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Anthropology 131 (Moyes): Evaluating Research Questions

About Research Questions

Forming a Research Question

By asking a research question, you are keeping an open mind about what the research may reveal. 

If you have an existing research question, see if your question is TRUE for these five criteria.  If so, then your research question is probably workable. 

Criteria: Your research question ...

  1. is not easily answered with a simple yes or no. 
It has some substance and requires explanation.
  1. has an underlying problem with social significance (local, national or international). 
It is important to someone other than just you!
  1. poses a genuine question and aims for neutrality.
It avoids using loaded language or suggesting a pre-determined answer.
  1. can be answered with reliable evidence.
It is re-searchable.  Others have already been contributing to this conversation.
  1. has appropriate scope.
It is not too narrow, nor too broad; it does not leave you with too much or too little information. 

Together: You will have to do some preliminary research to really discover if all of these statements are TRUE for your proposed research question.

Next Steps

  • Run the criteria test. If it passes...
    • I need to find books, research studies, and film reviews that might discuss various aspects of this topic.
    • I can also probably do my own analysis by watching a few movies from the 1930s-1990s.
    • I'm curious if Neanderthals are misrepresented.
    • This means I also need to know what Neanderthals were actually like. I need to research that, too.

Example Questions

Do these questions meet our criteria? Why or why not?

Research Question A: How have Neanderthals been depicted in 20th century American films? ?

Research Question B: Do genetically modified foods endanger the health of those who consume them?

Research Question C: Should aluminum bats be banned from high school baseball and teen leagues?