What is a research question?
A research question is a question that a research project sets out to answer or around which your research is centered. Choosing a research question is the primary step to begin with your Ph.D. project. It is an essential element for both quantitative and qualitative research. You will need to do a lot of investigation around your research question, and the investigation will involve: data collection and analysis.
But you cannot just take any question randomly, your research question should be:
- Clear: Before you come up with a research question, make sure it is clear. When we say clear, it simply means that your question is easily understandable, which means your readers are able to understand the purpose of your research work.
- Self-explanatory: It is again important that your research question is self-explanatory. Your research question should be framed in a ways that your readers can understand it without needing additional explanation.
- Focused: Not only your report required to be focused, but also your research question should be focused.
- Incisive: Your research question should be expressed in the fewest possible words, it should be crisp and precise.
- Open-ended: Your research question should be open-ended, which means it should not be answerable with a simple “yes” or “no.” It should be composite.
- Debatable: Your question should be such that its potential answers are open to debate instead of having bland facts and figures.
- Relatable: The question you ask should be relatable to the discipline you are studying. For instance, if you are studying biology, then definitely your research question should revolve around your subject that precisely centers the topic or area which you are interested in. Because Biology is a vast area. You can even take your professor’s help to develop the research question.
Why do we need to have a research question?
Developing a research question is not only a primary step, but also it is an indispensable one. A research question simply conveys what exactly the researcher is trying to find out, and the entire research revolves around that. It also helps one to be focused, organized, and clear while writing his/her research project.
Steps to come up with a research question
Know your area of interest. Before you choose your research question, it is important to know your area of interest. Choosing an interesting research question will help you going, it will help you work on your project with enthusiasm and zeal.
Doing research on your general topic will help. Make sure you do a preliminary research on your general topic. Doing research will allow you to have information about which all topics are already done on a particular area, and what are the potential areas left for you to explore.
Know your readers. Of course, your readers will come from an academic background, but it is imperative that you know your readers well. Make sure you keep them in mind before you narrow your topic and come up with your research question. It is important to have a question that will interest your readers. If your readers are not interested then you might need to reconsider the whole thing.
Come up with more than one question. While doing preliminary research, make sure you come up with more than one question. This will help you have choices to select the best question.
Assess your question. Once you have developed a couple of questions, next you need to do is – assess them all. Assessing your potential questions will help you determine whether these questions are effective or they need some revision.
Does your research question fulfill basic requirements? In the beginning, we have shared how a research question should be. Once you develop your question, you need to see if it fulfills all the basic requirements, such as being clear, focused, open-ended, precise, debatable, and so on. In order to have an effective research question, it is important to check these. And if your question lacks any of these, then definitely, it needs revising and refining.
Follow the steps mentioned above to come up with a research question and develop a wonderful research question that would help you write a great dissertation that impresses your readers.