investigation and can develop a more focused and refined research question for the full study. The pilot study can also help the researcher to identify key themes, concepts, or variables that should be included in the research question.

In addition to helping to refine the research question, a pilot study can also help the researcher to develop a more effective data collection and analysis plan. The researcher can test different methods for collecting and analyzing data, and can make adjustments based on the results of the pilot study. This can help to ensure that the full study is conducted in the most effective and efficient manner possible.

Overall, conducting a pilot study in qualitative research can be a valuable tool for refining the research question and developing a more effective research design, methods, and procedures. It can help to ensure that the full study is conducted in a rigorous and effective manner, and can increase the likelihood of generating meaningful and useful findings.

When you write a research question for your qualitative study, consider which type of question best aligns with your research objectives and the nature of the phenomenon you are investigating. Remember, qualitative research questions should be open-ended, allowing for a range of perspectives and insights to emerge. As you progress in your research, these questions may evolve or be refined based on the data you collect, helping to guide your analysis and deepen your understanding of the topic.

what is research questions for

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Research questions explained plus examples

Research Questions - Toolshero

Research questions: This article provides a practical explanation of the topic of research questions . The article begins with a general definition of the term “research question” and an explanation of the different types of research questions. You will also find several useful tips for developing your own research question and sub-questions, for example, for a thesis or other research project. Enjoy reading!

What is a research question?

When conducting research, the research question and sub-questions are essential. The research question reflects the main question of the research, and the sub-questions contribute to answering this main question. Therefore, it is essential to carefully consider the formulation of the questions.

A good research question is concrete, relevant, and well-defined. It should be clear what is being researched and what the purpose of the research is. The sub-questions should match this and should be specific enough to be answered within the research. The sub-questions should also contribute to answering the main question.

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Example research question

An example of a research question with sub-questions could be: “How can communication between employees and managers be improved within organization X?” The sub-questions could be:

  • What does the current communication structure look like within organization X?
  • What are the obstacles to communication between employees and managers?
  • What communication tools are currently used, and are they effective?
  • What are the best practices for improving communication between employees and managers?

Creating good research questions and sub-questions is important for carrying out a clear and relevant study. By paying sufficient attention to this, the research can be carried out efficiently and effectively, and valuable results can be achieved.

Common types of research questions

Research questions types - Toolshero

Figure 1 – 4 types of Research questions

1. Descriptive research questions

These questions focus on describing a phenomenon, situation, or population. They are aimed at gathering information about what is going on and what is known about the research topic. An example of a descriptive research question is: “What percentage of students at university X have a part-time job alongside their studies?”

2. Explanatory research questions

These questions focus on finding explanations for a particular phenomenon or situation. They aim to find causal relationships between different variables. An example of an explanatory research question is: “What is the relationship between stress and sleep deprivation among healthcare workers?”

3. Predictive research questions

These questions focus on predicting future events or outcomes based on certain variables or factors. They aim to find patterns and trends that can help make predictions. An example of a predictive research question is: “How much is the sales of product X expected to increase in the coming year?”

4. Evaluative research questions

These questions focus on evaluating the effectiveness or efficiency of a particular intervention, policy, or program. They aim to assess the impact of a particular action or change. An example of an evaluative research question is: “What is the effect of introducing a new teaching method on the academic performance of students?”

It is important to choose the right type of research question that fits the purpose of the research and the research method used. By formulating a clear and specific research question, a researcher can work more effectively and achieve the desired results.

Research Methods For Business Students Course A-Z guide to writing a rockstar Research Paper with a bulletproof Research Methodology!   More information

What criteria should a good research question meet?

Below you will find six criteria that a good research question should meet. These criteria are specificity, clarity, relevance, feasibility, significance, and interest.

The research question must be formulated clearly and specifically, so that it is clear what the subject of the research is.

The research question must be relevant to the field and build upon existing knowledge and insights.

The research question must be feasible within the available time, resources, and knowledge of the researcher.

The research question must be verifiable through empirical research or data analysis, so that the results can be objectively evaluated.

The research question must be original and contribute to expanding existing knowledge or developing new insights.

The research question must be challenging and inspiring, so that it motivates the researcher to work hard and perform at a high level.

How to write a good research question?

With the following steps, you can formulate a good research question that is relevant to the field in which you are conducting research.

Step 1: choose a topic

Choose a topic that is relevant to your field and contains keywords that people search for. Use a tool such as Google Keyword Planner to find keywords.

Step 2: prepare

Read literature and articles about the topic and identify gaps in knowledge or conflicting results that are worth further investigation.

Step 3: develop a preliminary research question

Formulate a general preliminary research question based on the findings from the literature. Make sure that this question is clear, concise, and relevant. Use relevant terms in your question.

Step 4: refine

Refine the general question into a specific question that can be answered through empirical research or data analysis. Use clear and simple language, and avoid jargon.

Step 5: check

Check if the question meets the characteristics of a good research question: is the question specific, relevant, feasible, verifiable, original, and inspiring?

Other tips for developing a research question for your thesis

Developing a good research question is essential for a successful thesis. Here are some tips that can help you develop a research question:

Choose a relevant topic

Choose a topic that is relevant to your field of study and that you are passionate about. This will increase your motivation and help you make a meaningful contribution to your field.

Determine the purpose of your research

Ask yourself what you want to achieve with your research. Do you want to discover a new problem, solve an existing problem, or introduce a new concept? Be specific Make sure that your research question is specific and not too broad. It should have a clear purpose and focus on a limited topic.

Use clear language

Make sure that your research question is clear and understandable to others. Avoid jargon and technical terms, unless they are necessary for the context of your research.

Make it measurable

Ensure that your research question is measurable, so that you can evaluate and analyze the results of your research.

Consider data availability

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Now it’s your turn

What do you think? Do you recognize the explanation about research questions? Have you often worked with research questions? Like during the process of writing your thesis or another type of research? Do you find the tips and recommendations in this article helpful? Do you have other tips or comments?

Share your experience and knowledge in the comments box below.

More information

  • Agee, J. (2009). Developing qualitative research questions: A reflective process . International journal of qualitative studies in education, 22(4), 431-447.
  • Andrews, R. (2003). Research questions . Bloomsbury Publishing .
  • Barick, R. (2021). Research Methods For Business Students . Retrieved 02/16/2024 from Udemy.
  • Dillon, J. T. (1984). The classification of research questions . Review of Educational Research, 54(3), 327-361.
  • White, P. (2017). Developing research questions. Bloomsbury Publishing.

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Ben Janse

Ben Janse is a young professional working at ToolsHero as Content Manager. He is also an International Business student at Rotterdam Business School where he focusses on analyzing and developing management models. Thanks to his theoretical and practical knowledge, he knows how to distinguish main- and side issues and to make the essence of each article clearly visible.

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  • v.53(4); 2010 Aug

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Research questions, hypotheses and objectives

Patricia farrugia.

* Michael G. DeGroote School of Medicine, the

Bradley A. Petrisor

† Division of Orthopaedic Surgery and the

Forough Farrokhyar

‡ Departments of Surgery and

§ Clinical Epidemiology and Biostatistics, McMaster University, Hamilton, Ont

Mohit Bhandari

There is an increasing familiarity with the principles of evidence-based medicine in the surgical community. As surgeons become more aware of the hierarchy of evidence, grades of recommendations and the principles of critical appraisal, they develop an increasing familiarity with research design. Surgeons and clinicians are looking more and more to the literature and clinical trials to guide their practice; as such, it is becoming a responsibility of the clinical research community to attempt to answer questions that are not only well thought out but also clinically relevant. The development of the research question, including a supportive hypothesis and objectives, is a necessary key step in producing clinically relevant results to be used in evidence-based practice. A well-defined and specific research question is more likely to help guide us in making decisions about study design and population and subsequently what data will be collected and analyzed. 1

Objectives of this article

In this article, we discuss important considerations in the development of a research question and hypothesis and in defining objectives for research. By the end of this article, the reader will be able to appreciate the significance of constructing a good research question and developing hypotheses and research objectives for the successful design of a research study. The following article is divided into 3 sections: research question, research hypothesis and research objectives.

Research question

Interest in a particular topic usually begins the research process, but it is the familiarity with the subject that helps define an appropriate research question for a study. 1 Questions then arise out of a perceived knowledge deficit within a subject area or field of study. 2 Indeed, Haynes suggests that it is important to know “where the boundary between current knowledge and ignorance lies.” 1 The challenge in developing an appropriate research question is in determining which clinical uncertainties could or should be studied and also rationalizing the need for their investigation.

Increasing one’s knowledge about the subject of interest can be accomplished in many ways. Appropriate methods include systematically searching the literature, in-depth interviews and focus groups with patients (and proxies) and interviews with experts in the field. In addition, awareness of current trends and technological advances can assist with the development of research questions. 2 It is imperative to understand what has been studied about a topic to date in order to further the knowledge that has been previously gathered on a topic. Indeed, some granting institutions (e.g., Canadian Institute for Health Research) encourage applicants to conduct a systematic review of the available evidence if a recent review does not already exist and preferably a pilot or feasibility study before applying for a grant for a full trial.

In-depth knowledge about a subject may generate a number of questions. It then becomes necessary to ask whether these questions can be answered through one study or if more than one study needed. 1 Additional research questions can be developed, but several basic principles should be taken into consideration. 1 All questions, primary and secondary, should be developed at the beginning and planning stages of a study. Any additional questions should never compromise the primary question because it is the primary research question that forms the basis of the hypothesis and study objectives. It must be kept in mind that within the scope of one study, the presence of a number of research questions will affect and potentially increase the complexity of both the study design and subsequent statistical analyses, not to mention the actual feasibility of answering every question. 1 A sensible strategy is to establish a single primary research question around which to focus the study plan. 3 In a study, the primary research question should be clearly stated at the end of the introduction of the grant proposal, and it usually specifies the population to be studied, the intervention to be implemented and other circumstantial factors. 4

Hulley and colleagues 2 have suggested the use of the FINER criteria in the development of a good research question ( Box 1 ). The FINER criteria highlight useful points that may increase the chances of developing a successful research project. A good research question should specify the population of interest, be of interest to the scientific community and potentially to the public, have clinical relevance and further current knowledge in the field (and of course be compliant with the standards of ethical boards and national research standards).

FINER criteria for a good research question

Adapted with permission from Wolters Kluwer Health. 2

Whereas the FINER criteria outline the important aspects of the question in general, a useful format to use in the development of a specific research question is the PICO format — consider the population (P) of interest, the intervention (I) being studied, the comparison (C) group (or to what is the intervention being compared) and the outcome of interest (O). 3 , 5 , 6 Often timing (T) is added to PICO ( Box 2 ) — that is, “Over what time frame will the study take place?” 1 The PICOT approach helps generate a question that aids in constructing the framework of the study and subsequently in protocol development by alluding to the inclusion and exclusion criteria and identifying the groups of patients to be included. Knowing the specific population of interest, intervention (and comparator) and outcome of interest may also help the researcher identify an appropriate outcome measurement tool. 7 The more defined the population of interest, and thus the more stringent the inclusion and exclusion criteria, the greater the effect on the interpretation and subsequent applicability and generalizability of the research findings. 1 , 2 A restricted study population (and exclusion criteria) may limit bias and increase the internal validity of the study; however, this approach will limit external validity of the study and, thus, the generalizability of the findings to the practical clinical setting. Conversely, a broadly defined study population and inclusion criteria may be representative of practical clinical practice but may increase bias and reduce the internal validity of the study.

PICOT criteria 1

A poorly devised research question may affect the choice of study design, potentially lead to futile situations and, thus, hamper the chance of determining anything of clinical significance, which will then affect the potential for publication. Without devoting appropriate resources to developing the research question, the quality of the study and subsequent results may be compromised. During the initial stages of any research study, it is therefore imperative to formulate a research question that is both clinically relevant and answerable.

Research hypothesis

The primary research question should be driven by the hypothesis rather than the data. 1 , 2 That is, the research question and hypothesis should be developed before the start of the study. This sounds intuitive; however, if we take, for example, a database of information, it is potentially possible to perform multiple statistical comparisons of groups within the database to find a statistically significant association. This could then lead one to work backward from the data and develop the “question.” This is counterintuitive to the process because the question is asked specifically to then find the answer, thus collecting data along the way (i.e., in a prospective manner). Multiple statistical testing of associations from data previously collected could potentially lead to spuriously positive findings of association through chance alone. 2 Therefore, a good hypothesis must be based on a good research question at the start of a trial and, indeed, drive data collection for the study.

The research or clinical hypothesis is developed from the research question and then the main elements of the study — sampling strategy, intervention (if applicable), comparison and outcome variables — are summarized in a form that establishes the basis for testing, statistical and ultimately clinical significance. 3 For example, in a research study comparing computer-assisted acetabular component insertion versus freehand acetabular component placement in patients in need of total hip arthroplasty, the experimental group would be computer-assisted insertion and the control/conventional group would be free-hand placement. The investigative team would first state a research hypothesis. This could be expressed as a single outcome (e.g., computer-assisted acetabular component placement leads to improved functional outcome) or potentially as a complex/composite outcome; that is, more than one outcome (e.g., computer-assisted acetabular component placement leads to both improved radiographic cup placement and improved functional outcome).

However, when formally testing statistical significance, the hypothesis should be stated as a “null” hypothesis. 2 The purpose of hypothesis testing is to make an inference about the population of interest on the basis of a random sample taken from that population. The null hypothesis for the preceding research hypothesis then would be that there is no difference in mean functional outcome between the computer-assisted insertion and free-hand placement techniques. After forming the null hypothesis, the researchers would form an alternate hypothesis stating the nature of the difference, if it should appear. The alternate hypothesis would be that there is a difference in mean functional outcome between these techniques. At the end of the study, the null hypothesis is then tested statistically. If the findings of the study are not statistically significant (i.e., there is no difference in functional outcome between the groups in a statistical sense), we cannot reject the null hypothesis, whereas if the findings were significant, we can reject the null hypothesis and accept the alternate hypothesis (i.e., there is a difference in mean functional outcome between the study groups), errors in testing notwithstanding. In other words, hypothesis testing confirms or refutes the statement that the observed findings did not occur by chance alone but rather occurred because there was a true difference in outcomes between these surgical procedures. The concept of statistical hypothesis testing is complex, and the details are beyond the scope of this article.

Another important concept inherent in hypothesis testing is whether the hypotheses will be 1-sided or 2-sided. A 2-sided hypothesis states that there is a difference between the experimental group and the control group, but it does not specify in advance the expected direction of the difference. For example, we asked whether there is there an improvement in outcomes with computer-assisted surgery or whether the outcomes worse with computer-assisted surgery. We presented a 2-sided test in the above example because we did not specify the direction of the difference. A 1-sided hypothesis states a specific direction (e.g., there is an improvement in outcomes with computer-assisted surgery). A 2-sided hypothesis should be used unless there is a good justification for using a 1-sided hypothesis. As Bland and Atlman 8 stated, “One-sided hypothesis testing should never be used as a device to make a conventionally nonsignificant difference significant.”

The research hypothesis should be stated at the beginning of the study to guide the objectives for research. Whereas the investigators may state the hypothesis as being 1-sided (there is an improvement with treatment), the study and investigators must adhere to the concept of clinical equipoise. According to this principle, a clinical (or surgical) trial is ethical only if the expert community is uncertain about the relative therapeutic merits of the experimental and control groups being evaluated. 9 It means there must exist an honest and professional disagreement among expert clinicians about the preferred treatment. 9

Designing a research hypothesis is supported by a good research question and will influence the type of research design for the study. Acting on the principles of appropriate hypothesis development, the study can then confidently proceed to the development of the research objective.

Research objective

The primary objective should be coupled with the hypothesis of the study. Study objectives define the specific aims of the study and should be clearly stated in the introduction of the research protocol. 7 From our previous example and using the investigative hypothesis that there is a difference in functional outcomes between computer-assisted acetabular component placement and free-hand placement, the primary objective can be stated as follows: this study will compare the functional outcomes of computer-assisted acetabular component insertion versus free-hand placement in patients undergoing total hip arthroplasty. Note that the study objective is an active statement about how the study is going to answer the specific research question. Objectives can (and often do) state exactly which outcome measures are going to be used within their statements. They are important because they not only help guide the development of the protocol and design of study but also play a role in sample size calculations and determining the power of the study. 7 These concepts will be discussed in other articles in this series.

From the surgeon’s point of view, it is important for the study objectives to be focused on outcomes that are important to patients and clinically relevant. For example, the most methodologically sound randomized controlled trial comparing 2 techniques of distal radial fixation would have little or no clinical impact if the primary objective was to determine the effect of treatment A as compared to treatment B on intraoperative fluoroscopy time. However, if the objective was to determine the effect of treatment A as compared to treatment B on patient functional outcome at 1 year, this would have a much more significant impact on clinical decision-making. Second, more meaningful surgeon–patient discussions could ensue, incorporating patient values and preferences with the results from this study. 6 , 7 It is the precise objective and what the investigator is trying to measure that is of clinical relevance in the practical setting.

The following is an example from the literature about the relation between the research question, hypothesis and study objectives:

Study: Warden SJ, Metcalf BR, Kiss ZS, et al. Low-intensity pulsed ultrasound for chronic patellar tendinopathy: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. Rheumatology 2008;47:467–71.

Research question: How does low-intensity pulsed ultrasound (LIPUS) compare with a placebo device in managing the symptoms of skeletally mature patients with patellar tendinopathy?

Research hypothesis: Pain levels are reduced in patients who receive daily active-LIPUS (treatment) for 12 weeks compared with individuals who receive inactive-LIPUS (placebo).

Objective: To investigate the clinical efficacy of LIPUS in the management of patellar tendinopathy symptoms.

The development of the research question is the most important aspect of a research project. A research project can fail if the objectives and hypothesis are poorly focused and underdeveloped. Useful tips for surgical researchers are provided in Box 3 . Designing and developing an appropriate and relevant research question, hypothesis and objectives can be a difficult task. The critical appraisal of the research question used in a study is vital to the application of the findings to clinical practice. Focusing resources, time and dedication to these 3 very important tasks will help to guide a successful research project, influence interpretation of the results and affect future publication efforts.

Tips for developing research questions, hypotheses and objectives for research studies

  • Perform a systematic literature review (if one has not been done) to increase knowledge and familiarity with the topic and to assist with research development.
  • Learn about current trends and technological advances on the topic.
  • Seek careful input from experts, mentors, colleagues and collaborators to refine your research question as this will aid in developing the research question and guide the research study.
  • Use the FINER criteria in the development of the research question.
  • Ensure that the research question follows PICOT format.
  • Develop a research hypothesis from the research question.
  • Develop clear and well-defined primary and secondary (if needed) objectives.
  • Ensure that the research question and objectives are answerable, feasible and clinically relevant.

FINER = feasible, interesting, novel, ethical, relevant; PICOT = population (patients), intervention (for intervention studies only), comparison group, outcome of interest, time.

Competing interests: No funding was received in preparation of this paper. Dr. Bhandari was funded, in part, by a Canada Research Chair, McMaster University.

what is research questions for

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Research Questions – How to-Guide | Definition & Examples

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Research-Question-1

Definition: Research Question

The research question states the aim of a paper in form of a question. The purpose of writing the paper is to provide an answer to the research questions No article/paper can cover all aspects of a broad topic.

You must select a more specific aspect that has the potential to yield significant results as part of the topic and then find a connection to your Thesis Statement .

Inhaltsverzeichnis

  • 1 What is a Research Question?
  • 4 Dos and Don’ts
  • 5 Finding the right words
  • 6 Sample research questions
  • 7 Research question vs. title
  • 8 The research question: Where it belongs
  • 9 In summary
  • 10 References

What is a Research Question?

The research question lies at the heart of every piece of academic writing . The research question determines the sources to be quoted, how to structure the argument, and what a paper aims at.

The research question narrows down the topic and makes sure that the paper has a common thread. Moreover, the research question gives the reader a clear idea of what to expect from the paper.

You cannot start writing without having a research question in mind. It is easiest to think of a research question as a Wh-question . Finding an answer to the research question you formulate is your personal contribution. You must state your research question right at the beginning, as part of the introduction.

Also useful: What is plagiarism?

How do you write a research question?

  • Choose an interesting research topic . Something you’re interested in.
  • Conduct some exploratory research.
  • Begin formulating questions around areas of your topic that you think need more research.
  • Conduct further research and narrow in on a few of your preliminary research questions.
  • Pick your final research question and refine it.

What makes a good research question?

It’s important that your research question is focused on one single research topic , or a few interdependent topics. If your research question is too vague, then you will find it difficult to stay on topic whilst writing. It’s a good idea to focus on an unresolved problem- a problem that you never found a solution/many solutions for in your research. Your goal will be to resolve this problem in your paper.

How is the research question different from the hypothesis?

The hypothesis states your educated prediction regarding what you will find during your research. A hypothesis is used mostly in experimental or correlational research. It is your preliminary answer to your research question.

On the other hand, your research question states the aim of your paper and it is connected to your thesis statement . Throughout your paper, the hypothesis will be supported or contradicted with the collection and analysis of data.

What are the types of research questions?

There are many different types of research questions. However, the most common types are:

  • Descriptive questions
  • Relationship-based questions (explanation)
  • criticism/improvement-based questions

Already refined your research question? Then you’re ready to begin writing your research proposal . It’s a long process, but stick with it and your paper will be done before you know it!

How do I write a research question for a thesis?

The process for writing a research question for a bachelor’s thesis or a master’s thesis stays the same. You begin with your inital research before narrowing in further  on a few specific topics. The only difference is that your thesis will be significantly larger than a mid-semester paper so you will need more time to conduct some very intensive research before you begin writing.

The aim of a research question

“The research question is also the question why you should delight the world with another pile of printed paper” (cf. Winter 2004: 28).

A bachelor’s or master’s thesis is not something you write just for the sake of writing something. The aim is to create new scientific knowledge or to test and newly interpret existing theories. To achieve this aim, a thorough literature research is necessary to find an under-researched topic having new aspects you can focus on – a gap in scientific literature, so to speak.

To be even more precise: you can pose a very specific research question that nobody has asked before.

Esselborn-Krumbiegel says it is essential to understand what is required of every academic piece of writing, namely finding an answer to an open question (cf. 2002: 60). First, you have to find a topic and then formulate a research question derived from said topic . The topic as such will only be dealt with in terms of your specific research question (cf. Franck & Stary 2009: 167).

General example for creating a research question

The following diagram depicts how to proceed from a broad topic to a precise research question.

Research-Question-Example-Write-1

Concrete example using the topic of media violence

The following example shows how to derive a detailed research question from the topic “Media Violence”:

Formulate-Research-Question-2

Example: How the topic, problem, research question, and aim of the paper are interrelated

Examples: deriving a research question from a topic.

Research-Question-Examples

Dos and Don’ts

Take your time when formulating your research question – it will definitely pay off! Be careful not to pose a research question that is ambiguous. People might wonder if you actually know what you want to work on and which research question you are setting out to answer (cf. Kornmeier 2013: 71).

The following list details Dos and Don’ts of writing a good research question to make sure you know what to include and what to avoid when formulating your research question (cf. Karmasin & Ribing 2014: 24; Samac, Prenner & Schwetz 2009: 47).

Examples of good and bad research questions

The Center for Innovation in Research and Teaching (CIRT) suggests how to transform a bad research question into a good research questions using the following examples:

(cf. CIRT, n.d., https://cirt.gcu.edu/research/developmentresources/tutorials/question . Last accessed 19 th Feb 2019)

Finding the right words

The easiest way to formulate a research question is to turn your whole bachelor’s thesis into one question . This will help to define the aim of your bachelor’s thesis (cf. Samac, Prenner & Schwetz 2009: 46). You can make choices concerning the literature, the structure and the content, as well as the study design, only if you have a very clear idea of what you want to write about (cf. Kornmeier 2013: 56).

The research question can also be formulated as an interrogative sentence, e.g. “The question this paper sets out to answer is…” or “This paper deals with the following question:…” (cf. Kruse 2010: 80). A question mark signals to the reader that there is an unresolved problem and your work offers a solution.

A good research question is precise and narrow . Andermann, Drees & Grätz say it is a cardinal error if an author thinks that everything that s/he has read about a topic must go into the paper. In a figurative sense, starting with Adam and Eve and the original sin, as well as trying to reinvent the wheel, are major mistakes for prospective scientists (cf. 2006: 33).

Sample research questions

In addition to developing the main research question, you have to be clear about the connection of your sub-research questions. Moreover, you have to figure out what type of research question you want to deal with. Otherwise, you run the risk of including everything you find out about a term or a statement during your literature research even if the latter play only a minor role in your research question (cf. Bänsch & Alewell 2013: 3-4).

Research question vs. title

(cf. Kruse 2007: 128)

The research question: Where it belongs

The research question determines the contents and the methods used in your bachelor’s and master’s thesis. Therefore, the research question must be introduced at the very beginning of your work. Moreover, the sole purpose of your paper is to answer the research question, so it is essential that the reader understands your research question. So you need to know: How to write an introduction

In your introduction, you should briefly introduce the topic and its relevance. Right after this, you have to pose your research question and highlight how it is part of a larger topic (cf. Oertner, St. John, & Thelen 2014: 31). You can split the research question into sub research questions, which should reflect in the structure of your paper. This means you are answering a bigger research question successively (cf. Karmasin & Ribing 2014: 24; Esselborn-Krumbiegel 2002: 64).

After all, longer papers like a master’s thesis do not consist of one big chapter only. Rather, several chapters building on each other are needed to adequately answer the research question (state of research, methods, empirical data collection, data analysis, etc.). Don’t forget to answer the research question in your thesis statement .

  • The research question is central to every bachelor’s and master’s thesis. It determines the content, the structure, and the aim of an academic paper  — i.e., finding an answer to the research question.
  • The research question is closely related to the topic and the title of the paper. You will never be able to deal with all aspects of a topic. The research question is the narrowed down version that shows which particular aspect you want to focus on in your thesis/paper.
  • The research question is best phrased as a Wh-question and must address a problem/an aspect that is new (no other paper has dealt with this issue/looked at this issue from the same angle).
  • It is not your task to reinvent the wheel. The research question narrows down the topic and, thus, excludes aspects that are not essential to the research question.
  • Answering your research question is your personal contribution to science and represents newly generated knowledge.
  • The research question is part of the introduction , right after a brief introduction of the topic.
  • There are different types of research questions: descriptive, explanatory, creative, critical/evaluative, and utopic.
  • It is important to ensure that a research question is never vague or biased. It pays off to take enough time to formulate a research question properly. Moreover, a research question must be researchable and relevant for the field of study.

Andermann, Ulrich, Martin Drees & Frank Götz. 2006. Wie verfasst man wissenschaftliche Arbeiten? 3 rd Ed. Mannheim: Dudenverlag.

Bänsch, Axel & Dorothea Alewell. 2013. Wissenschaftliches Arbeiten . 11 th Ed. Munich: Oldenbourg Verlag.

CIRT. “Writing a Good Research Question”, in: CIRT.  https://cirt.gcu.edu/research/developmentresources/tutorials/question . Last accessed 26 th  Mar 2019.

Esselborn-Krumbiegel, Helga. 2002. Von der Idee zum Text – Eine Anleitung zum wissenschaftlichen Schreiben . Paderborn: Ferdinand Schöningh.

Flinn, Chad. “What makes a good research question”, in: Chad Flinn.  https://malat-webspace.royalroads.ca/rru0054/what-makes-a-good-research-question/ . Last accessed 26 th  Mar 2019.

Franck, Norbert & Joachim Stary. 2009. Die Technik des wissenschaftlichen Arbeitens . 15 th Ed. Paderborn: Ferdinand Schöningh.

Karmasin, Matthias & Rainer Ribing. 2014. Die Gestaltung wissenschaftlicher Arbeiten. 8 th Ed. Vienna: Facultas.

Kruse, Otto. 2007. Keine Angst vor dem leeren Blatt – Ohne Schreibblockaden durchs Studium . 12 th Ed. Frankfurt: Campus.

Kruse, Otto. 2010. Lesen und Schreiben – Der richtige Umgang mit Texten im Studium. Konstanz: UVK Verlagsgesellschaft.

Kornmeier, Martin. 2013. Wissenschaftlich schreiben leicht gemacht – für Bachelor, Master und Dissertation . 6 th Ed. Bern: Haupt.

Lamar Memorial Library. “Creating a Research Question”, in: Lamar Memorial Library. https://library.maryvillecollege.edu/c.php?g=616334&p=4320157 . Last accessed 26 th  Mar 2019.

Lewis A. Jackson Library. “Forming a Research Question”, in: Lewis A. Jackson Library.  http://indwes.libguides.com/c.php?g=71141&p=458447 . Last accessed 26 th  Mar 2019.

Oertner, Monika, Illona St. John & Gabriele Thelen. 2014. Wissenschaftlich Schreiben – Ein Praxisbuch für Schreibtrainer und Studierende . Paderborn: Wilhelm Fink.

Rossig, Wolfram E. & Joachim Prätsch. 2005. Wissenschaftliche Arbeiten . 5 th Ed. Weyhe: PRINT-TEC.

Samac, Klaus, Monika Prenner & Herbert Schwetz. 2009. Die Bachelorarbeit an Universität und Fachhochschule . Vienna: Facultas.

Winter, Wolfgang. 2005. Wissenschaftliche Arbeiten schreiben . 2 nd Ed. Frankfurt: Redline Wirtschaft.

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From Breakthroughs to Best Practices: How NIMH Transforms Research Into Real-World Care

Patricia Arean, Susan Azrin, Michael Freed, Adam Haim, Jennifer Humensky, Stephen O’Connor, Jane Pearson, Mary Rooney, Matthew Rudorfer, Joel Sherrill, and Belinda Sims, on behalf of the Division of Services and Intervention Research. 

February 26, 2024 • 75th Anniversary

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For 75 years, NIMH has transformed the understanding and treatment of mental illnesses through basic and clinical research—bringing hope to millions of people. This Director’s Message, guest written by NIMH’s Division of Services and Intervention Research , is part of an anniversary series celebrating this momentous milestone.

More than one in five adults in the United States live with a mental illness, and this number is expected to rise in the coming decades. Since its establishment, the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) has known that people need more than exciting scientific discoveries—they need access to effective treatments and the best quality of care available. After all, finding new treatments and cures means little to the millions of people impacted by mental illnesses if there is no way to translate these breakthroughs into policy and practice.

In the Division of Services and Intervention Research (DSIR) , we provide the critical link between basic and clinical science and explore the best practices to implement those evidence-based treatments. We’re dedicated to growing and investing in this field of science, and although much work is still to be done, we’ve had some notable successes impacting real-world public health practices and policies.

Improving outcomes for people with early psychosis

A depiction of the Coordinated Specialty Care Model.

One example of research that has bridged the divide between science and policy is the Recovery After an Initial Schizophrenia Episode , or RAISE, studies. Research has shown that young people with schizophrenia and related psychotic disorders have much better outcomes when they receive effective treatment within months of their first symptoms. The RAISE studies, which NIMH supported, focused on methods to detect and treat early psychosis in a timelier fashion. These studies found that a type of care called coordinated specialty care (CSC)—a recovery-oriented, team-based approach to treating early psychosis—was more effective than the typical care used at the time.

A map showing the number of Coordinated Specialty Care programs in each U.S. state.

NIMH engaged extensively with members of the early schizophrenia care community to ensure RAISE findings would be relevant and actionable for rapid translation into practice. These efforts created the momentum for the broad expansion of CSC treatment programs nationwide. In 2023, the creation of associated billing codes further supported this model of mental health care, allowing for increased adoption by care providers.

From CSC programs in two states in 2008, the United States now has more than 360 such programs, allowing more people to receive this evidence-based care.

Removing barriers to schizophrenia treatment

Clozapine, the only drug approved for treatment-resistant schizophrenia, is underutilized in the United States, particularly among African American communities. Many reasons have been linked to this disparity, including provider bias, lack of trust in the mental health care system for African American clients, and an overprescribing of first-generation antipsychotic medication for African Americans with schizophrenia. Additionally, clozapine has been associated with an increased risk of the onset or exacerbation of neutropenia, a condition that affects white blood cells and impairs the body’s ability to fight infection. Benign ethnic neutropenia is a chronic form of neutropenia that's present from birth and commonly seen in people of African descent.

In 2015, NIMH supported a large, multinational study  that investigated the use of clozapine in individuals of African descent who have benign neutropenia  . Individuals with treatment-resistant schizophrenia who had benign neutropenia had previously been declared ineligible to receive clozapine treatment due to the Food and Drug Administration’s prescribing guidelines related to this medication. The finding of this NIMH-supported study opened up clozapine treatment to a whole new group of individuals with schizophrenia, allowing them to benefit from this important medication.

The ECHO model. Courtesy of Project ECHO.

Building upon these findings, NIMH is currently funding research that evaluates the effectiveness of an educational program for clinicians about clozapine  . Hundreds of prescribers and clinicians throughout the state of Maryland are participating in an innovative educational tele-mentoring program that connects them with centralized experts. The prescribing activity of clinicians participating in the educational program will be compared with those who have not participated to see if the program is effective at increasing the use of clozapine among those who would benefit from it.

Given the real-world context of this study, the findings can potentially inform clinical practice and make a needed treatment more accessible to many African Americans.

Preventing mental illnesses in youth

Recognizing that many mental health conditions have their origins early in life, NIMH has supported several seminal studies showing the effectiveness of interventions designed to prevent conduct disorder and other behavioral conditions in youth. These include evaluations of a classroom-wide behavioral intervention called the Good Behavior Game   , a school-home wraparound intervention called Fast Track  , and a brief family-based intervention for toddlers called Family Check-up  .

Today, NIMH continues to support the analysis of data from participants in these studies who have been followed into adulthood   . Initial results from these longitudinal analyses show sustained effects of the interventions on conduct disorder and unanticipated positive impacts on other mental health outcomes, such as reductions in adolescent and adult depression, anxiety, and suicide risk, thus demonstrating the broad and enduring effects of early prevention efforts.

Early intervention represents an important pathway to making quality care accessible to everyone, particularly when embedded within a broader approach that addresses social determinants of health . NIMH is currently supporting research that tests strategies to improve access to prevention services, including primary care-based depression prevention for adolescents  and mental illness prevention for at-risk Latinx youth  .

Suicide prevention in emergency departments

ED-SAFE study phases. Courtesy of Boudreaux, E. D. & ED-SAFE investigators.

An estimated 20% of people who die by suicide visit the emergency department in the 60 days before their death, making these settings an important target for suicide prevention efforts. Given the importance of emergency departments as a place to identify and provide support for people at risk for suicide, NIMH has supported research establishing the effectiveness of suicide prevention services in these settings.

An example of this research is the multisite Emergency Department Safety Assessment and Follow-up Evaluation (ED-SAFE) study. ED-SAFE demonstrated  that providing universal screening for suicide risk and a brief safety planning intervention in emergency departments, combined with limited follow-up contacts once people had been discharged, decreased subsequent suicide attempts by 30% compared to usual care.

A follow-up study also supported by NIMH, called ED-SAFE 2  , tested the integration of universal screening for suicide risk and safety planning into the clinical workflow of eight emergency departments. Study results  indicated that integration of this clinical workflow resulted in sustained reductions in suicide deaths and subsequent acute health care visits.

These landmark studies convey the power of providing relatively brief, well-timed interventions during emergency encounters to reduce the risk of later suicide. NIMH continues to fund research to expand the reach of emergency department-based interventions, including the use of digital health technologies and strategies to overcome workforce shortages and other barriers to implementing suicide screening and intervention (for instance, digital technology to increase the reach of ED-SAFE  ; a multi-component, tailored strategy for suicide risk reduction  ). NIMH works closely with public and private partners to take recent data, like those collected during the ED-SAFE studies, and help translate them into real-world practice   .

Moving forward

The studies and projects shared here are only a few examples of exciting areas of investment that have resulted in real-world changes in care. Although we’ve made progress, we recognize the need to continue supporting research with near-term potential and cultivating a vibrant workforce to lead the next generation of services and intervention research.

Further, NIMH is committed to working with researchers, communities, payors, advocacy groups, state policymakers, federal agencies, and others to help support intervention and services science that will significantly impact mental health policy and care practices—ultimately helping people access better mental health care.

Read our research on: Immigration & Migration | Podcasts | Election 2024

Regions & Countries

Race and lgbtq issues in k-12 schools, what teachers, teens and the u.s. public say about current curriculum debates.

Demonstrators outside a school board meeting in Glendale, California, on June 20, 2023. (David McNew/Getty Images)

Pew Research Center conducted this study to better understand how public K-12 teachers, teens and the American public see topics related to race, sexual orientation and gender identity playing out in the classroom.

The bulk of the analysis in this report is based on an online survey of 2,531 U.S. public K-12 teachers conducted from Oct. 17 to Nov. 14, 2023. The teachers surveyed are members of RAND’s American Teacher Panel, a nationally representative panel of public school K-12 teachers recruited through MDR Education. Survey data is weighted to state and national teacher characteristics to account for differences in sampling and response to ensure they are representative of the target population.

For the questions for the general public, we surveyed 5,029 U.S. adults from Nov. 9 to Nov. 16, 2023. The adults surveyed are members of the Ipsos KnowledgePanel, a nationally representative online survey panel. Panel members are randomly recruited through probability-based sampling, and households are provided with access to the Internet and hardware if needed. To ensure that the results of this survey reflect a balanced cross section of the nation, the data is weighted to match the U.S. adult population by gender, age, education, race and ethnicity and other categories.

For questions for teens, we conducted an online survey of 1,453 U.S. teens from Sept. 26 to Oct. 23, 2023, through Ipsos. Ipsos recruited the teens via their parents, who were part of its KnowledgePanel. The survey was weighted to be representative of U.S. teens ages 13 to 17 who live with their parents by age, gender, race and ethnicity, household income, and other categories. The survey on teens was reviewed and approved by an external institutional review board (IRB), Advarra, an independent committee of experts specializing in helping to protect the rights of research participants.

Here are the questions used for this report , along with responses, and the survey methodology .

Throughout the report, references to White, Black and Asian adults include those who are not Hispanic and identify as only one race. Hispanics are of any race. The views and experiences of teachers and teens who are Asian American or part of other racial and ethnic groups are not analyzed separately in this report due to sample limitations. Data for these groups is incorporated into the general population figures throughout the report.

All references to party affiliation include those who lean toward that party. Republicans include those who identify as Republicans and those who say they lean toward the Republican Party. Democrats include those who identify as Democrats and those who say they lean toward the Democratic Party.

Political leaning of school districts is based on whether the majority of those residing in the school district voted for Republican Donald Trump or Democrat Joe Biden in the 2020 presidential election.

Amid national debates about what schools are teaching , we asked public K-12 teachers, teens and the American public how they see topics related to race, sexual orientation and gender identity playing out in the classroom.

A pie chart showing that about 4 in 10 teachers say current debates about K-12 education have had a negative impact on their job.

A sizeable share of teachers (41%) say these debates have had a negative impact on their ability to do their job. Just 4% say these debates have had a positive impact, while 53% say the impact has been neither positive nor negative or that these debates have had no impact.

And 71% of teachers say teachers themselves don’t have enough influence over what’s taught in public schools in their area.

In turn, a majority of teachers (58%) say their state government has too much influence over this. And more say the federal government, the local school board and parents have too much influence than say they don’t have enough.

Most of the findings in this report come from a survey of 2,531 U.S. public K-12 teachers conducted Oct. 17-Nov. 14, 2023, using the RAND American Teacher Panel. 1 The survey looks at teachers’ views on:

  • Race and LGBTQ issues in the classroom ( Chapter 1 )
  • Current debates over what schools should be teaching and the role of key groups ( Chapter 2 )

It follows a fall 2022 survey of K-12 parents that explored similar topics.

This report also includes some findings from a survey of U.S. teens ages 13 to 17 ( Chapter 3 ) and a survey of U.S. adults ( Chapter 4 ). For details about these surveys, refer to the Methodology section of this report. Among the key findings:

  • 38% of teens say they feel comfortable when topics related to racism or racial inequality come up in class (among those who say these topics have come up). A smaller share (29%) say they feel comfortable when topics related to sexual orientation or gender identity come up.
  • Among the American public , more say parents should be able to opt their children out of learning about LGBTQ issues than say the same about topics related to race (54% vs. 34%).

What do teachers think students should learn about slavery and gender identity?

A diverging bar chart showing that most teachers think students should learn that the legacy of slavery still affects Black Americans today.

We asked public K-12 teachers what they think students should learn in school about two topics in particular:

  • Whether the legacy of slavery still affects the position of Black people in American society today.
  • Whether a person’s gender can be different from or is determined by their sex at birth.

For these questions, elementary, middle and high school teachers were asked about elementary, middle and high school students, respectively.

The legacy of slavery

Most teachers (64%) say students should learn that the legacy of slavery still affects the position of Black people in American society today.

About a quarter (23%) say students should learn that slavery is part of American history but no longer affects the position of Black people in American society. Just 8% say students shouldn’t learn about this topic in school at all.

Majorities of elementary, middle and high school teachers say students should learn that the legacy of slavery still has an impact on the lives of Black Americans.

Gender identity

A diverging bar chart showing that most elementary school teachers say students shouldn’t learn about gender identity at school.

When it comes to teaching about gender identity – specifically whether a person’s gender can be different from or is determined by their sex assigned at birth – half of public K-12 teachers say students shouldn’t learn about this in school.

A third of teachers think students should learn that someone can be a boy or a girl even if that is different from the sex they were assigned at birth.

A smaller share (14%) say students should learn that whether someone is a boy or a girl is determined by their sex at birth.

Views differ among elementary, middle and high school teachers. But teachers across the three levels are more likely to say students should learn that a person’s gender can be different from their sex at birth than to say students should learn gender is determined by sex at birth.

Most elementary school teachers (62%) say students shouldn’t learn about gender identity in school. This is much larger than the shares of middle and high school teachers who say the same (45% and 35%).

What parents and teens say

Parents of K-12 students are more divided on what their children should learn in school about these topics.

In the 2022 survey , 49% of parents said they’d rather their children learn that the legacy of slavery still affects the position of Black people in American society today, while 42% said they’d rather their children learn that slavery no longer affects Black Americans.

When it comes to gender identity, 31% of parents said they’d rather their children learn that gender can be different from sex at birth. An identical share said they would rather their children learn gender is determined by sex at birth. Another 37% of parents said their children shouldn’t learn about gender identity in school.

Teens, like parents, are more divided than teachers on these questions. About half of teens (48%) say they’d rather learn that the legacy of slavery still affects the position of Black Americans today. Four-in-ten would prefer to learn that slavery no longer affects Black Americans.

And teens are about evenly divided when it comes to what they prefer to learn about gender identity. A quarter say they’d rather learn that a person’s gender can be different from their sex at birth; 26% would prefer to learn that gender is determined by sex at birth. About half (48%) say they shouldn’t learn about gender identity in school.

For more on teens’ views about what they prefer to learn in school about each of these topics, read Chapter 3 of this report.

Should parents be able to opt their children out of learning about certain topics?

Most public K-12 teachers (60%) say parents should not be able to opt their children out of learning about racism or racial inequality in school, even if the way these topics are taught conflicts with the parents’ beliefs. A quarter say parents should be able to opt their children out of learning about these topics.

In contrast, more say parents should be able to opt their children out of learning about sexual orientation or gender identity (48%) than say parents should not be able to do this (33%).

On topics related to both race and LGBTQ issues, elementary and middle school teachers are more likely than high school teachers to say parents should be able to opt their children out.

How teachers’ views compare with the public’s views

A diverging bar chart showing that 54% of Americans say parents should be able to opt their children out of learning about LGBTQ issues.

Like teachers, Americans overall are more likely to say parents should be able to opt their children out of learning about sexual orientation or gender identity (54%) than to say they should be able to opt their children out of learning about racism or racial inequality (34%).

Across both issues, Americans overall are somewhat more likely than teachers to say parents should be able to opt their children out.

For more on the public’s views, read Chapter 4 of this report.

How often do topics related to race and LGBTQ issues come up in the classroom?

A horizontal stacked bar chart showing that topics related to racism and racial inequality come up in the classroom more often than LGBTQ issues.

Most teachers who’ve been teaching for more than a year (68%) say the topics of sexual orientation and gender identity rarely or never came up in their classroom in the 2022-23 school year. About one-in-five (21%) say these topics came up sometimes, and 8% say they came up often or extremely often.

Topics related to racism or racial inequality come up more frequently. A majority of teachers (56%) say these topics came up at least sometimes in their classroom, with 21% saying they came up often or extremely often.

These topics are more likely to come up in secondary school than in elementary school classrooms.

How do teachers’ views differ by party?

As is the case among parents of K-12 students and the general public, teachers’ views on how topics related to race and LGBTQ issues should play out in the classroom differ by political affiliation.

  • What students should learn about slavery: 85% of Democratic and Democratic-leaning teachers say students should learn that the legacy of slavery still affects the position of Black people in American society today. This compares with 35% of Republican and Republican-leaning teachers who say the same.

A diverging bar chart showing that teachers’ views on parents opting their children out of learning about race, LGBTQ issues differ widely by party.

  • What students should learn about gender identity: Democratic teachers are far more likely than Republican teachers to say students should learn that a person’s gender can be different from the sex they were assigned at birth (53% vs. 5%). Most Republican teachers (69%) say students shouldn’t learn about gender identity in school.
  • Parents opting their children out of learning about these topics: 80% of Republican teachers say parents should be able to opt their children out of learning about LGBTQ issues, compared with 30% of Democratic teachers. And while 47% of Republican teachers say parents should be able to opt their children out of learning about racism and racial inequality, just 11% of Democratic teachers say this.

A majority of public K-12 teachers (58%) identify with or lean toward the Democratic Party. About a third (35%) identify with or lean toward the GOP. Americans overall are more evenly divided: 47% are Democrats or Democratic leaners, and 45% are Republicans or Republican leaners .

  • For details, refer to the Methodology section of the report. ↩

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Table of contents, ‘back to school’ means anytime from late july to after labor day, depending on where in the u.s. you live, among many u.s. children, reading for fun has become less common, federal data shows, most european students learn english in school, for u.s. teens today, summer means more schooling and less leisure time than in the past, about one-in-six u.s. teachers work second jobs – and not just in the summer, most popular.

About Pew Research Center Pew Research Center is a nonpartisan fact tank that informs the public about the issues, attitudes and trends shaping the world. It conducts public opinion polling, demographic research, media content analysis and other empirical social science research. Pew Research Center does not take policy positions. It is a subsidiary of The Pew Charitable Trusts .

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NIA is leading efforts to coordinate NIH palliative care research February 28, 2024

Headshot of Chandra Keller

The blog authors thank the other members of the core NIA palliative care team, Basil Eldadah and Elena Fazio, for their contributions to this post, and Jessica Boten for her review and input.

When you hear the words “palliative care,” you may initially think of end-of-life or hospice care, but it is much broader in scope. Palliative care is an interdisciplinary field focused on improving quality of life for people with serious illness and their families and caregivers. Core elements of palliative care include treating symptoms such as pain and psychological distress, understanding and addressing the patient’s and family’s care goals, and facilitating care coordination. Palliative care can occur at any time during the trajectory of serious illness, even alongside interventions intended to treat or cure disease.

New NIH collaborative approach to palliative care research

Multiple NIH Institutes and Centers (ICs) support research on palliative care relevant to their unique audiences and disease portfolios. A centralized NIH approach would help identify synergies among these ICs and create a clearer training path for those interested in research careers in this area. We’re excited that recently, NIA was named the lead NIH Institute for this effort.

New opportunity for a palliative care consortium

To expand research in this critical area, NIH has released a new funding opportunity to develop the Consortium for Palliative Care Research Across the Lifespan . The initiative is supported by NIA as well as the National Cancer Institute, Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, National Institute of Mental Health, National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, and National Institute of Nursing Research, with additional ICs contributing expertise and programmatic support. The consortium will:

  • Generate new scientific knowledge in part through pilot and exploratory studies awarded through national, peer-reviewed competitions
  • Foster training and mentoring of early- and mid-career palliative care investigators through its Research Education Core Scholars program and other activities
  • Engage health care systems and community-based organizations as research partners and settings
  • Facilitate research to understand and address disparities in access, quality, and use of palliative care services
  • Disseminate research findings, best practices, data, and other impactful resources to the palliative care research and clinical communities

Check out the webinar on March 15 and apply by July 2

Interested applicants should register for the pre-application technical assistance webinar on March 15, 2024, at 3:30 p.m. ET. We strongly encourage submission of webinar questions in advance by emailing [email protected] . Applications are due by July 2, 2024. For more information, visit our FAQs page .

We look forward to working with you to advance NIH palliative care research! If you have questions, please email the team or leave a comment below.

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Ray Hershberger

What is dilated cardiomyopathy and who does it affect?

Our expert explains this “silent” heart condition and the role of genetics in its detection and treatment..

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One in 250 Americans has a common but serious heart condition called dilated cardiomyopathy. The condition causes the heart muscle to weaken and enlarge, which results in the heart not pumping as strongly as it should.

Cardiologist Ray Hershberger, MD , explains the condition and describes the role of genetics  in the detection and treatment of it.

Dr. Hershberger says that because dilated cardiomyopathy often doesn’t present itself until it’s in the late phase of the disease, it’s considered a “silent” disease. This fact makes pinpointing signs and symptoms difficult.

Between 30% and 50% of the people who have dilated myopathy have a family history of the disease. That’s why, when a patient is newly diagnosed with dilated cardiomyopathy, genetic testing is often recommended for family members, including parents, siblings and children.

This type of testing allows a cardiologist not only to assess other family members’ risk, but to create a plan to prevent the development of the disease. Or, if a family member is in an early stage of the disease, it allows that person to begin treatment sooner.

The key takeaway of genetic testing is understanding a person’s risk, learning how the condition starts and evolves, then intervening early to prevent advanced stage disease.

Watch this Health Talks video for more information about dilated cardiomyopathy, including:

  • An overview of the disease
  • Signs and symptoms of late phase disease
  • Screening, diagnosis and treatment options
  • The role of genetics
  • Identifying a patient’s risk and preventing advanced disease

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Learn more about advances in care and treatment for patients at The Ohio State University Heart and Vascular Center

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How to Interview a Candidate You Don’t Immediately Click With

what is research questions for

Hiring managers often gravitate toward people that are similar to them — but that can be damaging to organizations in the long run.

It’s often easier for interviewers to connect with candidates who have similar backgrounds, pedigrees, credentials, or perspectives. In fact, research shows that implicit bias shapes hiring managers’ perceptions of candidates in profound ways. At the same time, research also attests to the enormous benefits of diversity. As organizations experiment with new ways to attract and retain underrepresented talent, the job interview dynamic merits further attention. Fortunately, there are proven strategies for boosting your chances of “clicking” with an interviewee — and for breathing new life into interviews that appear to be on their last gasps.

When hiring managers “click” with job candidates during interviews, it can feel like magic. When they don’t, it can be tempting to write the candidate off, going through the motions of asking pro forma questions until the allotted time has passed.

what is research questions for

  • Rae Ringel   is the president of  The Ringel Group , a leadership development consultancy specializing in facilitation, coaching, and training. She is a faculty member at the Georgetown University Institute for Transformational Leadership and founder of the  Executive Certificate in Facilitation  program.

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IMAGES

  1. Research Questions

    what is research questions for

  2. Research Questions: Definition, Types, and How to Write One

    what is research questions for

  3. How to Develop a Strong Research Question

    what is research questions for

  4. When Formulating a Research Question a Researcher Should

    what is research questions for

  5. What Is a Research Question? Tips on How to Find Interesting Topics

    what is research questions for

  6. PPT

    what is research questions for

VIDEO

  1. What is research

  2. scientific investigation research Questions|#dsssb2024

  3. Research Questions

  4. Choosing the Best Research Topic

  5. How To Write A Very Good Research Question

COMMENTS

  1. Writing Strong Research Questions

    A good research question is essential to guide your research paper, dissertation, or thesis. 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.

  2. How to Write a Research Question in 2024: Types, Steps, and Examples

    A research question is a question that a study or research project, through its thesis statement, aims to answer. This question often addresses an issue or a problem, which, through analysis and interpretation of data, is answered in the study's conclusion.

  3. Research Questions: Definitions, Types + [Examples]

    A qualitative research question is a type of systematic inquiry that aims at collecting qualitative data from research subjects. The aim of qualitative research questions is to gather non-statistical information pertaining to the experiences, observations, and perceptions of the research subjects in line with the objectives of the investigation.

  4. Research Questions

    Definition: Research questions are the specific questions that guide a research study or inquiry. These questions help to define the scope of the research and provide a clear focus for the study. Research questions are usually developed at the beginning of a research project and are designed to address a particular research problem or objective.

  5. Research Question: Definition, Types, Examples, Quick Tips

    There are two types of research: Qualitative research and Quantitative research. There must be research questions for every type of research. Your research question will be based on the type of research you want to conduct and the type of data collection. The first step in designing research involves identifying a gap and creating a focused ...

  6. Research Question 101

    As the name suggests, these types of research questions seek to explore the relationships between variables. Here, an example could be something like "What is the relationship between X and Y" or "Does A have an impact on B". As you can see, these types of research questions are interested in understanding how constructs or variables ...

  7. How to Write a Good Research Question (w/ Examples)

    A good research question should: Be clear and provide specific information so readers can easily understand the purpose. Be focused in its scope and narrow enough to be addressed in the space allowed by your paper. Be relevant and concise and express your main ideas in as few words as possible, like a hypothesis.

  8. The Writing Center

    Research questions should not be answerable with a simple "yes" or "no" or by easily-found facts. They should, instead, require both research and analysis on the part of the writer. They often begin with "How" or "Why.". Begin your research. After you've come up with a question, think about the possible paths your research ...

  9. Research Questions: Definition, Types, and How to Write One

    Good research question should be: 1. Clear and easy to understand without the need for additional explanation. 2. Relevant to your field of study. 3. Arguable and open for debate, not acceptable as fast. 4. Focused enough so you can answer it thoroughly and concisely in fewest words possible.

  10. How to Develop a Good Research Question?

    A good research question defines your study and helps you seek an answer to your research. Moreover, a clear research question guides the research paper or thesis to define exactly what you want to find out, giving your work its objective. Learning to write a research question is the beginning to any thesis, dissertation, or research paper ...

  11. How to Write a Research Question: Types and Examples

    A research question is a clear, focused, concise, and arguable question on which your research and writing are centered. 1 It states various aspects of the study, including the population and variables to be studied and the problem the study addresses. These questions also set the boundaries of the study, ensuring cohesion.

  12. Research question

    A research question is "a question that a research project sets out to answer". Choosing a research question is an essential element of both quantitative and qualitative research. Investigation will require data collection and analysis, and the methodology for this will vary widely. Good research questions seek to improve knowledge on an ...

  13. Research Question Examples ‍

    A well-crafted research question (or set of questions) sets the stage for a robust study and meaningful insights. But, if you're new to research, it's not always clear what exactly constitutes a good research question. In this post, we'll provide you with clear examples of quality research questions across various disciplines, so that you can approach your research project with confidence!

  14. Library Home: Research Basics: Developing a Research Question

    A research question is an essential tool to help guide your research paper, project, or thesis. It poses a specific question that you are seeking to answer in your paper. Research questions can be broad or narrow, and can change throughout the research process. The length of your paper and the research you're able to locate will help to shape ...

  15. Research Questions, Objectives & Aims (+ Examples)

    The research aims, objectives and research questions (collectively called the "golden thread") are arguably the most important thing you need to get right when you're crafting a research proposal, dissertation or thesis.We receive questions almost every day about this "holy trinity" of research and there's certainly a lot of confusion out there, so we've crafted this post to help ...

  16. How to Write a Strong Research Question

    The research question helps to define the scope and focus of the study. It identifies the specific topic or issue that the researcher wants to investigate, and it sets the boundaries for the study. A research question can also help you determine if your study primarily contributes to theory or is more applied in nature.

  17. Research questions explained plus examples

    Research questions: This article provides a practical explanation of the topic of research questions.The article begins with a general definition of the term "research question" and an explanation of the different types of research questions. You will also find several useful tips for developing your own research question and sub-questions, for example, for a thesis or other research project.

  18. What Is a Research Question? Tips on How to Find Interesting Topics in

    A simple research question definition would be a question that a researcher wants to answer. Operationally, research questions are the main basis for how a research paper is made. As such, there are many types of research questions, depending on the field of study, accepted methodologies, and topics of interest you are dealing with.

  19. PDF What Makes a Good Research Question?

    In essence, the research question that guides the sciences and social sciences should do the following three things:2. 1) Post a problem. 2) Shape the problem into a testable hypothesis. 3) Report the results of the tested hypothesis. There are two types of data that can help shape research questions in the sciences and social sciences ...

  20. Formulation of Research Question

    Formulation of research question (RQ) is an essentiality before starting any research. It aims to explore an existing uncertainty in an area of concern and points to a need for deliberate investigation. It is, therefore, pertinent to formulate a good RQ. The present paper aims to discuss the process of formulation of RQ with stepwise approach.

  21. Research questions, hypotheses and objectives

    Research question. Interest in a particular topic usually begins the research process, but it is the familiarity with the subject that helps define an appropriate research question for a study. 1 Questions then arise out of a perceived knowledge deficit within a subject area or field of study. 2 Indeed, Haynes suggests that it is important to know "where the boundary between current ...

  22. Research Question

    The research question lies at the heart of every piece of academic writing. The research question determines the sources to be quoted, how to structure the argument, and what a paper aims at. The research question narrows down the topic and makes sure that the paper has a common thread. Moreover, the research question gives the reader a clear ...

  23. From Breakthroughs to Best Practices: How NIMH Transforms Research Into

    One example of research that has bridged the divide between science and policy is the Recovery After an Initial Schizophrenia Episode, or RAISE, studies. Research has shown that young people with schizophrenia and related psychotic disorders have much better outcomes when they receive effective treatment within months of their first symptoms.

  24. Race and LGBTQ Issues in K-12 Schools

    Amid national debates about what schools are teaching, we asked public K-12 teachers, teens and the American public how they see topics related to race, sexual orientation and gender identity playing out in the classroom.. A sizeable share of teachers (41%) say these debates have had a negative impact on their ability to do their job. Just 4% say these debates have had a positive impact, while ...

  25. NIA is leading efforts to coordinate NIH palliative care research

    We strongly encourage submission of webinar questions in advance by emailing [email protected]. Applications are due by July 2, 2024. For more information, visit our FAQs page. We look forward to working with you to advance NIH palliative care research! If you have questions, please email the team or leave a comment below. Add ...

  26. Why Genuinely Connecting With Other People (and Building Instant

    Research backs that up, too. In a series of studies published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, strangers who were forced to have deeper conversations felt less awkward, more ...

  27. What is dilated cardiomyopathy?

    Your source for health, wellness, innovation, research and science news from the experts at Ohio State. There's a powerful story behind every headline at Ohio State Health & Discovery. As one of the largest academic health centers and health sciences campuses in the nation, we are uniquely positioned with renowned experts covering all aspects ...

  28. How to Interview a Candidate You Don't Immediately Click With

    In fact, research shows that implicit bias shapes hiring managers' perceptions of candidates in profound ways. At the same time, research also attests to the enormous benefits of diversity.

  29. PDF Charge Questions EPA Board of Scientific Counselors (BOSC) Overview of

    Question C: Charge Questions for the Combined BOSC Social and Community Science and Climate Change Subcommittees To address critical environmental challenges such as climate change, environmental justice issues, and cumulative impacts, ORD is expanding the use of community-engaged research methods such as co-