When you’re working on a thesis, dissertation, or any research paper, the research question is a crucial part. It’s a challenge to squeeze all the important aspects or topics of study into a single question. That’s why the research question often evolves and gets fine-tuned during the entire research journey. In this guide, we’ll walk you through the process of creating a top-notch research question. We’ll also provide research question examples to help you understand better.
The research question serves as the foundation of your entire study. It’s like the main puzzle piece that ties everything together. As you delve into your research, you might find the need to tweak and adjust the question to better capture the essence of what you’re investigating.
By the end of this article, with the help of the examples provided, you’ll have a clearer understanding of how to formulate an effective research question that aligns with your study’s goals and objectives. Let’s look into the key aspects of crafting a research question that will guide your exploration and analysis.
Examples of Research Questions and Their Importance in a Study
Research questions play a crucial role in any research study. They outline the subjects and problems under discussion, shaping a systematic research process. Essentially, the purpose of a study is to address the specific research question it poses.
The research question not only guides the study but also influences other essential components like the methodology and hypotheses. By formulating a clear research question, researchers can determine the appropriate approach and methods to gather and analyze data.
There are three main types of research questions:
- Qualitative Research Questions: These focus on exploring and understanding complex phenomena, often involving subjective experiences and opinions.
- Quantitative Research Questions: These are designed to gather numerical data and seek to establish relationships or patterns through statistical analysis.
- Mixed-Methods Research Questions: Combining aspects of both qualitative and quantitative approaches, these questions provide a comprehensive understanding of the research problem.
In general, research questions serve as the compass that guides the entire research journey, shaping the direction of inquiry and paving the way for meaningful discoveries.
Various Research Question Examples and Categories
In research, the questions you ask depend on how you plan to conduct your study. The methods you choose guide the formulation of your research questions. Let’s explore different types of research question examples for each category:
Qualitative Research Questions: Understanding Experiences
Qualitative research seeks to understand experiences, perspectives, and social phenomena. It involves exploring the depth of human interactions and the meaning individuals ascribe to those interactions. Here are a couple of examples:
- What are the experiences of caretakers interacting with autistic children in their workplace?
- This question delves into the daily experiences of individuals who care for autistic children, aiming to uncover the challenges, joys, and unique aspects of their interactions.
- What are the viewpoints of student workers at government facilities?
- This question focuses on understanding the perspectives of student workers in government facilities, providing insights into their roles, challenges, and opinions regarding their work environment.
Quantitative Research Questions: Examining Numbers and Trends
Quantitative research involves the collection and analysis of numerical data. It aims to identify patterns, relationships, and trends within a given population. Here are examples of quantitative research questions:
- What were the voting rates in the 2016 US presidential election compared to the one preceding it?
- This question seeks to quantify the voting behaviour of the population during the specified elections, providing numerical data to compare and analyze voting trends.
- What is the demographic profile of Japan in 2023 compared to 2013?
- This question involves collecting statistical data to understand the changes in Japan’s demographic composition over a ten-year period, offering insights into population shifts.
Mixed-Method Research Questions: Blending Insights from Both Worlds
Mixed-method research combines elements of both qualitative and quantitative approaches to provide a comprehensive understanding of a research question. Here’s an example:
- What was the birth rate in China in 2022, and how does it impact the ecosystem?
- This mixed-method question combines numerical data (birth rate) with qualitative exploration to understand the ecological implications of population growth. It allows for a multifaceted analysis that goes beyond numbers.
Also Read: Observational Research Examples
The FINER Criteria Explained
To assess the quality of a research question, the FINER criteria model comes into play. Comprising five key components, this model provides a systematic approach to evaluating the worthiness of a research question.
Feasibility: Making Research Realistic and Attainable
The first component of the FINER criteria is “Feasible.” It emphasizes the importance of ensuring that the research question is realistic and attainable. Before diving into a research endeavour, it is essential to evaluate whether the issues at hand can be feasibly investigated. This involves considering whether the researcher has the capability to collect the necessary data for the research and possesses the requisite skills and resources to do so.
In simple terms, a feasible research question is one that is within the realm of practicality, taking into account the researcher’s abilities and available resources. By checking off this component, researchers set the groundwork for a realistic and achievable study, enhancing the overall quality of their research question.
Interesting: Capturing Attention and Curiosity
The second component of the FINER criteria is “Interesting.” A high-quality research question should spark curiosity and interest. It should be designed to captivate the attention of both the researcher and potential readers. An interesting research question not only motivates the researcher but also makes the study more engaging for others.
In simpler terms, an interesting research question is one that stands out and makes people want to know more. By ensuring that the research question is captivating, researchers contribute to the overall significance and appeal of their study.
Novel: Adding Value to Existing Knowledge
The third component is “Novel,” which emphasizes the importance of contributing something new to existing knowledge. A high-quality research question should aim to fill gaps in the current understanding of a topic or present a unique perspective. It should bring novelty to the field, adding value to the collective knowledge base.
In simpler terms, a novel research question is one that introduces fresh insights or perspectives. By checking off this component, researchers ensure that their study has the potential to make a meaningful and original contribution to the body of knowledge in their field.
Ethical: Prioritizing Integrity and Respect
The fourth component, “Ethical,” underscores the significance of conducting research with integrity and respect. High-quality research questions should adhere to ethical standards, ensuring the well-being and rights of participants. This involves considering the potential impact of the research on individuals and communities and taking steps to minimize any harm.
In simpler terms, an ethical research question is one that respects the dignity and rights of those involved. By prioritizing ethical considerations, researchers uphold the integrity of their study and contribute to the responsible advancement of knowledge.
Relevant: Addressing Pertinent Issues
The final component is “Relevant,” which emphasizes the importance of addressing pertinent issues. A high-quality research question should be relevant to the current state of knowledge and applicable to real-world situations. It should contribute to solving existing problems or addressing pressing concerns within the field.
In simpler terms, a relevant research question is one that aligns with current issues and has practical implications. By ensuring relevance, researchers enhance the applicability and impact of their study, making it more valuable to both the academic community and society at large.
Explanations of Different Research Question Examples
1. The Impact of Sugar on the Body
The initial question, “How does sugar impact your body?” is quite broad. It opens the door to a myriad of answers without providing a clear focus for research. On the other hand, the revised question, “How does a daily dose of 35 g of sugar impact the energy levels of 25-35-year-old women?” is more specific. This specificity allows for a targeted investigation, potentially utilizing a mixed-methods approach to gather comprehensive data.
2. Unraveling the Housing Crisis in Denmark
The question “Why is there a housing crisis in Denmark?” lacks specificity, making it challenging to tackle. A more refined version, “How do internationalization policies at Danish universities impact the vacancy and affordability of housing in Denmark?” narrows the focus to a particular issue. This specificity provides a clearer direction for research, enabling a more insightful exploration of the problem.
3. Comparing Unemployment Policies in the US and Australia
The query “Are the unemployment policies better in the US or in Australia?” is subjective and lacks a clear basis for comparison. In contrast, the improved question, “How do the US and Australia compare in unemployment benefits among the lower class with mental health problems?” is more objective. It avoids assumptions, focuses on a specific demographic, and sets the stage for a research study with a well-defined scope.
4. Encouraging Participation in Regional Elections
The broad question “How can more people be urged to participate in the regional elections?” lacks specificity and practicality for research. On the other hand, “What strategies may help to motivate the 18-30-year-old population to participate in the regional elections?” offers a more focused and researchable inquiry. It suggests the existence of potential solutions, making the research direction clearer.
5. Understanding Drug Abuse in Germany
The yes-or-no nature of the question “Did drug abuse increase in Germany in the past 5 years?” limits its research potential. However, the question “How has the number of drug abuse cases been impacted by social, economic, and political aspects in Germany in the past 5 years?” provides depth and complexity. This question encourages a comprehensive investigation into the multifaceted factors influencing drug abuse trends.