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Research Questions For a Thesis or Dissertation With Examples

Published by at February 16th, 2023 , Revised On February 1, 2024

What is a Research Question?

A research question is a topic on which you base your research. It should be:

Clear: It should provide adequate information so the reader can understand what you aim to achieve without further information. It should be narrowed down and offer a comprehensive response in the context of the writing assignment.

Concise: The most straightforward and clear phrases should be used to express it.

Complex: Instead of a simple “Yes” or “no” as an answer, It should call for detailed research and analysis of the literature to reach a conclusion.

Debatable: It should be debatable rather than stating facts. 

Your research question should be a subject that interests you and is researchable for you. 

Your question should be tailored to the subject matter you’re learning. For instance, a question fit for Biology differs from one suitable for Political Science or Sociology. You might wish to share your ideas for a research subject with your professor if you prepare it for a course other than first-year composition.

The Importance of Research Questions for your Thesis

A research question points out precisely what you want to achieve from this research. 

If appropriately addressed, a research question may assist you in organising your study and foreseeing any challenges or problems that could arise while conducting the research.

Developing a solid research question for your thesis will help you track your progress. It will help you identify the critical points you have already addressed in your research and all that is remaining to complete the research to your satisfaction.

Research Questions Examples

Below, you will find our selection of a few research question examples.

If you are looking for more research question examples, visit our free research questions database here.

How to Develop a Research Question

You can use the following procedures to create a potent research question:

It is beneficial for your dissertation or thesis to be concentrated on a subject that piques your interest or curiosity. 

  • Do some preparatory reading about the situation of the industry at the moment.

To learn what has previously been done and to help you focus, run a few short searches in current magazines and journals on your topic. What topics are academics and researchers debating in relation to your subject?

  • Focus on a single segment of the research field.

Instead of focusing on a broader prospect, narrow it down to a single segment of the broader spectrum to keep the research dedicated to finding the solution to the main problem. 

  • Determine the research issue you’ll be tackling.

Start posing open-ended “how” and “why” questions to yourself about your primary subject after considering the research gap that you would like to fill with your research.

The purpose of your study will determine how you should phrase your query. The following table provides examples of how to construct queries for various contexts.

Aims of research Forming the research questions
  • investigating and describing
  • Describe the characteristics of the segment
  • Discuss how it has changed over time 
  • What are the causes?
  • What are the effects? 
  • Defining and evaluating
  • What is the relationship between your segment and other factors
  • Role of your segment in the broader spectrum 
  • What is its impact on  the broader spectrum
  • How does it influence the  broader spectrum
  • Analysis and action
  • What are the advantages and disadvantages
  • How effective is it
  • How can it be improved

Evaluate your Research Questions

Your project’s research questions serve as its skeleton. Therefore, it’s crucial to spend time honing them. Assess the research question/ questions you have phrased to see whether they highlight the main issues correctly or if they require more narrowing down or broadening for improvements.

Before you finalise the question you will be answering, ask yourself first;

Is the Research Question Focused and Researchable?

  • Should be focused on the research aim 

Your research problem and critical research question should cooperate to keep your work focused. If you have more than one question, they should all directly relate to your main goal.

  • It should be researchable  using reliable sources of information

To construct your case, your query must be able to be addressed with quantitative, qualitative, or reading academic materials on the subject. You should perhaps reconsider your query if access to such data is unattainable.

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Is the Research Question Realistic and Precise?

  • Should be answerable within the limitations of reality

Ensure you have the time and resources to conduct all the research necessary to provide an answer to your query. Consider making your query more precise if it appears that you won’t be able to acquire the information you want.

  • Should use precise, well-defined ideas

The definitions of all the phrases you use in the research question should be obvious. Avoid using ambiguous words, jargon, and broad concepts.

  • Should not call for a definitive plan of action, strategy, or solution

Research should enlighten rather than educate. Even if your project focuses on a real-world issue, it should strive to further knowledge rather than impose a predetermined solution.

Consider undertaking action research instead of using ready-made solutions. Action research is a type of study that seeks to look into a problem while it is being solved. In other words, action research combines conducting research with actual action, as the name indicates.

Is the Research Question Complex and Debatable?

  • Should not be answered with a simple “yes” or “no.”

Closed-ended, yes/no questions lack the nuance necessary for thorough examination and discussion, making them poor choices for research inquiries.

  • Should not be answered  using readily available data

The question is not complex enough if the answer is readily available in a single book, article, or Google search. Before offering a solution, a good research issue needs original data, the synthesis of several sources, and original interpretation and arguments.

Is the Research Question Original and Relevant to Modern Problems?

  • Should address a genuine and relevant problem

Your research question should be created after preliminary reading on the subject. It should concentrate on solving a problem or filling a knowledge gap in your profession or subject.

  • Should contribute to the research gap.

The goal of the research question should be to advance a hotly debated topic in your industry or society at large. It should generate information that scholars or practitioners can subsequently expand upon.

  • Should not already be researched

Your question should be somewhat original, yet you don’t have to ask anything that has never been asked before. You may, for instance, concentrate on a particular area or try a different perspective.

Sub-questions to Strengthen your Main Research Question

Your primary research question probably can’t be answered in its entirety. Sub-questions are crucial since they enable you to provide a step-by-step response to your primary inquiry.

Reasonable follow-up inquiries are:

  • Less complex than the main research question
  • Concentrated solely on one kind of research
  • Placed in a logical sequence

Remember that sub-questions are not required at all. They should only be requested if the results are necessary to resolve your primary query. It’s OK to omit the sub-question portion if your primary question is straightforward enough to stand on its own. Generally speaking, you’ll need more sub-questions the more complicated your subject is.

Try to keep your sub-questions to a maximum of 4 or 5. If you believe you need more, it can be a sign that your core research topic is not detailed enough. In this situation, it is preferable to review your issue statement and attempt to make your key query more concise.

Frequently Asked Questions

It’s crucial to examine sources to determine their relevance because you cannot possibly read every source that is relevant to your issue. Use a quick assessment to decide whether a source merits a more thorough look.

This entails reading the introductions, conclusions, prefaces, and abstracts, examining the table of contents to ascertain the subject matter of the book looking up phrases or names of significant authors in the index.

A primary research topic might be challenging to formulate. Overall, the answer to your question should help resolve the issue you identified in your problem statement.

However, it should also meet requirements in the following three areas:

  • Researchability
  • Possibility and particularity
  • Originality and relevance

Every research question must be:

  • Concentrated on a specific subject or problem
  • Attainable from primary and/or secondary sources of research
  • Feasible given the time limits and practical considerations
  • Specific enough to permit a full response
  • Complex enough for the solution to take up the entire paper or thesis.
  • Pertinent to your area of study or society in general

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