How to formulate a good research question
Now that you are doing your own research, you need to formulate your own research question or questions to be answered. A good research question helps to:
- guide the research process
- construct a logical argument
- write a literature review
- plan thesis chapters
- devise efficient search strategies.
Recommended reading that supports this module:
Foss, S. K., & Waters, W. J. C. (2007). Developing your itinerary: the preproposal. In S. K. Foss & W. J. C. Waters (Eds.), Destination dissertation: a traveler's guide to a done dissertation (pp. 35-46). Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers.
Difference between a research question, title, hypothesis and research focus
A research question is not the same as a thesis title, research problem, hypothesis or research focus, although they are interrelated and support one another. To further define these elements:
- A research question summarises the significant issue your research will investigate.
- The title consists of the topic and outcome of a research project.
- The research problem explains the knowledge gap your research will address.
- A hypothesis is a predicted answer to the research question that can be tested and is based on prior research.
- A research focus specifies the scope or domain of inquiry.
A research question is clear, focused, concise, complex, arguable and doable. The research question shines a light, is a guide or compass for your research and help you to construct a logical argument.