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Creating Research Questions

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William Badke

on 28 September 2014

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Transcript of Creating Research Questions

Research is not a compilation exercise but an opportunity to address an issue or solve a problem.
Creating Research Questions
It starts with getting a solid working knowledge of your topic from reference sources

For example, you could write on climate change by explaining that some people argue that climate change is a natural phenomenon while most people argue that current climate change is largely the result of damaging human activity.

But that is simply telling the story again. Your paper has to go beyond just rehashing existing information.
You need to find a problem, a challenge, a controversy, something new.
How about these (better and cooler) options?
In every case you want something that:
Research is not a matter of reading up on a topic and reporting on what you have read.
You do this by assessing what you already know and looking for points of disagreement or gaps in knowledge.

But you don't want something you can just look up, e.g. What is the current
thinking about climate change?
1. How valid is the argument that current climate change is a natural phenomenon?

2. Are the significant expenses for overcoming climate change good or bad for the economy in the long run?

3. Why are governments so slow in acting with regard to climate change, given the growing evidence of the risks the planet faces?


You do not want a survey of the topic, nor do you want to compile existing data, thus doing little analysis of your own.
1. Is researchable.
2. Is not obvious.
3. Is narrow in focus.
4. Has some chance of leading to a definite conclusion
1. Get a working knowledge of your topic.
2. Narrow your focus by finding a problem or issue to address.
3. Formulate a single, clear question that states the goal of your quest.
From A Dictionary of Ecology (Oxford, 2010)
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