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The
G ldilocks
Theory

For Research Questions
Issues:
• Close-ended, requires a
specific answer
• Could be answered with
one or two sources
• Information required to
answer may not exist
 Too Little
Example: How big was the readership of the
Nancy Drew series when it was first published?
Issues:
• Close-ended, requires a
specific answer
• Could be answered with
one or two sources
• Information required to
answer may not exist
 Too Little
Issues:
• Close-ended, requires a
specific answer
• Could be answered with
one or two sources
• Information required to
answer may not exist
Strategies for Improvement:
• Identify themes within the
question (audience and
gender)
• Consider a broader
application of these
themes
 Too Little
Example: How big was the readership of the
Nancy Drew series when it was first published?
 Too Big
Issues:
• The scope of the question
is too broad for a 10-15
page paper
• Might be difficult to
identify specific keywords
Issues:
• The scope of the question
is too broad for a 10-15
page paper
• Might be difficult to
identify specific keywords
Example: How has the portrayal of gender in
children’s mystery novels changed over time?
 Too Big
Example: How has the portrayal of gender in
children’s mystery novels changed over time?
Strategies for Improvement:
• Identify major terms and
brainstorm smaller
keywords
• Do background research
online
• Brainstorm ways to anchor
your question with a
specific issue or text
 Too Big
Issues:
• The scope of the question
is too broad for a 10-15
page paper
• Might be difficult to
identify specific keywords
Good Qualities:
• Open-ended, leaves room
for new discoveries
• Leaves room for your
close reading and ideas
from outside sources
• Makes unique
connections, is debatable
 Just Right
Example: In The Secret of the Old Clock (1959), how does
the character of Nancy Drew embody or critique traditional
roles for women in 1950s America?
Considerations:
• Getting to “just right”
is a process
• Might involve additional
questions
• Might evolve throughout
your research process

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Goldilocks Research Questions

  • 2. Issues: • Close-ended, requires a specific answer • Could be answered with one or two sources • Information required to answer may not exist  Too Little
  • 3. Example: How big was the readership of the Nancy Drew series when it was first published? Issues: • Close-ended, requires a specific answer • Could be answered with one or two sources • Information required to answer may not exist  Too Little
  • 4. Issues: • Close-ended, requires a specific answer • Could be answered with one or two sources • Information required to answer may not exist Strategies for Improvement: • Identify themes within the question (audience and gender) • Consider a broader application of these themes  Too Little Example: How big was the readership of the Nancy Drew series when it was first published?
  • 5.  Too Big Issues: • The scope of the question is too broad for a 10-15 page paper • Might be difficult to identify specific keywords
  • 6. Issues: • The scope of the question is too broad for a 10-15 page paper • Might be difficult to identify specific keywords Example: How has the portrayal of gender in children’s mystery novels changed over time?  Too Big
  • 7. Example: How has the portrayal of gender in children’s mystery novels changed over time? Strategies for Improvement: • Identify major terms and brainstorm smaller keywords • Do background research online • Brainstorm ways to anchor your question with a specific issue or text  Too Big Issues: • The scope of the question is too broad for a 10-15 page paper • Might be difficult to identify specific keywords
  • 8. Good Qualities: • Open-ended, leaves room for new discoveries • Leaves room for your close reading and ideas from outside sources • Makes unique connections, is debatable  Just Right Example: In The Secret of the Old Clock (1959), how does the character of Nancy Drew embody or critique traditional roles for women in 1950s America? Considerations: • Getting to “just right” is a process • Might involve additional questions • Might evolve throughout your research process