Skip to Main Content

Learn How to Research

Research Questions 

Your research question is what you are looking to answer with your research, whether that be a topic paper, experiment, or another form of research.  

Keep these in mind: 

  • Who? Who is the specific person/group to which you would like to limit your research?

  • What? What specific aspect of the broad topic idea is interesting to you?

  • Where? To which specific geographic area or region would you like to limit your research?

  • When? On what time period would you like your research focused?

  • Why? Why do you think this is an important/interesting topic?

Make sure your question can't be answered with just a yes or no or with a statistic. You need to be able to make an argument or take a stance. An easy way to do this is by asking why or why not?

Too Broad vs. Too Narrow
You want to define a research question that is neither too broad nor too narrow. One way to do this is to define different aspects of your question. 
For example: 
Too Narrow: Does playing Call of Duty: WWII make Canadian teens more violent in school? 
Solution: Remove one of the characteristics 
Just Right: Does playing violent video games make Canadian teens more violent in school? 
                  Does playing Call of Duty: WWII make teens more violent in school?
Too Broad: Using social media has negative effects on people
Solution: Define one or more characteristics 
Just Right: Using Facebook has negative effects on people. 
                  Using social media has negative effects on children.

Tips for Clinical Questions 

If you are trying to define a good clinical foreground for a research question try using PICO

Population/Patient/Problem -> "Among family-members of patients with early-onset dementia"

Intervention (cause/prognosis) -> "does listening to tranquil music" 

Comparison (optional) -> "as opposed to not listening to tranquil music"

Outcome -> "make a difference in the reduction of reported anxiety?"