The Research Process

From Topic to Research Question

Once you have decided on a research topic – an area for academic exploration that matters to you – it is time to start thinking about how you will approach the research for that topic. The goal of college level research assignments is never going to be to simply “go find sources” on your topic.

Instead, you need to think of sources as helping you to answer a research question or a series of research questions about your topic. These should not be simple questions with simple answers, but rather complex questions about which there is no easy or obvious answer.

A compelling research question is one that may involve controversy, or may have a variety of answers, or may not have any single, clear answer. All of that is okay and even desirable.

Make sure that your research question is clear, specific, researchable and limited (but not too limited). Here is a deeper explanation of what a good research question is as well as examples of strong research questions: