Developing a Question

Step 1. Consider Your Readers

Step 2. Select a Role

Step 3. Generate Questions

Step 4. Select a Question

Step 5. Refine by Narrowing

Step 6. Refine by Searching


How to Develop a Research Question : A Research Guide by Mike Palmquist

Developing a Research Question

Before developing your research question, you need to have a topic as a starting point. For purposes of this demonstration, we'll follow the efforts of Megan O'Neil, a student writing a research project about the general topic of health care in the United States. Megan's audience for this assignment is her classmates and teacher. After exploring her topic, she's focused on diabetes, a disease that affects 17 million Americans.

To develop her research question about diabetes, Megan followed six general steps. This demonstration will show you how Megan worked through each step. In turn, you can use these steps to narrow your topic to a research question. The six steps are as follows:

  1. Consider what your readers want or need to know about the conversation.
  2. Select a role (or roles) consistent with your purpose.
  3. Generate potential research questions.
  4. Select a working research question.
  5. Refine your working research question by narrowing its scope.
  6. Refine your working research question by conducting preliminary searches.

To begin this demonstration, click on the Continue button.