Examples of main research questions for a dissertation

The main research question is the most important part of your dissertation. Reviewing our criteria is an easy way to determine whether your main question is good or bad.

Main research questionIs it good?Criterion
Do boys or girls have more talent related to technology and does education play a role? No. It’s actually two questions instead of one. Moreover, it’s too general and lacks well-defined concepts.Researchable and specific
What is iconoclasm? No. This descriptive question is likely too straightforward for a main question. However, it could make a good first sub-question.
What are the specific problems and characteristics of different types of stray cats (e.g., farm cats, feral cats, stray cats in urban areas)? Yes. It’s a clearly worded defining question.
Does education play a role in defining a high school’s reputation? No. It’s a limited inferential question with a simple yes/no answer.Researchable
How can World War II be explained? No. This explanatory question is not specific enough and will not lead to a concise answer.Researchable
What kind of music production workers are the most productive: classical, rock or techno music? No. It’s not specific enough and may be too broad. Which production workers? Where?Feasible and specific
How can the sexual health counseling that mental healthcare workers in Rotterdam provide to young people in district X be improved? Yes. The question is focused and clear (although it may be more appropriate for an undergraduate-level dissertation).
How can poverty among immigrants be reduced in the Netherlands? No. The issue is far too broad to be tackled in either a bachelor’s or master’s dissertation.Feasible and specific
What effect do violent films have on children’s behavior? No. The subject is again too wide and needs to be made more specific. For instance, what kind of behavior will be considered?Feasible and specific
What effect does conducting preventive alcohol checks have on the number of people who drive after drinking? Yes. It’s a straightforward evaluative question.
Will paying more attention to the early identification and remediation of reading problems in grades 3 and 4 lead to fewer below-average readers in grades 4 and 5? No. it’s a predictive question (which is appropriate), but it I too speculative. A testing question would be better here: “What effect do the early detection and remediation of reading problems in grades 3 and 4 have on reading levels in grades 4 and 5?

These types of questions are common in scientific research; however, the questions shouldn’t be too broad or impossible to answer.

In an undergraduate paper, a better testing question may be “How can the number of below-average readers be decreased in grades 4 and 5?

Feasible and specific

Learn more about main research questions

Are you on track with your postgraduate research?

Scribbr recommends reading the book Planning Your Postgraduate Research by Maraget Walshaw.

  • Supports postgraduate researchers in the early stages.
  • Clarifies what you want to research.
  • Clarifies how to conduct that research.
  • Guides you through the whole writing process.

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6 comments

Sakala Shemidah
August 15, 2018 at 3:31 PM

Comment kindly help me with a research question . I'm a students of Business Studies, undergraduate.

Reply

Laura Draws
Laura Draws (Scribbr-team)
August 15, 2018 at 6:55 PM

Dear Sakala,

Thanks for your comment! :)
Unfortunately, I can not help you with your research question with only such few information.
If you contact us via mail or chat we will try to help you out.

Cheers,
Laura

Reply

Dzade Ruben
August 13, 2018 at 3:35 AM

I want you to help me write a research question as a maths student. I attend Valley view university (techiman campus Ghana).

Reply

Leon
Leon (Scribbr-team)
August 14, 2018 at 9:24 PM

Dear Ruben,

Thanks for your comment! I'm not sure if we can help you with this, but I'd gladly give it a try!
If you contact us via our chat, I or one of my colleagues would be happy to try to help you.

Hope to hear from you!

Cheers,
Leon

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Christie Obey
July 21, 2018 at 4:05 PM

Just helpful.

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Umar sadiq
June 25, 2018 at 5:07 AM

Iam impress

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