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Research as Inquiry: Research Questions - Discussion

Library resources for SPARK courses

Characteristics of Good Research Questions

Ask a question of interest.

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

See if your question is TRUE for these five criteria.  If so, then your research question is probably workable.  You will likely have to do some preliminary research to really discover if all of these statements are TRUE for your proposed research question.

  1. It cannot simply be answered with a yes/no. 
  2. It has a problem associated with it.
  3. It has (social) significance.
  4. There is reliable evidence available to address it.
  5. It has appropriate scope.

Note:  Be careful about investigating questions that you think you already have the answer to.



Look at each research question below.  Can you answer TRUE for statements #1-3?  Do you think you could answer TRUE for #4-5 even though we haven't done any research yet?

For Group Discussion:

  1. Should U.S. adults be donating their organs for scientific research and study?
  2. What psychological and emotional barriers prevent adults from donating their organs?
  3. What policies are most effective in promoting organ donation and how might the U.S. effectively adopt and implement these policies?

More Discussion:

  1. To what extent is nanotechnology a promising and feasible technology for improving water quality and availability?
  2. What technologies are most promising for providing clean water in resource-constricted countries?
  3. How is Mike Bartlett’s King Charles theatre production commenting on national and international politics and what impact might it have for social change?
  4. What impact does theatrical performance have on the mental health of attendees?
  5. What data should academic institutions collect on student learning and how should students be informed about its use?
  6. What factors contributed to the Equifax Data breach and what should American consumers do in response?
  7. What are ethical concerns surrounding the use of robots in elder care?
  8. What are the benefits/applications of using Perovskite solar cells?
  9. How did the domestication of dogs in the Artic impact the social and economic life of humans?
  10. What factors contribute to food insecurity for children of immigrants in the United States?
  11. How is fatherhood represented in popular American films of the 21st century?