Deconstructing research questions – Transcript

This is a transcript of the video "Deconstructing research questions", hosted on YouTube.


[QUT intro graphic]

[Title Slide: Deconstructing Research Questions]

[Group Member 1] So now that we've learned all about a good research question and the six properties in detail: about what should be in a good research question. Now we get to take a look at some real-life examples and identify which properties are missing from them. Should we start with, how about question two, down the bottom here?

[Group Member 2] Okay, question two. "How do climate-driven changes in the bio-physical environment of the Great Lakes region, affect the sustainability of wetlands?"

[Slide 1: A Good Research Question]

  1. Theoretical construct - Identifies the phenomenon / event you want to learn more about.
  2. Recognisability - Allows you to distinguish and identify the construct in the literature.
  3. Transcends the data - Transcends the data used to conduct the research.
  4. Significance - Draws attention to the significance of the research.
  5. The capacity to surprise - Has the capacity to surprise the researcher as they research.
  6. Robust - Encourages a complex answer (i.e. not a 'yes' or 'no' response)

[Group Member 1] So we start at the top with the theoretical constructs and their recognisability.

[Group Member 3] Well I think the theoretical constructs are quite clear and, in fact, I can pick one which is "climate-driven changes". And that's a recognisable term as well.

[Group Member 2] That's clear. So is "the biophysical environment"?

[Group Member 4] And I guess the "sustainability of wetlands", the "of wetlands" means that it's not just about sustainability in general, so it's a bit more specific, and the sustainability draws attention to the significance of the research too.

[Group Member 1] That's really true. And it's a robust question, so it's quite a complex answer, it's not answered with a 'yes' or a 'no'.

[Group Member 3] I really have a question about whether it transcends the data though. I

don't think it does, but what do you think?

[Group Member 1] I wonder whether their inclusion of the "Great Lakes region", that's obviously where they're going to be gathering their data from. Does that actually belong there in the question? Or is it still a robust question if they just talked about the wetlands in general. It doesn't transcend the data, that's what's missing.

[Group Member 3] Yeah right.

[Group Member 2] Okay probably.

[Group Member 4] I'd agree with that.

[Group Member 1] Fantastic, that one is done. Let's have a look at another question and identify the missing properties. How about number five?

[Group Member 3] All right. "Are the learning strategies used by law students at St Louis University's School of Law effective?"

[Group Member 4] I think it doesn't even meet the criteria of robustness, doesn't it, because if you have a look it's a 'yes/no' question.

[Group Member 1] And with this one too, I think we've got a problem with transcending the data: by mentioning the name of the university and a specific group of students, they're actually missing that ability to transcend the data.

[Group Member 3] And I'm sort of a little bit concerned about the theoretical constructs actually. I think it's too broad the way they've written it and "law learning strategies" seem to be too big and they're not linked to any sort of outcome, I suppose. So things like "case analysis skills of first-year law students" would make it more concise and contained and, I think, doable as well.

[Group Member 1] Much better question. So we're missing three properties from that particular question. That one's done.

[Group Member 2] Nice.

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