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Think Like a Researcher: Instruction Resources: Research Question Discussion

Teaching Research And Information Literacy (TRAIL) Curriculum Resources for Writing 10


This web page provides information that can be helpful for introducing students to research questions in Writing 10.  This information is also available in this handout.  Instructions for instructors at included at the top.

About Research Questions

Forming a Research Question

  • By asking a research question, you are keeping an open mind about what the research may reveal. 
  • As you develop a research question, consider these criteria.
  • 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. 
thought bubble question


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.

Testing Research Questions


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?


Research Question A: Are there health risks for teens who only eat convenience foods (fast food)?

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

In Groups:

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

Research Question D: What are the most effective ways to reduce racial profiling in police departments?

Research Question E: Should the United States government make it more difficult for individuals to buy a gun if they have a documented mental illness?

Research Question F: Do higher education admission requirements discriminate against students who have recently immigrated to the United States?