Research Question


  • statement of what the research sets out to achieve
  • sates the purpose of the research
  • usually one aim is sufficient. In larger scope works one can have around 3 aims

Do not write ”investigate” in your aims because this is not an aim, but the whole process


  • smaller scope concrete little aims
  • usually 3 ot 5 objectives
  • can build consecutively upon each other


  • Specific: as focused as possible
  • Measurable: so that progress can be stated in terms of meeting or exceeding the objectives
  • Agreed by all concerned
  • Realistic: challenging, but doable with the resources
  • Time specific: if relevant, should give a time limit

Long term goals

  • Relate to the impact and the relevance of the research after the project is over
  • They are a logical extension of research question, hypothesis and aims.
  • Too general would be ”What is going on here?”

Good research questions

  • Relevant
  • Manageable in terms of research and in terms of your own academic abilities
  • Substantial and with original dimensions
  • Consistent with the requirements of the assessment
  • Clear and simple
  • Interesting


  • should be of academic and intellectual interest to people in your field of study
  • rises from issues raised in literature or in practice

Clear purpose in relation to field of study

  • Filling gap in knowledge
  • Analysing academic assumptions
  • analysing professional practice
  • Monitoring a development in practice
  • Comparing different approaches


  • Be realistic about scope and scale of project
  • Question should be within your capability
  • can your access the required resources and methods?
  • Do you have sufficient time?


  • Needs to reflect your own imagination
  • Needs sufficient scope for a dissertation/report
  • Should show ability to construct research issues
  • Do not be too simplistic

Consistant with assessment

  • Depends on your subject course module
  • Needs to fulfil the objective

Clear and simple

  • A complex resaerch question could hide unclear thoughts
  • Complex research question may be split into several parts
  • Better: consider simple question this will allow a simple answer
  • Question may be revised during literature review, as you come across data and evidence which make you change your research direction


  • Should be intriguing
  • should be of interest to you

How to find a research question

  • Choose an interesting topic
  • Do some preliminary research on this topic
  1. Which question do arise
  2. What has already been done/
  3. Which questions does this early research raise?
  • Consider your audience – would they be interested in these questions?
  • Start asking questions yourself ”how” ”why” choose one question



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