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

Step 2: Select a Role

Megan's Brainstorming

Role of the Advocate:

If I adopt the role of the advocate in this paper, I could argue that because diabetes is becoming an epidemic in the U.S., Congress should allow stem-cell research to continue and should spend a lot of money in finding a cure before the year 2005. I could also argue that since Type 2 diabetes is largely controllable, people who get it shouldn't get health coverage unless they agree to join a fitness program and monitor their food intake.

Role of the Reporter:

If I adopt the role of the reporter in this paper, I could inform people about the causes of diabetes, the different types of diabetes, the complications of diabetes, and the progress being made to cure diabetes.

Role of the Interpreter:

If I adopt the role of the interpreter in this paper, I could compare different scientific studies on treatments for diabetes complications.

Role of the Inquirer:

If I adopt the role of the inquirer in this paper, I could try to determine why African-Americans are more susceptible to Type 2 diabetes than are White Americans. I could try to look into the link between Agent Orange exposure and diabetes in Vietnam veterans and their children.

Role of the Entertainer:

If I adopt the role of the entertainer in this paper, I could look at the way in which diabetes is portrayed in films. I could look at Steel Magnolias, Panic Room, and other movies and write about how Hollywood often misrepresents diseases in order to fit the plot.

Megan also considered different roles—such as reporter, advocator, or interpreter—she might adopt as a writer. Essentially, she considered how the different roles would allow her to accomplish her purpose as a writer. Below are five possible roles. On the right, Megan has brainstormed the possible outcome of adopting each of the particular roles.

Five Possible Roles to Adopt:

  • Advocate
  • Reporter
  • Interpreter
  • Inquirer
  • Entertainer

Note: These roles are not mutually exclusive—you might adopt one role or another at different points in a project.

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