To develop a strong research question, consider the following:
1. The topic you’ve chosen should be controversial, meaning it must have two or more sides.
2. A strong research question can never be answered with a simple “yes” or “no.” Instead, your questions should be inquisitive. Try to begin them with words or phrases like “Why,” “How,” “What,” “To what extent,” etc.
Ineffective Research Questions: What Not to Do
1. Your question is not open-ended: Do not begin your question with the word “Should,” “If,” or “Would.” If you do, the question will be answered by a simple “yes” or “no.” For instance, the question “Should concealed carry be legalized on college campuses in the state of Florida?” does not work for an effective research question. Instead, you may ask “What are the effects of legalizing concealed carry on college campuses” or “What is the impact of legalizing concealed carry on college campuses.” These work much better.
2. Your question is subjective in nature (your initial opinion is evident, which will ultimately set you up for biased research). For instance, if your question is, “What are the dangerous effects of legalizing concealed carry on college campuses? This question is inherently subjective. That means your opinion is already established and the articles you find will be only negative.
The better question would be “What are the effects of legalizing concealed carry on college campuses?”
3. You use informal first person “I” or second person “you” in your research question. For example, “How does concealed carry on college campuses impact you?” This will not work. You must leave it formally in third person.
Issue proposals help writers organize and develop their thoughts for longer papers. Select an issue that you are interested in, do some background reading as necessary, and write a proposal that responds to the following four items in 4 paragraphs:
1. Introduce the issue, and then present it in question form.
2. Explain why it is compelling to you.
3. Describe what you already know about it.
4. Explain what more you need to learn.
Your proposal should be 1-2 pages long, no longer than 3 pages.
Use APA format: typed, double spaced, 12 point font, Times New Roman, 1” margins.
Remember, you must choose a subject that has two or more sides. If the subject does not have an opposing viewpoint, students will need to choose a new one.
The question cannot be answered with a simple “yes” or “no”; strive to begin questions with “how,” “why,” or “what.”
Be sure to consider a narrowed down audience (Why is this relevant and to whom?)
Your question should be objective.