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New College Writing Program Library Guide

Developing a Research Question Tutorial

Sample Research Questions

What are the most effective dietary changes for treating depression and anxiety?

How can we best measure climate change in Sonoran desert regions?

What kinds of learners are most successful in online environments?

What kind of training would best prepare local law enforcement and service providers to identify and respond to cases of human trafficking that might otherwise go unnoticed or unaddressed?

What cultural factors have led to the rise in popularity of zombie film, fiction, and television?

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Final Note

Please note that the most effective research questions are complicated; they are not “Yes-or-No” queries. Instead, successful research questions are capable of opening multiple discussions, possibilities, and perspectives. Moreover, as we will soon discover, a successful research question is also malleable and revisable.

Formulating a Research Question

Why a Research Question?

One way university-level writing differs from high-school compositions has to do with this thing we call a Research Question. In high school, for instance, you became skilled at answering questions, questions oftentimes posted by someone other than yourself. As a student at ASU, you must decide which questions to ask as well as which questions to answer. This responsibility in both asking and answering questions is one of the reasons your research question for this course should be developed with thoughtful deliberation. Carefully considering this process of inquiry will lead to the thesis that will ultimately drive your essay. And finally, a clear understanding and connection to a particular topic will help move you to action in the form of research. 

A Successful Research Question:

  • Has significance for you
  • Warrants attention from others
  • Has identifiable consequences and effects
  • Recognizes its context (historical, social, personal, scientific, etc.)
  • Leads to possible outcomes and/or solutions. 

Before finalizing a Research Question, you must think carefully about issues that appeal and matter to you. In addition, you must also do some initial research and reading in the form of finding background informaton. This early research will help you formulate a research question that truly reflects your interests and concerns. 

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