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10 Research Question Examples to Guide your Research Project

Published on October 30, 2022 by Shona McCombes . Revised on October 19, 2023.

The research question is one of the most important parts of your research paper , 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 a few things, such as the length of your project, the type of research you’re conducting, the topic , and the research problem . However, all research questions should be focused, specific, and relevant to a timely social or scholarly issue.

Once you’ve read our guide on how to write a research question , you can use these examples to craft your own.

Note that the design of your research question can depend on what method you are pursuing. Here are a few options for qualitative, quantitative, and statistical research questions.

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If you want to know more about the research process , methodology , research bias , or statistics , make sure to check out some of our other articles with explanations and examples.


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How to Write a Research Question: Types and Examples 

research quetsion

The first step in any research project is framing the research question. It can be considered the core of any systematic investigation as the research outcomes are tied to asking the right questions. Thus, this primary interrogation point sets the pace for your research as it helps collect relevant and insightful information that ultimately influences your work.   

Typically, the research question guides the stages of inquiry, analysis, and reporting. Depending on the use of quantifiable or quantitative data, research questions are broadly categorized into quantitative or qualitative research questions. Both types of research questions can be used independently or together, considering the overall focus and objectives of your research.  

What is a research question?

A research question is a clear, focused, concise, and arguable question on which your research and writing are centered. 1 It states various aspects of the study, including the population and variables to be studied and the problem the study addresses. These questions also set the boundaries of the study, ensuring cohesion. 

Designing the research question is a dynamic process where the researcher can change or refine the research question as they review related literature and develop a framework for the study. Depending on the scale of your research, the study can include single or multiple research questions. 

A good research question has the following features: 

  • It is relevant to the chosen field of study. 
  • The question posed is arguable and open for debate, requiring synthesizing and analysis of ideas. 
  • It is focused and concisely framed. 
  • A feasible solution is possible within the given practical constraint and timeframe. 

A poorly formulated research question poses several risks. 1   

  • Researchers can adopt an erroneous design. 
  • It can create confusion and hinder the thought process, including developing a clear protocol.  
  • It can jeopardize publication efforts.  
  • It causes difficulty in determining the relevance of the study findings.  
  • It causes difficulty in whether the study fulfils the inclusion criteria for systematic review and meta-analysis. This creates challenges in determining whether additional studies or data collection is needed to answer the question.  
  • Readers may fail to understand the objective of the study. This reduces the likelihood of the study being cited by others. 

Now that you know “What is a research question?”, let’s look at the different types of research questions. 

Types of research questions

Depending on the type of research to be done, research questions can be classified broadly into quantitative, qualitative, or mixed-methods studies. Knowing the type of research helps determine the best type of research question that reflects the direction and epistemological underpinnings of your research. 

The structure and wording of quantitative 2 and qualitative research 3 questions differ significantly. The quantitative study looks at causal relationships, whereas the qualitative study aims at exploring a phenomenon. 

  • Quantitative research questions:  
  • Seeks to investigate social, familial, or educational experiences or processes in a particular context and/or location.  
  • Answers ‘how,’ ‘what,’ or ‘why’ questions. 
  • Investigates connections, relations, or comparisons between independent and dependent variables. 

Quantitative research questions can be further categorized into descriptive, comparative, and relationship, as explained in the Table below. 

  • Qualitative research questions  

Qualitative research questions are adaptable, non-directional, and more flexible. It concerns broad areas of research or more specific areas of study to discover, explain, or explore a phenomenon. These are further classified as follows: 

  • Mixed-methods studies  

Mixed-methods studies use both quantitative and qualitative research questions to answer your research question. Mixed methods provide a complete picture than standalone quantitative or qualitative research, as it integrates the benefits of both methods. Mixed methods research is often used in multidisciplinary settings and complex situational or societal research, especially in the behavioral, health, and social science fields. 

What makes a good research question

A good research question should be clear and focused to guide your research. It should synthesize multiple sources to present your unique argument, and should ideally be something that you are interested in. But avoid questions that can be answered in a few factual statements. The following are the main attributes of a good research question. 

  • Specific: The research question should not be a fishing expedition performed in the hopes that some new information will be found that will benefit the researcher. The central research question should work with your research problem to keep your work focused. If using multiple questions, they should all tie back to the central aim. 
  • Measurable: The research question must be answerable using quantitative and/or qualitative data or from scholarly sources to develop your research question. If such data is impossible to access, it is better to rethink your question. 
  • Attainable: Ensure you have enough time and resources to do all research required to answer your question. If it seems you will not be able to gain access to the data you need, consider narrowing down your question to be more specific. 
  • You have the expertise 
  • You have the equipment and resources 
  • Realistic: Developing your research question should be based on initial reading about your topic. It should focus on addressing a problem or gap in the existing knowledge in your field or discipline. 
  • Based on some sort of rational physics 
  • Can be done in a reasonable time frame 
  • Timely: The research question should contribute to an existing and current debate in your field or in society at large. It should produce knowledge that future researchers or practitioners can later build on. 
  • Novel 
  • Based on current technologies. 
  • Important to answer current problems or concerns. 
  • Lead to new directions. 
  • Important: Your question should have some aspect of originality. Incremental research is as important as exploring disruptive technologies. For example, you can focus on a specific location or explore a new angle. 
  • Meaningful whether the answer is “Yes” or “No.” Closed-ended, yes/no questions are too simple to work as good research questions. Such questions do not provide enough scope for robust investigation and discussion. A good research question requires original data, synthesis of multiple sources, and original interpretation and argumentation before providing an answer. 

Steps for developing a good research question

The importance of research questions cannot be understated. When drafting a research question, use the following frameworks to guide the components of your question to ease the process. 4  

  • Determine the requirements: Before constructing a good research question, set your research requirements. What is the purpose? Is it descriptive, comparative, or explorative research? Determining the research aim will help you choose the most appropriate topic and word your question appropriately. 
  • Select a broad research topic: Identify a broader subject area of interest that requires investigation. Techniques such as brainstorming or concept mapping can help identify relevant connections and themes within a broad research topic. For example, how to learn and help students learn. 
  • Perform preliminary investigation: Preliminary research is needed to obtain up-to-date and relevant knowledge on your topic. It also helps identify issues currently being discussed from which information gaps can be identified. 
  • Narrow your focus: Narrow the scope and focus of your research to a specific niche. This involves focusing on gaps in existing knowledge or recent literature or extending or complementing the findings of existing literature. Another approach involves constructing strong research questions that challenge your views or knowledge of the area of study (Example: Is learning consistent with the existing learning theory and research). 
  • Identify the research problem: Once the research question has been framed, one should evaluate it. This is to realize the importance of the research questions and if there is a need for more revising (Example: How do your beliefs on learning theory and research impact your instructional practices). 

How to write a research question

Those struggling to understand how to write a research question, these simple steps can help you simplify the process of writing a research question. 

Sample Research Questions

The following are some bad and good research question examples 

  • Example 1 
  • Example 2 


  • Thabane, L., Thomas, T., Ye, C., & Paul, J. (2009). Posing the research question: not so simple.  Canadian Journal of Anesthesia/Journal canadien d’anesthésie ,  56 (1), 71-79. 
  • Rutberg, S., & Bouikidis, C. D. (2018). Focusing on the fundamentals: A simplistic differentiation between qualitative and quantitative research.  Nephrology Nursing Journal ,  45 (2), 209-213. 
  • Kyngäs, H. (2020). Qualitative research and content analysis.  The application of content analysis in nursing science research , 3-11. 
  • Mattick, K., Johnston, J., & de la Croix, A. (2018). How to… write a good research question.  The clinical teacher ,  15 (2), 104-108. 
  • Fandino, W. (2019). Formulating a good research question: Pearls and pitfalls.  Indian Journal of Anaesthesia ,  63 (8), 611. 
  • Richardson, W. S., Wilson, M. C., Nishikawa, J., & Hayward, R. S. (1995). The well-built clinical question: a key to evidence-based decisions.  ACP journal club ,  123 (3), A12-A13 

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Home » Research Questions – Types, Examples and Writing Guide

Research Questions – Types, Examples and Writing Guide

Table of Contents

Research Questions

Research Questions


Research questions are the specific questions that guide a research study or inquiry. These questions help to define the scope of the research and provide a clear focus for the study. Research questions are usually developed at the beginning of a research project and are designed to address a particular research problem or objective.

Types of Research Questions

Types of Research Questions are as follows:

Descriptive Research Questions

These aim to describe a particular phenomenon, group, or situation. For example:

  • What are the characteristics of the target population?
  • What is the prevalence of a particular disease in a specific region?

Exploratory Research Questions

These aim to explore a new area of research or generate new ideas or hypotheses. For example:

  • What are the potential causes of a particular phenomenon?
  • What are the possible outcomes of a specific intervention?

Explanatory Research Questions

These aim to understand the relationship between two or more variables or to explain why a particular phenomenon occurs. For example:

  • What is the effect of a specific drug on the symptoms of a particular disease?
  • What are the factors that contribute to employee turnover in a particular industry?

Predictive Research Questions

These aim to predict a future outcome or trend based on existing data or trends. For example :

  • What will be the future demand for a particular product or service?
  • What will be the future prevalence of a particular disease?

Evaluative Research Questions

These aim to evaluate the effectiveness of a particular intervention or program. For example:

  • What is the impact of a specific educational program on student learning outcomes?
  • What is the effectiveness of a particular policy or program in achieving its intended goals?

How to Choose Research Questions

Choosing research questions is an essential part of the research process and involves careful consideration of the research problem, objectives, and design. Here are some steps to consider when choosing research questions:

  • Identify the research problem: Start by identifying the problem or issue that you want to study. This could be a gap in the literature, a social or economic issue, or a practical problem that needs to be addressed.
  • Conduct a literature review: Conducting a literature review can help you identify existing research in your area of interest and can help you formulate research questions that address gaps or limitations in the existing literature.
  • Define the research objectives : Clearly define the objectives of your research. What do you want to achieve with your study? What specific questions do you want to answer?
  • Consider the research design : Consider the research design that you plan to use. This will help you determine the appropriate types of research questions to ask. For example, if you plan to use a qualitative approach, you may want to focus on exploratory or descriptive research questions.
  • Ensure that the research questions are clear and answerable: Your research questions should be clear and specific, and should be answerable with the data that you plan to collect. Avoid asking questions that are too broad or vague.
  • Get feedback : Get feedback from your supervisor, colleagues, or peers to ensure that your research questions are relevant, feasible, and meaningful.

How to Write Research Questions

Guide for Writing Research Questions:

  • Start with a clear statement of the research problem: Begin by stating the problem or issue that your research aims to address. This will help you to formulate focused research questions.
  • Use clear language : Write your research questions in clear and concise language that is easy to understand. Avoid using jargon or technical terms that may be unfamiliar to your readers.
  • Be specific: Your research questions should be specific and focused. Avoid broad questions that are difficult to answer. For example, instead of asking “What is the impact of climate change on the environment?” ask “What are the effects of rising sea levels on coastal ecosystems?”
  • Use appropriate question types: Choose the appropriate question types based on the research design and objectives. For example, if you are conducting a qualitative study, you may want to use open-ended questions that allow participants to provide detailed responses.
  • Consider the feasibility of your questions : Ensure that your research questions are feasible and can be answered with the resources available. Consider the data sources and methods of data collection when writing your questions.
  • Seek feedback: Get feedback from your supervisor, colleagues, or peers to ensure that your research questions are relevant, appropriate, and meaningful.

Examples of Research Questions

Some Examples of Research Questions with Research Titles:

Research Title: The Impact of Social Media on Mental Health

  • Research Question : What is the relationship between social media use and mental health, and how does this impact individuals’ well-being?

Research Title: Factors Influencing Academic Success in High School

  • Research Question: What are the primary factors that influence academic success in high school, and how do they contribute to student achievement?

Research Title: The Effects of Exercise on Physical and Mental Health

  • Research Question: What is the relationship between exercise and physical and mental health, and how can exercise be used as a tool to improve overall well-being?

Research Title: Understanding the Factors that Influence Consumer Purchasing Decisions

  • Research Question : What are the key factors that influence consumer purchasing decisions, and how do these factors vary across different demographics and products?

Research Title: The Impact of Technology on Communication

  • Research Question : How has technology impacted communication patterns, and what are the effects of these changes on interpersonal relationships and society as a whole?

Research Title: Investigating the Relationship between Parenting Styles and Child Development

  • Research Question: What is the relationship between different parenting styles and child development outcomes, and how do these outcomes vary across different ages and developmental stages?

Research Title: The Effectiveness of Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy in Treating Anxiety Disorders

  • Research Question: How effective is cognitive-behavioral therapy in treating anxiety disorders, and what factors contribute to its success or failure in different patients?

Research Title: The Impact of Climate Change on Biodiversity

  • Research Question : How is climate change affecting global biodiversity, and what can be done to mitigate the negative effects on natural ecosystems?

Research Title: Exploring the Relationship between Cultural Diversity and Workplace Productivity

  • Research Question : How does cultural diversity impact workplace productivity, and what strategies can be employed to maximize the benefits of a diverse workforce?

Research Title: The Role of Artificial Intelligence in Healthcare

  • Research Question: How can artificial intelligence be leveraged to improve healthcare outcomes, and what are the potential risks and ethical concerns associated with its use?

Applications of Research Questions

Here are some of the key applications of research questions:

  • Defining the scope of the study : Research questions help researchers to narrow down the scope of their study and identify the specific issues they want to investigate.
  • Developing hypotheses: Research questions often lead to the development of hypotheses, which are testable predictions about the relationship between variables. Hypotheses provide a clear and focused direction for the study.
  • Designing the study : Research questions guide the design of the study, including the selection of participants, the collection of data, and the analysis of results.
  • Collecting data : Research questions inform the selection of appropriate methods for collecting data, such as surveys, interviews, or experiments.
  • Analyzing data : Research questions guide the analysis of data, including the selection of appropriate statistical tests and the interpretation of results.
  • Communicating results : Research questions help researchers to communicate the results of their study in a clear and concise manner. The research questions provide a framework for discussing the findings and drawing conclusions.

Characteristics of Research Questions

Characteristics of Research Questions are as follows:

  • Clear and Specific : A good research question should be clear and specific. It should clearly state what the research is trying to investigate and what kind of data is required.
  • Relevant : The research question should be relevant to the study and should address a current issue or problem in the field of research.
  • Testable : The research question should be testable through empirical evidence. It should be possible to collect data to answer the research question.
  • Concise : The research question should be concise and focused. It should not be too broad or too narrow.
  • Feasible : The research question should be feasible to answer within the constraints of the research design, time frame, and available resources.
  • Original : The research question should be original and should contribute to the existing knowledge in the field of research.
  • Significant : The research question should have significance and importance to the field of research. It should have the potential to provide new insights and knowledge to the field.
  • Ethical : The research question should be ethical and should not cause harm to any individuals or groups involved in the study.

Purpose of Research Questions

Research questions are the foundation of any research study as they guide the research process and provide a clear direction to the researcher. The purpose of research questions is to identify the scope and boundaries of the study, and to establish the goals and objectives of the research.

The main purpose of research questions is to help the researcher to focus on the specific area or problem that needs to be investigated. They enable the researcher to develop a research design, select the appropriate methods and tools for data collection and analysis, and to organize the results in a meaningful way.

Research questions also help to establish the relevance and significance of the study. They define the research problem, and determine the research methodology that will be used to address the problem. Research questions also help to determine the type of data that will be collected, and how it will be analyzed and interpreted.

Finally, research questions provide a framework for evaluating the results of the research. They help to establish the validity and reliability of the data, and provide a basis for drawing conclusions and making recommendations based on the findings of the study.

Advantages of Research Questions

There are several advantages of research questions in the research process, including:

  • Focus : Research questions help to focus the research by providing a clear direction for the study. They define the specific area of investigation and provide a framework for the research design.
  • Clarity : Research questions help to clarify the purpose and objectives of the study, which can make it easier for the researcher to communicate the research aims to others.
  • Relevance : Research questions help to ensure that the study is relevant and meaningful. By asking relevant and important questions, the researcher can ensure that the study will contribute to the existing body of knowledge and address important issues.
  • Consistency : Research questions help to ensure consistency in the research process by providing a framework for the development of the research design, data collection, and analysis.
  • Measurability : Research questions help to ensure that the study is measurable by defining the specific variables and outcomes that will be measured.
  • Replication : Research questions help to ensure that the study can be replicated by providing a clear and detailed description of the research aims, methods, and outcomes. This makes it easier for other researchers to replicate the study and verify the results.

Limitations of Research Questions

Limitations of Research Questions are as follows:

  • Subjectivity : Research questions are often subjective and can be influenced by personal biases and perspectives of the researcher. This can lead to a limited understanding of the research problem and may affect the validity and reliability of the study.
  • Inadequate scope : Research questions that are too narrow in scope may limit the breadth of the study, while questions that are too broad may make it difficult to focus on specific research objectives.
  • Unanswerable questions : Some research questions may not be answerable due to the lack of available data or limitations in research methods. In such cases, the research question may need to be rephrased or modified to make it more answerable.
  • Lack of clarity : Research questions that are poorly worded or ambiguous can lead to confusion and misinterpretation. This can result in incomplete or inaccurate data, which may compromise the validity of the study.
  • Difficulty in measuring variables : Some research questions may involve variables that are difficult to measure or quantify, making it challenging to draw meaningful conclusions from the data.
  • Lack of generalizability: Research questions that are too specific or limited in scope may not be generalizable to other contexts or populations. This can limit the applicability of the study’s findings and restrict its broader implications.

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How To Write a Research Question

Deeptanshu D

Academic writing and research require a distinct focus and direction. A well-designed research question gives purpose and clarity to your research. In addition, it helps your readers understand the issue you are trying to address and explore.

Every time you want to know more about a subject, you will pose a question. The same idea is used in research as well. You must pose a question in order to effectively address a research problem. That's why the research question is an integral part of the research process. Additionally, it offers the author writing and reading guidelines, be it qualitative research or quantitative research.

In your research paper , you must single out just one issue or problem. The specific issue or claim you wish to address should be included in your thesis statement in order to clarify your main argument.

A good research question must have the following characteristics.

research questions 1

  • Should include only one problem in the research question
  • Should be able to find the answer using primary data and secondary data sources
  • Should be possible to resolve within the given time and other constraints
  • Detailed and in-depth results should be achievable
  • Should be relevant and realistic.
  • It should relate to your chosen area of research

While a larger project, like a thesis, might have several research questions to address, each one should be directed at your main area of study. Of course, you can use different research designs and research methods (qualitative research or quantitative research) to address various research questions. However, they must all be pertinent to the study's objectives.

What is a Research Question?


A research question is an inquiry that the research attempts to answer. It is the heart of the systematic investigation. Research questions are the most important step in any research project. In essence, it initiates the research project and establishes the pace for the specific research A research question is:

  • Clear : It provides enough detail that the audience understands its purpose without any additional explanation.
  • Focused : It is so specific that it can be addressed within the time constraints of the writing task.
  • Succinct: It is written in the shortest possible words.
  • Complex : It is not possible to answer it with a "yes" or "no", but requires analysis and synthesis of ideas before somebody can create a solution.
  • Argumental : Its potential answers are open for debate rather than accepted facts.

A good research question usually focuses on the research and determines the research design, methodology, and hypothesis. It guides all phases of inquiry, data collection, analysis, and reporting. You should gather valuable information by asking the right questions.

Why are Research Questions so important?

Regardless of whether it is a qualitative research or quantitative research project, research questions provide writers and their audience with a way to navigate the writing and research process. Writers can avoid "all-about" papers by asking straightforward and specific research questions that help them focus on their research and support a specific thesis.

Types of Research Questions


There are two types of research: Qualitative research and Quantitative research . There must be research questions for every type of research. Your research question will be based on the type of research you want to conduct and the type of data collection.

The first step in designing research involves identifying a gap and creating a focused research question.

Below is a list of common research questions that can be used in a dissertation. Keep in mind that these are merely illustrations of typical research questions used in dissertation projects. The real research questions themselves might be more difficult.

Example Research Questions


The following are a few examples of research questions and research problems to help you understand how research questions can be created for a particular research problem.

Steps to Write Research Questions


You can focus on the issue or research gaps you're attempting to solve by using the research questions as a direction.

If you're unsure how to go about writing a good research question, these are the steps to follow in the process:

  • Select an interesting topic Always choose a topic that interests you. Because if your curiosity isn’t aroused by a subject, you’ll have a hard time conducting research around it. Alos, it’s better that you pick something that’s neither too narrow or too broad.
  • Do preliminary research on the topic Search for relevant literature to gauge what problems have already been tackled by scholars. You can do that conveniently through repositories like Scispace , where you’ll find millions of papers in one place. Once you do find the papers you’re looking for, try our reading assistant, SciSpace Copilot to get simple explanations for the paper . You’ll be able to quickly understand the abstract, find the key takeaways, and the main arguments presented in the paper. This will give you a more contextual understanding of your subject and you’ll have an easier time identifying knowledge gaps in your discipline.

     Also: ChatPDF vs. SciSpace Copilot: Unveiling the best tool for your research

  • Consider your audience It is essential to understand your audience to develop focused research questions for essays or dissertations. When narrowing down your topic, you can identify aspects that might interest your audience.
  • Ask questions Asking questions will give you a deeper understanding of the topic. Evaluate your question through the What, Why, When, How, and other open-ended questions assessment.
  • Assess your question Once you have created a research question, assess its effectiveness to determine if it is useful for the purpose. Refine and revise the dissertation research question multiple times.

Additionally, use this list of questions as a guide when formulating your research question.

Are you able to answer a specific research question? After identifying a gap in research, it would be helpful to formulate the research question. And this will allow the research to solve a part of the problem. Is your research question clear and centered on the main topic? It is important that your research question should be specific and related to your central goal. Are you tackling a difficult research question? It is not possible to answer the research question with a simple yes or no. The problem requires in-depth analysis. It is often started with "How" and "Why."

Start your research Once you have completed your dissertation research questions, it is time to review the literature on similar topics to discover different perspectives.

Strong  Research Question Samples

Uncertain: How should social networking sites work on the hatred that flows through their platform?

Certain: What should social media sites like Twitter or Facebook do to address the harm they are causing?

This unclear question does not specify the social networking sites that are being used or what harm they might be causing. In addition, this question assumes that the "harm" has been proven and/or accepted. This version is more specific and identifies the sites (Twitter, Facebook), the type and extent of harm (privacy concerns), and who might be suffering from that harm (users). Effective research questions should not be ambiguous or interpreted.

Unfocused: What are the effects of global warming on the environment?

Focused: What are the most important effects of glacial melting in Antarctica on penguins' lives?

This broad research question cannot be addressed in a book, let alone a college-level paper. Focused research targets a specific effect of global heating (glacial  melting), an area (Antarctica), or a specific animal (penguins). The writer must also decide which effect will have the greatest impact on the animals affected. If in doubt, narrow down your research question to the most specific possible.

Too Simple: What are the U.S. doctors doing to treat diabetes?

Appropriately complex: Which factors, if any, are most likely to predict a person's risk of developing diabetes?

This simple version can be found online. It is easy to answer with a few facts. The second, more complicated version of this question is divided into two parts. It is thought-provoking and requires extensive investigation as well as evaluation by the author. So, ensure that a quick Google search should not answer your research question.

How to write a strong Research Question?


The foundation of all research is the research question. You should therefore spend as much time as necessary to refine your research question based on various data.

You can conduct your research more efficiently and analyze your results better if you have great research questions for your dissertation, research paper , or essay .

The following criteria can help you evaluate the strength and importance of your research question and can be used to determine the strength of your research question:

  • Researchable
  • It should only cover one issue.
  • A subjective judgment should not be included in the question.
  • It can be answered with data analysis and research.
  • Specific and Practical
  • It should not contain a plan of action, policy, or solution.
  • It should be clearly defined
  • Within research limits
  • Complex and Arguable
  • It shouldn't be difficult to answer.
  • To find the truth, you need in-depth knowledge
  • Allows for discussion and deliberation
  • Original and Relevant
  • It should be in your area of study
  • Its results should be measurable
  • It should be original

Conclusion - How to write Research Questions?

Research questions provide a clear guideline for research. One research question may be part of a larger project, such as a dissertation. However, each question should only focus on one topic.

Research questions must be answerable, practical, specific, and applicable to your field. The research type that you use to base your research questions on will determine the research topic. You can start by selecting an interesting topic and doing preliminary research. Then, you can begin asking questions, evaluating your questions, and start your research.

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The Ultimate Guide to Qualitative Research - Part 1: The Basics

research questions 1

  • Introduction and overview
  • What is qualitative research?
  • What is qualitative data?
  • Examples of qualitative data
  • Qualitative vs. quantitative research
  • Mixed methods
  • Qualitative research preparation
  • Theoretical perspective
  • Theoretical framework
  • Literature reviews
  • Introduction

Why are research questions so important?

Research question examples, types of qualitative research questions, writing a good research question, guiding your research through research questions.

  • Conceptual framework
  • Conceptual vs. theoretical framework
  • Data collection
  • Qualitative research methods
  • Focus groups
  • Observational research
  • Case studies
  • Ethnographical research
  • Ethical considerations
  • Confidentiality and privacy
  • Power dynamics
  • Reflexivity

Research questions

The research question plays a critical role in the research process, as it guides the study design, data collection , analysis , and interpretation of the findings.

A research paper relies on a research question to inform readers of the research topic and the research problem being addressed. Without such a question, your audience may have trouble understanding the rationale for your research project.

research questions 1

People can take for granted the research question as an essential part of a research project. However, explicitly detailing why researchers need a research question can help lend clarity to the research project. Here are some of the key roles that the research question plays in the research process:

Defines the scope and focus of the study

The research question helps to define the scope and focus of the study. It identifies the specific topic or issue that the researcher wants to investigate, and it sets the boundaries for the study. A research question can also help you determine if your study primarily contributes to theory or is more applied in nature. Clinical research and public health research, for example, may be more concerned with research questions that contribute to practice, while a research question focused on cognitive linguistics are aimed at developing theory.

Provides a rationale for the study

The research question provides a rationale for the study by identifying a gap or problem in existing literature or practice that the researcher wants to address. It articulates the purpose and significance of the study, and it explains why the study is important and worth conducting.

Guides the study design

The research question guides the study design by helping the researcher select appropriate research methods , sampling strategies, and data collection tools. It also helps to determine the types of data that need to be collected and the best ways to analyze and interpret the data because the principal aim of the study is to provide an answer to that research question.

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Shapes the data analysis and interpretation

The research question shapes the data analysis and interpretation by guiding the selection of appropriate analytical methods and by focusing the interpretation of the findings. It helps to identify which patterns and themes in the data are more relevant and worth digging into, and it guides the development of conclusions and recommendations based on the findings.

Generates new knowledge

The research question is the starting point for generating new knowledge. By answering the research question, the researcher contributes to the body of knowledge in the field and helps to advance the understanding of the topic or issue under investigation.

Overall, the research question is a critical component of the research process, as it guides the study from start to finish and provides a foundation for generating new knowledge.

Supports the thesis statement

The thesis statement or main assertion in any research paper stems from the answers to the research question. As a result, you can think of a focused research question as a preview of what the study aims to present as a new contribution to existing knowledge.

Here area few examples of focused research questions that can help set the stage for explaining different types of research questions in qualitative research . These questions touch upon various fields and subjects, showcasing the versatility and depth of research.

  • What factors contribute to the job satisfaction of remote workers in the technology industry?
  • How do teachers perceive the implementation of technology in the classroom, and what challenges do they face?
  • What coping strategies do refugees use to deal with the challenges of resettlement in a new country?
  • How does gentrification impact the sense of community and identity among long-term residents in urban neighborhoods?
  • In what ways do social media platforms influence body image and self-esteem among adolescents?
  • How do family dynamics and communication patterns affect the management of type 2 diabetes in adult patients?
  • What is the role of mentorship in the professional development and career success of early-career academics?
  • How do patients with chronic illnesses experience and navigate the healthcare system, and what barriers do they encounter?
  • What are the motivations and experiences of volunteers in disaster relief efforts, and how do these experiences impact their future involvement in humanitarian work?
  • How do cultural beliefs and values shape the consumer preferences and purchasing behavior of young adults in a globalized market?
  • How do individuals whose genetic factors predict a high risk for developing a specific medical condition perceive, cope with, and make lifestyle choices based on this information?

These example research questions highlight the different kinds of inquiries common to qualitative research. They also demonstrate how qualitative research can address a wide range of topics, from understanding the experiences of specific populations to examining the impact of broader social and cultural phenomena.

Also, notice that these types of research questions tend to be geared towards inductive analyses that describe a concept in depth or develop new theory. As such, qualitative research questions tend to ask "what," "why," or "how" types of questions. This contrasts with quantitative research questions that typically aim to verify an existing theory. and tend to ask "when," "how much," and "why" types of questions to nail down causal mechanisms and generalizable findings.

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As you can see above, the research questions you ask play a critical role in shaping the direction and depth of your study. These questions are designed to explore, understand, and interpret social phenomena, rather than testing a hypothesis or quantifying data like in quantitative research. In this section, we will discuss the various types of research questions typically found in qualitative research, making it easier for you to craft appropriate questions for your study.

Descriptive questions

Descriptive research questions aim to provide a detailed account of the phenomenon being studied. These questions usually begin with "what" or "how" and seek to understand the nature, characteristics, or functions of a subject. For example, "What are the experiences of first-generation college students?" or "How do small business owners adapt to economic downturns?"

Comparative questions

Comparative questions seek to examine the similarities and differences between two or more groups, cases, or phenomena. These questions often include the words "compare," "contrast," or "differences." For example, "How do parenting practices differ between single-parent and two-parent families?" or "What are the similarities and differences in leadership styles among successful female entrepreneurs?"

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Exploratory questions

Exploratory research questions are open-ended and intended to investigate new or understudied areas. These questions aim to identify patterns, relationships, or themes that may warrant further investigation. For example, "How do teenagers use social media to construct their identities?" or "What factors influence the adoption of renewable energy technologies in rural communities?"

Explanatory questions

Explanatory research questions delve deeper into the reasons or explanations behind a particular phenomenon or behavior. They often start with "why" or "how" and aim to uncover underlying motivations, beliefs, or processes. For example, "Why do some employees resist organizational change?" or "How do cultural factors influence decision-making in international business negotiations?"

Evaluative questions

Evaluative questions assess the effectiveness, impact, or outcomes of a particular intervention, program, or policy. They seek to understand the value or significance of an initiative by examining its successes, challenges, or unintended consequences. For example, "How effective is the school's anti-bullying program in reducing incidents of bullying?" or "What are the long-term impacts of a community-based health promotion campaign on residents' well-being?"

Interpretive questions

Interpretive questions focus on understanding how individuals or groups make sense of their experiences, actions, or social contexts. These questions often involve the analysis of language, symbols, or narratives to uncover the meanings and perspectives that shape human behavior. For example, "How do cancer survivors make sense of their illness journey?" or "What meanings do members of a religious community attach to their rituals and practices?"

There are mainly two overarching ways to think about how to devise a research question. Many studies are built on existing research, but others can be founded on personal experiences or pilot research.

Using the literature review

Within scholarly research, the research question is often built from your literature review . An analysis of the relevant literature reporting previous studies should allow you to identify contextual, theoretical, or methodological gaps that can be addressed in future research.

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A compelling research question built on a robust literature review ultimately illustrates to your audience what is novel about your study's objectives.

Conducting pilot research

Researchers may conduct preliminary research or pilot research when they are interested in a particular topic but don't yet have a basis for forming a research question on that topic. A pilot study is a small-scale, preliminary study that is conducted in order to test the feasibility of a research design, methods, and procedures. It can help identify unresolved puzzles that merit further investigation, and pilot studies can draw attention to potential issues or problems that may arise in the full study.

One potential benefit of conducting a pilot study in qualitative research is that it can help the researcher to refine their research question. By collecting and analyzing a small amount of data, the researcher can get a better sense of the phenomenon under investigation and can develop a more focused and refined research question for the full study. The pilot study can also help the researcher to identify key themes, concepts, or variables that should be included in the research question.

In addition to helping to refine the research question, a pilot study can also help the researcher to develop a more effective data collection and analysis plan. The researcher can test different methods for collecting and analyzing data, and can make adjustments based on the results of the pilot study. This can help to ensure that the full study is conducted in the most effective and efficient manner possible.

Overall, conducting a pilot study in qualitative research can be a valuable tool for refining the research question and developing a more effective research design, methods, and procedures. It can help to ensure that the full study is conducted in a rigorous and effective manner, and can increase the likelihood of generating meaningful and useful findings.

When you write a research question for your qualitative study, consider which type of question best aligns with your research objectives and the nature of the phenomenon you are investigating. Remember, qualitative research questions should be open-ended, allowing for a range of perspectives and insights to emerge. As you progress in your research, these questions may evolve or be refined based on the data you collect, helping to guide your analysis and deepen your understanding of the topic.

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Research Aims, Objectives & Questions

The “Golden Thread” Explained Simply (+ Examples)

By: David Phair (PhD) and Alexandra Shaeffer (PhD) | June 2022

The research aims , objectives and research questions (collectively called the “golden thread”) are arguably the most important thing you need to get right when you’re crafting a research proposal , dissertation or thesis . We receive questions almost every day about this “holy trinity” of research and there’s certainly a lot of confusion out there, so we’ve crafted this post to help you navigate your way through the fog.

Overview: The Golden Thread

  • What is the golden thread
  • What are research aims ( examples )
  • What are research objectives ( examples )
  • What are research questions ( examples )
  • The importance of alignment in the golden thread

What is the “golden thread”?  

The golden thread simply refers to the collective research aims , research objectives , and research questions for any given project (i.e., a dissertation, thesis, or research paper ). These three elements are bundled together because it’s extremely important that they align with each other, and that the entire research project aligns with them.

Importantly, the golden thread needs to weave its way through the entirety of any research project , from start to end. In other words, it needs to be very clearly defined right at the beginning of the project (the topic ideation and proposal stage) and it needs to inform almost every decision throughout the rest of the project. For example, your research design and methodology will be heavily influenced by the golden thread (we’ll explain this in more detail later), as well as your literature review.

The research aims, objectives and research questions (the golden thread) define the focus and scope ( the delimitations ) of your research project. In other words, they help ringfence your dissertation or thesis to a relatively narrow domain, so that you can “go deep” and really dig into a specific problem or opportunity. They also help keep you on track , as they act as a litmus test for relevance. In other words, if you’re ever unsure whether to include something in your document, simply ask yourself the question, “does this contribute toward my research aims, objectives or questions?”. If it doesn’t, chances are you can drop it.

Alright, enough of the fluffy, conceptual stuff. Let’s get down to business and look at what exactly the research aims, objectives and questions are and outline a few examples to bring these concepts to life.

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Research Aims: What are they?

Simply put, the research aim(s) is a statement that reflects the broad overarching goal (s) of the research project. Research aims are fairly high-level (low resolution) as they outline the general direction of the research and what it’s trying to achieve .

Research Aims: Examples  

True to the name, research aims usually start with the wording “this research aims to…”, “this research seeks to…”, and so on. For example:

“This research aims to explore employee experiences of digital transformation in retail HR.”   “This study sets out to assess the interaction between student support and self-care on well-being in engineering graduate students”  

As you can see, these research aims provide a high-level description of what the study is about and what it seeks to achieve. They’re not hyper-specific or action-oriented, but they’re clear about what the study’s focus is and what is being investigated.

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research questions 1

Research Objectives: What are they?

The research objectives take the research aims and make them more practical and actionable . In other words, the research objectives showcase the steps that the researcher will take to achieve the research aims.

The research objectives need to be far more specific (higher resolution) and actionable than the research aims. In fact, it’s always a good idea to craft your research objectives using the “SMART” criteria. In other words, they should be specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound”.

Research Objectives: Examples  

Let’s look at two examples of research objectives. We’ll stick with the topic and research aims we mentioned previously.  

For the digital transformation topic:

To observe the retail HR employees throughout the digital transformation. To assess employee perceptions of digital transformation in retail HR. To identify the barriers and facilitators of digital transformation in retail HR.

And for the student wellness topic:

To determine whether student self-care predicts the well-being score of engineering graduate students. To determine whether student support predicts the well-being score of engineering students. To assess the interaction between student self-care and student support when predicting well-being in engineering graduate students.

  As you can see, these research objectives clearly align with the previously mentioned research aims and effectively translate the low-resolution aims into (comparatively) higher-resolution objectives and action points . They give the research project a clear focus and present something that resembles a research-based “to-do” list.

The research objectives detail the specific steps that you, as the researcher, will take to achieve the research aims you laid out.

Research Questions: What are they?

Finally, we arrive at the all-important research questions. The research questions are, as the name suggests, the key questions that your study will seek to answer . Simply put, they are the core purpose of your dissertation, thesis, or research project. You’ll present them at the beginning of your document (either in the introduction chapter or literature review chapter) and you’ll answer them at the end of your document (typically in the discussion and conclusion chapters).  

The research questions will be the driving force throughout the research process. For example, in the literature review chapter, you’ll assess the relevance of any given resource based on whether it helps you move towards answering your research questions. Similarly, your methodology and research design will be heavily influenced by the nature of your research questions. For instance, research questions that are exploratory in nature will usually make use of a qualitative approach, whereas questions that relate to measurement or relationship testing will make use of a quantitative approach.  

Let’s look at some examples of research questions to make this more tangible.

Research Questions: Examples  

Again, we’ll stick with the research aims and research objectives we mentioned previously.  

For the digital transformation topic (which would be qualitative in nature):

How do employees perceive digital transformation in retail HR? What are the barriers and facilitators of digital transformation in retail HR?  

And for the student wellness topic (which would be quantitative in nature):

Does student self-care predict the well-being scores of engineering graduate students? Does student support predict the well-being scores of engineering students? Do student self-care and student support interact when predicting well-being in engineering graduate students?  

You’ll probably notice that there’s quite a formulaic approach to this. In other words, the research questions are basically the research objectives “converted” into question format. While that is true most of the time, it’s not always the case. For example, the first research objective for the digital transformation topic was more or less a step on the path toward the other objectives, and as such, it didn’t warrant its own research question.  

So, don’t rush your research questions and sloppily reword your objectives as questions. Carefully think about what exactly you’re trying to achieve (i.e. your research aim) and the objectives you’ve set out, then craft a set of well-aligned research questions . Also, keep in mind that this can be a somewhat iterative process , where you go back and tweak research objectives and aims to ensure tight alignment throughout the golden thread.

The importance of strong alignment 

Alignment is the keyword here and we have to stress its importance . Simply put, you need to make sure that there is a very tight alignment between all three pieces of the golden thread. If your research aims and research questions don’t align, for example, your project will be pulling in different directions and will lack focus . This is a common problem students face and can cause many headaches (and tears), so be warned.

Take the time to carefully craft your research aims, objectives and research questions before you run off down the research path. Ideally, get your research supervisor/advisor to review and comment on your golden thread before you invest significant time into your project, and certainly before you start collecting data .  

Recap: The golden thread

In this post, we unpacked the golden thread of research, consisting of the research aims , research objectives and research questions . You can jump back to any section using the links below.

As always, feel free to leave a comment below – we always love to hear from you. Also, if you’re interested in 1-on-1 support, take a look at our private coaching service here.

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Psst... there’s more!

This post was based on one of our popular Research Bootcamps . If you're working on a research project, you'll definitely want to check this out ...

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Isaac Levi

Thank you very much for your great effort put. As an Undergraduate taking Demographic Research & Methodology, I’ve been trying so hard to understand clearly what is a Research Question, Research Aim and the Objectives in a research and the relationship between them etc. But as for now I’m thankful that you’ve solved my problem.

Hatimu Bah

Well appreciated. This has helped me greatly in doing my dissertation.

Dr. Abdallah Kheri

An so delighted with this wonderful information thank you a lot.

so impressive i have benefited a lot looking forward to learn more on research.

Ekwunife, Chukwunonso Onyeka Steve

I am very happy to have carefully gone through this well researched article.

Infact,I used to be phobia about anything research, because of my poor understanding of the concepts.

Now,I get to know that my research question is the same as my research objective(s) rephrased in question format.

I please I would need a follow up on the subject,as I intends to join the team of researchers. Thanks once again.


Thanks so much. This was really helpful.


I know you pepole have tried to break things into more understandable and easy format. And God bless you. Keep it up


i found this document so useful towards my study in research methods. thanks so much.

Michael L. Andrion

This is my 2nd read topic in your course and I should commend the simplified explanations of each part. I’m beginning to understand and absorb the use of each part of a dissertation/thesis. I’ll keep on reading your free course and might be able to avail the training course! Kudos!


Thank you! Better put that my lecture and helped to easily understand the basics which I feel often get brushed over when beginning dissertation work.

Enoch Tindiwegi

This is quite helpful. I like how the Golden thread has been explained and the needed alignment.

Sora Dido Boru

This is quite helpful. I really appreciate!


The article made it simple for researcher students to differentiate between three concepts.

Afowosire Wasiu Adekunle

Very innovative and educational in approach to conducting research.

Sàlihu Abubakar Dayyabu

I am very impressed with all these terminology, as I am a fresh student for post graduate, I am highly guided and I promised to continue making consultation when the need arise. Thanks a lot.

Mohammed Shamsudeen

A very helpful piece. thanks, I really appreciate it .

Sonam Jyrwa

Very well explained, and it might be helpful to many people like me.


Wish i had found this (and other) resource(s) at the beginning of my PhD journey… not in my writing up year… 😩 Anyways… just a quick question as i’m having some issues ordering my “golden thread”…. does it matter in what order you mention them? i.e., is it always first aims, then objectives, and finally the questions? or can you first mention the research questions and then the aims and objectives?


Thank you for a very simple explanation that builds upon the concepts in a very logical manner. Just prior to this, I read the research hypothesis article, which was equally very good. This met my primary objective.

My secondary objective was to understand the difference between research questions and research hypothesis, and in which context to use which one. However, I am still not clear on this. Can you kindly please guide?

Derek Jansen

In research, a research question is a clear and specific inquiry that the researcher wants to answer, while a research hypothesis is a tentative statement or prediction about the relationship between variables or the expected outcome of the study. Research questions are broader and guide the overall study, while hypotheses are specific and testable statements used in quantitative research. Research questions identify the problem, while hypotheses provide a focus for testing in the study.

Saen Fanai

Exactly what I need in this research journey, I look forward to more of your coaching videos.

Abubakar Rofiat Opeyemi

This helped a lot. Thanks so much for the effort put into explaining it.

Lamin Tarawally

What data source in writing dissertation/Thesis requires?

What is data source covers when writing dessertation/thesis

Latifat Muhammed

This is quite useful thanks


I’m excited and thankful. I got so much value which will help me progress in my thesis.

Amer Al-Rashid

where are the locations of the reserch statement, research objective and research question in a reserach paper? Can you write an ouline that defines their places in the researh paper?


Very helpful and important tips on Aims, Objectives and Questions.

Refiloe Raselane

Thank you so much for making research aim, research objectives and research question so clear. This will be helpful to me as i continue with my thesis.

Annabelle Roda-Dafielmoto

Thanks much for this content. I learned a lot. And I am inspired to learn more. I am still struggling with my preparation for dissertation outline/proposal. But I consistently follow contents and tutorials and the new FB of GRAD Coach. Hope to really become confident in writing my dissertation and successfully defend it.


As a researcher and lecturer, I find splitting research goals into research aims, objectives, and questions is unnecessarily bureaucratic and confusing for students. For most biomedical research projects, including ‘real research’, 1-3 research questions will suffice (numbers may differ by discipline).


Awesome! Very important resources and presented in an informative way to easily understand the golden thread. Indeed, thank you so much.


Well explained

New Growth Care Group

The blog article on research aims, objectives, and questions by Grad Coach is a clear and insightful guide that aligns with my experiences in academic research. The article effectively breaks down the often complex concepts of research aims and objectives, providing a straightforward and accessible explanation. Drawing from my own research endeavors, I appreciate the practical tips offered, such as the need for specificity and clarity when formulating research questions. The article serves as a valuable resource for students and researchers, offering a concise roadmap for crafting well-defined research goals and objectives. Whether you’re a novice or an experienced researcher, this article provides practical insights that contribute to the foundational aspects of a successful research endeavor.


A great thanks for you. it is really amazing explanation. I grasp a lot and one step up to research knowledge.


I really found these tips helpful. Thank you very much Grad Coach.

Rahma D.

I found this article helpful. Thanks for sharing this.

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How to Write a Good Research Question (w/ Examples)

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What is a Research Question?

A research question is the main question that your study sought or is seeking to answer. A clear research question guides your research paper or thesis and states exactly what you want to find out, giving your work a focus and objective. Learning  how to write a hypothesis or research question is the start to composing any thesis, dissertation, or research paper. It is also one of the most important sections of a research proposal . 

A good research question not only clarifies the writing in your study; it provides your readers with a clear focus and facilitates their understanding of your research topic, as well as outlining your study’s objectives. Before drafting the paper and receiving research paper editing (and usually before performing your study), you should write a concise statement of what this study intends to accomplish or reveal.

Research Question Writing Tips

Listed below are the important characteristics of a good research question:

A good research question should:

  • Be clear and provide specific information so readers can easily understand the purpose.
  • Be focused in its scope and narrow enough to be addressed in the space allowed by your paper
  • Be relevant and concise and express your main ideas in as few words as possible, like a hypothesis.
  • Be precise and complex enough that it does not simply answer a closed “yes or no” question, but requires an analysis of arguments and literature prior to its being considered acceptable. 
  • Be arguable or testable so that answers to the research question are open to scrutiny and specific questions and counterarguments.

Some of these characteristics might be difficult to understand in the form of a list. Let’s go into more detail about what a research question must do and look at some examples of research questions.

The research question should be specific and focused 

Research questions that are too broad are not suitable to be addressed in a single study. One reason for this can be if there are many factors or variables to consider. In addition, a sample data set that is too large or an experimental timeline that is too long may suggest that the research question is not focused enough.

A specific research question means that the collective data and observations come together to either confirm or deny the chosen hypothesis in a clear manner. If a research question is too vague, then the data might end up creating an alternate research problem or hypothesis that you haven’t addressed in your Introduction section .

The research question should be based on the literature 

An effective research question should be answerable and verifiable based on prior research because an effective scientific study must be placed in the context of a wider academic consensus. This means that conspiracy or fringe theories are not good research paper topics.

Instead, a good research question must extend, examine, and verify the context of your research field. It should fit naturally within the literature and be searchable by other research authors.

References to the literature can be in different citation styles and must be properly formatted according to the guidelines set forth by the publishing journal, university, or academic institution. This includes in-text citations as well as the Reference section . 

The research question should be realistic in time, scope, and budget

There are two main constraints to the research process: timeframe and budget.

A proper research question will include study or experimental procedures that can be executed within a feasible time frame, typically by a graduate doctoral or master’s student or lab technician. Research that requires future technology, expensive resources, or follow-up procedures is problematic.

A researcher’s budget is also a major constraint to performing timely research. Research at many large universities or institutions is publicly funded and is thus accountable to funding restrictions. 

The research question should be in-depth

Research papers, dissertations and theses , and academic journal articles are usually dozens if not hundreds of pages in length.

A good research question or thesis statement must be sufficiently complex to warrant such a length, as it must stand up to the scrutiny of peer review and be reproducible by other scientists and researchers.

Research Question Types

Qualitative and quantitative research are the two major types of research, and it is essential to develop research questions for each type of study. 

Quantitative Research Questions

Quantitative research questions are specific. A typical research question involves the population to be studied, dependent and independent variables, and the research design.

In addition, quantitative research questions connect the research question and the research design. In addition, it is not possible to answer these questions definitively with a “yes” or “no” response. For example, scientific fields such as biology, physics, and chemistry often deal with “states,” in which different quantities, amounts, or velocities drastically alter the relevance of the research.

As a consequence, quantitative research questions do not contain qualitative, categorical, or ordinal qualifiers such as “is,” “are,” “does,” or “does not.”

Categories of quantitative research questions

Qualitative research questions.

In quantitative research, research questions have the potential to relate to broad research areas as well as more specific areas of study. Qualitative research questions are less directional, more flexible, and adaptable compared with their quantitative counterparts. Thus, studies based on these questions tend to focus on “discovering,” “explaining,” “elucidating,” and “exploring.”

Categories of qualitative research questions

Quantitative and qualitative research question examples.

stacks of books in black and white; research question examples

Good and Bad Research Question Examples

Below are some good (and not-so-good) examples of research questions that researchers can use to guide them in crafting their own research questions.

Research Question Example 1

The first research question is too vague in both its independent and dependent variables. There is no specific information on what “exposure” means. Does this refer to comments, likes, engagement, or just how much time is spent on the social media platform?

Second, there is no useful information on what exactly “affected” means. Does the subject’s behavior change in some measurable way? Or does this term refer to another factor such as the user’s emotions?

Research Question Example 2

In this research question, the first example is too simple and not sufficiently complex, making it difficult to assess whether the study answered the question. The author could really only answer this question with a simple “yes” or “no.” Further, the presence of data would not help answer this question more deeply, which is a sure sign of a poorly constructed research topic.

The second research question is specific, complex, and empirically verifiable. One can measure program effectiveness based on metrics such as attendance or grades. Further, “bullying” is made into an empirical, quantitative measurement in the form of recorded disciplinary actions.

Steps for Writing a Research Question

Good research questions are relevant, focused, and meaningful. It can be difficult to come up with a good research question, but there are a few steps you can follow to make it a bit easier.

1. Start with an interesting and relevant topic

Choose a research topic that is interesting but also relevant and aligned with your own country’s culture or your university’s capabilities. Popular academic topics include healthcare and medical-related research. However, if you are attending an engineering school or humanities program, you should obviously choose a research question that pertains to your specific study and major.

Below is an embedded graph of the most popular research fields of study based on publication output according to region. As you can see, healthcare and the basic sciences receive the most funding and earn the highest number of publications. 

research questions 1

2. Do preliminary research  

You can begin doing preliminary research once you have chosen a research topic. Two objectives should be accomplished during this first phase of research. First, you should undertake a preliminary review of related literature to discover issues that scholars and peers are currently discussing. With this method, you show that you are informed about the latest developments in the field.

Secondly, identify knowledge gaps or limitations in your topic by conducting a preliminary literature review . It is possible to later use these gaps to focus your research question after a certain amount of fine-tuning.

3. Narrow your research to determine specific research questions

You can focus on a more specific area of study once you have a good handle on the topic you want to explore. Focusing on recent literature or knowledge gaps is one good option. 

By identifying study limitations in the literature and overlooked areas of study, an author can carve out a good research question. The same is true for choosing research questions that extend or complement existing literature.

4. Evaluate your research question

Make sure you evaluate the research question by asking the following questions:

Is my research question clear?

The resulting data and observations that your study produces should be clear. For quantitative studies, data must be empirical and measurable. For qualitative, the observations should be clearly delineable across categories.

Is my research question focused and specific?

A strong research question should be specific enough that your methodology or testing procedure produces an objective result, not one left to subjective interpretation. Open-ended research questions or those relating to general topics can create ambiguous connections between the results and the aims of the study. 

Is my research question sufficiently complex?

The result of your research should be consequential and substantial (and fall sufficiently within the context of your field) to warrant an academic study. Simply reinforcing or supporting a scientific consensus is superfluous and will likely not be well received by most journal editors.  

reverse triangle chart, how to write a research question

Editing Your Research Question

Your research question should be fully formulated well before you begin drafting your research paper. However, you can receive English paper editing and proofreading services at any point in the drafting process. Language editors with expertise in your academic field can assist you with the content and language in your Introduction section or other manuscript sections. And if you need further assistance or information regarding paper compositions, in the meantime, check out our academic resources , which provide dozens of articles and videos on a variety of academic writing and publication topics.

  • Research Questions: Definitions, Types + [Examples]


Research questions lie at the core of systematic investigation and this is because recording accurate research outcomes is tied to asking the right questions. Asking the right questions when conducting research can help you collect relevant and insightful information that ultimately influences your work, positively. 

The right research questions are typically easy to understand, straight to the point, and engaging. In this article, we will share tips on how to create the right research questions and also show you how to create and administer an online questionnaire with Formplus . 

What is a Research Question? 

A research question is a specific inquiry which the research seeks to provide a response to. It resides at the core of systematic investigation and it helps you to clearly define a path for the research process. 

A research question is usually the first step in any research project. Basically, it is the primary interrogation point of your research and it sets the pace for your work.  

Typically, a research question focuses on the research, determines the methodology and hypothesis, and guides all stages of inquiry, analysis, and reporting. With the right research questions, you will be able to gather useful information for your investigation. 

Types of Research Questions 

Research questions are broadly categorized into 2; that is, qualitative research questions and quantitative research questions. Qualitative and quantitative research questions can be used independently and co-dependently in line with the overall focus and objectives of your research. 

If your research aims at collecting quantifiable data , you will need to make use of quantitative research questions. On the other hand, qualitative questions help you to gather qualitative data bothering on the perceptions and observations of your research subjects. 

Qualitative Research Questions  

A qualitative research question is a type of systematic inquiry that aims at collecting qualitative data from research subjects. The aim of qualitative research questions is to gather non-statistical information pertaining to the experiences, observations, and perceptions of the research subjects in line with the objectives of the investigation. 

Types of Qualitative Research Questions  

  • Ethnographic Research Questions

As the name clearly suggests, ethnographic research questions are inquiries presented in ethnographic research. Ethnographic research is a qualitative research approach that involves observing variables in their natural environments or habitats in order to arrive at objective research outcomes. 

These research questions help the researcher to gather insights into the habits, dispositions, perceptions, and behaviors of research subjects as they interact in specific environments. 

Ethnographic research questions can be used in education, business, medicine, and other fields of study, and they are very useful in contexts aimed at collecting in-depth and specific information that are peculiar to research variables. For instance, asking educational ethnographic research questions can help you understand how pedagogy affects classroom relations and behaviors. 

This type of research question can be administered physically through one-on-one interviews, naturalism (live and work), and participant observation methods. Alternatively, the researcher can ask ethnographic research questions via online surveys and questionnaires created with Formplus.  

Examples of Ethnographic Research Questions

  • Why do you use this product?
  • Have you noticed any side effects since you started using this drug?
  • Does this product meet your needs?


  • Case Studies

A case study is a qualitative research approach that involves carrying out a detailed investigation into a research subject(s) or variable(s). In the course of a case study, the researcher gathers a range of data from multiple sources of information via different data collection methods, and over a period of time. 

The aim of a case study is to analyze specific issues within definite contexts and arrive at detailed research subject analyses by asking the right questions. This research method can be explanatory, descriptive , or exploratory depending on the focus of your systematic investigation or research. 

An explanatory case study is one that seeks to gather information on the causes of real-life occurrences. This type of case study uses “how” and “why” questions in order to gather valid information about the causative factors of an event. 

Descriptive case studies are typically used in business researches, and they aim at analyzing the impact of changing market dynamics on businesses. On the other hand, exploratory case studies aim at providing answers to “who” and “what” questions using data collection tools like interviews and questionnaires. 

Some questions you can include in your case studies are: 

  • Why did you choose our services?
  • How has this policy affected your business output?
  • What benefits have you recorded since you started using our product?


An interview is a qualitative research method that involves asking respondents a series of questions in order to gather information about a research subject. Interview questions can be close-ended or open-ended , and they prompt participants to provide valid information that is useful to the research. 

An interview may also be structured, semi-structured , or unstructured , and this further influences the types of questions they include. Structured interviews are made up of more close-ended questions because they aim at gathering quantitative data while unstructured interviews consist, primarily, of open-ended questions that allow the researcher to collect qualitative information from respondents. 

You can conduct interview research by scheduling a physical meeting with respondents, through a telephone conversation, and via digital media and video conferencing platforms like Skype and Zoom. Alternatively, you can use Formplus surveys and questionnaires for your interview. 

Examples of interview questions include: 

  • What challenges did you face while using our product?
  • What specific needs did our product meet?
  • What would you like us to improve our service delivery?


Quantitative Research Questions

Quantitative research questions are questions that are used to gather quantifiable data from research subjects. These types of research questions are usually more specific and direct because they aim at collecting information that can be measured; that is, statistical information. 

Types of Quantitative Research Questions

  • Descriptive Research Questions

Descriptive research questions are inquiries that researchers use to gather quantifiable data about the attributes and characteristics of research subjects. These types of questions primarily seek responses that reveal existing patterns in the nature of the research subjects. 

It is important to note that descriptive research questions are not concerned with the causative factors of the discovered attributes and characteristics. Rather, they focus on the “what”; that is, describing the subject of the research without paying attention to the reasons for its occurrence. 

Descriptive research questions are typically closed-ended because they aim at gathering definite and specific responses from research participants. Also, they can be used in customer experience surveys and market research to collect information about target markets and consumer behaviors. 

Descriptive Research Question Examples

  • How often do you make use of our fitness application?
  • How much would you be willing to pay for this product?


  • Comparative Research Questions

A comparative research question is a type of quantitative research question that is used to gather information about the differences between two or more research subjects across different variables. These types of questions help the researcher to identify distinct features that mark one research subject from the other while highlighting existing similarities. 

Asking comparative research questions in market research surveys can provide insights on how your product or service matches its competitors. In addition, it can help you to identify the strengths and weaknesses of your product for a better competitive advantage.  

The 5 steps involved in the framing of comparative research questions are: 

  • Choose your starting phrase
  • Identify and name the dependent variable
  • Identify the groups you are interested in
  • Identify the appropriate adjoining text
  • Write out the comparative research question

Comparative Research Question Samples 

  • What are the differences between a landline telephone and a smartphone?
  • What are the differences between work-from-home and on-site operations?


  • Relationship-based Research Questions  

Just like the name suggests, a relationship-based research question is one that inquires into the nature of the association between two research subjects within the same demographic. These types of research questions help you to gather information pertaining to the nature of the association between two research variables. 

Relationship-based research questions are also known as correlational research questions because they seek to clearly identify the link between 2 variables. 

Read: Correlational Research Designs: Types, Examples & Methods

Examples of relationship-based research questions include: 

  • What is the relationship between purchasing power and the business site?
  • What is the relationship between the work environment and workforce turnover?


Examples of a Good Research Question

Since research questions lie at the core of any systematic investigations, it is important to know how to frame a good research question. The right research questions will help you to gather the most objective responses that are useful to your systematic investigation. 

A good research question is one that requires impartial responses and can be answered via existing sources of information. Also, a good research question seeks answers that actively contribute to a body of knowledge; hence, it is a question that is yet to be answered in your specific research context.

  • Open-Ended Questions

 An open-ended question is a type of research question that does not restrict respondents to a set of premeditated answer options. In other words, it is a question that allows the respondent to freely express his or her perceptions and feelings towards the research subject. 

Examples of Open-ended Questions

  • How do you deal with stress in the workplace?
  • What is a typical day at work like for you?
  • Close-ended Questions

A close-ended question is a type of survey question that restricts respondents to a set of predetermined answers such as multiple-choice questions . Close-ended questions typically require yes or no answers and are commonly used in quantitative research to gather numerical data from research participants. 

Examples of Close-ended Questions

  • Did you enjoy this event?
  • How likely are you to recommend our services?
  • Very Likely
  • Somewhat Likely
  • Likert Scale Questions

A Likert scale question is a type of close-ended question that is structured as a 3-point, 5-point, or 7-point psychometric scale . This type of question is used to measure the survey respondent’s disposition towards multiple variables and it can be unipolar or bipolar in nature. 

Example of Likert Scale Questions

  • How satisfied are you with our service delivery?
  • Very dissatisfied
  • Not satisfied
  • Very satisfied
  • Rating Scale Questions

A rating scale question is a type of close-ended question that seeks to associate a specific qualitative measure (rating) with the different variables in research. It is commonly used in customer experience surveys, market research surveys, employee reviews, and product evaluations. 

Example of Rating Questions

  • How would you rate our service delivery?

  Examples of a Bad Research Question

Knowing what bad research questions are would help you avoid them in the course of your systematic investigation. These types of questions are usually unfocused and often result in research biases that can negatively impact the outcomes of your systematic investigation. 

  • Loaded Questions

A loaded question is a question that subtly presupposes one or more unverified assumptions about the research subject or participant. This type of question typically boxes the respondent in a corner because it suggests implicit and explicit biases that prevent objective responses. 

Example of Loaded Questions

  • Have you stopped smoking?
  • Where did you hide the money?
  • Negative Questions

A negative question is a type of question that is structured with an implicit or explicit negator. Negative questions can be misleading because they upturn the typical yes/no response order by requiring a negative answer for affirmation and an affirmative answer for negation. 

Examples of Negative Questions

  • Would you mind dropping by my office later today?
  • Didn’t you visit last week?
  • Leading Questions  

A l eading question is a type of survey question that nudges the respondent towards an already-determined answer. It is highly suggestive in nature and typically consists of biases and unverified assumptions that point toward its premeditated responses. 

Examples of Leading Questions

  • If you enjoyed this service, would you be willing to try out our other packages?
  • Our product met your needs, didn’t it?
Read More: Leading Questions: Definition, Types, and Examples

How to Use Formplus as Online Research Questionnaire Tool  

With Formplus, you can create and administer your online research questionnaire easily. In the form builder, you can add different form fields to your questionnaire and edit these fields to reflect specific research questions for your systematic investigation. 

Here is a step-by-step guide on how to create an online research questionnaire with Formplus: 

  • Sign in to your Formplus accoun t, then click on the “create new form” button in your dashboard to access the Form builder.

research questions 1

  • In the form builder, add preferred form fields to your online research questionnaire by dragging and dropping them into the form. Add a title to your form in the title block. You can edit form fields by clicking on the “pencil” icon on the right corner of each form field.


  • Save the form to access the customization section of the builder. Here, you can tweak the appearance of your online research questionnaire by adding background images, changing the form font, and adding your organization’s logo.


  • Finally, copy your form link and share it with respondents. You can also use any of the multiple sharing options available.

research questions 1


The success of your research starts with framing the right questions to help you collect the most valid and objective responses. Be sure to avoid bad research questions like loaded and negative questions that can be misleading and adversely affect your research data and outcomes. 

Your research questions should clearly reflect the aims and objectives of your systematic investigation while laying emphasis on specific contexts. To help you seamlessly gather responses for your research questions, you can create an online research questionnaire on Formplus.  


Connect to Formplus, Get Started Now - It's Free!

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How to Write a Research Question: Types & Examples

Research questions

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A research question is the main query that researchers seek to answer in their study. It serves as the basis for a scholarly project such as research paper, thesis or dissertation. A good research question should be clear, relevant and specific enough to guide the research process. It should also be open-ended, meaning that it allows for multiple possible answers or interpretations.

If you have located your general subject and main sources but still aren’t quite sure about the exact research questions for your paper, this guide will help you out. First, we will explore the concept of it together, so you could answer it in your work. Then some simple steps on composing your inquiry will be suggested. In the end, we will draw your attention to some specific details which can make your work good or bad. Sometimes it’s just easier to delegate all challenging tasks to a reliable research paper service . StudyCrumb is a trustable network of qualified writers ready to efficiently solve students’ challenges.

What Is a Good Research Question: Full Definition

Good research questions provide a concise definition of a problem. As a scholar, your main goal at the beginning is to select the main focus. It should be narrow enough so you could examine it within your deadline. Your work should be focused on something specific. Otherwise, it will require too much work and might not produce clear answers. At the same time your answer should be arguable and supported by data you’ve collected. Take a look at this example:

example of a good research question

How to Write a Research Question: Step-By-Step Guide

In this section we will examine the process of developing a research question. We will guide you through it, step by step. Keep in mind that your subject should be important for your audience. So it requires some preliminary study and brainstorming. Let’s take a closer look at the main steps.

Step 1. Choose a Broad Topic for Your Research Paper Question

First, you need to decide on your general direction. When trying to identify your research paper questions, it is better to choose an area you are really interested in. You should be able to obtain enough data to write something about this topic. Therefore, do not choose something out of your reach. At the same time, your broad topic should not be too simple. Research paper questions that can be answered without any study would hardly make any sense for your project.

Step 2. Do Preliminary Reading Before Starting Your Research Question

Next, it is time we explore the context of the selected topic. You wouldn’t want to choose research questions that have already been examined and answered in detail. On the other hand, choosing a topic that is a complete ‘terra incognita’ might be a bridge too far for your project. Browse through available sources that are related to this topic. You should try and find out what has been discovered about it before. Do you see a gap that you can fill with your study? You can proceed with developing your exact inquiry! Have no time for in-depth topic exploration? Leave this task to professionals. Entrust your “ write my research paper ” order to StudyCrumb and get a top-notch work.

Step 3. Consider an Audience for Your Research Question

It is good to know your reader well to be able to convey your ideas and results to them in the best possible way. Before writing research questions for your projects, you might need to perform a brief analysis of your audience. That's how you'll be able to understand what is interesting for them and what is not. This will allow you to make better decisions when narrowing your broad topic down. Select a topic that is interesting for your reader! This would contribute much to the success for writing a research paper .

Step 4. Start Asking a Good Research Question

After you have considered your options, go ahead and compose the primary subject of your paper. What makes a good research question? It should highlight some problematic and relevant aspects of the general topic. So, after it is answered, you should have obtained some new valuable knowledge about the subject.  Typically scholars start narrowing down their general topic by asking ‘how’, ‘why’ or ‘what’s next’ questions. This approach might help you come up with a great idea quickly.

Step 5. Evaluate Your Research Question

Finally, after you have composed a research paper question, you should take a second look at it and see if it is good enough for your paper. It would be useful to analyze it from the following sides:

  • Is it clear for your audience?
  • Is it complex enough to require significant study?
  • Is it focused on a certain aspect of your general topic?

You might use the help of your peers or your friends at this step. You can also show it to your tutor and ask for their opinion.

Types of Research Questions: Which to Choose

A number of research questions types are available for use in a paper. They are divided into two main groups:

Qualitative questions:

  • Explanatory
  • Ethnographic

Quantitative questions:

  • Descriptive
  • Comparative
  • Relationship based.

Selecting a certain type would impact the course of your study. We suggest you think about it carefully. Below you can find a few words about each type. Also, you can seek proficient help from academic experts. Buy a research paper from real pros and forget about stress once and for all.

Qualitative Research Questions: Definition With Example

When doing qualitative research, you are expected to aim to understand the different aspects and qualities of your target problem. Therefore, your thesis should focus on analyzing people’s experience, ideas and reflections rather than on obtaining some statistical data and calculating trends. Thus, this inquiry typically requires observing people’s behavior, interacting with them and learning how they interpret your target problem.  Let’s illustrate this with an example:

Example of Qualitative Research Questions

What Is Contextual Research Questions

Contextual research revolves around examining your subject in its natural, everyday environment. It may be watching animals living in their usual habitats or people doing their normal activities in their familiar surroundings (at home, at school or at office). This academic approach helps to understand the role of the context. You'll be able to better explain connections between your problem, its environment and outcomes. This type of inquiry ought to be narrow enough. You shouldn’t have to examine each and every aspect of the selected problem in your paper. Consider this example:

Example of Contextual Research Questions

Definition and Sample of Evaluative Research Questions

Evaluative research is performed in order to carefully assess the qualities of a selected object, individual, group, system or concept. It typically serves the purpose of collecting evidence that supports or contradicts solutions for a problem. This type of inquiry should focus on how useful a certain quality is for solving the problem.  To conduct such study, you need to examine selected qualities in detail. Then, you should assume whether they match necessary criteria. It might include some quantitative methods such as collecting statistics. Although, the most important part is analyzing the qualities. If you need some examples, here’s one for you:

Sample of Evaluative Research Questions

Explanatory Research Questions: Definition With Example

Your paper can be dedicated to explaining a certain phenomenon, finding its reasons and important relationships between it and other important things. Your explanatory research question should aim to highlight issues, uncertainties and problematic aspects of your subject. So, your study should bring clarity about these qualities. It should show how and why they have developed this way. An explanation may include showing causes and effects of issues in question, comparing the selected phenomenon to other similar types and showing whether the selected qualities match some predefined criteria. If you need some examples, check this one:

Example of Explanatory Research Questions

Generative Research Questions

This type of research is conducted in order to better understand the subject. With its help, you can find some new solutions or opportunities for improvement. Therefore, its main purpose is to develop a theoretical basis for further actions. You need to compose your generative research questions in a way that facilitates obtaining new ideas. It would help to begin with asking ‘why’, ‘what is the relationship between the subject and the problems X, Y, and Z’, ‘what can be improved here’, ‘how we can prevent it’ and so on. Need relevant examples? We’ve got one for you:

Example of Generative Research Questions

Ethnographic Research Question

Ethnography research is focused on a particular group of people. The aim is to study their behavior, typical reactions to certain events or information, needs, preferences or habits. Important parameters of this group which are most relevant to your general subject are taken into consideration. These are age, sex, language, religion, ethnicity, social status and so on. Main method in this case is first-hand observation of people from the selected group during an extended period of time. If you need strong examples, here’s one:

Ethnographic Research Question Example

Quantitative Research Questions: Full Definition With Examples

Quantitative research deals with data – first of all, it is numeric data. It involves mathematical calculations and statistical analysis. It helps to obtain knowledge which is mostly expressed in numbers, graphs and tables. Unlike the qualitative type, the purpose of quantitative research is finding patterns, calculating probabilities, testing causal relationships and making predictions. It is focused on testing theories and hypotheses. (We have the whole blog on what is a hypothesis .) It is mostly used in natural and social sciences. These are: chemistry, biology, psychology, economics, sociology, marketing, etc. Here are a couple of examples:

Quantitative Research Questions Example

Descriptive Research Questions: Definition With Example

This is probably the most widespread type of quantitative research question. Such inquiries seek to explain when, where, why, or how something occurred. They describe it accurately and systematically. These inquiries typically start with ‘what’. You are expected to use various methods to investigate one or more variables and determine their dependencies. Note, however, that you cannot control or manipulate any of these variables. You can only observe and measure them. Looking for some interesting examples? Here is one:

Descriptive Research Questions

Definition of Comparative Research Questions

Comparative research question is used to highlight different variables and provide numerical evidence. This type is based on comparing one object, parameter or issue with another one of a similar kind. It can help to discover the differences between two or more groups by examining their outcome variables.  Take a look at these two examples:

Example of Comparative Research Questions

Relationship Research Questions

We conduct this type of research when we need to make it clear whether one parameter of a selected object causes another one. A relationship based quantitative research question should help us to explore and define trends and interactions between two or more variables. Are these two things mutually dependent? What kind of dependence is it? How has it developed? And what are possible outcomes of this connection? Here is an example of relationship-based quantitative research questions:

Relationship Research Questions Example

Research Questions Examples: Free

This section contains a number of helpful examples of research questions. Feel free to use them as inspiration to create your own questions and conduct productive study. Let’s start with two simple ones:

examples of research questions

Are you interested in well written and inspiring questions? Do you want to learn what to avoid in your study? Just stay with us – there will be more of them below.

Examples of Good and Bad Research Questions

Everyone is interested in getting the best possible appraisal for their study. Choosing a topic which doesn't suit your specific situation may be discouraging. Thus, the quality of your paper might get affected by a poor choice. We have put together some good and bad examples so that you could avoid such mistakes.

Good Research Questions Examples

It is important to include clear terms into your questions. Otherwise, it would be difficult for you to plan your investigation properly. Also, they must be focused on a certain subject, not multiple ones. And finally, it should be possible to answer them. Let’s review several good examples:

Good Research Questions Example

Examples of Bad Research Questions

It is difficult to evaluate qualities of objects, individuals or groups if your purpose is not clear. This is why you shouldn’t create unclear research questions or try to focus on many problems at once. Some preliminary study might help to understand what you should focus on. Here are several bad examples:

Bad Research Questions Example

In case you may need some information about the discussion section of a research paper example , find it in our blog.

Final Thoughts on Research Questions

In this article we have made a detailed review of the most popular types of research questions. We described peculiarities. We also provided some tips on conducting various kinds of study. Besides, a number of useful examples have been given for each category of questions.


Feel free to check out essay writing services. We have experienced writers who can help you compose your paper in time. They will absolutely ensure the high quality of your text.

Frequently Asked Questions About Research Questions

1. what is an example of a weak research question.

Here is an example of the weakest research question: 

An answer would be simply making a list of species that inhabit the country. This subject does not require any actual study to be conducted. There is nothing to calculate or analyze here.

2. What is the most effective type of research question?

Most effective type of research question is the one that doesn't have a single correct answer. However, you should also pay close attention to your audience. If you need to create a strong effect, better choose a topic which is relevant for them.

3. What is a good nursing research question?

If you need an idea for a nursing research question, here are a few helpful examples you could use as a reference:

4. What are some sociological research questions?

Sociological questions are the ones that examine the social patterns or a meaning of a social phenomenon. They could be qualitative or quantitative. They should target groups of people with certain parameters, such as age or income level. Keep in mind that type of study usually requires collecting numerous data about your target groups.


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Research Questions: Definition, Types, and How to Write One

Author Image

by  Antony W

March 10, 2023

research questions

If you’re looking for the complete guide to research questions, this article is for you. In this in-depth post, you’ll learn:

  • 1 The right way to develop research questions for your studies
  • 2 What research questions are
  • 3 The elements of a good research question

Plus, we’ll provide some example of research questions in the last section of this guide to make everything clear.

Keep in mind that coming up with relevant research questions is the first step to writing a killer thesis, a dissertation, or research paper .

The question you come up with should not only provide a path for the research and writing process, but also help you to about being generic and focus on an arguable, specific concept instead.

What are Research Questions?

what is a research question

A research question is the main focus of a research project. By definition, this is the question around which you’ll center your research writing.

Good research question should be:

  • 1 Clear and easy to understand without the need for additional explanation
  • 2 Relevant to your field of study
  • 3 Arguable and open for debate, not acceptable as fast
  • 4 Focused enough so you can answer it thoroughly and concisely in fewest words possible
  • 5 Feasible enough to answer with practical constraint and timeframe
  • 6 Complex that it requires synthesizing, analysis of ideas, and  sources and citation   before arrive to an answer 

A research question may be around an issue that you’re either curious or passionate about. In some cases, your instructor may give you a topic for your research project.

Either way, you’ll have to develop relevant research questions and pick the most relevant one for the project.

Types of Research Questions 

types of research questions

There are two main type of research questions. These are qualitative and quantitative research questions. Each of the type has other subtypes, and we discuss them below:

Qualitative Research Questions

This type of research question focuses on exploring meaning and experience.

It focuses on a larger group and seeks to understand a concept or experiment. It's open ended in structure as it focuses more on the experiences of more than one person.

Formulate questions from data collected from case studies, focus groups, and surveys.

Type of Qualitative Research Questions 

There are three types of qualitative research questions and they are as follows:

Exploratory Questions 

The type of question you ask because you want to understand a topic.

These kind of questions don’t require a preconceived notions or bias. You ask because you want to understand a topic.


research questions 1

Interpretative Questions 

We come up with these kind of questions because we want to learn and understand how a group of people view and interpret shared experiences.

Plus, the question focuses on how they attribute those experiences to different phenomena in life.

When you ask this kind of question, you’re mainly interested in understanding the feedback on a group’s behavior.

research questions 1

Predictive Questions

 Predictive questions are the kind you ask if you’re concerned about the future outcome of an event or an action.

As a researcher, you’ll use the past information to predict reaction to an event.

research questions 1

Quantitative Research Questions 

Here, researchers use empirical evidence and measurable data to give an explanation for an occurrence.

This one is common in historical, statistical, marketing and psychical research studies.

Often used to confirm or disapprove a hypothesis through comparisons, descriptions, and relationships. 

Types of Quantitative Research Questions 

Relationship-based questions .

Relationship based questions are the ones you ask if you want to know the effect of two or more variables on one of more groups.

From a statistics viewpoint, relationship-based questions fall in the experimental research design where we measure the cause and effect between two or more variables.

It’s different in dissertation, especially at the undergraduate and master’s level, as the questions are often based on quasi-experimental and relationship-based research design. In this case, it’s impossible to account for casual relationship between variables. There are only trends and associations. 

We start relationship-based research questions with the phrase “what is the relationship?” followed by the terms “between or amongst”. Then we list an independent and a dependent variable.

research questions 1

Descriptive Questions

If you want to know why, how, when, or where something occurred, then you should use descriptive questions.

This is where you use question phrases such as “what proportion?”, “how often?”, “how much?”, and “what percentage?” to quantify the variable under examination.

You’ll have to use data and stats to describe an event, a group of people or things, or a phenomenon. 

rq5 example

Comparative Questions 

These are the types of questions to ask when you want to compare one occurrence or group with another.

Your goal is to examine the difference between groups on one or more variables. This type of research question will start with the phrase “What’s the difference in?” followed by the dependent variable.

More often than not, a comparative research question uses a single dependent variable when comparing concepts or groups, but it’s also common to come across some complex questions in which case the dependent variable consists of two or more items. 


research question 6 example

How to Develop Write Research Questions 

Now that you know the different types of research questions, let’s see how you can come up with a best research question for your study.

how to develop a research question

Step #1: Identify and Start with a Broad Topic 

We recommend you start with a broad topic because it gives you the opportunity to explore plenty of avenues that you can use to come up with as many research questions as possible.

By going broad, it becomes easier to find a topic, develop it into subtopics, and then come up with potential questions or your research project. At this stage, you should pay more attention to brainstorming and mapping your concept while organizing your thoughts at the same time. 

Don’t choose a broad topic based on its popularity. Instead, make sure the area of study is something you are passionate about and genuinely interested in examining. At the end of the day, you don’t want to focus on a topic that will demotivate your level of research when you’re even barely halfway the job.

Step #2: Do In-depth Preliminary Research for Your Topic 

Start doing preliminary research on the broad topic that you chose in step 1.

Here, your goal is to discover issues that scholars and researchers discuss so you’re up to date on the topic.

Also, this is the stage where you identify gaps and limits on the current knowledge of the topic. Often, these gaps make the best focus area for research questions.

Step #3: Narrow Down the Topic, Then Pick Research Questions 

You’ve gathered a lot of information in step 2.

Now it’s time to narrow down the topic to a more specific area of the study. While you have many options here, we recommend that it’s best to focus on the existing gaps that you identified in the previous step.

Here, you’re using the gap spotting approach first developed by Alvesson and Sandberg in 2011 to come up with research questions that touch deeply on the areas of study that researchers have overlooked.

You can use your personal experiences to develop a research question. According to Lipowski, a researcher can identify problematic areas of their practice and come up with questions to address.

Alvesson even provides a problematization technique, which mainly allows you to challenge and scrutinize a theoretical position, makes it easy for you to come up with research questions that can easily challenge your knowledge and view of the area of study.

Step #4: Determine the Relevance of Your Research Question 

You have a number of research questions at this stage already, but not all of them are sound to begin with.

So how do you know you have a good research question? You do that by using the FINER criteria developed by Hulley Et Al in 2007.

In other words, your research questions should be:

  • Feasible : Do you really have the ability to investigate the topic and come up with realistic results? What contingency plans do you have in case your research on the question flops?
  • Interesting : Pick the research question that’s not only easy to investigate but also interesting for you and the community to study.
  • Novel : If the research question you’ve picked can unveil new insights to the field of study, then you should give it the utmost priority.
  • Ethical : Can the review board and authorities approve your research question? It means that being ethical with your question is an important consideration in determining whether it’s a good research question to pursue.
  • Relevant : If the topic is relevant to the scientific community, your area of study, and the people involved, then it’s a good one. It even helps if the question aligns with the public’s interest. 

Step #5: Construct Your Research Question 

The last step in developing a research question is to use the right framework to structure the question properly.

While there are many research question frameworks that you can use, the PICOT and PEO are the most commonly used. 

Using the PICOT Framework

example of PEO framework

Using the PEO Framework

About the author 

Antony W is a professional writer and coach at Help for Assessment. He spends countless hours every day researching and writing great content filled with expert advice on how to write engaging essays, research papers, and assignments.


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Sat / act prep online guides and tips, 113 great research paper topics.

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One of the hardest parts of writing a research paper can be just finding a good topic to write about. Fortunately we've done the hard work for you and have compiled a list of 113 interesting research paper topics. They've been organized into ten categories and cover a wide range of subjects so you can easily find the best topic for you.

In addition to the list of good research topics, we've included advice on what makes a good research paper topic and how you can use your topic to start writing a great paper.

What Makes a Good Research Paper Topic?

Not all research paper topics are created equal, and you want to make sure you choose a great topic before you start writing. Below are the three most important factors to consider to make sure you choose the best research paper topics.

#1: It's Something You're Interested In

A paper is always easier to write if you're interested in the topic, and you'll be more motivated to do in-depth research and write a paper that really covers the entire subject. Even if a certain research paper topic is getting a lot of buzz right now or other people seem interested in writing about it, don't feel tempted to make it your topic unless you genuinely have some sort of interest in it as well.

#2: There's Enough Information to Write a Paper

Even if you come up with the absolute best research paper topic and you're so excited to write about it, you won't be able to produce a good paper if there isn't enough research about the topic. This can happen for very specific or specialized topics, as well as topics that are too new to have enough research done on them at the moment. Easy research paper topics will always be topics with enough information to write a full-length paper.

Trying to write a research paper on a topic that doesn't have much research on it is incredibly hard, so before you decide on a topic, do a bit of preliminary searching and make sure you'll have all the information you need to write your paper.

#3: It Fits Your Teacher's Guidelines

Don't get so carried away looking at lists of research paper topics that you forget any requirements or restrictions your teacher may have put on research topic ideas. If you're writing a research paper on a health-related topic, deciding to write about the impact of rap on the music scene probably won't be allowed, but there may be some sort of leeway. For example, if you're really interested in current events but your teacher wants you to write a research paper on a history topic, you may be able to choose a topic that fits both categories, like exploring the relationship between the US and North Korea. No matter what, always get your research paper topic approved by your teacher first before you begin writing.

113 Good Research Paper Topics

Below are 113 good research topics to help you get you started on your paper. We've organized them into ten categories to make it easier to find the type of research paper topics you're looking for.


  • Discuss the main differences in art from the Italian Renaissance and the Northern Renaissance .
  • Analyze the impact a famous artist had on the world.
  • How is sexism portrayed in different types of media (music, film, video games, etc.)? Has the amount/type of sexism changed over the years?
  • How has the music of slaves brought over from Africa shaped modern American music?
  • How has rap music evolved in the past decade?
  • How has the portrayal of minorities in the media changed?


Current Events

  • What have been the impacts of China's one child policy?
  • How have the goals of feminists changed over the decades?
  • How has the Trump presidency changed international relations?
  • Analyze the history of the relationship between the United States and North Korea.
  • What factors contributed to the current decline in the rate of unemployment?
  • What have been the impacts of states which have increased their minimum wage?
  • How do US immigration laws compare to immigration laws of other countries?
  • How have the US's immigration laws changed in the past few years/decades?
  • How has the Black Lives Matter movement affected discussions and view about racism in the US?
  • What impact has the Affordable Care Act had on healthcare in the US?
  • What factors contributed to the UK deciding to leave the EU (Brexit)?
  • What factors contributed to China becoming an economic power?
  • Discuss the history of Bitcoin or other cryptocurrencies  (some of which tokenize the S&P 500 Index on the blockchain) .
  • Do students in schools that eliminate grades do better in college and their careers?
  • Do students from wealthier backgrounds score higher on standardized tests?
  • Do students who receive free meals at school get higher grades compared to when they weren't receiving a free meal?
  • Do students who attend charter schools score higher on standardized tests than students in public schools?
  • Do students learn better in same-sex classrooms?
  • How does giving each student access to an iPad or laptop affect their studies?
  • What are the benefits and drawbacks of the Montessori Method ?
  • Do children who attend preschool do better in school later on?
  • What was the impact of the No Child Left Behind act?
  • How does the US education system compare to education systems in other countries?
  • What impact does mandatory physical education classes have on students' health?
  • Which methods are most effective at reducing bullying in schools?
  • Do homeschoolers who attend college do as well as students who attended traditional schools?
  • Does offering tenure increase or decrease quality of teaching?
  • How does college debt affect future life choices of students?
  • Should graduate students be able to form unions?


  • What are different ways to lower gun-related deaths in the US?
  • How and why have divorce rates changed over time?
  • Is affirmative action still necessary in education and/or the workplace?
  • Should physician-assisted suicide be legal?
  • How has stem cell research impacted the medical field?
  • How can human trafficking be reduced in the United States/world?
  • Should people be able to donate organs in exchange for money?
  • Which types of juvenile punishment have proven most effective at preventing future crimes?
  • Has the increase in US airport security made passengers safer?
  • Analyze the immigration policies of certain countries and how they are similar and different from one another.
  • Several states have legalized recreational marijuana. What positive and negative impacts have they experienced as a result?
  • Do tariffs increase the number of domestic jobs?
  • Which prison reforms have proven most effective?
  • Should governments be able to censor certain information on the internet?
  • Which methods/programs have been most effective at reducing teen pregnancy?
  • What are the benefits and drawbacks of the Keto diet?
  • How effective are different exercise regimes for losing weight and maintaining weight loss?
  • How do the healthcare plans of various countries differ from each other?
  • What are the most effective ways to treat depression ?
  • What are the pros and cons of genetically modified foods?
  • Which methods are most effective for improving memory?
  • What can be done to lower healthcare costs in the US?
  • What factors contributed to the current opioid crisis?
  • Analyze the history and impact of the HIV/AIDS epidemic .
  • Are low-carbohydrate or low-fat diets more effective for weight loss?
  • How much exercise should the average adult be getting each week?
  • Which methods are most effective to get parents to vaccinate their children?
  • What are the pros and cons of clean needle programs?
  • How does stress affect the body?
  • Discuss the history of the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians.
  • What were the causes and effects of the Salem Witch Trials?
  • Who was responsible for the Iran-Contra situation?
  • How has New Orleans and the government's response to natural disasters changed since Hurricane Katrina?
  • What events led to the fall of the Roman Empire?
  • What were the impacts of British rule in India ?
  • Was the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki necessary?
  • What were the successes and failures of the women's suffrage movement in the United States?
  • What were the causes of the Civil War?
  • How did Abraham Lincoln's assassination impact the country and reconstruction after the Civil War?
  • Which factors contributed to the colonies winning the American Revolution?
  • What caused Hitler's rise to power?
  • Discuss how a specific invention impacted history.
  • What led to Cleopatra's fall as ruler of Egypt?
  • How has Japan changed and evolved over the centuries?
  • What were the causes of the Rwandan genocide ?


  • Why did Martin Luther decide to split with the Catholic Church?
  • Analyze the history and impact of a well-known cult (Jonestown, Manson family, etc.)
  • How did the sexual abuse scandal impact how people view the Catholic Church?
  • How has the Catholic church's power changed over the past decades/centuries?
  • What are the causes behind the rise in atheism/ agnosticism in the United States?
  • What were the influences in Siddhartha's life resulted in him becoming the Buddha?
  • How has media portrayal of Islam/Muslims changed since September 11th?


  • How has the earth's climate changed in the past few decades?
  • How has the use and elimination of DDT affected bird populations in the US?
  • Analyze how the number and severity of natural disasters have increased in the past few decades.
  • Analyze deforestation rates in a certain area or globally over a period of time.
  • How have past oil spills changed regulations and cleanup methods?
  • How has the Flint water crisis changed water regulation safety?
  • What are the pros and cons of fracking?
  • What impact has the Paris Climate Agreement had so far?
  • What have NASA's biggest successes and failures been?
  • How can we improve access to clean water around the world?
  • Does ecotourism actually have a positive impact on the environment?
  • Should the US rely on nuclear energy more?
  • What can be done to save amphibian species currently at risk of extinction?
  • What impact has climate change had on coral reefs?
  • How are black holes created?
  • Are teens who spend more time on social media more likely to suffer anxiety and/or depression?
  • How will the loss of net neutrality affect internet users?
  • Analyze the history and progress of self-driving vehicles.
  • How has the use of drones changed surveillance and warfare methods?
  • Has social media made people more or less connected?
  • What progress has currently been made with artificial intelligence ?
  • Do smartphones increase or decrease workplace productivity?
  • What are the most effective ways to use technology in the classroom?
  • How is Google search affecting our intelligence?
  • When is the best age for a child to begin owning a smartphone?
  • Has frequent texting reduced teen literacy rates?


How to Write a Great Research Paper

Even great research paper topics won't give you a great research paper if you don't hone your topic before and during the writing process. Follow these three tips to turn good research paper topics into great papers.

#1: Figure Out Your Thesis Early

Before you start writing a single word of your paper, you first need to know what your thesis will be. Your thesis is a statement that explains what you intend to prove/show in your paper. Every sentence in your research paper will relate back to your thesis, so you don't want to start writing without it!

As some examples, if you're writing a research paper on if students learn better in same-sex classrooms, your thesis might be "Research has shown that elementary-age students in same-sex classrooms score higher on standardized tests and report feeling more comfortable in the classroom."

If you're writing a paper on the causes of the Civil War, your thesis might be "While the dispute between the North and South over slavery is the most well-known cause of the Civil War, other key causes include differences in the economies of the North and South, states' rights, and territorial expansion."

#2: Back Every Statement Up With Research

Remember, this is a research paper you're writing, so you'll need to use lots of research to make your points. Every statement you give must be backed up with research, properly cited the way your teacher requested. You're allowed to include opinions of your own, but they must also be supported by the research you give.

#3: Do Your Research Before You Begin Writing

You don't want to start writing your research paper and then learn that there isn't enough research to back up the points you're making, or, even worse, that the research contradicts the points you're trying to make!

Get most of your research on your good research topics done before you begin writing. Then use the research you've collected to create a rough outline of what your paper will cover and the key points you're going to make. This will help keep your paper clear and organized, and it'll ensure you have enough research to produce a strong paper.

What's Next?

Are you also learning about dynamic equilibrium in your science class? We break this sometimes tricky concept down so it's easy to understand in our complete guide to dynamic equilibrium .

Thinking about becoming a nurse practitioner? Nurse practitioners have one of the fastest growing careers in the country, and we have all the information you need to know about what to expect from nurse practitioner school .

Want to know the fastest and easiest ways to convert between Fahrenheit and Celsius? We've got you covered! Check out our guide to the best ways to convert Celsius to Fahrenheit (or vice versa).

These recommendations are based solely on our knowledge and experience. If you purchase an item through one of our links, PrepScholar may receive a commission.

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Christine graduated from Michigan State University with degrees in Environmental Biology and Geography and received her Master's from Duke University. In high school she scored in the 99th percentile on the SAT and was named a National Merit Finalist. She has taught English and biology in several countries.

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What Is a Research Question?

A research question is the main question you propose to answer in your research paper. While formulating a research question may initially seem to the easiest part of conducting research, it may cost you valuable hours if you begin your research without a clear focus. Research questions...

  • Are a preliminary step of the research process
  • Are specific and guide you through your research
  • Are iterative and may change during the course of your research and writing
  • Save you time , allowing for more focused research
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Formulating Strong Research Questions: Examples and Writing Tips

Abstract | Introduction | Literature Review | Research question | Materials & Methods | Results | Discussion | Conclusion

In this blog, we will see how to construct and present the research question in your research paper. We will also look at other components that make up the final paragraph of the introduction section of your paper.

1. What is a research question in a research paper?

research question

The research questions are normally the aims and objectives of your work. The research question pinpoints exactly what it is you want to find out in your work. You can have a single research question or multiple research questions in your paper depending on the complexity of your research. Generally, it is a good idea to keep the number of research questions to less than four.

2. Research question examples

Let’s look at some examples of research questions. The research question is normally one of the major components of the final paragraph of the introduction section. We will look at the examples of the entire final paragraph of the introduction along with the research questions to put things into perspective.

2.1. Example #1 (Health sciences research paper)

Here is an example from a health sciences research paper. The passage starts with the research gap. The authors are saying that there is a need for a better understanding of the relationship between social media and mental health. Then, the authors explain the aims of their research and elaborate on what methodology they will be using to achieve their aims. The authors say that they will be using online surveys and face-to-face interviews to collect data to answer their research question. The passage flows very well and the author nicely lays out the research gap, the study aims, and the plan of action.

The effects of social media usage on mental health are poorly documented in the literature as research papers on the topic give contradictory conclusions. The present study aims to improve our understanding of the effects of social media usage on mental health. The data were collected from a variety of age-group over a period of two years in a structured manner. The methods of data collection involved online surveys and face-to-face interviews. _ Research gap  _  Research question _   _  Method summary

2.2. Example #2 (Hypothesis-driven research paper)

Here is a slightly different variant of the previous example. Here, the authors have formulated the research question in the form of a hypothesis. Same as before, the authors are establishing the research gap in the first statement. In the next couple of statements, they are defining a specific hypothesis that they will be testing in the paper. In this case, they are testing the link between social media and mental health. And in the final statement, they are explaining the research methodology they will be employing to either prove or disprove the hypothesis. This is a pretty good example to follow if your research work is hypothesis-driven.

Past research suggests that while social media use is correlated with levels of anxiety and depression, the evidence so far is limited [1-2]. Therefore, building on previous discussion, Hypothesis 1 proposes: The levels of anxiety and depression will be lower among those who use social media platforms less frequently compared to those who use social media more frequently. This hypothesis (H1) is tested in this study through surveys and face-to-face interviews. _  Research gap  _  Research question (Hypothesis)  _  Method summary

2.3. Example #3 (Computer sciences research paper)

Here is an example from a computer sciences research paper. The authors establish the research gap by saying that there aren’t many papers on the topic of stock price prediction. Then, they explain what they are proposing.  They are proposing a new method called the ‘Hybrid prediction model’. Then, they are providing a brief breakdown of their method by explaining how their method functions.  They are saying that in their approach they are combining multiple methods in a structured way to improve the overall prediction accuracy of stock prices.

Only a few papers have addressed the problem of accurately predicting stock prices. In this paper, we propose a method, called the Hybrid Prediction Method that combines a selection of existing methods in a structured way to improve on the results obtained by using any single method alone. This paper is organized as follows: In Section 2, we introduce the Hybrid Analysis. Section 3 presents a number of experiments and results, and these results are discussed in Section 6. Section 7 concludes the paper. _  Research gap  _  Research question  _  Paper outline

Finally, they finish off the section by providing the outline of the paper. Please note, providing the paper outline is optional. It depends on your personal preference and journal requirements.  This passage is a typical format you will see in engineering research papers that propose a new method to solve a particular problem.

2.4. Example #4 (Psychology research paper)

Here is an example from a psychology research paper. In the first line, the authors clearly state the research question, and the methodology they will be using to address it. The authors aim to test the impact of background music on the listener’s ability to remember words. They will be addressing this by performing a series of experiments in which observers will be shown words on the computer screen while playing different types of background music. Then, they are finishing off the section with a very brief summary of the results. This is a good idea because it will provide readers with a rough idea of what to expect from the rest of the paper.

In two experiments, we tested whether the presence of background music had an effect on memory recall. More precisely, we examined whether the type of music, either classical or pop, had an impact on the ability of people to remember a list of words. Observers viewed a list of words on a computer screen and listened to either classical or pop music in the background. The results of this study indicate significant differences between classical and pop music in terms of their effects on memory recall and cognition. _   _  Research questions  _  Methods summary  _  Results summary

3. Frequently Asked Questions

Your research question should align with your research gap and the problem statement. The research question should logically follow the problem statement and research gap you established in the previous sections of your paper. If your research objectives are misaligned with your problem statement and research gap, then reviewers will reject your paper. So make sure they are all tightly aligned with each other.

Look at the first example. We are saying that we are going to study the impact of social media on young people. The research question is too broad. As you can see there is no clear direction, and the study attempts to take on too much.

The research aims to find out the impact of social media on young people. Bad research question (Too broad)

Now, look at the second example. It is much more focused. We are very specific about our research questions.  We are saying that we are attempting to measure the average time spent by teenagers on social media. And, we are also trying to understand the exact nature of their interactions on social media. We will be using an online questionnaire to answer the questions and we will be choosing participants from England and Scotland. This is a good research question, because it clearly defines what you have set out to do and how you plan to achieve it.

The research aims to estimate the average time spent by 18-24 year-olds on social media, and investigate the nature of interactions and conversations they have on social media. We attempt to answer these questions by conducting an online questionnaire survey in England and Scotland. Good research question (Very specific and focussed)

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Research questions, hypotheses and objectives

Patricia farrugia.

* Michael G. DeGroote School of Medicine, the

Bradley A. Petrisor

† Division of Orthopaedic Surgery and the

Forough Farrokhyar

‡ Departments of Surgery and

§ Clinical Epidemiology and Biostatistics, McMaster University, Hamilton, Ont

Mohit Bhandari

There is an increasing familiarity with the principles of evidence-based medicine in the surgical community. As surgeons become more aware of the hierarchy of evidence, grades of recommendations and the principles of critical appraisal, they develop an increasing familiarity with research design. Surgeons and clinicians are looking more and more to the literature and clinical trials to guide their practice; as such, it is becoming a responsibility of the clinical research community to attempt to answer questions that are not only well thought out but also clinically relevant. The development of the research question, including a supportive hypothesis and objectives, is a necessary key step in producing clinically relevant results to be used in evidence-based practice. A well-defined and specific research question is more likely to help guide us in making decisions about study design and population and subsequently what data will be collected and analyzed. 1

Objectives of this article

In this article, we discuss important considerations in the development of a research question and hypothesis and in defining objectives for research. By the end of this article, the reader will be able to appreciate the significance of constructing a good research question and developing hypotheses and research objectives for the successful design of a research study. The following article is divided into 3 sections: research question, research hypothesis and research objectives.

Research question

Interest in a particular topic usually begins the research process, but it is the familiarity with the subject that helps define an appropriate research question for a study. 1 Questions then arise out of a perceived knowledge deficit within a subject area or field of study. 2 Indeed, Haynes suggests that it is important to know “where the boundary between current knowledge and ignorance lies.” 1 The challenge in developing an appropriate research question is in determining which clinical uncertainties could or should be studied and also rationalizing the need for their investigation.

Increasing one’s knowledge about the subject of interest can be accomplished in many ways. Appropriate methods include systematically searching the literature, in-depth interviews and focus groups with patients (and proxies) and interviews with experts in the field. In addition, awareness of current trends and technological advances can assist with the development of research questions. 2 It is imperative to understand what has been studied about a topic to date in order to further the knowledge that has been previously gathered on a topic. Indeed, some granting institutions (e.g., Canadian Institute for Health Research) encourage applicants to conduct a systematic review of the available evidence if a recent review does not already exist and preferably a pilot or feasibility study before applying for a grant for a full trial.

In-depth knowledge about a subject may generate a number of questions. It then becomes necessary to ask whether these questions can be answered through one study or if more than one study needed. 1 Additional research questions can be developed, but several basic principles should be taken into consideration. 1 All questions, primary and secondary, should be developed at the beginning and planning stages of a study. Any additional questions should never compromise the primary question because it is the primary research question that forms the basis of the hypothesis and study objectives. It must be kept in mind that within the scope of one study, the presence of a number of research questions will affect and potentially increase the complexity of both the study design and subsequent statistical analyses, not to mention the actual feasibility of answering every question. 1 A sensible strategy is to establish a single primary research question around which to focus the study plan. 3 In a study, the primary research question should be clearly stated at the end of the introduction of the grant proposal, and it usually specifies the population to be studied, the intervention to be implemented and other circumstantial factors. 4

Hulley and colleagues 2 have suggested the use of the FINER criteria in the development of a good research question ( Box 1 ). The FINER criteria highlight useful points that may increase the chances of developing a successful research project. A good research question should specify the population of interest, be of interest to the scientific community and potentially to the public, have clinical relevance and further current knowledge in the field (and of course be compliant with the standards of ethical boards and national research standards).

FINER criteria for a good research question

Adapted with permission from Wolters Kluwer Health. 2

Whereas the FINER criteria outline the important aspects of the question in general, a useful format to use in the development of a specific research question is the PICO format — consider the population (P) of interest, the intervention (I) being studied, the comparison (C) group (or to what is the intervention being compared) and the outcome of interest (O). 3 , 5 , 6 Often timing (T) is added to PICO ( Box 2 ) — that is, “Over what time frame will the study take place?” 1 The PICOT approach helps generate a question that aids in constructing the framework of the study and subsequently in protocol development by alluding to the inclusion and exclusion criteria and identifying the groups of patients to be included. Knowing the specific population of interest, intervention (and comparator) and outcome of interest may also help the researcher identify an appropriate outcome measurement tool. 7 The more defined the population of interest, and thus the more stringent the inclusion and exclusion criteria, the greater the effect on the interpretation and subsequent applicability and generalizability of the research findings. 1 , 2 A restricted study population (and exclusion criteria) may limit bias and increase the internal validity of the study; however, this approach will limit external validity of the study and, thus, the generalizability of the findings to the practical clinical setting. Conversely, a broadly defined study population and inclusion criteria may be representative of practical clinical practice but may increase bias and reduce the internal validity of the study.

PICOT criteria 1

A poorly devised research question may affect the choice of study design, potentially lead to futile situations and, thus, hamper the chance of determining anything of clinical significance, which will then affect the potential for publication. Without devoting appropriate resources to developing the research question, the quality of the study and subsequent results may be compromised. During the initial stages of any research study, it is therefore imperative to formulate a research question that is both clinically relevant and answerable.

Research hypothesis

The primary research question should be driven by the hypothesis rather than the data. 1 , 2 That is, the research question and hypothesis should be developed before the start of the study. This sounds intuitive; however, if we take, for example, a database of information, it is potentially possible to perform multiple statistical comparisons of groups within the database to find a statistically significant association. This could then lead one to work backward from the data and develop the “question.” This is counterintuitive to the process because the question is asked specifically to then find the answer, thus collecting data along the way (i.e., in a prospective manner). Multiple statistical testing of associations from data previously collected could potentially lead to spuriously positive findings of association through chance alone. 2 Therefore, a good hypothesis must be based on a good research question at the start of a trial and, indeed, drive data collection for the study.

The research or clinical hypothesis is developed from the research question and then the main elements of the study — sampling strategy, intervention (if applicable), comparison and outcome variables — are summarized in a form that establishes the basis for testing, statistical and ultimately clinical significance. 3 For example, in a research study comparing computer-assisted acetabular component insertion versus freehand acetabular component placement in patients in need of total hip arthroplasty, the experimental group would be computer-assisted insertion and the control/conventional group would be free-hand placement. The investigative team would first state a research hypothesis. This could be expressed as a single outcome (e.g., computer-assisted acetabular component placement leads to improved functional outcome) or potentially as a complex/composite outcome; that is, more than one outcome (e.g., computer-assisted acetabular component placement leads to both improved radiographic cup placement and improved functional outcome).

However, when formally testing statistical significance, the hypothesis should be stated as a “null” hypothesis. 2 The purpose of hypothesis testing is to make an inference about the population of interest on the basis of a random sample taken from that population. The null hypothesis for the preceding research hypothesis then would be that there is no difference in mean functional outcome between the computer-assisted insertion and free-hand placement techniques. After forming the null hypothesis, the researchers would form an alternate hypothesis stating the nature of the difference, if it should appear. The alternate hypothesis would be that there is a difference in mean functional outcome between these techniques. At the end of the study, the null hypothesis is then tested statistically. If the findings of the study are not statistically significant (i.e., there is no difference in functional outcome between the groups in a statistical sense), we cannot reject the null hypothesis, whereas if the findings were significant, we can reject the null hypothesis and accept the alternate hypothesis (i.e., there is a difference in mean functional outcome between the study groups), errors in testing notwithstanding. In other words, hypothesis testing confirms or refutes the statement that the observed findings did not occur by chance alone but rather occurred because there was a true difference in outcomes between these surgical procedures. The concept of statistical hypothesis testing is complex, and the details are beyond the scope of this article.

Another important concept inherent in hypothesis testing is whether the hypotheses will be 1-sided or 2-sided. A 2-sided hypothesis states that there is a difference between the experimental group and the control group, but it does not specify in advance the expected direction of the difference. For example, we asked whether there is there an improvement in outcomes with computer-assisted surgery or whether the outcomes worse with computer-assisted surgery. We presented a 2-sided test in the above example because we did not specify the direction of the difference. A 1-sided hypothesis states a specific direction (e.g., there is an improvement in outcomes with computer-assisted surgery). A 2-sided hypothesis should be used unless there is a good justification for using a 1-sided hypothesis. As Bland and Atlman 8 stated, “One-sided hypothesis testing should never be used as a device to make a conventionally nonsignificant difference significant.”

The research hypothesis should be stated at the beginning of the study to guide the objectives for research. Whereas the investigators may state the hypothesis as being 1-sided (there is an improvement with treatment), the study and investigators must adhere to the concept of clinical equipoise. According to this principle, a clinical (or surgical) trial is ethical only if the expert community is uncertain about the relative therapeutic merits of the experimental and control groups being evaluated. 9 It means there must exist an honest and professional disagreement among expert clinicians about the preferred treatment. 9

Designing a research hypothesis is supported by a good research question and will influence the type of research design for the study. Acting on the principles of appropriate hypothesis development, the study can then confidently proceed to the development of the research objective.

Research objective

The primary objective should be coupled with the hypothesis of the study. Study objectives define the specific aims of the study and should be clearly stated in the introduction of the research protocol. 7 From our previous example and using the investigative hypothesis that there is a difference in functional outcomes between computer-assisted acetabular component placement and free-hand placement, the primary objective can be stated as follows: this study will compare the functional outcomes of computer-assisted acetabular component insertion versus free-hand placement in patients undergoing total hip arthroplasty. Note that the study objective is an active statement about how the study is going to answer the specific research question. Objectives can (and often do) state exactly which outcome measures are going to be used within their statements. They are important because they not only help guide the development of the protocol and design of study but also play a role in sample size calculations and determining the power of the study. 7 These concepts will be discussed in other articles in this series.

From the surgeon’s point of view, it is important for the study objectives to be focused on outcomes that are important to patients and clinically relevant. For example, the most methodologically sound randomized controlled trial comparing 2 techniques of distal radial fixation would have little or no clinical impact if the primary objective was to determine the effect of treatment A as compared to treatment B on intraoperative fluoroscopy time. However, if the objective was to determine the effect of treatment A as compared to treatment B on patient functional outcome at 1 year, this would have a much more significant impact on clinical decision-making. Second, more meaningful surgeon–patient discussions could ensue, incorporating patient values and preferences with the results from this study. 6 , 7 It is the precise objective and what the investigator is trying to measure that is of clinical relevance in the practical setting.

The following is an example from the literature about the relation between the research question, hypothesis and study objectives:

Study: Warden SJ, Metcalf BR, Kiss ZS, et al. Low-intensity pulsed ultrasound for chronic patellar tendinopathy: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. Rheumatology 2008;47:467–71.

Research question: How does low-intensity pulsed ultrasound (LIPUS) compare with a placebo device in managing the symptoms of skeletally mature patients with patellar tendinopathy?

Research hypothesis: Pain levels are reduced in patients who receive daily active-LIPUS (treatment) for 12 weeks compared with individuals who receive inactive-LIPUS (placebo).

Objective: To investigate the clinical efficacy of LIPUS in the management of patellar tendinopathy symptoms.

The development of the research question is the most important aspect of a research project. A research project can fail if the objectives and hypothesis are poorly focused and underdeveloped. Useful tips for surgical researchers are provided in Box 3 . Designing and developing an appropriate and relevant research question, hypothesis and objectives can be a difficult task. The critical appraisal of the research question used in a study is vital to the application of the findings to clinical practice. Focusing resources, time and dedication to these 3 very important tasks will help to guide a successful research project, influence interpretation of the results and affect future publication efforts.

Tips for developing research questions, hypotheses and objectives for research studies

  • Perform a systematic literature review (if one has not been done) to increase knowledge and familiarity with the topic and to assist with research development.
  • Learn about current trends and technological advances on the topic.
  • Seek careful input from experts, mentors, colleagues and collaborators to refine your research question as this will aid in developing the research question and guide the research study.
  • Use the FINER criteria in the development of the research question.
  • Ensure that the research question follows PICOT format.
  • Develop a research hypothesis from the research question.
  • Develop clear and well-defined primary and secondary (if needed) objectives.
  • Ensure that the research question and objectives are answerable, feasible and clinically relevant.

FINER = feasible, interesting, novel, ethical, relevant; PICOT = population (patients), intervention (for intervention studies only), comparison group, outcome of interest, time.

Competing interests: No funding was received in preparation of this paper. Dr. Bhandari was funded, in part, by a Canada Research Chair, McMaster University.

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Regions & Countries

About 1 in 4 u.s. teachers say their school went into a gun-related lockdown in the last school year.

Twenty-five years after the mass shooting at Columbine High School in Colorado , a majority of public K-12 teachers (59%) say they are at least somewhat worried about the possibility of a shooting ever happening at their school. This includes 18% who say they’re extremely or very worried, according to a new Pew Research Center survey.

Pew Research Center conducted this analysis to better understand public K-12 teachers’ views on school shootings, how prepared they feel for a potential active shooter, and how they feel about policies that could help prevent future shootings.

To do this, we surveyed 2,531 U.S. public K-12 teachers from Oct. 17 to Nov. 14, 2023. The teachers are members of RAND’s American Teacher Panel, a nationally representative panel of public school K-12 teachers recruited through MDR Education. Survey data is weighted to state and national teacher characteristics to account for differences in sampling and response to ensure they are representative of the target population.

We also used data from our 2022 survey of U.S. parents. For that project, we surveyed 3,757 U.S. parents with at least one child younger than 18 from Sept. 20 to Oct. 2, 2022. Find more details about the survey of parents here .

Here are the questions used for this analysis , along with responses, and the survey methodology .

Another 31% of teachers say they are not too worried about a shooting occurring at their school. Only 7% of teachers say they are not at all worried.

This survey comes at a time when school shootings are at a record high (82 in 2023) and gun safety continues to be a topic in 2024 election campaigns .

A pie chart showing that a majority of teachers are at least somewhat worried about a shooting occurring at their school.

Teachers’ experiences with lockdowns

A horizontal stacked bar chart showing that about 1 in 4 teachers say their school had a gun-related lockdown last year.

About a quarter of teachers (23%) say they experienced a lockdown in the 2022-23 school year because of a gun or suspicion of a gun at their school. Some 15% say this happened once during the year, and 8% say this happened more than once.

High school teachers are most likely to report experiencing these lockdowns: 34% say their school went on at least one gun-related lockdown in the last school year. This compares with 22% of middle school teachers and 16% of elementary school teachers.

Teachers in urban schools are also more likely to say that their school had a gun-related lockdown. About a third of these teachers (31%) say this, compared with 19% of teachers in suburban schools and 20% in rural schools.

Do teachers feel their school has prepared them for an active shooter?

About four-in-ten teachers (39%) say their school has done a fair or poor job providing them with the training and resources they need to deal with a potential active shooter.

A bar chart showing that 3 in 10 teachers say their school has done an excellent or very good job preparing them for an active shooter.

A smaller share (30%) give their school an excellent or very good rating, and another 30% say their school has done a good job preparing them.

Teachers in urban schools are the least likely to say their school has done an excellent or very good job preparing them for a potential active shooter. About one-in-five (21%) say this, compared with 32% of teachers in suburban schools and 35% in rural schools.

Teachers who have police officers or armed security stationed in their school are more likely than those who don’t to say their school has done an excellent or very good job preparing them for a potential active shooter (36% vs. 22%).

Overall, 56% of teachers say they have police officers or armed security stationed at their school. Majorities in rural schools (64%) and suburban schools (56%) say this, compared with 48% in urban schools.

Only 3% of teachers say teachers and administrators at their school are allowed to carry guns in school. This is slightly more common in school districts where a majority of voters cast ballots for Donald Trump in 2020 than in school districts where a majority of voters cast ballots for Joe Biden (5% vs. 1%).

What strategies do teachers think could help prevent school shootings?

A bar chart showing that 69% of teachers say better mental health treatment would be highly effective in preventing school shootings.

The survey also asked teachers how effective some measures would be at preventing school shootings.

Most teachers (69%) say improving mental health screening and treatment for children and adults would be extremely or very effective.

About half (49%) say having police officers or armed security in schools would be highly effective, while 33% say the same about metal detectors in schools.

Just 13% say allowing teachers and school administrators to carry guns in schools would be extremely or very effective at preventing school shootings. Seven-in-ten teachers say this would be not too or not at all effective.

How teachers’ views differ by party

A dot plot showing that teachers’ views of strategies to prevent school shootings differ by political party.

Republican and Republican-leaning teachers are more likely than Democratic and Democratic-leaning teachers to say each of the following would be highly effective:

  • Having police officers or armed security in schools (69% vs. 37%)
  • Having metal detectors in schools (43% vs. 27%)
  • Allowing teachers and school administrators to carry guns in schools (28% vs. 3%)

And while majorities in both parties say improving mental health screening and treatment would be highly effective at preventing school shootings, Democratic teachers are more likely than Republican teachers to say this (73% vs. 66%).

Parents’ views on school shootings and prevention strategies

In fall 2022, we asked parents a similar set of questions about school shootings.

Roughly a third of parents with K-12 students (32%) said they were extremely or very worried about a shooting ever happening at their child’s school. An additional 37% said they were somewhat worried.

As is the case among teachers, improving mental health screening and treatment was the only strategy most parents (63%) said would be extremely or very effective at preventing school shootings. And allowing teachers and school administrators to carry guns in schools was seen as the least effective – in fact, half of parents said this would be not too or not at all effective. This question was asked of all parents with a child younger than 18, regardless of whether they have a child in K-12 schools.

Like teachers, parents’ views on strategies for preventing school shootings differed by party. 

Note: Here are the questions used for this analysis , along with responses, and the survey methodology .

research questions 1

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Two key brain systems are central to psychosis, Stanford Medicine-led study finds

When the brain has trouble filtering incoming information and predicting what’s likely to happen, psychosis can result, Stanford Medicine-led research shows.

April 11, 2024 - By Erin Digitale


People with psychosis have trouble filtering relevant information (mesh funnel) and predicting rewarding events (broken crystal ball), creating a complex inner world. Emily Moskal

Inside the brains of people with psychosis, two key systems are malfunctioning: a “filter” that directs attention toward important external events and internal thoughts, and a “predictor” composed of pathways that anticipate rewards.

Dysfunction of these systems makes it difficult to know what’s real, manifesting as hallucinations and delusions. 

The findings come from a Stanford Medicine-led study , published April 11 in  Molecular Psychiatry , that used brain scan data from children, teens and young adults with psychosis. The results confirm an existing theory of how breaks with reality occur.

“This work provides a good model for understanding the development and progression of schizophrenia, which is a challenging problem,” said lead author  Kaustubh Supekar , PhD, clinical associate professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences.

The findings, observed in individuals with a rare genetic disease called 22q11.2 deletion syndrome who experience psychosis as well as in those with psychosis of unknown origin, advance scientists’ understanding of the underlying brain mechanisms and theoretical frameworks related to psychosis.

During psychosis, patients experience hallucinations, such as hearing voices, and hold delusional beliefs, such as thinking that people who are not real exist. Psychosis can occur on its own and isa hallmark of certain serious mental illnesses, including bipolar disorder and schizophrenia. Schizophrenia is also characterized by social withdrawal, disorganized thinking and speech, and a reduction in energy and motivation.

It is challenging to study how schizophrenia begins in the brain. The condition usually emerges in teens or young adults, most of whom soon begin taking antipsychotic medications to ease their symptoms. When researchers analyze brain scans from people with established schizophrenia, they cannot distinguish the effects of the disease from the effects of the medications. They also do not know how schizophrenia changes the brain as the disease progresses. 

To get an early view of the disease process, the Stanford Medicine team studied young people aged 6 to 39 with 22q11.2 deletion syndrome, a genetic condition with a 30% risk for psychosis, schizophrenia or both. 


Kaustubh Supekar

Brain function in 22q11.2 patients who have psychosis is similar to that in people with psychosis of unknown origin, they found. And these brain patterns matched what the researchers had previously theorized was generating psychosis symptoms.

“The brain patterns we identified support our theoretical models of how cognitive control systems malfunction in psychosis,” said senior study author  Vinod Menon , PhD, the Rachael L. and Walter F. Nichols, MD, Professor; a professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences; and director of the  Stanford Cognitive and Systems Neuroscience Laboratory .

Thoughts that are not linked to reality can capture the brain’s cognitive control networks, he said. “This process derails the normal functioning of cognitive control, allowing intrusive thoughts to dominate, culminating in symptoms we recognize as psychosis.”

Cerebral sorting  

Normally, the brain’s cognitive filtering system — aka the salience network — works behind the scenes to selectively direct our attention to important internal thoughts and external events. With its help, we can dismiss irrational thoughts and unimportant events and focus on what’s real and meaningful to us, such as paying attention to traffic so we avoid a collision.

The ventral striatum, a small brain region, and associated brain pathways driven by dopamine, play an important role in predicting what will be rewarding or important. 

For the study, the researchers assembled as much functional MRI brain-scan data as possible from young people with 22q11.2 deletion syndrome, totaling 101 individuals scanned at three different universities. (The study also included brain scans from several comparison groups without 22q11.2 deletion syndrome: 120 people with early idiopathic psychosis, 101 people with autism, 123 with attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder and 411 healthy controls.) 

The genetic condition, characterized by deletion of part of the 22nd chromosome, affects 1 in every 2,000 to 4,000 people. In addition to the 30% risk of schizophrenia or psychosis, people with the syndrome can also have autism or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, which is why these conditions were included in the comparison groups.

The researchers used a type of machine learning algorithm called a spatiotemporal deep neural network to characterize patterns of brain function in all patients with 22q11.2 deletion syndrome compared with healthy subjects. With a cohort of patients whose brains were scanned at the University of California, Los Angeles, they developed an algorithmic model that distinguished brain scans from people with 22q11.2 deletion syndrome versus those without it. The model predicted the syndrome with greater than 94% accuracy. They validated the model in additional groups of people with or without the genetic syndrome who had received brain scans at UC Davis and Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile, showing that in these independent groups, the model sorted brain scans with 84% to 90% accuracy.

The researchers then used the model to investigate which brain features play the biggest role in psychosis. Prior studies of psychosis had not given consistent results, likely because their sample sizes were too small. 


Vinod Menon

Comparing brain scans from 22q11.2 deletion syndrome patients who had and did not have psychosis, the researchers showed that the brain areas contributing most to psychosis are the anterior insula (a key part of the salience network or “filter”) and the ventral striatum (the “reward predictor”); this was true for different cohorts of patients.

In comparing the brain features of people with 22q11.2 deletion syndrome and psychosis against people with psychosis of unknown origin, the model found significant overlap, indicating that these brain features are characteristic of psychosis in general.

A second mathematical model, trained to distinguish all subjects with 22q11.2 deletion syndrome and psychosis from those who have the genetic syndrome but without psychosis, selected brain scans from people with idiopathic psychosis with 77.5% accuracy, again supporting the idea that the brain’s filtering and predicting centers are key to psychosis.

Furthermore, this model was specific to psychosis: It could not classify people with idiopathic autism or ADHD.

“It was quite exciting to trace our steps back to our initial question — ‘What are the dysfunctional brain systems in schizophrenia?’ — and to discover similar patterns in this context,” Menon said. “At the neural level, the characteristics differentiating individuals with psychosis in 22q11.2 deletion syndrome are mirroring the pathways we’ve pinpointed in schizophrenia. This parallel reinforces our understanding of psychosis as a condition with identifiable and consistent brain signatures.” However, these brain signatures were not seen in people with the genetic syndrome but no psychosis, holding clues to future directions for research, he added.

Applications for treatment or prevention

In addition to supporting the scientists’ theory about how psychosis occurs, the findings have implications for understanding the condition — and possibly preventing it.

“One of my goals is to prevent or delay development of schizophrenia,” Supekar said. The fact that the new findings are consistent with the team’s prior research on which brain centers contribute most to schizophrenia in adults suggests there may be a way to prevent it, he said. “In schizophrenia, by the time of diagnosis, a lot of damage has already occurred in the brain, and it can be very difficult to change the course of the disease.”

“What we saw is that, early on, functional interactions among brain regions within the same brain systems are abnormal,” he added. “The abnormalities do not start when you are in your 20s; they are evident even when you are 7 or 8.”

Our discoveries underscore the importance of approaching people with psychosis with compassion.

The researchers plan to use existing treatments, such as transcranial magnetic stimulation or focused ultrasound, targeted at these brain centers in young people at risk of psychosis, such as those with 22q11.2 deletion syndrome or with two parents who have schizophrenia, to see if they prevent or delay the onset of the condition or lessen symptoms once they appear. 

The results also suggest that using functional MRI to monitor brain activity at the key centers could help scientists investigate how existing antipsychotic medications are working. 

Although it’s still puzzling why someone becomes untethered from reality — given how risky it seems for one’s well-being — the “how” is now understandable, Supekar said. “From a mechanistic point of view, it makes sense,” he said.

“Our discoveries underscore the importance of approaching people with psychosis with compassion,” Menon said, adding that his team hopes their work not only advances scientific understanding but also inspires a cultural shift toward empathy and support for those experiencing psychosis. 

“I recently had the privilege of engaging with individuals from our department’s early psychosis treatment group,” he said. “Their message was a clear and powerful: ‘We share more similarities than differences. Like anyone, we experience our own highs and lows.’ Their words were a heartfelt appeal for greater empathy and understanding toward those living with this condition. It was a call to view psychosis through a lens of empathy and solidarity.”

Researchers contributed to the study from UCLA, Clinica Alemana Universidad del Desarrollo, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile, the University of Oxford and UC Davis.

The study was funded by the Stanford Maternal and Child Health Research Institute’s Uytengsu-Hamilton 22q11 Neuropsychiatry Research Program, FONDEYCT (the National Fund for Scientific and Technological Development of the government of Chile), ANID-Chile (the Chilean National Agency for Research and Development) and the U.S. National Institutes of Health (grants AG072114, MH121069, MH085953 and MH101779).

Erin Digitale

About Stanford Medicine

Stanford Medicine is an integrated academic health system comprising the Stanford School of Medicine and adult and pediatric health care delivery systems. Together, they harness the full potential of biomedicine through collaborative research, education and clinical care for patients. For more information, please visit med.stanford.edu .

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Healey announces $3 million in grants for women's health research projects

Governor Maura Healey, a woman with short brown hair wearing a pink blazer, stands among a group of people.

  • katielannan

Women's health is getting a big boost from Gov. Maura Healey's administration.

The governor on Tuesday announced nearly $3 million in grant money to support 15 projects , including efforts to diagnose and treat endometriosis, develop less invasive screenings for cervical cancer, and advance new technologies to better understand pregnancy risks.

Healey announced the grants during a visit to Brigham and Women's Hospital. Healey toured the hospital's Mary Horrigan Connors Center for Women's Health and Gender Biology, one of a series of stops she's making around the state to promote a sweeping economic development bill she filed last month.

“We have not done what we needed to do for women's health for centuries,” Healey said. “And I am so psyched, as your governor, that people are actually looking at this and dealing with this, because it is different.”

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$21 million in federal funds will boost boston's response to youth mental health crisis, embracing midwifery could change the state of maternal healthcare in massachusetts, women of color share their stories of breast cancer treatment and survivorship.

The bulk of the grant money, $2.6 million, comes from the Massachusetts Life Sciences Center women's health innovation program, with another $250,000 from the First Look Awards, a partnership between the life sciences center and the Connors Center at Brigham and Women's.

The Healey administration says the governor's $3.5 billion economic development bill will “reenergize” the Massachusetts Life Sciences Center to help grow and sustain what has become a major industry in Massachusetts.

The bill proposes a 10-year, $1 billion reauthorization of a life sciences initiative that began under then-Gov. Deval Patrick in 2008, including money for tax credits, workforce development programs and more.

Economic Development Secretary Yvonne Hao said the life sciences push includes “all of health care.”

“Life sciences, including the whole system. We are trying to be more ambitious, just like ARPA-H,” Hao said, referencing a new health innovation hub Massachusetts will host for a federal research agency. “We want to solve these big, hard problems, like all of these women's health issues. This is the time for us to continue to lead.”

Healey's bill is before the Legislature's Economic Development and Emerging Technologies, which has until the end of May to complete its review of the bill.

Meanwhile, lawmakers are also weighing how to best respond to the financial crisis at Steward Health Care, amid concerns that any disruption at the for-profit system's eight Massachusetts hospitals could reverberate across the state's health care ecosystem as a whole. Both state legislators and U.S. senators held hearings on Beacon Hill last month to explore the role of private equity in health care .

Kate Walsh, Healey's health and human services secretary, told reporters after the grant announcement that the country's health care system is complicated and she worries “about broad brushstrokes that say, 'private equity bad, not-for-profit good.”

“I think we have seen an extreme set of circumstances that the choices that Steward made as a health system to capitalize their system just didn't work,” Walsh said. “And so what we need to do, when we get patients and staff and people and regions through this, is sort of step back. I think legislation in haste, you kind of repent in leisure, so I think there's a lot to consider.”

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More politics.

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Andrea Campbell doesn't believe 'anything' Trump says about abortion access

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Pessimistic, anxious and ambivalent: How Mass. residents are feeling ahead of the 2024 election

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Making the case to eliminate ‘tipped minimum wage’ in Mass.

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Gen Z voters disappointed in Biden reconsider their options for 2024

Issue header for the first/second quarter of Econ Focus for 2024.

Also in this issue:

Investing in the Great Outdoors

  • The End of the Student Loan Repayment Moratorium
  • Ulrike Malmendier | Interview
  • Tipping: From Scourge of Democracy to American Ritual
  • When Economists Navigate by the Stars
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Some rural and small-town communities see potential for outdoor recreation to reinvigorate their economies

Trio of bikers riding across a wooden bridge atop swamp-like water.

While the appeal of Mother Nature has always been self-evident to enthusiasts, the COVID-19 pandemic brought in new converts. Once it became clear that the virus spread less easily in open spaces, and with many indoor options shut down, outdoor recreation became a compelling option for anyone looking to escape their home or apartment in 2020.

In addition to visiting state parks and trails in record numbers, many Americans moved from cities to suburbs, small towns, and rural places in search of more open spaces. According to a March 2023 report from Harvard University's Joint Center for Housing Studies, change-of-address requests through the U.S. Postal Service were 22 percent higher in March 2020 compared to a year earlier, and 14 percent higher in April 2020 than in April 2019. States that gained from domestic migration in 2020-2021 included places with desirable climates and outdoor recreation opportunities, such as the Sun Belt and the Mountain West.

Even before 2020, there was evidence that natural amenities and the general quality of life in a community were important factors in people's decisions to visit or move to a place. Many believe that the pandemic and the rise in remote work has reduced the importance of proximity to employers when choosing where to live, making a place's outdoor amenities even more significant. But is investing in outdoor recreation a good strategy for a community's long-term economic growth?

Untapped Potential

In 2022, according to the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA), the value added from the outdoor recreation economy accounted for 2.2 percent — $563.7 billion — of the U.S. gross domestic product (GDP). Compared to the economy as a whole, the outdoor recreation sector experienced rapid growth in recent years. Inflation-adjusted, or real, GDP for the outdoor recreation sector increased 4.8 percent in 2022 (the latest data available), down from an astonishing 22.7 percent growth in 2021 but still greater than the overall U.S. economy's growth of 1.9 percent.

The BEA divides the outdoor recreation economy into three broad categories: conventional activities, which includes things like cycling, boating, and hiking; other activities, such as gardening or outdoor concerts; and supporting activities, such as construction and travel and tourism. This last category accounted for nearly half of the value added from outdoor recreation in 2022 at 46 percent. A big part of that supporting activity is tourism. The arts, entertainment, recreation, accommodation, and food services industry generated about a quarter of the overall national value added by outdoor recreation, or $144.5 billion.

While some states have always attracted tourists with their outdoor offerings, the COVID-19 pandemic spurred many people to explore options closer to home. In Virginia, state parks saw roughly a million more visitors in 2020 than in 2019. That traffic has not slowed down, even as more widespread travel has opened up. According to a recent presentation to the Virginia Senate Finance and Appropriations Committee by Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation Director Matthew Wells, the state's parks had just over 8 million visitors in 2023 compared to 6.9 million in 2019. From 2017 to 2019, outdoor recreation consistently contributed between $9 billion and $10 billion annually to the Virginia economy. In 2022, that amount grew to $11.35 billion, or 1.7 percent of the state's GDP. (See chart.)

Capturing those economic benefits, particularly from visitors, takes careful planning. Many outdoor recreation activities take place in public spaces that may be maintained through local taxes. But by their open public nature, those spaces can be accessible to non-taxpaying visitors as well.

"You need to design fiscal policies to capture some of the economic activity from visitors to invest locally in order to sustain a strategy around outdoor recreation," says Santiago Pinto, a senior economist and policy advisor at the Richmond Fed whose research includes studying regional economics.

In its Rural Economic Development Toolkit , the Outdoor Recreation Roundtable (ORR), a national business coalition that promotes outdoor recreation activities, advises communities on how to capture the value from outdoor tourism. That includes charging fees for out-of-state visitors to parks or making use of overnight lodging taxes. Communities are also encouraged to think about the entire network of businesses that could surround outdoor recreation destinations, such as restaurants, breweries, outfitters, and hotels.

"The places that have been most effective at building an outdoor recreation economy are thinking about the whole value chain," says Chris Perkins, vice president of programs at the ORR. "From the moment someone enters to pursue an outdoor recreation opportunity, they're receiving marketing about all the community amenities."

The Virginia Capital Trail, a nearly 52-mile-long paved path for walking and biking that follows the James River from Richmond to Jamestown, is one example of this approach. Along the trail, which is free to access, visitors can find restaurants, stores, restrooms, campsites, lodging, and bicycle repair stations. A 2019 economic impact study conducted by the University of Richmond in partnership with the Institute for Service Research found that visitors to the Virginia Capital Trail in 2018-2019 spent an estimated $6.1 million in the state, mostly within a 50-mile radius of the trail.

Attracting Newcomers

Tourism is just one important way communities can leverage the economic potential of the outdoors. Some of those visitors may turn into long-term residents.

"Tourism is the red carpet to residency," says Danny Twilley, assistant vice president of economic, community and asset development for West Virginia University's Brad and Alys Smith Outdoor Economic Development Collaborative (OEDC). Utilizing the university's intellectual and social capital, the Smith OEDC helps communities in the state leverage their outdoor assets to improve their economy and quality of life.

There are many factors that people consider when deciding where to live, including the job or business environment and the community's quality of life. Economists define quality of life by the various amenities a community offers residents and measure it by how much households are willing to pay in terms of higher housing prices or lower wages to gain access to those amenities. Some types of amenities are generated by density, such as the availability of restaurants and cultural events in densely populated cities, while outdoor amenities are naturally occurring and are often enhanced by lower population density.

In the case of rural and small towns, there is growing evidence that outdoor recreation can be a significant driver for in-migration. A 2019 paper by Headwaters Economics , a nonprofit research group focused on community development and land management, found that between 2010 and 2016, micropolitan counties (places with at least one urban area with between 10,000 and 50,000 residents) lost an average of 15.6 residents per 1,000 if their economy wasn't focused on outdoor recreation. But recreation-based micropolitan counties gained an average 21.6 residents per 1,000 over the same period. Nonrecreational rural counties lost 19.9 residents per 1,000, while recreation-based rural counties gained 1.3 residents per 1,000. (Rural counties are defined as ones that don't have an urban area with at least 10,000 residents.)

Historically, the advice for rural and small towns looking to grow has been to focus on improving the business environment to attract job-generating firms. In a recent Richmond Fed Economic Brief , Pinto documented that the evidence on the effectiveness of such incentives has been mixed . Place-based policies to attract firms can reduce poverty and increase employment, but they can also push existing residents out and create negative spillovers on surrounding localities.

More recently, researchers have been investigating whether investments in a community's quality of life, such as outdoor recreation, could be part of an effective and sustainable growth strategy. In a 2023 article in the Annals of Regional Science , Amanda Weinstein of the Center on Rural Innovation and Michael Hicks and Emily Wornell of Ball State University found that quality of life was more important to the success of micropolitan areas than the business environment. Having a higher quality of life was associated with greater population growth, higher employment, and lower poverty rates. The COVID-19 pandemic reinforced these trends, as many Americans moved from dense cities to more open spaces. (See " Paid to Relocate ," Econ Focus , Third Quarter 2022.)

"COVID was traumatic in so many ways, but one thing it did was make us all stop what we were doing and take time to revisit what's important to us," says Andrew Williamson, director of outdoor economic and community development for the Smith OEDC. "Many people rediscovered an appreciation for being outdoors, whether it's a local park or the wilderness in the backcountry. You couple that with the ability to now live and work from anywhere, now West Virginia has a huge opportunity."

Diversifying the Local Economy

For decades, West Virginia's economy has relied heavily on resource extraction, chiefly coal. Energy extraction jobs often pay very well, but the industry is subject to economic booms and busts. (See " Navigating Energy Booms and Busts ," Econ Focus , Fourth Quarter 2018.) Now, economic development organizations like the Smith OEDC are exploring whether investments in outdoor recreation could help extraction-based communities build more diverse, less volatile economies.

"We believe that when you invest in people and you invest in place, the companies may come and go, but the people in the community will stay," says Twilley. "For me, this is the most important thing we could ever do for West Virginia, because they've seen the extraction of resources and how when companies downsize or leave, jobs leave, then people leave. Investing in community and the outdoor economy can help stabilize that trend."

" Are Place-Based Policies a Boon for Everyone? " Economic Brief No. 24-07, February 2024.

" The Outdoor Recreation Economy in the Fifth District ," Regional Matters, April 17, 2017.

Both Twilley and Williamson stress that this strategy is not a quick fix. It can take many years for investments in outdoor recreation and the surrounding community to bear fruit. A recent report from Headwaters Economics exploring the use of outdoor recreation to diversify the economy of resource-dependent communities also emphasized the importance of setting realistic expectations.

"Jobs in the resource extraction industries tend to be high-paying," Michael Tolan, the report's author, wrote. "It is not reasonable to expect outdoor recreation to 'replace' these jobs overnight."

Still, jobs in the outdoor recreation industry are growing fast. According to the latest BEA data, both outdoor recreation employment and compensation increased by a higher percentage in 2022 than the U.S. economy overall. Outdoor recreation employed nearly 5 million workers, 3.2 percent of the overall workforce, in 2022. But will the jobs and activities that support outdoor recreation necessarily facilitate the development of a dynamic and innovative local economy? That remains to be seen.

"The people who are attracted to a place because of its outdoor amenities may or may not bring entrepreneurial skills and ideas to the area," says Pinto. "Nonetheless, the resulting population inflows may create a ripple effect, stimulating the local development of outdoor-related businesses and other complementary activities and services."

What Does it Take to Succeed?

First and foremost, a community looking to develop its outdoor recreation economy needs to have some outdoor amenities to work with. Sometimes this can mean taking a fresh look at features that have long been there. For example, the New River Gorge in West Virginia was designated as a national river in 1978, and locals had long taken advantage of the opportunities it offered for hiking, climbing, and rafting. In 2021, it became the country's newest national park, and some saw an opportunity to do more.

Corey Lilly, a 10th generation West Virginian and outdoor enthusiast who competed professionally across the country as a skier and kayaker, returned to his hometown of Beckley to head up its office of outdoor economic development. Like many communities in the state, the city of Beckley (population of around 16,000) was known for coal mining. Its proximity to the new national park presented an opportunity to reinvent itself as an outdoor recreation destination. With Lilly's leadership, the community has launched the Beckley Outdoors plan with the goal of establishing the city as "a premier outdoor destination that celebrates southern West Virginia's Appalachian heritage."

Having a local community champion like Lilly is a necessary ingredient for building up an outdoor recreation economy, according to the ORR's Perkins.

"Ideally, they are someone who has the respect of a wide variety of stakeholders within a community," he says. "They are willing to show up to the town council or community commissioner meeting to build relationships and make the case for the project. That can't be parachuted in from the outside. It's community-level relationships that make this happen."

In addition to building local buy-in, it can also be helpful to have coordination and support at the state, regional, and national levels. Environmental conservationists and outdoor recreation advocates in Virginia joined forces to form the Our Virginia Outdoors coalition in 2021, which advocates for dedicated, consistent state funding for natural resources. Such funding would both help preserve those resources for future generations and better capitalize on the economic potential of outdoor recreation.

"Virginia has 42 state parks and 66 natural area preserves, a good portion of which are open to the public. And yet, when you look at the state budget and ask whether we are putting money toward this as a priority, the answer is a resounding 'no,'" says Mikaela Ruiz-Ramón, the public funding and policy manager for the Virginia chapter of the Nature Conservancy, a global nonprofit environmental group.

The Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation reports that state parks alone have accumulated a roughly $300 million backlog of deferred maintenance. This includes projects like improving the accessibility of parks, repairing and modernizing campgrounds and other facilities, and maintaining trails, roads, and bridges.

"There is so much demand for programming and overnight stays at state parks that isn't met because money hasn't consistently been put in for cabins, camping facilities, and other basic utilities like electricity, plumbing, and roads in and out of the parks," says Ruiz-Ramón.

Nationally, 21 states have established offices of outdoor recreation to guide investments in outdoor resources and improve state competitiveness for funding and talent. In the Fifth District, North Carolina, Virginia, and Maryland have offices of outdoor recreation, all of them established in the past seven years. Many of these offices also work together to share best practices.

"If you're biking or paddling down a river, you're not paying attention to state lines," says Ruiz-Ramón. "It's a collaborative space because of the nature of the business."

The Confluence of States, managed by Maribel Castañeda, is a bipartisan coalition of 17 states dedicated to growing the outdoor recreation sector. North Carolina was a charter member when the coalition formed in 2018; Virginia joined in 2019, and Maryland in 2022. Members agree to support common principles around conservation and stewardship, education and workforce training, economic development, and public health and wellness.

"We're in competition with each other, but at the end of the day, we all know how important outdoor recreation is for every state," says Castañeda.

The Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) is a federal-state partnership established in 1965 to strengthen the economy of the region, which includes all of West Virginia and parts of Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, and South Carolina. (For more on the history of ARC, see " Connecting a Region Apart ," Econ Focus , Second Quarter 2022.) One of ARC's current investment priorities is enhancing the regional culture and tourism of the counties it serves, including through outdoor recreation. ARC funding helped St. Paul, a former coal and railroad community in southwest Virginia with a population of under 1,000 people, develop outdoor recreation and tourism opportunities centered on the Clinch River that runs alongside its downtown.

Sustainable Demand?

In the case of some communities, their proximity to natural amenities for outdoor recreation can also create challenges for building the infrastructure needed to support visitors and new residents. In a 2021 report, the Urban Institute noted that rural communities situated near state or national parks often lack services such as banks, health care facilities, public libraries, schools, and transportation compared to other communities. The wide open spaces needed for outdoor recreation can limit the land available for building, which can put pressure on housing prices as a community grows. And when it comes to housing, the goals of increasing tourism and residency can be in conflict, with an influx of tourists leading to an uptick in second homes and short-term rentals that price out residents.

"Oftentimes communities are so eager to attract external investment that they try to be everything to everyone, and they forget about their core stakeholders, which are their local community and workforce," says Perkins. "It's important to plan ahead and find the right balance between bringing in people from the outside and investing locally to grow at a sustainable rate."

Communities considering reorienting their local economy around the outdoors may also wonder if the surge in demand for fresh air brought about by the pandemic will persist long enough for such a development strategy to pay off. While no one can predict the future, there are some indications that the ways we live and work have shifted in lasting ways.

The prevalence of working from home has come down from the highs seen in the spring of 2020, and workers are returning to the office, but the share of days worked from home remains well above pre-pandemic levels as many workplaces have settled into a hybrid schedule. Many parks, such as those in Virginia, continue to report record attendance. The increasing number of states establishing offices of outdoor recreation demonstrates a growing commitment to investing in natural amenities. And health care professionals are increasingly touting the mental and physical health benefits of being outside.

"Taking a walk outside has only ever made me feel better than before I started, and I think more people are recognizing the same thing," says Perkins. "That bodes well for this generation to be long-term recreation participants and advocates."

" Recreation Counties Attracting New Residents and Higher Incomes ." Headwaters Economics, January 2019.

Tolan, Michael. " Outdoor Recreation & Economic Diversification in Resource-Dependent Communities ." Headwaters Economics, 2022.

Weinstein, Amanda L., Michael Hicks, and Emily Wornell. " An Aggregate Approach to Estimating Quality of Life in Micropolitan Areas ." The Annals of Regional Science , 2023, vol. 70, pp. 447-476.

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Humanities LibreTexts

1.5: Regular vs. Research Questions

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Teaching & Learning and University Libraries

Most of us look for information to answer questions every day, and we often act on the answers to those questions. Are research questions any different from most of the questions for which we seek information? Yes.

See how they’re different by looking over the examples of both kinds below and answering questions about them in the next activity.

Examples: Regular vs. Research Questions

Regular Question: What time is my movie showing at Laemmle Glendale on Friday?

Research Question: How do “sleeper” films end up having outstanding attendance figures?

Regular Question: What can I do about my insomnia?

Research Question: How do flights more than 16 hours long affect the reflexes of commercial jet pilots?

Regular Question: How many children in the U.S. have allergies?

Research Question: How does his or her country of birth affect a child’s chances of developing asthma?

Regular Question: What year was metformin approved by the U.S. Food and Drug administration?

Research Question: Why are nanomedicines, such as doxorubicin, worth developing?

Regular Question: Could citizens register to vote at branches of the Glendale Public Library in 2020?

Research Question: How do public libraries in the United States support democracy?

Regular Question: What is the Whorfian Hypothesis?

Research Question: Why have linguists cared about the Whorfian hypothesis?

Regular Question: Where is the Apple, Inc. home office?

Research Question: Why are Apple’s marketing efforts so successful?

Regular Question: What is COVID-19?

Research Question: How could decision making about whether to declare a pandemic be improved?

Regular Question: Does MLA style recommend the use of generic male pronouns intended to refer to both males and females?

Research Question: How do age, gender, IQ, and socioeconomic status affect whether students interpret generic male pronouns as referring to both males and females?

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Key Practices that Inform the Nature of Healthy Leadership [The Questions]

Addressing the questions that inform sustainable practice, capacity building, and generativity..

High school teacher leading a blended learning class

Healthy Leadership Blog Series By Dr. Mark MCaslin

In this issue of the Healthy Leadership blog, a discussion surrounding the key potentiating questions that provide the foundation of the key practices that inform the nature of healthy leadership are introduced. These questions inform sustainable practice, capacity building, and generativity.

Judge a man by his questions rather than by his answers.

Sustainable practice.

The first two Questions and the accompanying practices are foundational for creating and maintaining healthy leadership. Healthy leadership is comprised of five integrated practices: Deep Understanding, Critical Reflection, Maturity, Empowerment, and Generativity .

Each practice holds a question that grounds the leader/potentiator in preparation for building sustainable systems and connects the leader/potentiator in anticipation of building the capacity for generativity.  Deep Understanding and Critical Reflection build a sustainable foundation for the potentiator . Let's examine each question below.

research questions 1

1. Am I ready to learn?

When we respond affirmatively to this question, we open ourselves to understanding another’s actions and reactions to any given event, problem, or opportunity. Correspondently, the practice of Deep Understanding is a way to answer this question in a healthy, generative fashion .

As a potentiating practice, Deep Understanding embraces a conscious movement away from prejudgment of potential toward a deeper awareness of the possibilities held by another and self. Deeply rooted in empathy, it is not a directive or controlling stance but a purposeful probe into the meaning of the experience shared with another. It supports the actualization of human potential without a need to define, confine, or refine it. As a practice, it empowers creativity, curiosity, and wonder. It compassionately and intelligently opens us up to learn.

In future issues, we will discuss the heavy propositions . We will also confront the specter of desperate neutrality and its effects on human potential.

research questions 1

2. Am I ready to become critically and creatively self-aware?

When responding affirmatively to this question, we put our learning and curiosity to work in the world. The way of wonder opened in Deep Understanding gives way to wisdom through the practice of Critical Reflection , the purposeful act we take to deeply connect with where we are as a learner.

Through Critical Reflection, we become more deeply aware of our purpose and place and the impact of our interactions on others and our environment. What separates Critical Reflection from other types of learning or reflection is its deep probing into our individually held assumptions concerning how we interact with others. It is a very personal practice aimed at revealing a deeper self-awareness.

In future issues, we will discuss the importance of ethical individuality . It is not a matter of what a person may know that is important—it is what they believe. Pragmatically speaking, practicing Critical Reflection begins by exploring and constructing our unique philosophy of life.

Capacity Building

research questions 1

The foundational practices of Deep Understanding and Critical Reflection yield a mature, sustainable, empowering presence as we engage them. They instill a depth of understanding that yields us emotional agility, greater awareness of our environment, and insight into our impact as leaders, teachers, parents and community builders.

The following two Questions ask us to take our practice directly into the community of practice. While the first two practices are foundational for healthy leadership, the next two, Maturity and Empowerment , address how we put those skills to work as leaders, as they concern the act of leading. They are purposed at building the capacity of the community of practice through healthy leadership.

research questions 1

3.  Am I ready to lead?

This question calls for a mature response. By practicing Maturity , we recognize and appreciate the creative efforts of another and the good person in another, even when that other is shrouded in the fog of self-doubt, self-deception, self-destruction, and self-reproach.

We know that beneath those exteriors is always a better explanation and deeper meaning for a person’s poor and/or unhealthy behavior than what readily appears on the surface. By practicing Maturity , the leader/potentiator r ealizes the emotional agility necessary to lead a community of potential toward its greatest potential.

As we practice Maturity, we continuously apply our foundational practices, Deep Understanding and Critical Reflection , and we prepare to build the capacity of the community of practice through Empowerment. Maturity thus generates A wareness, I nsight, and D iscernment ( AID ).

research questions 1

4. Am I ready to embrace a potentiating consciousness?

A growing sense of self and self-responsibility is a product of our practicing Deep Understanding, Critical Reflection , and Maturity . We practice Empowerment because it promotes balance and inspires a permeating sense of calm for the leader/potentiator . It builds the capacity for right action while instilling an inner resilience for when things go wrong.

Maturity is a gateway practice that promotes the potentiating actions of Empowerment. The harvest waiting for those practicing Empowerment is a greater reach into the gifts of potential within ourselves and those we lead.

Practicing Empowerment is also a way to cultivate and sustain the authentic self. Through this practice, our thoughts, words, and deeds align. It is a way toward our highest self based on our willingness to build potentiating relationships. Empowerment is fundamentally a relationship-building skill centered upon self-exploration and emotional intelligence. This practice focuses on building effective relationships .


research questions 1

To participate fully within a community of potential while elevating healthy leadership is to achieve a healthy balance. The quintessential practice of Generativity concerns empowering creativity and innovation. From this perspective, I hope we might illuminate real solutions for today and tomorrow.

5. Am I ready to explore the farther reaches of healthy leadership?

Answering affirmatively, we connect the potentiating circle. Just as graffiti begets graffiti, potential begets potential, and we are drawn toward the light of our greatest potential. Generativity leads to healthy, sustainable leadership. Becoming a healthy leader requires integral support from the practices of Deep Understanding, Critical Reflection, Maturity, and Empowerment . Generativity fuses these practices, as they work best in concert. The practice of Generativity concerns itself with thriving. Generativity is a purposeful interdependent activity that catalyzes the principled response and responsibility that yields healthy leadership.

In future issues of this Blog, we will take a deeper dive into each of these potentiating practices. Healthy Leadership begins as a powerful form of constructive and transformative self-leadership. This discipline, achieved through practice, yields the sustainable foundations others are seeking and at the same time models good and healthy practices for those they lead.

Are you ready to learn?

[Download Dr. McCaslin's Leadership Practices Document]

research questions 1


Dr. Mark McCaslin

Dr. Mark McCaslin is a academic leader with a rich history of teaching, educational programming, and administration. His personal and professional interests flow around the development of philosophies, principles, and practices dedicated to the full actualization of human potential. The focus of his research has centered upon healthy organizational leadership and educational approaches that foster a more holistic approach towards the actualization of that potential. At the apex of his current teaching, writing, and research is the emergence of healthy leadership and the potentiating arts.


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4 Reasons Why Managers Fail

  • Swagatam Basu,
  • Atrijit Das,
  • Vitorio Bretas,
  • Jonah Shepp

research questions 1

Nearly half of all managers report buckling under the stress of their role and struggling to deliver.

Gartner research has found that managers today are accountable for 51% more responsibilities than they can effectively manage — and they’re starting to buckle under the pressure: 54% are suffering from work-induced stress and fatigue, and 44% are struggling to provide personalized support to their direct reports. Ultimately, one in five managers said they would prefer not being people managers given a choice. Further analysis found that 48% of managers are at risk of failure based on two criteria: 1) inconsistency in current performance and 2) lack of confidence in the manager’s ability to lead the team to future success. This article offers four predictors of manager failure and offers suggestions for organizations on how to address them.

The job of the manager has become unmanageable. Organizations are becoming flatter every year. The average manager’s number of direct reports has increased by 2.8 times over the last six years, according to Gartner research. In the past few years alone, many managers have had to make a series of pivots — from moving to remote work to overseeing hybrid teams to implementing return-to-office mandates.

research questions 1

  • Swagatam Basu is senior director of research in the Gartner HR practice and has spent nearly a decade researching leader and manager effectiveness. His work spans additional HR topics including learning and development, employee experience and recruiting. Swagatam specializes in research involving extensive quantitative analysis, structured and unstructured data mining and predictive modeling.
  • Atrijit Das is a senior specialist, quantitative analytics and data science, in the Gartner HR practice. He drives data-based research that produces actionable insights on core HR topics including performance management, learning and development, and change management.
  • Vitorio Bretas is a director in the Gartner HR practice, supporting HR executives in the execution of their most critical business strategies. He focuses primarily on leader and manager effectiveness and recruiting. Vitorio helps organizations get the most from their talent acquisition and leader effectiveness initiatives.
  • Jonah Shepp is a senior principal, research in the Gartner HR practice. He edits the Gartner  HR Leaders Monthly  journal, covering HR best practices on topics ranging from talent acquisition and leadership to total rewards and the future of work. An accomplished writer and editor, his work has appeared in numerous publications, including  New York   Magazine ,  Politico   Magazine ,  GQ , and  Slate .

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Congress questions US funding for 'potentially dangerous' Chinese bird flu research

by JACKSON WALKER | The National Desk

In this photo released by Xinhua News Agency, Yang Hongke checks on test samples at a testing lab of KingMed Diagnostics Group Co., Ltd. in Shijiazhuang in northern China's Hebei Province on Saturday, Jan. 9, 2021. (Mu Yu/Xinhua via AP)

WASHINGTON (TND) — Congressional lawmakers sent a letter to USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack last week demanding answers after learning of the agency’s cooperation with Chinese-backed bird flu research.

The letter , spearheaded by Rep. Nick Langworthy, R-N.Y., included claims the USDA is sending taxpayer dollars to the Chinese Communist Party-backed Chinese Academy of Science (CAS) to research the evolution of bird flu. This research, lawmakers claim, could threaten national security and public health with its resemblance to coronavirus research at the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV).

The CAS is the CCP-linked parent organization of the WIV,” they wrote. “CAS is mentioned by name in the notice barring WIV from future U.S. government funding for blatantly violating grant and biosafety policies, refusing to share lab notebooks and other data, and otherwise obstructing investigations into the likely role of the lab’s risky coronavirus GOF research in the origin of COVID-19.”

The lawmakers demanded answers to seven questions regarding the safety of the USDA’s partnership, oversight of the project and whether the FBI was involved in the matter.

“It’s simple,” Rep. Langworthy wrote via X. “Our taxpayer dollars should never be sent to the CCP, especially for high-risk virus research. #NeverAgain.”

The letter comes as lawmakers are continuing to probe the origin and response to the novel coronavirus. Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., last week announced new findings that may prove Americans had been "lied" to about the disease.

“Fauci lied about COVID,” Sen. Paul wrote. “Fauci’s NIH lab was a partner with Wuhan on a proposal to engineer a highly transmissible coronavirus in 2018. But he wasn’t alone, 15 government agencies knew about it and said nothing. Americans deserve answers.”

The letter was signed by a group of 18 lawmakers, including Rep. Josh Gottheimer, D-N.J.

Follow Jackson Walker on X at @_jlwalker_ for the latest trending national news. Have a news tip? Send it to [email protected].


  1. Research Questions

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  2. How to Develop a Strong Research Question

    research questions 1

  3. Research Question: Definition, Types, Examples, Quick Tips

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  4. How to Write a Good Research Question (w/ Examples)

    research questions 1

  5. Research Questions

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  6. What Is a Research Question? Tips on How to Find Interesting Topics

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  1. Choosing a Research Question: Introduction to Choosing a Research Topic Part 1

  2. Cameroon Programs

  3. The Research Process: Finding Answers in School and in Life

  4. Basic Research Questions

  5. Develop STRONG Research Questions for your Research Papers and Essays

  6. How to Write Chapter 1


  1. 10 Research Question Examples to Guide your Research Project

    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.

  2. Research Question Examples ‍

    A well-crafted research question (or set of questions) sets the stage for a robust study and meaningful insights. But, if you're new to research, it's not always clear what exactly constitutes a good research question. In this post, we'll provide you with clear examples of quality research questions across various disciplines, so that you can approach your research project with confidence!

  3. How to Write a Research Question: Types and Examples

    A research question is a clear, focused, concise, and arguable question on which your research and writing are centered. 1 It states various aspects of the study, including the population and variables to be studied and the problem the study addresses. These questions also set the boundaries of the study, ensuring cohesion.

  4. Research Question 101

    As the name suggests, these types of research questions seek to explore the relationships between variables. Here, an example could be something like "What is the relationship between X and Y" or "Does A have an impact on B". As you can see, these types of research questions are interested in understanding how constructs or variables ...

  5. Research Questions

    Definition: Research questions are the specific questions that guide a research study or inquiry. These questions help to define the scope of the research and provide a clear focus for the study. Research questions are usually developed at the beginning of a research project and are designed to address a particular research problem or objective.

  6. The Writing Center

    Most professional researchers focus on topics they are genuinely interested in studying. Writers should choose a broad topic about which they genuinely would like to know more. An example of a general topic might be "Slavery in the American South" or "Films of the 1930s.". Do some preliminary research on your general topic.

  7. How to Write a Research Question in 2024: Types, Steps, and Examples

    Creating a research question can be a tricky process, but there is a specific method you can follow to ease the process. The following steps will guide you on how to formulate a research question: 1. Start with a broad topic. A broad topic provides writers with plenty of avenues to explore in their search for a viable research question.

  8. Research Question: Definition, Types, Examples, Quick Tips

    There are two types of research: Qualitative research and Quantitative research. There must be research questions for every type of research. Your research question will be based on the type of research you want to conduct and the type of data collection. The first step in designing research involves identifying a gap and creating a focused ...

  9. Research Questions

    Defines the scope and focus of the study. The research question helps to define the scope and focus of the study. It identifies the specific topic or issue that the researcher wants to investigate, and it sets the boundaries for the study. A research question can also help you determine if your study primarily contributes to theory or is more ...

  10. Research Questions, Objectives & Aims (+ Examples)

    For most biomedical research projects, including 'real research', 1-3 research questions will suffice (numbers may differ by discipline). Reply. Abdella on January 27, 2024 at 1:51 pm Awesome! Very important resources and presented in an informative way to easily understand the golden thread.

  11. How to Write a Good Research Question (w/ Examples)

    It can be difficult to come up with a good research question, but there are a few steps you can follow to make it a bit easier. 1. Start with an interesting and relevant topic. Choose a research topic that is interesting but also relevant and aligned with your own country's culture or your university's capabilities.

  12. Research Questions: Definitions, Types + [Examples]

    A qualitative research question is a type of systematic inquiry that aims at collecting qualitative data from research subjects. The aim of qualitative research questions is to gather non-statistical information pertaining to the experiences, observations, and perceptions of the research subjects in line with the objectives of the investigation.

  13. 1.6: Developing Your Research Question

    Steps for Developing a Research Question. The steps for developing a research question, listed below, can help you organize your thoughts. Step 1: Pick a topic (or consider the one assigned to you). Step 2: Write a narrower/smaller topic that is related to the first. Step 3: List some potential questions that could logically be asked in relation to the narrow topic.

  14. Research Questions: Definition, Writing Guide + Examples

    A research question is the main query that researchers seek to answer in their study. It serves as the basis for a scholarly project such as research paper, thesis or dissertation. A good research question should be clear, relevant and specific enough to guide the research process. It should also be open-ended, meaning that it allows for ...

  15. Research Questions: Definition, Types, and How to Write One

    Good research question should be: 1. Clear and easy to understand without the need for additional explanation. 2. Relevant to your field of study. 3. Arguable and open for debate, not acceptable as fast. 4. Focused enough so you can answer it thoroughly and concisely in fewest words possible.

  16. 1.3: The Purpose of Research Questions

    Teaching & Learning and University Libraries. Research questions are very important. Both professional researchers and successful student researchers develop research questions. That's because research questions are more than handy tools; they are essential to the research process. By defining exactly what the researcher is trying to find out ...

  17. 113 Great Research Paper Topics

    Even great research paper topics won't give you a great research paper if you don't hone your topic before and during the writing process. Follow these three tips to turn good research paper topics into great papers. #1: Figure Out Your Thesis Early. Before you start writing a single word of your paper, you first need to know what your thesis ...

  18. 1. Research Question

    A research question is the main question you propose to answer in your research paper. While formulating a research question may initially seem to the easiest part of conducting research, it may cost you valuable hours if you begin your research without a clear focus. Research questions... How do female managers' work-life balance decisions ...

  19. Formulating Strong Research Questions: Examples and Writing Tips

    The research question is normally one of the major components of the final paragraph of the introduction section. We will look at the examples of the entire final paragraph of the introduction along with the research questions to put things into perspective. 2.1. Example #1 (Health sciences research paper)

  20. Research questions, hypotheses and objectives

    Research question. Interest in a particular topic usually begins the research process, but it is the familiarity with the subject that helps define an appropriate research question for a study. 1 Questions then arise out of a perceived knowledge deficit within a subject area or field of study. 2 Indeed, Haynes suggests that it is important to know "where the boundary between current ...

  21. About 1 in 4 public school teachers experienced a ...

    This question was asked of all parents with a child younger than 18, regardless of whether they have a child in K-12 schools. Like teachers, parents' views on strategies for preventing school shootings differed by party. Note: Here are the questions used for this analysis, along with responses, and the survey methodology.

  22. Two key brain systems are central to psychosis, Stanford Medicine-led

    The study was funded by the Stanford Maternal and Child Health Research Institute's Uytengsu-Hamilton 22q11 Neuropsychiatry Research Program, FONDEYCT (the National Fund for Scientific and Technological Development of the government of Chile), ANID-Chile (the Chilean National Agency for Research and Development) and the U.S. National ...

  23. Healey announces $3 million in grants for women's health research

    Women's health is getting a big boost from Gov. Maura Healey's administration. The governor on Tuesday announced nearly $3 million in grant money to support 15 projects, including efforts to diagnose and treat endometriosis, develop less invasive screenings for cervical cancer, and advance new technologies to better understand pregnancy risks. ...

  24. Investing in the Great Outdoors

    A 2019 economic impact study conducted by the University of Richmond in partnership with the Institute for Service Research found that visitors to the Virginia Capital Trail in 2018-2019 spent an estimated $6.1 million in the state, mostly within a 50-mile radius of the trail. Attracting Newcomers

  25. 1.5: Regular vs. Research Questions

    Research and Information Literacy. Choosing Using Sources: A Guide to Academic Research. 1: The Research Process and Research Questions. 1.5: Regular vs. Research Questions. Expand/collapse global location.

  26. Key Practices that Inform the Nature of Healthy Leadership:Questions

    Through Critical Reflection, we become more deeply aware of our purpose and place and the impact of our interactions on others and our environment. What separates Critical Reflection from other types of learning or reflection is its deep probing into our individually held assumptions concerning how we interact with others. It is a very personal practice aimed at revealing a deeper self-awareness.

  27. 4 Reasons Why Managers Fail

    Gartner research has found that managers today are accountable for 51% more responsibilities than they can effectively manage — and they're starting to buckle under the pressure: 54% are ...

  28. Congress questions US funding for 'potentially dangerous' Chinese bird

    The lawmakers demanded answers to seven questions regarding the safety of the USDA's partnership, oversight of the project and whether the FBI was involved in the matter. "It's simple," Rep. Langworthy wrote via X. "Our taxpayer dollars should never be sent to the CCP, especially for high-risk virus research. #NeverAgain."

  29. One in five young adults has fatty liver

    Image caption, Prof Nic Timpson, principal investigator at Children of the 90s, says the data "will enable life-changing research" One in five young adults has evidence of fatty liver disease ...