developed research question helps writers avoid W r i t i n g
For this post you are going to post a well thought out research question (or a series of related questions) to help you begin conducting your research for the annotated bib (And the thesis and research proposal you will write afterward in place of a fleshed out essay). You are allowed to choose any topic you wish – but choose wisely! You will use this topic for all of the final project – this journal, the annotated bibliography, and the research proposal. Make sure it is arguable, researchable, and has merit to a larger community and in a larger context.
What is a research question?
A research question is the question around which you center your research. It should be:
- clear: it provides enough specifics that one’s audience can easily understand its purpose without needing additional explanation.
- focused: it is narrow enough that it can be answered thoroughly in the space the writing task allows.
- concise: it is expressed in the fewest possible words.
- complex: it is not answerable with a simple “yes” or “no,” but rather requires synthesis and analysis of ideas and sources prior to composition of an answer.
- arguable: its potential answers are open to debate rather than accepted facts.
You should ask a question about a current event topic that you are genuinely curious and/or passionate about.
Why is a research question essential to the research process?
Research questions help writers focus their research by providing a path through the research and writing process. The specificity of a well-developed research question helps writers avoid the “all-about” paper and work toward supporting a specific, arguable thesis.
Steps to developing a research question:
- Choose an interesting general topic. I have given you a broad topic already, but narrow it down to an aspect that interests you.
- Do some preliminary research on your general topic. Do a few quick searches in current periodicals and journals on your topic to see what’s already been done and to help you narrow your focus. What issues are scholars and researchers discussing, when it comes to your topic? What questions occur to you as you read these articles?
- Consider your audience. Always keep your audience in mind when narrowing your topic and developing your question. Would that particular audience be interested in the question you are developing?
- Start asking questions. Taking into consideration all of the above, start asking yourself open-ended “how” and “why” questions about your general topic.
- Evaluate the question. After you’ve put a question or even a couple of questions down on paper, evaluate these questions to determine whether they would be effective research questions or whether they need more revising and refining.
- Is the research question clear? With so much research available on any given topic, research questions must be as clear as possible in order to be effective in helping the writer direct his or her research.
- Is the research question focused? Research questions must be specific enough to be well covered in the space available.
- Is the research question complex? Research questions should not be answerable with a simple “yes” or “no” or by easily-found facts. They should, instead, require both research and analysis on the part of the writer. They often begin with “How” or “Why.”