Explore good research questions
Activity – Consider the strengths and weaknesses of these questions
Watch the following video, which highlights the six properties of a good research question, then consider the strengths and limitations of each question below.
Watch the video: The research question - Activity (YouTube video, 7m44s)
What are the ethical issues to be considered in humans forming interpersonal relationships with machines as a possible solution to society’s loneliness epidemic?
- Theoretical constructs: Clear and recognisable/identifiable in the databases and found in the literature:
- "interpersonal relationships" - subject heading in PsycInfo
- "machines" - a controlled term in Compendex
- "loneliness epidemic" - a well-defined, precise and recognised term in the mass media.
- "ethical issues" - is a key phrase found in the literature on the topic.
- Transcends the data: Different methodologies and data could be used to answer this question - the researcher has not explicitly mentioned method or data in the question - hence this question transcends the data.
- Significance: Recent research has warned that loneliness and social isolation may be a greater public health hazard than obesity - this gives weight to the significance of the question.
- Capacity to surprise: It may be possible for companion robots to ease that sense of isolation and so it is important to understand the ethics of forming close relationships with machines - the outcome of the research are not known.
- Robust: This question can't be answered with a yes/no, the question is complex with multiple ethical issues yet to be identified and so cannot be simply answered.
What is the impact of political approaches to domestic sex workers on human trafficking policy in Australia?
- Theoretical constructs: Clear and recognisable:
- "human trafficking" - subject term in Proquest Criminal Justice
- "sex workers" - subject term in Proquest Criminal Justice
- Transcends the data: There are many potential sources of data and methodological approaches that can be used to answer the question, and these are not stated in the question.
- Significance: There is little reliable data about the extent and nature of the crime, so a better understanding of how these approaches have worked will be useful and practical.
- Capacity to surprise: The question allows for surprising and original answers and makes no assumptions.
- Robust: The results will be complex rather than simplistic - a multifaceted question is open to allow multiple ways of investigating and evaluating the evidence.
How can childhood health screening programs contribute to calculating the risk of cardiometabolic disease in adulthood and assist in delivering targeted early intervention programs?
- Theoretical constructs: Clear, recognisable theoretical constructs that are broad enough to have multiple keywords and aspects to research indicating the level of complexity required of a HDR project:
- "childhood health screening" - broad term encompassing a range of testing (weight, BMI, blood glucose) that is a subject heading in the CINAHL database and a widely used term that refers to multiple testing protocols across multiple physiological concepts.
- "cardiometabolic disease" - broad term used to encompass multiple diseases such as diabetes, stroke, and heart disease. This is a Medical Subject Heading (MeSH) in databases such as PubMed. Using this term allows for each disease to be isolated and searched separately as a keyword/synonym.
- "early intervention" - term used by multiple agencies (such as Queensland Health, The Department of Child Safety, Australian Department of Health and Welfare) when describing programs or strategies to prevent or intervene at an early stage of an illness or disease.
- Transcends the data: Data not included in the question - identifies a population type (children) but not a location or which children will be involved in data collection so it transcends the data.
- Significance: Identifies the public health implications of disease prevention in adulthood.
- Capacity to surprise: It's not yet known if biomarkers of childhood in certain areas can be used in risk calculation for major disease states in adulthood.
- Robust: Multifaceted and not able to be answered with a 'yes' or 'no'.
Activity - Practical examples of the six properties
Try out this interactive exploration of the 6 properties - for practical examples and how you could respond to Question 1 in the Resource Log.
You can also view the activity fullscreen or read the activity transcript.