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Tips for Creating a Research Question

What Makes a Good Research Question?

What makes a good research question?

  • Narrow Focus
  • Answer is not obvious
  • You can actually research it (there is evidence out there for you to find)
  • Question is clear and has a single focus

Start Creating Before Writing

Don't get stuck staring at a blank screen or page.

Use  prewriting techniques to help you start your writing process:

Using Wikipedia to Generate Ideas

Wikipedia can help you find background information and generate writing ideas. Check out the video below to find the right way to use Wikipedia in your writing and research.

Try Brainstorming to Generate Writing Topics

Don't limit yourself! Use this video from the Sonoma State Univesity Library to find out a great way to generate ideas for topics.

Focusing Your Topic

The best way to Focus Your Topic is to ask questions about it. Consider the five W's when trying to figure out what you want to research:

Who? Limit your topic to a specific person or group.

What? Limit your topic to a particular aspect of the topic or discipline.

Where? Limit your topic to a particular place or region.

When? Limit your topic to a particular period of time.

Why? Ask why the topic is important.

Remember you can limit your topic in more than one way. For example limit it to a "who" and a "what" or a "when" and a "where".

Mix and match the five Ws until you've created a Good Research Question.

Try Cubing to Help Narrow Your Focus

Try the Cubing Method: Consider your topic from six different directions.

On a sheet of paper, write down your topic, and respond to these six prompts:

Describe it. (What is it?)

Compare it. (What is it like or unlike?)

Associate it. (What does it make you think of?)

Analyze it. (What constituent parts is it made of?)

Apply it. (How can it be used?)

Argue for and against it. (How can you support or oppose it?)

Look over what you’ve written. What do you know about your topic now?

Use this information to figure out where you might stand on your topic or how you can narrow your focus.

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