writing research questions

Research questions are the foundation of any academic study. They guide the research process and help researchers focus their efforts. A well-crafted research question can make all the difference in the success of a research project. In this article, we’ll look at what makes a strong research question and list the steps to take when writing one. I’ve also included a few tips and examples of strong research questions.

What Makes a Strong Research Question?

Before we get into the specifics of writing research questions, first, let’s explore what a research question really is. A research question is a clear, concise, and focused question that guides the research process. It identifies the problem or issue that the research will address and outlines the research design and methodology.

There are several characteristics of a strong research question. Firstly, it should be relevant to the research topic and aligned with the research objectives. A strong research question is also specific and focused, rather than broad or general. It should be well-defined, making it easier to conduct research and answer the question conclusively.

Another characteristic of a strong research question is that it should be answerable. This means that the question should not be too complex or vague to be answered through research. Finally, a strong research question should be significant and meaningful, with the potential to contribute to the body of knowledge on the research topic.

RELATED READ: How to Write A Scientific Paper

Steps to Take in Writing a Strong Research Question

Now that we have an idea of what research questions are and why they are so important, let’s go over some steps to take when writing one.

  1. Conduct a Literature Review: Before you begin writing your research question, it’s essential to conduct a thorough literature review. Doing so will provide a record of what has been studied in the scope of your research topic and identify gaps in the literature that your research can fill.
  2. Choose a Research Design: Once you’ve completed your literature review, the next step is to choose a research design. The nature of your research question will determine the appropriate research design, whether it is a qualitative or quantitative study and the available resources.
  3. Refine and Revise: As you continue with your research, it’s essential to refine and revise your research question continually. This will ensure that your question remains focused and aligned with your research objectives.

Tips for Writing a Strong Research Question

In addition to following the steps above, there are some tips to keep in mind when writing a strong research question.

  1. Use clear and concise language: Avoid using complex language or technical jargon in your research question. Use simple and straightforward language to make it easier to understand.
  2. Avoid vague or overly broad questions: Your research question should be specific and focused, rather than vague or overly broad. Avoid using general statements that are too broad or complex to be answered through research.
  3. Consider ethical implications: It’s essential to consider ethical implications when writing your research question. Make sure your research question is not likely to cause harm to participants or violate ethical standards.
  4. Highlight the potential significance: Emphasize the potential significance of your research question. This will make it more attractive to funders and publishers and may help increase the visibility of your research.

Examples of Strong Research Questions

Let’s look at a few examples of strong research questions to help illustrate what we’ve discussed so far:

  1. How does parental involvement impact student achievement in mathematics? (Quantitative Study)
  2. What is the experience of new immigrant nurses in the U.S. healthcare system? (Qualitative Study)
  3. How does employee motivation affect organizational productivity in the manufacturing sector? (Mixed Methods Study)

Each of these research questions is clear, specific, and focused. They are also answerable through research and have the potential to contribute to the body of knowledge on their respective research topics.

  • The first example, a quantitative study, seeks to explore the relationship between parental involvement and student achievement in mathematics, providing valuable insights for educators and policymakers.
  • The second example, a qualitative study, focuses on the experience of new immigrant nurses in the U.S. healthcare system, shedding light on an often-underrepresented group in healthcare research.
  • The third example, a mixed-methods study, examines the impact of employee motivation on organizational productivity in the manufacturing sector, providing a comprehensive understanding of the complex relationship between these two variables.

These examples demonstrate the importance of crafting strong research questions that are relevant, specific, answerable, and significant. Use them as inspiration as you work to write your own research questions for your academic studies.

RELATED READ: What to do when you’re stuck in your research


In conclusion, writing a strong research question is crucial to the success of any academic study. A well-crafted research question guides the research process, outlines the research design and methodology, and contributes to the body of knowledge on the research topic. To write a strong research question, one should consider its relevance, specificity, answerability, and potential significance. Additionally, following the steps of conducting a literature review, choosing a research design, and refining and revising the question is critical. By keeping these tips in mind and using the examples provided, you’ll be well on your way to writing strong research questions and conducting successful academic research.

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