The Research Question – Transcript

This is a transcript of the video "The Research Question", hosted on YouTube.


[Caption] Queensland University of Technology, Brisbane Australia.

[Caption] IFN001 AIRS Advanced Information Research Skills -

According to Foss and Waters, a good research question has 6 properties.

Firstly, it clearly identifies the Theoretical construct, which is simply a word - or words - describing a phenomenon, event, idea, or experience you will be researching.

The theoretical construct should use current terminology that is recognisable as used by experts in your field. Your question should be broad enough to transcend the data you’ll be collecting, which just means that you’re not too specific, so as to reduce your question to the particular data you’ll be using.

There are many ways to answer a question and many methods for collecting particular data, like: case studies, interviews, writing a meta-analysis, ethnography, computer simulations, discourse analysis, practise-led research, action research, experiments and surveys. Your question needs to be broad enough to indicate relevance to others in your field, beyond the way you will choose to answer it and draw attention to the significance of your research. Incorporating the significance of your research, will involve indicating the so what factor.

Will the answer to your question enhance knowledge, improve processes, save money, save lives, improve wellbeing? Knowing how to communicate the significance of your research is important for many reasons and should be evident in your research question. The question will produce an answer that is robust and complex. You do that by using phrases that will open up the topic. If you can answer your question with a Yes or No – it is not robust.

Some good examples:

  • What factors affect…?
  • What strategies are used…?
  • What are the effects of…?
  • What is the relationship between…?
  • What are the mechanisms by which…?

Finally, your research question should have the capacity to surprise you as a researcher. The capacity to surprise indicates that you don’t already know the answer to the question. As researchers, we have hunches. We may form hypothesises about what we will find, but we don’t know exactly what the outcome will be. If you know for sure what the answer to your question will be, than you’re not really doing research.

For more explanation and examples, go to the AIRS website and read the Foss & Waters reading.

[End of video]