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RES104: LIFE Section: Writing Research Questions

What is a research question?

A research question gives your research project direction and focus. Your thesis is the answer to this question. Your paper will explain the answer using evidence from the sources you found in your research.

Research question formula

How to improve your research question

How to improve your research question

Goldilocks Questions

What makes a good research question?

  • Coming up with a good research question requires some background knowledge on your topic. Do some background reading to familiarize yourself with the important concepts, debates, problems, theories, and issues relating to your topic. Keep an eye out for problem/solution and cause/effect relationships - those are easy to turn into research questions.

  • A well-developed research question generally starts with a word like "how" or "why" - it's asking about something complex rather than basic facts. A research question also usually has more than one potential answer - your task in your paper is to prove why your answer is the best or most complete, using evidence from your research.

  • If you have an idea of your topic, but you haven't figured out your research question, start taking a look at some scholarly articles! Look at what questions scholars are trying to answer with their research, and develop your own question based on your sources. This strategy saves you a lot of time, since you're finding sources and developing your research question at once!
  • From Topic to Thesis

    Source Types