The first step in formulating a good research question is to read and review lots of literature related to your topic of concern. It is also a good idea to read some current literature or recent literature to acquaint yourself with the type of researches being done. Ther are many other ways in which you can come up to a manageable and specific research question that can be answered in a given time period through your research. A research question that can minimize confusion in the later steps of your research.
One thing to understand before formulating the research question is that a good research question is a half success of your research, while a poorly formulated research question means that the research is going to be a disaster. A poorly designed research question makes the research process difficult and cumbersome as the researcher cannot get the hang of what he should do and in which direction he should lead his research as it proceeds to each new step. This is a very common problem with the novice researchers or students. Therefore, the importance of formulating a good research question is greater than any other step in the research.
How to formulate a good research question
Choose a research area
This step is usually predecided as the researcher knows in which field he wants to conduct the study. Usually, if the study has to be conducted for college term paper the field of study is decided by the researcher with the help of the supervisor or the teacher in charge of the research. The field of study is always broad and at first the researcher might feel like as if he is attending the first day in his college. There is so much on which he can conduct the research, but he has limited time and other resources. He has to select a very specific topic that is manageable and easy to conduct.
Select a research topic
In general, any question can be answered through research, still, research cannot be conducted on any topic. The topic needs to be one that can be managed within given time period and available resources. For college term paper, the student has a very limited time, he ahs to choose a specific topic that targets a single problem rather than a diversified topic. The research topic that he selects in this phase is still very broad and he might need to dissect and make it specific.
The process for selecting a research topic can be any, the researcher can select a research topic randomly from several topics that he has studied. Alternatively, he can do brainstorming, this can be a good idea if the researcher is unable to decide about the research topic.. Brainstorming helps the researcher/student in reaching a conclusion about the research topic.
Review literature of your interest
The reason of reviewing the literature is that you broaden your knowledge in your field of study. Specifically, you get to know about the research questions that have been raised in the past and the answers that have been concluded through research. The literature helps you clear any ambiguities in your mind and help you formulate a clear and specific research question. When you review the existing literature you get new ideas about the research topics and further studies that can be undertaken by you. Review of literature is a real advantage in formulating a research problem, research question and even the objectives of your research. .
Select a general topic of interest
The review of the literature gives in-depth knowledge of your subject area and it helps you in deciding a topic area. The topic area is broad, but it covers one area of study from your field of study.
Narrow down the topic
Narrowing down the topic is not a difficult task, all you have to do is dissect or branch it into as many subunits as possible. This will bring out many subtopics, from these subtopics decide about the single topic that is most desirable for your research or research paper.
Formulate several questions
You can formulate several questions, again, by brainstorming ideas. This is a good idea to have several questions in front of you to decide the right one. You can show the list of questions to your supervisor if you are not sure which one will work best.
Select one question for your research
Finally, you need to select a single research question from the list of all the questions that you have enumerated. This step finally yields the right question for your research. It does not however guarantee that the research question you have selected is the most accurate one. Your research supervisor can help you in making the final decision. There might be some ambiguities, that should be cleared now before stepping tp thew actual research.
Qualities of a good research question
Manageable means that your research question will yield a study that can be completed in a given time period and with the help of available resources. There might be very good research questions, but you need some special equipment to conduct these studies. In the absence of the proper equipment, any good research question can be unmanageable. There might be other good questions, but you might need lots of time,e to conduct such studies. Those studies that cannot be accomplished using your available resources are not manageable. They are not suitable for your research. A manageable research question, on the other hand, is one that can be conducted with the given resources.
Specific means that the research question targets a narrow and specific question that needs targeting in one direction.
Clarity is important because it helps you as well as the readers in knowing the research. For you, clarity means ease in conducting the research. A clear and precise research question helps you in avoiding ambiguities in the later stages of the research.
Simple does not necessarily mean that the research question should only contain easy and simple words and phrasing, but it means that you need not make it complex without any need. It is important that the phrasing of the research question follows grammar and is a good statement.
Ask these questions before finalizing your research question
How much time?
How much time your research will take to be completed? This is very important question because you are given a specific time period.
You also need to decide the place where the study has to be conducted. Is it possible to conduct the research there? There should have to be no disputes or conflicts.
What is the event, situation or phenomenon that you want to study? Is it a suitable situation to be studied or not?
What will be the target population and the selected sample? Is the population accessible and other questions like this.