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FYE A World of Choice - Davis & Benson

Research Question


Who? What? When? Where? Why? How?


Who? What? When? Where? are factual questions that for the most part, are not debatable. Use these questions to gather information about your topic, then ask yourself a why? or how? question.

Why? and How? questions are interesting and lead to discussions

Additionally, your question should be something that scholars care enough about to research.

Once you have written your initial question, ask yourself:

  • Can the question be answered too easily?
    Questions that can be quickly looked up do not make good research questions.
  • Could anyone disagree with your research question?
    You want people to be able to disagree with your answer as this leads to discussion.
  • Is there factual evidence to support your answer?
    Everyone has tastes and opinions; however, in academic work you need evidence to support your point.  If no evidence exists, consider shifting the focus of your point - perhaps look at the opposite perspective.
  • Are there too many sources that you couldn't look at most of them?
    This might be an indication that your question is too broad.  Consider looking at some of the sources for ways to refine and focus your question.
Turabian, K. L., Colomb, G. G., & Williams, J. M. (2010). Student’s guide to writing   college papers (4th ed.). Chicago; London: The University of Chicago Press.

Once you've selected a research topic, consider these questions:

1. What do you already know about your topic?  What do you want to know / need to know in order to write a paper?

2. What is your opinion on your chosen topic?  What other opinions might others have?