When the scope of your paper is too big, it's hard to dig through information and to write a paper with any depth. A research question, when not too broad or too narrow, helps guide and focus your paper. The question should also be one in which you haven't decided on a pre-determined answer.
Brainstorm & do some pre-research
The research question isn't a question you make up at the top of your head. It's normal to start with a broad topic in mind. After doing some brainstorming about a topic, you will need to do some reading to find an angle to pursue, and, even then, your question may change as you find more information later.
From your pre-research, think about questions you might be able to ask regarding the topic. Most scholarly research examines fairly narrow topics and looks at relationships between concepts. One way to limit the scope of your topic is to ask who, what, where, when, why, and how questions.
It's okay to continue to tweak your question; the end result should be that you have answered the question you've laid out in the introduction, even if the introduction is the last paragraph you actually end up revising in your final paper.
Keeping your research question in mind, if you can answer TRUE to the statements below, your research question is probably workable.
Who: college students
What: academic success
Most scholarly research examines fairly narrow topics and looks at relationships between concepts. For example, sleep habits is a broad topic, but looking at the relationship between sleep habits and academic success might be a more manageable topic.
My new question might be: "How do sleep habits affect the academic success of college students?"
But how did I get there? I did have to do some pre-research to find an angle, but the W/H method helped me brainstorm possibilities to investigate. After some quick searching, I saw that there were articles related to this topic. I had to try it out before committing to this investigation. I can possibly expand my review to include how to combat poor sleep patterns.
The overall research question serves as my guide.
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