Developing the Research Question


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Developing the Research Question

  1. 1. Developing aResearch Question
  2. 2. One of the first steps in theresearch process is developinga research question. Theresearch question should be aclear and focused question thatyou can answer with informationgathered during the researchprocess.Starting with a well thought-outresearch question will help tospeed up the research process:searching for information withouta clear objective is a good way Paris Exposition: map, Paris, France, 1900. Map showingto come up with ideas, but a layout of the exhibition. Brooklyn Museum Archivesdifficult way to build anargument. A research questiongives you a framework to workwith.
  3. 3. Many assignments start with a research topic. This is usually a very broad idea.Research topics might look like the following:• Women’s Health • Bullying in schools• Arts in New York City • Video Games• Pollution and the environment In some cases, you may be asked to choose a topic that interests you. This can be a challenge. Research can be a lot of fun, especially when you’re discovering more about a topic you’re interested in. When you are thinking about your research question, try to think about things you’re interested in.Katharine Burr Blodgett at General Electric ResearchLaboratories. Smithsonian Institution Archives
  4. 4. Brainstorming can bea meaningful part ofthe research process.If you don’t know alot about yourresearch topic, youcan become moreknowledgeable aboutit using referenceresources, likeencyclopedias, or bysearching forinformation online. Susan H. Douglas Political Americana Collection, #2214 Rare & Manuscript Collections, Cornell University Library, Cornell University
  5. 5. Once you’ve learned more about your topic, it will be easier to beginthinking about your research question. Examples of possible researchquestions based on the previous topics might look like:• Women’s Health What are the effects of nutrition counseling on women’s health in rural communities?• Art in New York City How is the Jewish immigrant experience in New York City reflected in comic books from the golden age of comics?• Pollution and the environment What can urban communities do on a grassroots level to lessen the effects of pollution?• Bullying in schools Is bullying responded to differently by teachers based on students’ gender?• Video Games How can video games be used to help teach language skills to ESL learners?
  6. 6. Once you’ve decided on aresearch question, think aboutwhat kinds of information you willneed to answer your question. Asyou learn more about your topic,you may find that you’ll need toadjust your research question.When you write a research paper,you will introduce your researchquestion to your reader in yourthesis statement.Your paper will describe how youused the evidence gathered duringresearch to come to yourconclusion about your topic. Crowd surrounding a woman skating around a giant skillet with slabs of bacon tied to her feet, holding a giant wooden spatula, Chehalis, Washington, ca. 1929-1932If you have questions about how to,1442develop a research question, ask alibrarian for advice. We’re happy tohelp!
  7. 7. Need Help? Ask a Librarian!