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CRJ 650: Independent Study (Ziwei Qi)

Research on Gender Based Violence in Rural Kansas

Research Questions

Why do you need a research question?

The research questions is the foundation for everything else in the research process. It directs inquiry, the hypothesis, research, and eventually the thesis. Despite what you have been told, the thesis is the last step before actually writing. If the research question is a bad one, the rest of the project will be about correcting the flaws in the question instead of creating a quality product.  

Steps to developing a research question:

  1. Choose an interesting general topic that you actually care about. 
  2. Do some preliminary research on your general topic so you know what is out there an what has already been done.  (A list of relevant articles to your topic is below)
  3. Consider your audience so you can identify the preferred format of your product (report, webinar, etc) and the level of scholarship required (original research, application, etc). 
  4. Start asking open ended questions about your topic such as "how" or "why".
  5. Pick your favorite question and evaluate it for the following:
    • Clarity: With so much research available on any given topic, research questions must be as clear as possible in order for others to find it worthwhile and for it to actually help the research direct their focus. 
    • Focus: Research questions must be specific enough to be well covered in the space available.
    • Complexity: Research questions should not be answerable with a simple “yes” or “no” or by easily-found facts.  They should, instead, require both research and analysis on the part of the writer. They often begin with “How” or “Why.”
  6. Begin your research by determining what types of sources you need to answer your question and what types of sources are available.

Sample Research Questions

  • Unclear: How should social networking sites address the harm they cause?
    • Clear: What action should social networking sites like MySpace and Facebook take to protect users’ personal information and privacy?
  • Unfocused: What is the effect on the environment from global warming?
    • Focused: What is the most significant effect of glacial melting on the lives of penguins in Antarctica?
  • Too simple: How are doctors addressing diabetes in the U.S.?
    • Appropriately Complex:  What main environmental, behavioral, and genetic factors predict whether Americans will develop diabetes, and how can these commonalities be used to aid the medical community in prevention of the disease?

Background Readings