How To Craft a Research Question?
Research Question

Doing research study is part of being a student. Adding a body of knowledge about a specific topic is essential in the academy. Creating a clear and concise research question is an important aspect of this process. Your study will be hinged on this question, shaping your investigation and guiding your findings.

One must formulate their research question according to what they’ve read in related literature. Also, they must allot enough time in refining it. This article will discuss how to craft a research question and help you apply it in your own research. Continue reading to learn more.

Research question 101

A research question tackles a problem or concern that’s analyzed in the study’s data and answered in the research’s conclusion. It touches on various parts of the research such as the variables and population to be analyzed and interpreted. Its nature is dynamic such that it can be modified as the study progresses. It’s not set in stone because discoveries can be found as a literature review is done or a framework is developed.

A research question is crucial because it sets the purpose and direction of the study, which guides the research in general. It lays the tracks for the whole study, making sure it aligns with the objectives. Also, in some cases, it covers the scope of the study, the methodology to be used, and the data collection process to be done.

Ultimately, the research question’s main function is to specify a broad topic into a distinct study and set the limit of the research. You can find research question examples here so you’ll have an idea of how the most effective ones are structured.

Elements of a good research question

More than impacting the study by enabling researchers to communicate the purpose of their study, a research question becomes more effective because of the following:

Clarity. A good research question is straightforward and can be simply comprehended. It should convey the purpose of the study without vagueness. Doubling down on clarity guides you and the people who read your research to understand your study.

Specificity. A good research question should specify the focus of the research. It should convey the variables involved and how the data will be drawn.

Formulating a research question becomes easier if the issue you wish to address is something you’re passionate or curious about. At the same time, it’d also be practical to have a mindset that it’s a study you want to publish in the future. Statistics reveal that 63% of undergraduate students who conduct research publish their papers. Having the outlook of publishing, in the long run, helps you stay on track in finishing your research diligently and excellently.

Crafting a research question

Formulating a research question could be tricky. You can follow this guide to ease your process of crafting one:

Begin with a general topic

Starting with a broad subject puts the researcher in the position of having plenty of options in exploring a research question. Come up with subtopics from your general topic by concept mapping and brainstorming. These can put your thoughts in order so you can connect themes from your umbrella topic.

The best step to take is to choose a field you’re already familiar with and truly interested in. This is because it’ll affect how driven you’ll be to conduct the study.

Do your research about the issues on the topic

Why do preliminary research on the topic you’ve chosen? The simple answer is it lets you discover issues being addressed by fellow scholars. Also, doing an initial literature review allows you to see existing limitations on your topic. You can capitalize on these gaps as your research question’s focus as you progress.

Determine potential research questions by narrowing down the topic

Once you think you’ve gathered sufficient information on the research matter, it’s now time to specify the area of study into narrowed down questions. A way to go is to focus on ‘gap-spotting,’ which is all about formulating a research question through the overlooked aspects of the topic. Also, the research question can be derived from existing literature that complements their findings.

Assess your research question’s soundness

You should now have a handful of possible research questions. What to do, then? Evaluate each one according to its soundness. Is it clear and specific? Aside from these, there are other factors coming into play and you ought to consider.

A research protocol that can guide you is the FINER criteria. Here’s an overview:

Feasible. Is the research question realistic and within the researcher’s capacity to study and investigate?

Interesting. Does the research question pique the researcher’s interest and their community?

Novel. Does the research question bring new insights to the area of interest? Some 6,000 undergraduates take part in research experiences through the National Science Foundation each year, spanning subject areas such as ocean sciences and astronomy. Imagine the number of research studies being conducted and published annually and globally in other fields. So, bringing something new to the table is imperative if you want your research to make an actual difference in the domain you’ve chosen.

Ethical. Is the research question, along with the study of your choice, something that’ll be approved by the corresponding authorities?

Relevant. Does the research question meet a specific need of groups and communities?

While assessing the overall soundness of your research questions, think about the details of each and their possible outcomes to see whether the question fulfills the criteria.

Finalize your research question

Last, but definitely not the least, structure your research question clearly and properly. Some frameworks can guide you in coming up with a research question. An example of this is PICOT:

P – opulation, patients, or problem

I – ntervention or indicator being studied

C – omparison group

O – utcome of interest

T – imeframe of the study

Using this structure, a research question will be sounder when addressing crucial aspects of the study.


A research question is one of the most important elements of a research study. Without it, there’s nothing to guide the design of the research and determine the specific objectives. It also communicates the problem one wishes to resolve, so it’s just right to put much thought into formulating it. It’s not something you create haphazardly.

With the guidelines above, you’d be on your way towards crafting your research question with purpose and confidence. As you plan and prepare, consider the ideas mentioned here and there’d be significantly less chances of you going astray.

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