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Writing 10 (Xu): Research Questions (Criteria)

College Reading & Composition

Developing a Research Question

For more information on Developing a Research Question, visit our guided tutorial.

You will be able to

  • identify key research question criteria.
  • identify strengths and weaknesses of research questions using research question criteria.
  • recognize the value of 4Ws and pre-searching for research question development.  

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PIcking Your Topic IS Research

North Carolina State University (NCSU) Libraries, 3:10

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

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.