Research question examples
The research question is one of the most important parts of your research project, thesis or dissertation. It’s important to spend some time assessing and refining your question before you get started.
The exact form of your question will depend on on the length of your project, the type of research, the topic, and the research problem. But all research questions should be focused, specific, appropriately complex, and relevant to a social or scholarly issue.
Once you’ve read our guide on how to write a research question, use these examples to work out if your question is strong enough.
|The first question is not specific enough: what type of social media? Which people? What kind of effects? The second question defines its concepts more clearly. It is researchable through qualitative and quantitative data collection.|
|Starting with “why” often means that your question is not focused enough: there are too many possible answers and no clear starting point for research. By targeting just one aspect of the problem and using more specific terms, the second question offers a clear path to finding an answer.|
|The first question is too broad and overly subjective: there’s no clear criteria for what counts as “better”. The second question is much more researchable. It uses clearly defined terms and narrows its focus to a specific population.|
|It is generally not feasible for academic research to answer broad questions about “what should be done”. The second question is more specific, and aims to gain an understanding of possible solutions in order to make informed recommendations.|
|The first question is too simple: it can be answered with a simple yes or no. The second question is more complex, requiring in-depth investigation and the development of an original argument.|
|The first question is too broad and not very original. It has been extensively researched by historians, and it would be very difficult to contribute new knowledge. The second question identifies an underexplored aspect of the topic that requires investigation and discussion of various primary and secondary sources to answer.|
|The first question is not focused enough: it tries to address two different practical problems (the quality of sexual health services and LGBT support services). Even though the two issues are related, it’s not clear how the research will bring them together. The second integrates the two problems into one focused, specific question.|
|The first question is too simple, asking for a straightforward fact that can be easily found online. The second is a more complex comparative question that requires data collection and detailed discussion to answer.|
|The first question is not original or relevant — it has been answered so many times that it would be very difficult to contribute anything new. The second question takes a specific angle with scope to make an original argument, and has more relevance to current social concerns and debates.|
|The first question asks for a ready-made solution, and is not focused or researchable. The second question is a clearer comparative question, but note that it may not be practically feasible. For a smaller research project or thesis, it could be narrowed down further to focus on the effectiveness of drunk driving laws in just one or two countries.|