What makes a good research question?

This question “What makes a good research question?” is important to me, as I hope to take the Thesis Steam in this program and am currently communicating with the Director of the Educational Informatics Laboratory (EILab) at the UOIT Faculty of Education, to see how I can stay connected and involved with the institution I completed my undergraduate degree with.

During my undergraduate degree, we had a Thesis I and Thesis II course, where we were able to complete either primary or secondary research. This is not to the extent of a full graduate level Thesis; however, it does allow students to get a better understanding of what a Thesis would entail and allow students to become more comfortable in completing primary research in the future.

Similar to what I learned in my Previous Studies, The Royal Roads Writing Centre states that “A research question should:

  • Be clear and specific
  • State the focus of investigation in the research
  • Not be answerable with a yes/no response” (“Thesis statements/Research questions”, ” n.d.).

It is important for the research question to involve proper research and analysis of the data collected. In order to do so, the research question should not have a simple yes or no response and needs to be clear and concise. In certain cases, primary questions can be more broad, with secondary questions being used to be more clear and concise.

The research questions are what the entire study will be around and it is important that time and effort is put into ensuring the questions are refined before proceeding with the research. Additionally, secondary research should occur towards the beginning of your project to find the current state of research on the topic you are interested in. This could help guide your overall research question or allow you to become more concise with a specific area of a topic.

If you are looking for additional assistance with writing your research question, reach out to The Writing Centre. This free service to students can assist you with becoming more well-versed in the art of writing good research questions.


Thesis statements/Research questions/Problem statements. (n.d.). Retrieved July 14, 2018, from http://library.royalroads.ca/writing-centre/writing/structure/thesis-statements


One thought on “What makes a good research question?

  • Deborah Zornes says:

    Good strong post Brandon and excellent points regarding what makes a good research question. Other things to keep in mind include finding a topic that you yourself are interested in as you’ll be focused on that topic for a considerable amount of time, and making sure that the question isn’t a leading question. By that I mean to make sure that the question and the research are designed so that you are open to what the research tells you. Sometimes a question is designed to try to prove what the researcher wants to be true, and data is gathered to reinforce that view. This is why we try and design questions that start with ‘in what ways might’ or ‘how might’.

    Good post!

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