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10 Research Question Examples to Guide your Research Project

Published on October 30, 2022 by Shona McCombes . Revised on October 19, 2023.

The research question is one of the most important parts of your research paper , thesis or dissertation . It’s important to spend some time assessing and refining your question before you get started.

The exact form of your question will depend on a few things, such as the length of your project, the type of research you’re conducting, the topic , and the research problem . However, all research questions should be focused, specific, and relevant to a timely social or scholarly issue.

Once you’ve read our guide on how to write a research question , you can use these examples to craft your own.

Note that the design of your research question can depend on what method you are pursuing. Here are a few options for qualitative, quantitative, and statistical research questions.

Other interesting articles

If you want to know more about the research process , methodology , research bias , or statistics , make sure to check out some of our other articles with explanations and examples.


  • Sampling methods
  • Simple random sampling
  • Stratified sampling
  • Cluster sampling
  • Likert scales
  • Reproducibility


  • Null hypothesis
  • Statistical power
  • Probability distribution
  • Effect size
  • Poisson distribution

Research bias

  • Optimism bias
  • Cognitive bias
  • Implicit bias
  • Hawthorne effect
  • Anchoring bias
  • Explicit bias

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How to Write a Good Research Question (w/ Examples)

good research question examples

What is a Research Question?

A research question is the main question that your study sought or is seeking to answer. A clear research question guides your research paper or thesis and states exactly what you want to find out, giving your work a focus and objective. Learning  how to write a hypothesis or research question is the start to composing any thesis, dissertation, or research paper. It is also one of the most important sections of a research proposal . 

A good research question not only clarifies the writing in your study; it provides your readers with a clear focus and facilitates their understanding of your research topic, as well as outlining your study’s objectives. Before drafting the paper and receiving research paper editing (and usually before performing your study), you should write a concise statement of what this study intends to accomplish or reveal.

Research Question Writing Tips

Listed below are the important characteristics of a good research question:

A good research question should:

  • Be clear and provide specific information so readers can easily understand the purpose.
  • Be focused in its scope and narrow enough to be addressed in the space allowed by your paper
  • Be relevant and concise and express your main ideas in as few words as possible, like a hypothesis.
  • Be precise and complex enough that it does not simply answer a closed “yes or no” question, but requires an analysis of arguments and literature prior to its being considered acceptable. 
  • Be arguable or testable so that answers to the research question are open to scrutiny and specific questions and counterarguments.

Some of these characteristics might be difficult to understand in the form of a list. Let’s go into more detail about what a research question must do and look at some examples of research questions.

The research question should be specific and focused 

Research questions that are too broad are not suitable to be addressed in a single study. One reason for this can be if there are many factors or variables to consider. In addition, a sample data set that is too large or an experimental timeline that is too long may suggest that the research question is not focused enough.

A specific research question means that the collective data and observations come together to either confirm or deny the chosen hypothesis in a clear manner. If a research question is too vague, then the data might end up creating an alternate research problem or hypothesis that you haven’t addressed in your Introduction section .

The research question should be based on the literature 

An effective research question should be answerable and verifiable based on prior research because an effective scientific study must be placed in the context of a wider academic consensus. This means that conspiracy or fringe theories are not good research paper topics.

Instead, a good research question must extend, examine, and verify the context of your research field. It should fit naturally within the literature and be searchable by other research authors.

References to the literature can be in different citation styles and must be properly formatted according to the guidelines set forth by the publishing journal, university, or academic institution. This includes in-text citations as well as the Reference section . 

The research question should be realistic in time, scope, and budget

There are two main constraints to the research process: timeframe and budget.

A proper research question will include study or experimental procedures that can be executed within a feasible time frame, typically by a graduate doctoral or master’s student or lab technician. Research that requires future technology, expensive resources, or follow-up procedures is problematic.

A researcher’s budget is also a major constraint to performing timely research. Research at many large universities or institutions is publicly funded and is thus accountable to funding restrictions. 

The research question should be in-depth

Research papers, dissertations and theses , and academic journal articles are usually dozens if not hundreds of pages in length.

A good research question or thesis statement must be sufficiently complex to warrant such a length, as it must stand up to the scrutiny of peer review and be reproducible by other scientists and researchers.

Research Question Types

Qualitative and quantitative research are the two major types of research, and it is essential to develop research questions for each type of study. 

Quantitative Research Questions

Quantitative research questions are specific. A typical research question involves the population to be studied, dependent and independent variables, and the research design.

In addition, quantitative research questions connect the research question and the research design. In addition, it is not possible to answer these questions definitively with a “yes” or “no” response. For example, scientific fields such as biology, physics, and chemistry often deal with “states,” in which different quantities, amounts, or velocities drastically alter the relevance of the research.

As a consequence, quantitative research questions do not contain qualitative, categorical, or ordinal qualifiers such as “is,” “are,” “does,” or “does not.”

Categories of quantitative research questions

Qualitative research questions.

In quantitative research, research questions have the potential to relate to broad research areas as well as more specific areas of study. Qualitative research questions are less directional, more flexible, and adaptable compared with their quantitative counterparts. Thus, studies based on these questions tend to focus on “discovering,” “explaining,” “elucidating,” and “exploring.”

Categories of qualitative research questions

Quantitative and qualitative research question examples.

stacks of books in black and white; research question examples

Good and Bad Research Question Examples

Below are some good (and not-so-good) examples of research questions that researchers can use to guide them in crafting their own research questions.

Research Question Example 1

The first research question is too vague in both its independent and dependent variables. There is no specific information on what “exposure” means. Does this refer to comments, likes, engagement, or just how much time is spent on the social media platform?

Second, there is no useful information on what exactly “affected” means. Does the subject’s behavior change in some measurable way? Or does this term refer to another factor such as the user’s emotions?

Research Question Example 2

In this research question, the first example is too simple and not sufficiently complex, making it difficult to assess whether the study answered the question. The author could really only answer this question with a simple “yes” or “no.” Further, the presence of data would not help answer this question more deeply, which is a sure sign of a poorly constructed research topic.

The second research question is specific, complex, and empirically verifiable. One can measure program effectiveness based on metrics such as attendance or grades. Further, “bullying” is made into an empirical, quantitative measurement in the form of recorded disciplinary actions.

Steps for Writing a Research Question

Good research questions are relevant, focused, and meaningful. It can be difficult to come up with a good research question, but there are a few steps you can follow to make it a bit easier.

1. Start with an interesting and relevant topic

Choose a research topic that is interesting but also relevant and aligned with your own country’s culture or your university’s capabilities. Popular academic topics include healthcare and medical-related research. However, if you are attending an engineering school or humanities program, you should obviously choose a research question that pertains to your specific study and major.

Below is an embedded graph of the most popular research fields of study based on publication output according to region. As you can see, healthcare and the basic sciences receive the most funding and earn the highest number of publications. 

good research question examples

2. Do preliminary research  

You can begin doing preliminary research once you have chosen a research topic. Two objectives should be accomplished during this first phase of research. First, you should undertake a preliminary review of related literature to discover issues that scholars and peers are currently discussing. With this method, you show that you are informed about the latest developments in the field.

Secondly, identify knowledge gaps or limitations in your topic by conducting a preliminary literature review . It is possible to later use these gaps to focus your research question after a certain amount of fine-tuning.

3. Narrow your research to determine specific research questions

You can focus on a more specific area of study once you have a good handle on the topic you want to explore. Focusing on recent literature or knowledge gaps is one good option. 

By identifying study limitations in the literature and overlooked areas of study, an author can carve out a good research question. The same is true for choosing research questions that extend or complement existing literature.

4. Evaluate your research question

Make sure you evaluate the research question by asking the following questions:

Is my research question clear?

The resulting data and observations that your study produces should be clear. For quantitative studies, data must be empirical and measurable. For qualitative, the observations should be clearly delineable across categories.

Is my research question focused and specific?

A strong research question should be specific enough that your methodology or testing procedure produces an objective result, not one left to subjective interpretation. Open-ended research questions or those relating to general topics can create ambiguous connections between the results and the aims of the study. 

Is my research question sufficiently complex?

The result of your research should be consequential and substantial (and fall sufficiently within the context of your field) to warrant an academic study. Simply reinforcing or supporting a scientific consensus is superfluous and will likely not be well received by most journal editors.  

reverse triangle chart, how to write a research question

Editing Your Research Question

Your research question should be fully formulated well before you begin drafting your research paper. However, you can receive English paper editing and proofreading services at any point in the drafting process. Language editors with expertise in your academic field can assist you with the content and language in your Introduction section or other manuscript sections. And if you need further assistance or information regarding paper compositions, in the meantime, check out our academic resources , which provide dozens of articles and videos on a variety of academic writing and publication topics.

Get science-backed answers as you write with Paperpal's Research feature

How to Write a Research Question: Types and Examples 

research quetsion

The first step in any research project is framing the research question. It can be considered the core of any systematic investigation as the research outcomes are tied to asking the right questions. Thus, this primary interrogation point sets the pace for your research as it helps collect relevant and insightful information that ultimately influences your work.   

Typically, the research question guides the stages of inquiry, analysis, and reporting. Depending on the use of quantifiable or quantitative data, research questions are broadly categorized into quantitative or qualitative research questions. Both types of research questions can be used independently or together, considering the overall focus and objectives of your research.  

What is a research question?

A research question is a clear, focused, concise, and arguable question on which your research and writing are centered. 1 It states various aspects of the study, including the population and variables to be studied and the problem the study addresses. These questions also set the boundaries of the study, ensuring cohesion. 

Designing the research question is a dynamic process where the researcher can change or refine the research question as they review related literature and develop a framework for the study. Depending on the scale of your research, the study can include single or multiple research questions. 

A good research question has the following features: 

  • It is relevant to the chosen field of study. 
  • The question posed is arguable and open for debate, requiring synthesizing and analysis of ideas. 
  • It is focused and concisely framed. 
  • A feasible solution is possible within the given practical constraint and timeframe. 

A poorly formulated research question poses several risks. 1   

  • Researchers can adopt an erroneous design. 
  • It can create confusion and hinder the thought process, including developing a clear protocol.  
  • It can jeopardize publication efforts.  
  • It causes difficulty in determining the relevance of the study findings.  
  • It causes difficulty in whether the study fulfils the inclusion criteria for systematic review and meta-analysis. This creates challenges in determining whether additional studies or data collection is needed to answer the question.  
  • Readers may fail to understand the objective of the study. This reduces the likelihood of the study being cited by others. 

Now that you know “What is a research question?”, let’s look at the different types of research questions. 

Types of research questions

Depending on the type of research to be done, research questions can be classified broadly into quantitative, qualitative, or mixed-methods studies. Knowing the type of research helps determine the best type of research question that reflects the direction and epistemological underpinnings of your research. 

The structure and wording of quantitative 2 and qualitative research 3 questions differ significantly. The quantitative study looks at causal relationships, whereas the qualitative study aims at exploring a phenomenon. 

  • Quantitative research questions:  
  • Seeks to investigate social, familial, or educational experiences or processes in a particular context and/or location.  
  • Answers ‘how,’ ‘what,’ or ‘why’ questions. 
  • Investigates connections, relations, or comparisons between independent and dependent variables. 

Quantitative research questions can be further categorized into descriptive, comparative, and relationship, as explained in the Table below. 

  • Qualitative research questions  

Qualitative research questions are adaptable, non-directional, and more flexible. It concerns broad areas of research or more specific areas of study to discover, explain, or explore a phenomenon. These are further classified as follows: 

  • Mixed-methods studies  

Mixed-methods studies use both quantitative and qualitative research questions to answer your research question. Mixed methods provide a complete picture than standalone quantitative or qualitative research, as it integrates the benefits of both methods. Mixed methods research is often used in multidisciplinary settings and complex situational or societal research, especially in the behavioral, health, and social science fields. 

What makes a good research question

A good research question should be clear and focused to guide your research. It should synthesize multiple sources to present your unique argument, and should ideally be something that you are interested in. But avoid questions that can be answered in a few factual statements. The following are the main attributes of a good research question. 

  • Specific: The research question should not be a fishing expedition performed in the hopes that some new information will be found that will benefit the researcher. The central research question should work with your research problem to keep your work focused. If using multiple questions, they should all tie back to the central aim. 
  • Measurable: The research question must be answerable using quantitative and/or qualitative data or from scholarly sources to develop your research question. If such data is impossible to access, it is better to rethink your question. 
  • Attainable: Ensure you have enough time and resources to do all research required to answer your question. If it seems you will not be able to gain access to the data you need, consider narrowing down your question to be more specific. 
  • You have the expertise 
  • You have the equipment and resources 
  • Realistic: Developing your research question should be based on initial reading about your topic. It should focus on addressing a problem or gap in the existing knowledge in your field or discipline. 
  • Based on some sort of rational physics 
  • Can be done in a reasonable time frame 
  • Timely: The research question should contribute to an existing and current debate in your field or in society at large. It should produce knowledge that future researchers or practitioners can later build on. 
  • Novel 
  • Based on current technologies. 
  • Important to answer current problems or concerns. 
  • Lead to new directions. 
  • Important: Your question should have some aspect of originality. Incremental research is as important as exploring disruptive technologies. For example, you can focus on a specific location or explore a new angle. 
  • Meaningful whether the answer is “Yes” or “No.” Closed-ended, yes/no questions are too simple to work as good research questions. Such questions do not provide enough scope for robust investigation and discussion. A good research question requires original data, synthesis of multiple sources, and original interpretation and argumentation before providing an answer. 

Steps for developing a good research question

The importance of research questions cannot be understated. When drafting a research question, use the following frameworks to guide the components of your question to ease the process. 4  

  • Determine the requirements: Before constructing a good research question, set your research requirements. What is the purpose? Is it descriptive, comparative, or explorative research? Determining the research aim will help you choose the most appropriate topic and word your question appropriately. 
  • Select a broad research topic: Identify a broader subject area of interest that requires investigation. Techniques such as brainstorming or concept mapping can help identify relevant connections and themes within a broad research topic. For example, how to learn and help students learn. 
  • Perform preliminary investigation: Preliminary research is needed to obtain up-to-date and relevant knowledge on your topic. It also helps identify issues currently being discussed from which information gaps can be identified. 
  • Narrow your focus: Narrow the scope and focus of your research to a specific niche. This involves focusing on gaps in existing knowledge or recent literature or extending or complementing the findings of existing literature. Another approach involves constructing strong research questions that challenge your views or knowledge of the area of study (Example: Is learning consistent with the existing learning theory and research). 
  • Identify the research problem: Once the research question has been framed, one should evaluate it. This is to realize the importance of the research questions and if there is a need for more revising (Example: How do your beliefs on learning theory and research impact your instructional practices). 

How to write a research question

Those struggling to understand how to write a research question, these simple steps can help you simplify the process of writing a research question. 

Sample Research Questions

The following are some bad and good research question examples 

  • Example 1 
  • Example 2 


  • Thabane, L., Thomas, T., Ye, C., & Paul, J. (2009). Posing the research question: not so simple.  Canadian Journal of Anesthesia/Journal canadien d’anesthésie ,  56 (1), 71-79. 
  • Rutberg, S., & Bouikidis, C. D. (2018). Focusing on the fundamentals: A simplistic differentiation between qualitative and quantitative research.  Nephrology Nursing Journal ,  45 (2), 209-213. 
  • Kyngäs, H. (2020). Qualitative research and content analysis.  The application of content analysis in nursing science research , 3-11. 
  • Mattick, K., Johnston, J., & de la Croix, A. (2018). How to… write a good research question.  The clinical teacher ,  15 (2), 104-108. 
  • Fandino, W. (2019). Formulating a good research question: Pearls and pitfalls.  Indian Journal of Anaesthesia ,  63 (8), 611. 
  • Richardson, W. S., Wilson, M. C., Nishikawa, J., & Hayward, R. S. (1995). The well-built clinical question: a key to evidence-based decisions.  ACP journal club ,  123 (3), A12-A13 

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Examples of Good and Bad Research Questions


Written by  Scribendi

So, you've got a research grant in your sights or you've been admitted to your school of choice, and you now have to write up a proposal for the work you want to perform. You know your topic, have done some reading, and you've got a nice quiet place where nobody will bother you while you try to decide where you'll go from here. The question looms:     

What Is a Research Question?

Your research question will be your focus, the sentence you refer to when you need to remember why you're researching. It will encapsulate what drives you and be something your field needs an answer for but doesn't have yet. 

Whether it seeks to describe a phenomenon, compare things, or show how one variable influences another, a research question always does the same thing: it guides research that will be judged based on how well it addresses the question.

So, what makes a research question good or bad? This article will provide examples of good and bad research questions and use them to illustrate both of their common characteristics so that you can evaluate your research question and improve it to suit your needs.

How to Choose a Research Question

At the start of your research paper, you might be wondering, "What is a good research question?"

A good research question focuses on one researchable problem relevant to your subject area.

To write a research paper , first make sure you have a strong, relevant topic. Then, conduct some preliminary research around that topic. It's important to complete these two initial steps because your research question will be formulated based on this research.

With this in mind, let's review the steps that help us write good research questions.

1. Select a Relevant Topic

When selecting a topic to form a good research question, it helps to start broad. What topics interest you most? It helps when you care about the topic you're researching!

Have you seen a movie recently that you enjoyed? How about a news story? If you can't think of anything, research different topics on Google to see which ones intrigue you the most and can apply to your assignment.

Also, before settling on a research topic, make sure it's relevant to your subject area or to society as a whole. This is an important aspect of developing your research question, because, in general, your research should add value to existing knowledge .

2. Thoroughly Research the Topic

Now that you've chosen a broad but relevant topic for your paper, research it thoroughly to see which avenues you might want to explore further.

For example, let's say you decide on the broad topic of search engines. During this research phase, try skimming through sources that are unbiased, current, and relevant, such as academic journals or sources in your university library.

Check out: 21 Legit Research Databases for Free Articles in 2022

Pay close attention to the subtopics that come up during research, such as the following: Which search engines are the most commonly used? Why do some search engines dominate specific regions? How do they really work or affect the research of scientists and scholars?

Be on the lookout for any gaps or limitations in the research. Identifying the groups or demographics that are most affected by your topic is also helpful, in case that's relevant to your work.

3. Narrow Your Topic to a Single Point

Now that you've spent some time researching your broad topic, it's time to narrow it down to one specific subject. A topic like search engines is much too broad to develop a research paper around. What specifically about search engines could you explore?

When refining your topic, be careful not to be either too narrow or too broad. You can ask yourself the following questions during this phase:

Can I cover this topic within the scope of my paper, or would it require longer, heavier research? (In this case, you'd need to be more specific.)

Conversely, is there not enough research about my topic to write a paper? (In this case, you'd need to be broader.)

Keep these things in mind as you narrow down your topic. You can always expand your topic later if you have the time and research materials.

4. Identify a Problem Related to Your Topic

When narrowing down your topic, it helps to identify a single issue or problem on which to base your research. Ask open-ended questions, such as why is this topic important to you or others? Essentially, have you identified the answer to "so what"?

For example, after asking these questions about our search engine topic, we might focus only on the issue of how search engines affect research in a specific field. Or, more specifically, how search engine algorithms manipulate search results and prevent us from finding the critical research we need.

Asking these "so what" questions will help us brainstorm examples of research questions we can ask in our field of study.

5. Turn Your Problem into a Question

Now that you have your main issue or problem, it's time to write your research question. Do this by reviewing your topic's big problem and formulating a question that your research will answer.

For example, ask, "so what?" about your search engine topic. You might realize that the bigger issue is that you, as a researcher, aren't getting the relevant information you need from search engines.

How can we use this information to develop a research question? We might phrase the research question as follows:

"What effect does the Google search engine algorithm have on online research conducted in the field of neuroscience?"

Note how specific we were with the type of search engine, the field of study, and the research method. It's also important to remember that your research question should not have an easy yes or no answer. It should be a question with a complex answer that can be discovered through research and analysis.

Perfect Your Paper

Hire an expert academic editor , or get a free sample, how to find good research topics for your research.

It can be fun to browse a myriad of research topics for your paper, but there are a few important things to keep in mind.

First, make sure you've understood your assignment. You don't want to pick a topic that's not relevant to the assignment goal. Your instructor can offer good topic suggestions as well, so if you get stuck, ask them!

Next, try to search for a broad topic that interests you. Starting broad gives you more options to work with. Some research topic examples include infectious diseases, European history, and smartphones .

Then, after some research, narrow your topic to something specific by extracting a single element from that subject. This could be a current issue on that topic, a major question circulating around that topic, or a specific region or group of people affected by that topic.

It's important that your research topic is focused. Focus lets you clearly demonstrate your understanding of the topic with enough details and examples to fit the scope of your project.

For example, if Jane Austen is your research topic, that might be too broad for a five-page paper! However, you could narrow it down to a single book by Austen or a specific perspective.

To keep your research topic focused, try creating a mind map. This is where you put your broad topic in a circle and create a few circles around it with similar ideas that you uncovered during your research. 

Mind maps can help you visualize the connections between topics and subtopics. This could help you simplify the process of eliminating broad or uninteresting topics or help you identify new relationships between topics that you didn't previously notice. 

Keeping your research topic focused will help you when it comes to writing your research question!

2. Researchable

A researchable question should have enough available sources to fill the scope of your project without being overwhelming. If you find that the research is never-ending, you're going to be very disappointed at the end of your paper—because you won't be able to fit everything in! If you are in this fix, your research question is still too broad.

Search for your research topic's keywords in trusted sources such as journals, research databases , or dissertations in your university library. Then, assess whether the research you're finding is feasible and realistic to use.

If there's too much material out there, narrow down your topic by industry, region, or demographic. Conversely, if you don't find enough research on your topic, you'll need to go broader. Try choosing two works by two different authors instead of one, or try choosing three poems by a single author instead of one.

3. Reasonable

Make sure that the topic for your research question is a reasonable one to pursue. This means it's something that can be completed within your timeframe and offers a new perspective on the research.

Research topics often end up being summaries of a topic, but that's not the goal. You're looking for a way to add something relevant and new to the topic you're exploring. To do so, here are two ways to uncover strong, reasonable research topics as you conduct your preliminary research:

Check the ends of journal articles for sections with questions for further discussion. These make great research topics because they haven't been explored!

Check the sources of articles in your research. What points are they bringing up? Is there anything new worth exploring? Sometimes, you can use sources to expand your research and more effectively narrow your topic.

4. Specific

For your research topic to stand on its own, it should be specific. This means that it shouldn't be easily mistaken for another topic that's already been written about.

If you are writing about a topic that has been written about, such as consumer trust, it should be distinct from everything that's been written about consumer trust so far.

There is already a lot of research done on consumer trust in specific products or services in the US. Your research topic could focus on consumer trust in products and services in a different region, such as a developing country.

If your research feels similar to existing articles, make sure to drive home the differences.

Whether it's developed for a thesis or another assignment, a good research topic question should be complex enough to let you expand on it within the scope of your paper.

For example, let's say you took our advice on researching a topic you were interested in, and that topic was a new Bridezilla reality show. But when you began to research it, you couldn't find enough information on it, or worse, you couldn't find anything scholarly.

In short, Bridezilla reality shows aren't complex enough to build your paper on. Instead of broadening the topic to all reality TV shows, which might be too overwhelming, you might consider choosing a topic about wedding reality TV shows specifically.

This would open you up to more research that could be complex enough to write a paper on without being too overwhelming or narrow.

6. Relevant

Because research papers aim to contribute to existing research that's already been explored, the relevance of your topic within your subject area can't be understated.

Your research topic should be relevant enough to advance understanding in a specific area of study and build on what's already been researched. It shouldn't duplicate research or try to add to it in an irrelevant way.

For example, you wouldn't choose a research topic like malaria transmission in Northern Siberia if the mosquito that transmits malaria lives in Africa. This research topic simply isn't relevant to the typical location where malaria is transmitted, and the research could be considered a waste of resources.

Do Research Questions Differ between the Humanities, Social Sciences, and Hard Sciences?

The art and science of asking questions is the source of all knowledge. 

–Thomas Berger

First, a bit of clarification: While there are constants among research questions, no matter what you're writing about, you will use different standards for the humanities and social sciences than for hard sciences, such as chemistry. The former depends on subjectivity and the perspective of the researcher, while the latter requires answers that must be empirically tested and replicable.

For instance, if you research Charles Dickens' writing influences, you will have to explain your stance and observations to the reader before supporting them with evidence. If you research improvements in superconductivity in room-temperature material, the reader will not only need to understand and believe you but also duplicate your work to confirm that you are correct.

Do Research Questions Differ between the Different Types of Research?

Research questions help you clarify the path your research will take. They are answered in your research paper and usually stated in the introduction.

There are two main types of research—qualitative and quantitative. 

If you're conducting quantitative research, it means you're collecting numerical, quantifiable data that can be measured, such as statistical information.

Qualitative research aims to understand experiences or phenomena, so you're collecting and analyzing non-numerical data, such as case studies or surveys.

The structure and content of your research question will change depending on the type of research you're doing. However, the definition and goal of a research question remains the same: a specific, relevant, and focused inquiry that your research answers.

Below, we'll explore research question examples for different types of research.

Examples of Good and Bad Research Questions

Comparative Research

Comparative research questions are designed to determine whether two or more groups differ based on a dependent variable. These questions allow researchers to uncover similarities and differences between the groups tested.

Because they compare two groups with a dependent variable, comparative research questions usually start with "What is the difference in…"

A strong comparative research question example might be the following:

"What is the difference in the daily caloric intake of American men and women?" ( Source .)

In the above example, the dependent variable is daily caloric intake and the two groups are American men and women.

A poor comparative research example might not aim to explore the differences between two groups or it could be too easily answered, as in the following example:

"Does daily caloric intake affect American men and women?"

Always ensure that your comparative research question is focused on a comparison between two groups based on a dependent variable.

Descriptive Research

Descriptive research questions help you gather data about measurable variables. Typically, researchers asking descriptive research questions aim to explain how, why, or what.

These research questions tend to start with the following:

What percentage?

How likely?

What proportion?

For example, a good descriptive research question might be as follows:

"What percentage of college students have felt depressed in the last year?" ( Source .)

A poor descriptive research question wouldn't be as precise. This might be something similar to the following:

"What percentage of teenagers felt sad in the last year?"

The above question is too vague, and the data would be overwhelming, given the number of teenagers in the world. Keep in mind that specificity is key when it comes to research questions!

Correlational Research

Correlational research measures the statistical relationship between two variables, with no influence from any other variable. The idea is to observe the way these variables interact with one another. If one changes, how is the other affected?

When it comes to writing a correlational research question, remember that it's all about relationships. Your research would encompass the relational effects of one variable on the other.

For example, having an education (variable one) might positively or negatively correlate with the rate of crime (variable two) in a specific city. An example research question for this might be written as follows:

"Is there a significant negative correlation between education level and crime rate in Los Angeles?"

A bad correlational research question might not use relationships at all. In fact, correlational research questions are often confused with causal research questions, which imply cause and effect. For example:

"How does the education level in Los Angeles influence the crime rate?"

The above question wouldn't be a good correlational research question because the relationship between Los Angeles and the crime rate is already inherent in the question—we are already assuming the education level in Los Angeles affects the crime rate in some way.

Be sure to use the right format if you're writing a correlational research question.

How to Avoid a Bad Question

Ask the right questions, and the answers will always reveal themselves. 

–Oprah Winfrey

If finding the right research question was easy, doing research would be much simpler. However, research does not provide useful information if the questions have easy answers (because the questions are too simple, narrow, or general) or answers that cannot be reached at all (because the questions have no possible answer, are too costly to answer, or are too broad in scope).

For a research question to meet scientific standards, its answer cannot consist solely of opinion (even if the opinion is popular or logically reasoned) and cannot simply be a description of known information.

However, an analysis of what currently exists can be valuable, provided that there is enough information to produce a useful analysis. If a scientific research question offers results that cannot be tested, measured, or duplicated, it is ineffective.

Bad Research Question Examples

Here are examples of bad research questions with brief explanations of what makes them ineffective for the purpose of research.

"What's red and bad for your teeth?"

This question has an easy, definitive answer (a brick), is too vague (What shade of red? How bad?), and isn't productive.

"Do violent video games cause players to act violently?"

This question also requires a definitive answer (yes or no), does not invite critical analysis, and allows opinion to influence or provide the answer.

"How many people were playing balalaikas while living in Moscow on July 8, 2019?"

This question cannot be answered without expending excessive amounts of time, money, and resources. It is also far too specific. Finally, it doesn't seek new insight or information, only a number that has no conceivable purpose.

How to Write a Research Question

The quality of a question is not judged by its complexity but by the complexity of thinking it provokes. 

–Joseph O'Connor

What makes a good research question? A good research question topic is clear and focused. If the reader has to waste time wondering what you mean, you haven't phrased it effectively.

It also needs to be interesting and relevant, encouraging the reader to come along with you as you explain how you reached an answer. 

Finally, once you explain your answer, there should be room for astute or interested readers to use your question as a basis to conduct their own research. If there is nothing for you to say in your conclusion beyond "that's the truth," then you're setting up your research to be challenged.

Good Research Question Examples

Here are some examples of good research questions. Take a look at the reasoning behind their effectiveness.

"What are the long-term effects of using activated charcoal in place of generic toothpaste for routine dental care?"

This question is specific enough to prevent digressions, invites measurable results, and concerns information that is both useful and interesting. Testing could be conducted in a reasonable time frame, without excessive cost, and would allow other researchers to follow up, regardless of the outcome.

"Why do North American parents feel that violent video game content has a negative influence on their children?"

While this does carry an assumption, backing up that assumption with observable proof will allow for analysis of the question, provide insight on a significant subject, and give readers something to build on in future research. 

It also discusses a topic that is recognizably relevant. (In 2022, at least. If you are reading this article in the future, there might already be an answer to this question that requires further analysis or testing!)

"To what extent has Alexey Arkhipovsky's 2013 album, Insomnia , influenced gender identification in Russian culture?"

While it's tightly focused, this question also presents an assumption (that the music influenced gender identification) and seeks to prove or disprove it. This allows for the possibilities that the music had no influence at all or had a demonstrable impact.

Answering the question will involve explaining the context and using many sources so that the reader can follow the logic and be convinced of the author's findings. The results (be they positive or negative) will also open the door to countless other studies.

How to Turn a Bad Research Question into a Good One

If something is wrong, fix it if you can. But train yourself not to worry. Worry never fixes anything.

–Ernest Hemingway

How do you turn something that won't help your research into something that will? Start by taking a step back and asking what you are expected to produce. While there are any number of fascinating subjects out there, a grant paying you to examine income disparity in Japan is not going to warrant an in-depth discussion of South American farming pollution. 

Use these expectations to frame your initial topic and the subject that your research should be about, and then conduct preliminary research into that subject. If you spot a knowledge gap while researching, make a note of it, and add it to your list of possible questions.

If you already have a question that is relevant to your topic but has flaws, identify the issues and see if they can be addressed. In addition, if your question is too broad, try to narrow it down enough to make your research feasible.

Especially in the sciences, if your research question will not produce results that can be replicated, determine how you can change it so a reader can look at what you've done and go about repeating your actions so they can see that you are right.

Moreover, if you would need 20 years to produce results, consider whether there is a way to tighten things up to produce more immediate results. This could justify future research that will eventually reach that lofty goal.

If all else fails, you can use the flawed question as a subtopic and try to find a better question that fits your goals and expectations.

Parting Advice

When you have your early work edited, don't be surprised if you are told that your research question requires revision. Quite often, results or the lack thereof can force a researcher to shift their focus and examine a less significant topic—or a different facet of a known issue—because testing did not produce the expected result. 

If that happens, take heart. You now have the tools to assess your question, find its flaws, and repair them so that you can complete your research with confidence and publish something you know your audience will read with fascination.

Of course, if you receive affirmation that your research question is strong or are polishing your work before submitting it to a publisher, you might just need a final proofread to ensure that your confidence is well placed. Then, you can start pursuing something new that the world does not yet know (but will know) once you have your research question down.

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good research question examples

How to write a research question

Last updated

7 February 2023

Reviewed by

Miroslav Damyanov

In this article, we take an in-depth look at what a research question is, the different types of research questions, and how to write one (with examples). Read on to get started with your thesis, dissertation, or research paper .

Make research less tedious

Dovetail streamlines research to help you uncover and share actionable insights

  • What is a research question?

A research question articulates exactly what you want to learn from your research. It stems directly from your research objectives, and you will arrive at an answer through data analysis and interpretation.

However, it is not that simple to write a research question—even when you know the question you intend to answer with your study. The main characteristics of a good research question are:

Feasible. You need to have the resources and abilities to examine the question, collect the data, and give answers.

Interesting. Create research questions that offer fascinating insights into your industry.

Novel. Research questions have to offer something new within your field of study.

Ethical. The research question topic should be approved by the relevant authorities and review boards.

Relevant. Your research question should lead to visible changes in society or your industry.

Usually, you write one single research question to guide your entire research paper. The answer becomes the thesis statement—the central position of your argument. A dissertation or thesis, on the other hand, may require multiple problem statements and research questions. However, they should be connected and focused on a specific problem.

  • Importance of the research question

A research question acts as a guide for your entire study. It serves two vital purposes:

to determine the specific issue your research paper addresses

to identify clear objectives

Therefore, it helps split your research into small steps that you need to complete to provide answers.

Your research question will also provide boundaries for your study, which help set limits and ensure cohesion.

Finally, it acts as a frame of reference for assessing your work. Bear in mind that research questions can evolve, shift, and change during the early stages of your study or project.

  • Types of research questions

The type of research you are conducting will dictate the type of research question to use. Primarily, research questions are grouped into three distinct categories of study:




Let’s look at each of these in turn:

Quantitative research questions

The number-one rule of quantitative research questions is that they are precise. They mainly include:

independent and dependent variables

the exact population being studied

the research design to be used

Therefore, you must frame and finalize quantitative research questions before starting the study.

Equally, a quantitative research question creates a link between itself and the research design. These questions cannot be answered with simple 'yes' or' no' responses, so they begin with words like 'does', 'do', 'are', and 'is'.

Quantitative research questions can be divided into three categories:

Relationship research questions usually leverage words such as 'trends' and 'association' because they include independent and dependent variables. They seek to define or explore trends and interactions between multiple variables.

Comparative research questions tend to analyze the differences between different groups to find an outcome variable. For instance, you may decide to compare two distinct groups where a specific variable is present in one and absent in the other.

Descriptive research questions usually start with the word 'what' and aim to measure how a population will respond to one or more variables.

Qualitative research questions

Like quantitative research questions, these questions are linked to the research design. However, qualitative research questions may deal with a specific or broad study area. This makes them more flexible, very adaptable, and usually non-directional.

Use qualitative research questions when your primary aim is to explain, discover, or explore.

There are seven types of qualitative research questions:

Explanatory research questions investigate particular topic areas that aren't well known.

Contextual research questions describe the workings of what is already in existence.

Evaluative research questions examine the effectiveness of specific paradigms or methods.

Ideological research questions aim to advance existing ideologies.

Descriptive research questions describe an event.

Generative research questions help develop actions and theories by providing new ideas.

Emancipatory research questions increase social action engagement, usually to benefit disadvantaged people.

Mixed-methods studies

With mixed-methods studies, you combine qualitative and quantitative research elements to get answers to your research question. This approach is ideal when you need a more complete picture. through a blend of the two approaches.

Mixed-methods research is excellent in multidisciplinary settings, societal analysis, and complex situations. Consider the following research question examples, which would be ideal candidates for a mixed-methods approach

How can non-voter and voter beliefs about democracy (qualitative) help explain Town X election turnout patterns (quantitative)?

How does students’ perception of their study environment (quantitative) relate to their test score differences (qualitative)?

  • Developing a strong research question—a step-by-step guide

Research questions help break up your study into simple steps so you can quickly achieve your objectives and find answers. However, how do you develop a good research question? Here is our step-by-step guide:

1. Choose a topic

The first step is to select a broad research topic for your study. Pick something within your expertise and field that interests you. After all, the research itself will stem from the initial research question.

2. Conduct preliminary research

Once you have a broad topic, dig deeper into the problem by researching past studies in the field and gathering requirements from stakeholders if you work in a business setting.

Through this process, you will discover articles that mention areas not explored in that field or products that didn’t resonate with people’s expectations in a particular industry. For instance, you could explore specific topics that earlier research failed to study or products that failed to meet user needs.

3. Keep your audience in mind

Is your audience interested in the particular field you want to study? Are the research questions in your mind appealing and interesting to the audience? Defining your audience will help you refine your research question and ensure you pick a question that is relatable to your audience.

4. Generate a list of potential questions

Ask yourself numerous open-ended questions on the topic to create a potential list of research questions. You could start with broader questions and narrow them down to more specific ones. Don’t forget that you can challenge existing assumptions or use personal experiences to redefine research issues.

5. Review the questions

Evaluate your list of potential questions to determine which seems most effective. Ensure you consider the finer details of every question and possible outcomes. Doing this helps you determine if the questions meet the requirements of a research question.

6. Construct and evaluate your research question

Consider these two frameworks when constructing a good research question: PICOT and PEO. 

PICOT stands for:

P: Problem or population

I: Indicator or intervention to be studied

C: Comparison groups

O: Outcome of interest

T: Time frame

PEO stands for:

P: Population being studied

E: Exposure to any preexisting conditions

To evaluate your research question once you’ve constructed it, ask yourself the following questions:

Is it clear?

Your study should produce precise data and observations. For qualitative studies, the observations need to be delineable across categories. Quantitative studies must have measurable and empirical data.

Is it specific and focused?

An excellent research question must be specific enough to ensure your testing yields objective results. General or open-ended research questions are often ambiguous and subject to different kinds of interpretation.

Is it sufficiently complex?

Your research needs to yield substantial and consequential results to warrant the study. Merely supporting or reinforcing an existing paper is not good enough.

  • Examples of good research questions

A robust research question actively contributes to a specific body of knowledge; it is a question that hasn’t been answered before within your research field.

Here are some examples of good and bad research questions :

Good: How effective are A and B policies at reducing the rates of Z?

Bad: Is A or B a better policy?

The first is more focused and researchable because it isn't based on value judgment. The second fails to give clear criteria for answering the question.

Good: What is the effect of daily Twitter use on the attention span of college students?

Bad: What is the effect of social media use on people's minds?

The first includes specific and well-defined concepts, which the second lacks.

Ensure all terms within your research question have precise meanings. Avoid vague or general language that makes the topic too broad.

  • The bottom line

The success of any research starts with formulating the right questions that ensure you collect the most insightful data. A good research question will showcase the objectives of your systematic investigation and emphasize specific contexts.

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How To Write a Research Question

Deeptanshu D

Academic writing and research require a distinct focus and direction. A well-designed research question gives purpose and clarity to your research. In addition, it helps your readers understand the issue you are trying to address and explore.

Every time you want to know more about a subject, you will pose a question. The same idea is used in research as well. You must pose a question in order to effectively address a research problem. That's why the research question is an integral part of the research process. Additionally, it offers the author writing and reading guidelines, be it qualitative research or quantitative research.

In your research paper , you must single out just one issue or problem. The specific issue or claim you wish to address should be included in your thesis statement in order to clarify your main argument.

A good research question must have the following characteristics.

good research question examples

  • Should include only one problem in the research question
  • Should be able to find the answer using primary data and secondary data sources
  • Should be possible to resolve within the given time and other constraints
  • Detailed and in-depth results should be achievable
  • Should be relevant and realistic.
  • It should relate to your chosen area of research

While a larger project, like a thesis, might have several research questions to address, each one should be directed at your main area of study. Of course, you can use different research designs and research methods (qualitative research or quantitative research) to address various research questions. However, they must all be pertinent to the study's objectives.

What is a Research Question?


A research question is an inquiry that the research attempts to answer. It is the heart of the systematic investigation. Research questions are the most important step in any research project. In essence, it initiates the research project and establishes the pace for the specific research A research question is:

  • Clear : It provides enough detail that the audience understands its purpose without any additional explanation.
  • Focused : It is so specific that it can be addressed within the time constraints of the writing task.
  • Succinct: It is written in the shortest possible words.
  • Complex : It is not possible to answer it with a "yes" or "no", but requires analysis and synthesis of ideas before somebody can create a solution.
  • Argumental : Its potential answers are open for debate rather than accepted facts.

A good research question usually focuses on the research and determines the research design, methodology, and hypothesis. It guides all phases of inquiry, data collection, analysis, and reporting. You should gather valuable information by asking the right questions.

Why are Research Questions so important?

Regardless of whether it is a qualitative research or quantitative research project, research questions provide writers and their audience with a way to navigate the writing and research process. Writers can avoid "all-about" papers by asking straightforward and specific research questions that help them focus on their research and support a specific thesis.

Types of Research Questions


There are two types of research: Qualitative research and Quantitative research . There must be research questions for every type of research. Your research question will be based on the type of research you want to conduct and the type of data collection.

The first step in designing research involves identifying a gap and creating a focused research question.

Below is a list of common research questions that can be used in a dissertation. Keep in mind that these are merely illustrations of typical research questions used in dissertation projects. The real research questions themselves might be more difficult.

Example Research Questions


The following are a few examples of research questions and research problems to help you understand how research questions can be created for a particular research problem.

Steps to Write Research Questions


You can focus on the issue or research gaps you're attempting to solve by using the research questions as a direction.

If you're unsure how to go about writing a good research question, these are the steps to follow in the process:

  • Select an interesting topic Always choose a topic that interests you. Because if your curiosity isn’t aroused by a subject, you’ll have a hard time conducting research around it. Alos, it’s better that you pick something that’s neither too narrow or too broad.
  • Do preliminary research on the topic Search for relevant literature to gauge what problems have already been tackled by scholars. You can do that conveniently through repositories like Scispace , where you’ll find millions of papers in one place. Once you do find the papers you’re looking for, try our reading assistant, SciSpace Copilot to get simple explanations for the paper . You’ll be able to quickly understand the abstract, find the key takeaways, and the main arguments presented in the paper. This will give you a more contextual understanding of your subject and you’ll have an easier time identifying knowledge gaps in your discipline.

     Also: ChatPDF vs. SciSpace Copilot: Unveiling the best tool for your research

  • Consider your audience It is essential to understand your audience to develop focused research questions for essays or dissertations. When narrowing down your topic, you can identify aspects that might interest your audience.
  • Ask questions Asking questions will give you a deeper understanding of the topic. Evaluate your question through the What, Why, When, How, and other open-ended questions assessment.
  • Assess your question Once you have created a research question, assess its effectiveness to determine if it is useful for the purpose. Refine and revise the dissertation research question multiple times.

Additionally, use this list of questions as a guide when formulating your research question.

Are you able to answer a specific research question? After identifying a gap in research, it would be helpful to formulate the research question. And this will allow the research to solve a part of the problem. Is your research question clear and centered on the main topic? It is important that your research question should be specific and related to your central goal. Are you tackling a difficult research question? It is not possible to answer the research question with a simple yes or no. The problem requires in-depth analysis. It is often started with "How" and "Why."

Start your research Once you have completed your dissertation research questions, it is time to review the literature on similar topics to discover different perspectives.

Strong  Research Question Samples

Uncertain: How should social networking sites work on the hatred that flows through their platform?

Certain: What should social media sites like Twitter or Facebook do to address the harm they are causing?

This unclear question does not specify the social networking sites that are being used or what harm they might be causing. In addition, this question assumes that the "harm" has been proven and/or accepted. This version is more specific and identifies the sites (Twitter, Facebook), the type and extent of harm (privacy concerns), and who might be suffering from that harm (users). Effective research questions should not be ambiguous or interpreted.

Unfocused: What are the effects of global warming on the environment?

Focused: What are the most important effects of glacial melting in Antarctica on penguins' lives?

This broad research question cannot be addressed in a book, let alone a college-level paper. Focused research targets a specific effect of global heating (glacial  melting), an area (Antarctica), or a specific animal (penguins). The writer must also decide which effect will have the greatest impact on the animals affected. If in doubt, narrow down your research question to the most specific possible.

Too Simple: What are the U.S. doctors doing to treat diabetes?

Appropriately complex: Which factors, if any, are most likely to predict a person's risk of developing diabetes?

This simple version can be found online. It is easy to answer with a few facts. The second, more complicated version of this question is divided into two parts. It is thought-provoking and requires extensive investigation as well as evaluation by the author. So, ensure that a quick Google search should not answer your research question.

How to write a strong Research Question?


The foundation of all research is the research question. You should therefore spend as much time as necessary to refine your research question based on various data.

You can conduct your research more efficiently and analyze your results better if you have great research questions for your dissertation, research paper , or essay .

The following criteria can help you evaluate the strength and importance of your research question and can be used to determine the strength of your research question:

  • Researchable
  • It should only cover one issue.
  • A subjective judgment should not be included in the question.
  • It can be answered with data analysis and research.
  • Specific and Practical
  • It should not contain a plan of action, policy, or solution.
  • It should be clearly defined
  • Within research limits
  • Complex and Arguable
  • It shouldn't be difficult to answer.
  • To find the truth, you need in-depth knowledge
  • Allows for discussion and deliberation
  • Original and Relevant
  • It should be in your area of study
  • Its results should be measurable
  • It should be original

Conclusion - How to write Research Questions?

Research questions provide a clear guideline for research. One research question may be part of a larger project, such as a dissertation. However, each question should only focus on one topic.

Research questions must be answerable, practical, specific, and applicable to your field. The research type that you use to base your research questions on will determine the research topic. You can start by selecting an interesting topic and doing preliminary research. Then, you can begin asking questions, evaluating your questions, and start your research.

Now it's easier than ever to streamline your research workflow with SciSpace ResearchGPT . Its integrated, comprehensive end-to-end platform for research allows scholars to easily discover, read, write and publish their research and fosters collaboration.

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Qualitative Research Questions: Gain Powerful Insights + 25 Examples

We review the basics of qualitative research questions, including their key components, how to craft them effectively, & 25 example questions.

Einstein was many things—a physicist, a philosopher, and, undoubtedly, a mastermind. He also had an incredible way with words. His quote, "Everything that can be counted does not necessarily count; everything that counts cannot necessarily be counted," is particularly poignant when it comes to research. 

Some inquiries call for a quantitative approach, for counting and measuring data in order to arrive at general conclusions. Other investigations, like qualitative research, rely on deep exploration and understanding of individual cases in order to develop a greater understanding of the whole. That’s what we’re going to focus on today.

Qualitative research questions focus on the "how" and "why" of things, rather than the "what". They ask about people's experiences and perceptions , and can be used to explore a wide range of topics.

The following article will discuss the basics of qualitative research questions, including their key components, and how to craft them effectively. You'll also find 25 examples of effective qualitative research questions you can use as inspiration for your own studies.

Let’s get started!

What are qualitative research questions, and when are they used?

When researchers set out to conduct a study on a certain topic, their research is chiefly directed by an overarching question . This question provides focus for the study and helps determine what kind of data will be collected.

By starting with a question, we gain parameters and objectives for our line of research. What are we studying? For what purpose? How will we know when we’ve achieved our goals?

Of course, some of these questions can be described as quantitative in nature. When a research question is quantitative, it usually seeks to measure or calculate something in a systematic way.

For example:

  • How many people in our town use the library?
  • What is the average income of families in our city?
  • How much does the average person weigh?

Other research questions, however—and the ones we will be focusing on in this article—are qualitative in nature. Qualitative research questions are open-ended and seek to explore a given topic in-depth.

According to the Australian & New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry , “Qualitative research aims to address questions concerned with developing an understanding of the meaning and experience dimensions of humans’ lives and social worlds.”

This type of research can be used to gain a better understanding of people’s thoughts, feelings and experiences by “addressing questions beyond ‘what works’, towards ‘what works for whom when, how and why, and focusing on intervention improvement rather than accreditation,” states one paper in Neurological Research and Practice .

Qualitative questions often produce rich data that can help researchers develop hypotheses for further quantitative study.

  • What are people’s thoughts on the new library?
  • How does it feel to be a first-generation student at our school?
  • How do people feel about the changes taking place in our town?

As stated by a paper in Human Reproduction , “...‘qualitative’ methods are used to answer questions about experience, meaning, and perspective, most often from the standpoint of the participant. These data are usually not amenable to counting or measuring.”

Both quantitative and qualitative questions have their uses; in fact, they often complement each other. A well-designed research study will include a mix of both types of questions in order to gain a fuller understanding of the topic at hand.

If you would like to recruit unlimited participants for qualitative research for free and only pay for the interview you conduct, try using Respondent  today. 

Crafting qualitative research questions for powerful insights

Now that we have a basic understanding of what qualitative research questions are and when they are used, let’s take a look at how you can begin crafting your own.

According to a study in the International Journal of Qualitative Studies in Education, there is a certain process researchers should follow when crafting their questions, which we’ll explore in more depth.

1. Beginning the process 

Start with a point of interest or curiosity, and pose a draft question or ‘self-question’. What do you want to know about the topic at hand? What is your specific curiosity? You may find it helpful to begin by writing several questions.

For example, if you’re interested in understanding how your customer base feels about a recent change to your product, you might ask: 

  • What made you decide to try the new product?
  • How do you feel about the change?
  • What do you think of the new design/functionality?
  • What benefits do you see in the change?

2. Create one overarching, guiding question 

At this point, narrow down the draft questions into one specific question. “Sometimes, these broader research questions are not stated as questions, but rather as goals for the study.”

As an example of this, you might narrow down these three questions: 

into the following question: 

  • What are our customers’ thoughts on the recent change to our product?

3. Theoretical framing 

As you read the relevant literature and apply theory to your research, the question should be altered to achieve better outcomes. Experts agree that pursuing a qualitative line of inquiry should open up the possibility for questioning your original theories and altering the conceptual framework with which the research began.

If we continue with the current example, it’s possible you may uncover new data that informs your research and changes your question. For instance, you may discover that customers’ feelings about the change are not just a reaction to the change itself, but also to how it was implemented. In this case, your question would need to reflect this new information: 

  • How did customers react to the process of the change, as well as the change itself?

4. Ethical considerations 

A study in the International Journal of Qualitative Studies in Education stresses that ethics are “a central issue when a researcher proposes to study the lives of others, especially marginalized populations.” Consider how your question or inquiry will affect the people it relates to—their lives and their safety. Shape your question to avoid physical, emotional, or mental upset for the focus group.

In analyzing your question from this perspective, if you feel that it may cause harm, you should consider changing the question or ending your research project. Perhaps you’ve discovered that your question encourages harmful or invasive questioning, in which case you should reformulate it.

5. Writing the question 

The actual process of writing the question comes only after considering the above points. The purpose of crafting your research questions is to delve into what your study is specifically about” Remember that qualitative research questions are not trying to find the cause of an effect, but rather to explore the effect itself.

Your questions should be clear, concise, and understandable to those outside of your field. In addition, they should generate rich data. The questions you choose will also depend on the type of research you are conducting: 

  • If you’re doing a phenomenological study, your questions might be open-ended, in order to allow participants to share their experiences in their own words.
  • If you’re doing a grounded-theory study, your questions might be focused on generating a list of categories or themes.
  • If you’re doing ethnography, your questions might be about understanding the culture you’re studying.

Whenyou have well-written questions, it is much easier to develop your research design and collect data that accurately reflects your inquiry.

In writing your questions, it may help you to refer to this simple flowchart process for constructing questions:

good research question examples

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25 examples of expertly crafted qualitative research questions

It's easy enough to cover the theory of writing a qualitative research question, but sometimes it's best if you can see the process in practice. In this section, we'll list 25 examples of B2B and B2C-related qualitative questions.

Let's begin with five questions. We'll show you the question, explain why it's considered qualitative, and then give you an example of how it can be used in research.

1. What is the customer's perception of our company's brand?

Qualitative research questions are often open-ended and invite respondents to share their thoughts and feelings on a subject. This question is qualitative because it seeks customer feedback on the company's brand. 

This question can be used in research to understand how customers feel about the company's branding, what they like and don't like about it, and whether they would recommend it to others.

2. Why do customers buy our product?

This question is also qualitative because it seeks to understand the customer's motivations for purchasing a product. It can be used in research to identify the reasons  customers buy a certain product, what needs or desires the product fulfills for them, and how they feel about the purchase after using the product.

3. How do our customers interact with our products?

Again, this question is qualitative because it seeks to understand customer behavior. In this case, it can be used in research to see how customers use the product, how they interact with it, and what emotions or thoughts the product evokes in them.

4. What are our customers' biggest frustrations with our products?

By seeking to understand customer frustrations, this question is qualitative and can provide valuable insights. It can be used in research to help identify areas in which the company needs to make improvements with its products.

5. How do our customers feel about our customer service?

Rather than asking why customers like or dislike something, this question asks how they feel. This qualitative question can provide insights into customer satisfaction or dissatisfaction with a company. 

This type of question can be used in research to understand what customers think of the company's customer service and whether they feel it meets their needs.

20 more examples to refer to when writing your question

Now that you’re aware of what makes certain questions qualitative, let's move into 20 more examples of qualitative research questions:

  • How do your customers react when updates are made to your app interface?
  • How do customers feel when they complete their purchase through your ecommerce site?
  • What are your customers' main frustrations with your service?
  • How do people feel about the quality of your products compared to those of your competitors?
  • What motivates customers to refer their friends and family members to your product or service?
  • What are the main benefits your customers receive from using your product or service?
  • How do people feel when they finish a purchase on your website?
  • What are the main motivations behind customer loyalty to your brand?
  • How does your app make people feel emotionally?
  • For younger generations using your app, how does it make them feel about themselves?
  • What reputation do people associate with your brand?
  • How inclusive do people find your app?
  • In what ways are your customers' experiences unique to them?
  • What are the main areas of improvement your customers would like to see in your product or service?
  • How do people feel about their interactions with your tech team?
  • What are the top five reasons people use your online marketplace?
  • How does using your app make people feel in terms of connectedness?
  • What emotions do people experience when they're using your product or service?
  • Aside from the features of your product, what else about it attracts customers?
  • How does your company culture make people feel?

As you can see, these kinds of questions are completely open-ended. In a way, they allow the research and discoveries made along the way to direct the research. The questions are merely a starting point from which to explore.

This video offers tips on how to write good qualitative research questions, produced by Qualitative Research Expert, Kimberly Baker.

Wrap-up: crafting your own qualitative research questions.

Over the course of this article, we've explored what qualitative research questions are, why they matter, and how they should be written. Hopefully you now have a clear understanding of how to craft your own.

Remember, qualitative research questions should always be designed to explore a certain experience or phenomena in-depth, in order to generate powerful insights. As you write your questions, be sure to keep the following in mind:

  • Are you being inclusive of all relevant perspectives?
  • Are your questions specific enough to generate clear answers?
  • Will your questions allow for an in-depth exploration of the topic at hand?
  • Do the questions reflect your research goals and objectives?

If you can answer "yes" to all of the questions above, and you've followed the tips for writing qualitative research questions we shared in this article, then you're well on your way to crafting powerful queries that will yield valuable insights.

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Asking the right questions in the right way is the key to research success. That’s true for not just the discussion guide but for every step of a research project. Following are 100+ questions that will take you from defining your research objective through  screening and participant discussions.

Fill out the form below to access free e-book! 

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Home » Research Questions – Types, Examples and Writing Guide

Research Questions – Types, Examples and Writing Guide

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Research Questions

Research Questions


Research questions are the specific questions that guide a research study or inquiry. These questions help to define the scope of the research and provide a clear focus for the study. Research questions are usually developed at the beginning of a research project and are designed to address a particular research problem or objective.

Types of Research Questions

Types of Research Questions are as follows:

Descriptive Research Questions

These aim to describe a particular phenomenon, group, or situation. For example:

  • What are the characteristics of the target population?
  • What is the prevalence of a particular disease in a specific region?

Exploratory Research Questions

These aim to explore a new area of research or generate new ideas or hypotheses. For example:

  • What are the potential causes of a particular phenomenon?
  • What are the possible outcomes of a specific intervention?

Explanatory Research Questions

These aim to understand the relationship between two or more variables or to explain why a particular phenomenon occurs. For example:

  • What is the effect of a specific drug on the symptoms of a particular disease?
  • What are the factors that contribute to employee turnover in a particular industry?

Predictive Research Questions

These aim to predict a future outcome or trend based on existing data or trends. For example :

  • What will be the future demand for a particular product or service?
  • What will be the future prevalence of a particular disease?

Evaluative Research Questions

These aim to evaluate the effectiveness of a particular intervention or program. For example:

  • What is the impact of a specific educational program on student learning outcomes?
  • What is the effectiveness of a particular policy or program in achieving its intended goals?

How to Choose Research Questions

Choosing research questions is an essential part of the research process and involves careful consideration of the research problem, objectives, and design. Here are some steps to consider when choosing research questions:

  • Identify the research problem: Start by identifying the problem or issue that you want to study. This could be a gap in the literature, a social or economic issue, or a practical problem that needs to be addressed.
  • Conduct a literature review: Conducting a literature review can help you identify existing research in your area of interest and can help you formulate research questions that address gaps or limitations in the existing literature.
  • Define the research objectives : Clearly define the objectives of your research. What do you want to achieve with your study? What specific questions do you want to answer?
  • Consider the research design : Consider the research design that you plan to use. This will help you determine the appropriate types of research questions to ask. For example, if you plan to use a qualitative approach, you may want to focus on exploratory or descriptive research questions.
  • Ensure that the research questions are clear and answerable: Your research questions should be clear and specific, and should be answerable with the data that you plan to collect. Avoid asking questions that are too broad or vague.
  • Get feedback : Get feedback from your supervisor, colleagues, or peers to ensure that your research questions are relevant, feasible, and meaningful.

How to Write Research Questions

Guide for Writing Research Questions:

  • Start with a clear statement of the research problem: Begin by stating the problem or issue that your research aims to address. This will help you to formulate focused research questions.
  • Use clear language : Write your research questions in clear and concise language that is easy to understand. Avoid using jargon or technical terms that may be unfamiliar to your readers.
  • Be specific: Your research questions should be specific and focused. Avoid broad questions that are difficult to answer. For example, instead of asking “What is the impact of climate change on the environment?” ask “What are the effects of rising sea levels on coastal ecosystems?”
  • Use appropriate question types: Choose the appropriate question types based on the research design and objectives. For example, if you are conducting a qualitative study, you may want to use open-ended questions that allow participants to provide detailed responses.
  • Consider the feasibility of your questions : Ensure that your research questions are feasible and can be answered with the resources available. Consider the data sources and methods of data collection when writing your questions.
  • Seek feedback: Get feedback from your supervisor, colleagues, or peers to ensure that your research questions are relevant, appropriate, and meaningful.

Examples of Research Questions

Some Examples of Research Questions with Research Titles:

Research Title: The Impact of Social Media on Mental Health

  • Research Question : What is the relationship between social media use and mental health, and how does this impact individuals’ well-being?

Research Title: Factors Influencing Academic Success in High School

  • Research Question: What are the primary factors that influence academic success in high school, and how do they contribute to student achievement?

Research Title: The Effects of Exercise on Physical and Mental Health

  • Research Question: What is the relationship between exercise and physical and mental health, and how can exercise be used as a tool to improve overall well-being?

Research Title: Understanding the Factors that Influence Consumer Purchasing Decisions

  • Research Question : What are the key factors that influence consumer purchasing decisions, and how do these factors vary across different demographics and products?

Research Title: The Impact of Technology on Communication

  • Research Question : How has technology impacted communication patterns, and what are the effects of these changes on interpersonal relationships and society as a whole?

Research Title: Investigating the Relationship between Parenting Styles and Child Development

  • Research Question: What is the relationship between different parenting styles and child development outcomes, and how do these outcomes vary across different ages and developmental stages?

Research Title: The Effectiveness of Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy in Treating Anxiety Disorders

  • Research Question: How effective is cognitive-behavioral therapy in treating anxiety disorders, and what factors contribute to its success or failure in different patients?

Research Title: The Impact of Climate Change on Biodiversity

  • Research Question : How is climate change affecting global biodiversity, and what can be done to mitigate the negative effects on natural ecosystems?

Research Title: Exploring the Relationship between Cultural Diversity and Workplace Productivity

  • Research Question : How does cultural diversity impact workplace productivity, and what strategies can be employed to maximize the benefits of a diverse workforce?

Research Title: The Role of Artificial Intelligence in Healthcare

  • Research Question: How can artificial intelligence be leveraged to improve healthcare outcomes, and what are the potential risks and ethical concerns associated with its use?

Applications of Research Questions

Here are some of the key applications of research questions:

  • Defining the scope of the study : Research questions help researchers to narrow down the scope of their study and identify the specific issues they want to investigate.
  • Developing hypotheses: Research questions often lead to the development of hypotheses, which are testable predictions about the relationship between variables. Hypotheses provide a clear and focused direction for the study.
  • Designing the study : Research questions guide the design of the study, including the selection of participants, the collection of data, and the analysis of results.
  • Collecting data : Research questions inform the selection of appropriate methods for collecting data, such as surveys, interviews, or experiments.
  • Analyzing data : Research questions guide the analysis of data, including the selection of appropriate statistical tests and the interpretation of results.
  • Communicating results : Research questions help researchers to communicate the results of their study in a clear and concise manner. The research questions provide a framework for discussing the findings and drawing conclusions.

Characteristics of Research Questions

Characteristics of Research Questions are as follows:

  • Clear and Specific : A good research question should be clear and specific. It should clearly state what the research is trying to investigate and what kind of data is required.
  • Relevant : The research question should be relevant to the study and should address a current issue or problem in the field of research.
  • Testable : The research question should be testable through empirical evidence. It should be possible to collect data to answer the research question.
  • Concise : The research question should be concise and focused. It should not be too broad or too narrow.
  • Feasible : The research question should be feasible to answer within the constraints of the research design, time frame, and available resources.
  • Original : The research question should be original and should contribute to the existing knowledge in the field of research.
  • Significant : The research question should have significance and importance to the field of research. It should have the potential to provide new insights and knowledge to the field.
  • Ethical : The research question should be ethical and should not cause harm to any individuals or groups involved in the study.

Purpose of Research Questions

Research questions are the foundation of any research study as they guide the research process and provide a clear direction to the researcher. The purpose of research questions is to identify the scope and boundaries of the study, and to establish the goals and objectives of the research.

The main purpose of research questions is to help the researcher to focus on the specific area or problem that needs to be investigated. They enable the researcher to develop a research design, select the appropriate methods and tools for data collection and analysis, and to organize the results in a meaningful way.

Research questions also help to establish the relevance and significance of the study. They define the research problem, and determine the research methodology that will be used to address the problem. Research questions also help to determine the type of data that will be collected, and how it will be analyzed and interpreted.

Finally, research questions provide a framework for evaluating the results of the research. They help to establish the validity and reliability of the data, and provide a basis for drawing conclusions and making recommendations based on the findings of the study.

Advantages of Research Questions

There are several advantages of research questions in the research process, including:

  • Focus : Research questions help to focus the research by providing a clear direction for the study. They define the specific area of investigation and provide a framework for the research design.
  • Clarity : Research questions help to clarify the purpose and objectives of the study, which can make it easier for the researcher to communicate the research aims to others.
  • Relevance : Research questions help to ensure that the study is relevant and meaningful. By asking relevant and important questions, the researcher can ensure that the study will contribute to the existing body of knowledge and address important issues.
  • Consistency : Research questions help to ensure consistency in the research process by providing a framework for the development of the research design, data collection, and analysis.
  • Measurability : Research questions help to ensure that the study is measurable by defining the specific variables and outcomes that will be measured.
  • Replication : Research questions help to ensure that the study can be replicated by providing a clear and detailed description of the research aims, methods, and outcomes. This makes it easier for other researchers to replicate the study and verify the results.

Limitations of Research Questions

Limitations of Research Questions are as follows:

  • Subjectivity : Research questions are often subjective and can be influenced by personal biases and perspectives of the researcher. This can lead to a limited understanding of the research problem and may affect the validity and reliability of the study.
  • Inadequate scope : Research questions that are too narrow in scope may limit the breadth of the study, while questions that are too broad may make it difficult to focus on specific research objectives.
  • Unanswerable questions : Some research questions may not be answerable due to the lack of available data or limitations in research methods. In such cases, the research question may need to be rephrased or modified to make it more answerable.
  • Lack of clarity : Research questions that are poorly worded or ambiguous can lead to confusion and misinterpretation. This can result in incomplete or inaccurate data, which may compromise the validity of the study.
  • Difficulty in measuring variables : Some research questions may involve variables that are difficult to measure or quantify, making it challenging to draw meaningful conclusions from the data.
  • Lack of generalizability: Research questions that are too specific or limited in scope may not be generalizable to other contexts or populations. This can limit the applicability of the study’s findings and restrict its broader implications.

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Research Aims, Objectives & Questions

The “Golden Thread” Explained Simply (+ Examples)

By: David Phair (PhD) and Alexandra Shaeffer (PhD) | June 2022

The research aims , objectives and research questions (collectively called the “golden thread”) are arguably the most important thing you need to get right when you’re crafting a research proposal , dissertation or thesis . We receive questions almost every day about this “holy trinity” of research and there’s certainly a lot of confusion out there, so we’ve crafted this post to help you navigate your way through the fog.

Overview: The Golden Thread

  • What is the golden thread
  • What are research aims ( examples )
  • What are research objectives ( examples )
  • What are research questions ( examples )
  • The importance of alignment in the golden thread

What is the “golden thread”?  

The golden thread simply refers to the collective research aims , research objectives , and research questions for any given project (i.e., a dissertation, thesis, or research paper ). These three elements are bundled together because it’s extremely important that they align with each other, and that the entire research project aligns with them.

Importantly, the golden thread needs to weave its way through the entirety of any research project , from start to end. In other words, it needs to be very clearly defined right at the beginning of the project (the topic ideation and proposal stage) and it needs to inform almost every decision throughout the rest of the project. For example, your research design and methodology will be heavily influenced by the golden thread (we’ll explain this in more detail later), as well as your literature review.

The research aims, objectives and research questions (the golden thread) define the focus and scope ( the delimitations ) of your research project. In other words, they help ringfence your dissertation or thesis to a relatively narrow domain, so that you can “go deep” and really dig into a specific problem or opportunity. They also help keep you on track , as they act as a litmus test for relevance. In other words, if you’re ever unsure whether to include something in your document, simply ask yourself the question, “does this contribute toward my research aims, objectives or questions?”. If it doesn’t, chances are you can drop it.

Alright, enough of the fluffy, conceptual stuff. Let’s get down to business and look at what exactly the research aims, objectives and questions are and outline a few examples to bring these concepts to life.

Free Webinar: How To Find A Dissertation Research Topic

Research Aims: What are they?

Simply put, the research aim(s) is a statement that reflects the broad overarching goal (s) of the research project. Research aims are fairly high-level (low resolution) as they outline the general direction of the research and what it’s trying to achieve .

Research Aims: Examples  

True to the name, research aims usually start with the wording “this research aims to…”, “this research seeks to…”, and so on. For example:

“This research aims to explore employee experiences of digital transformation in retail HR.”   “This study sets out to assess the interaction between student support and self-care on well-being in engineering graduate students”  

As you can see, these research aims provide a high-level description of what the study is about and what it seeks to achieve. They’re not hyper-specific or action-oriented, but they’re clear about what the study’s focus is and what is being investigated.

Need a helping hand?

good research question examples

Research Objectives: What are they?

The research objectives take the research aims and make them more practical and actionable . In other words, the research objectives showcase the steps that the researcher will take to achieve the research aims.

The research objectives need to be far more specific (higher resolution) and actionable than the research aims. In fact, it’s always a good idea to craft your research objectives using the “SMART” criteria. In other words, they should be specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound”.

Research Objectives: Examples  

Let’s look at two examples of research objectives. We’ll stick with the topic and research aims we mentioned previously.  

For the digital transformation topic:

To observe the retail HR employees throughout the digital transformation. To assess employee perceptions of digital transformation in retail HR. To identify the barriers and facilitators of digital transformation in retail HR.

And for the student wellness topic:

To determine whether student self-care predicts the well-being score of engineering graduate students. To determine whether student support predicts the well-being score of engineering students. To assess the interaction between student self-care and student support when predicting well-being in engineering graduate students.

  As you can see, these research objectives clearly align with the previously mentioned research aims and effectively translate the low-resolution aims into (comparatively) higher-resolution objectives and action points . They give the research project a clear focus and present something that resembles a research-based “to-do” list.

The research objectives detail the specific steps that you, as the researcher, will take to achieve the research aims you laid out.

Research Questions: What are they?

Finally, we arrive at the all-important research questions. The research questions are, as the name suggests, the key questions that your study will seek to answer . Simply put, they are the core purpose of your dissertation, thesis, or research project. You’ll present them at the beginning of your document (either in the introduction chapter or literature review chapter) and you’ll answer them at the end of your document (typically in the discussion and conclusion chapters).  

The research questions will be the driving force throughout the research process. For example, in the literature review chapter, you’ll assess the relevance of any given resource based on whether it helps you move towards answering your research questions. Similarly, your methodology and research design will be heavily influenced by the nature of your research questions. For instance, research questions that are exploratory in nature will usually make use of a qualitative approach, whereas questions that relate to measurement or relationship testing will make use of a quantitative approach.  

Let’s look at some examples of research questions to make this more tangible.

Research Questions: Examples  

Again, we’ll stick with the research aims and research objectives we mentioned previously.  

For the digital transformation topic (which would be qualitative in nature):

How do employees perceive digital transformation in retail HR? What are the barriers and facilitators of digital transformation in retail HR?  

And for the student wellness topic (which would be quantitative in nature):

Does student self-care predict the well-being scores of engineering graduate students? Does student support predict the well-being scores of engineering students? Do student self-care and student support interact when predicting well-being in engineering graduate students?  

You’ll probably notice that there’s quite a formulaic approach to this. In other words, the research questions are basically the research objectives “converted” into question format. While that is true most of the time, it’s not always the case. For example, the first research objective for the digital transformation topic was more or less a step on the path toward the other objectives, and as such, it didn’t warrant its own research question.  

So, don’t rush your research questions and sloppily reword your objectives as questions. Carefully think about what exactly you’re trying to achieve (i.e. your research aim) and the objectives you’ve set out, then craft a set of well-aligned research questions . Also, keep in mind that this can be a somewhat iterative process , where you go back and tweak research objectives and aims to ensure tight alignment throughout the golden thread.

The importance of strong alignment 

Alignment is the keyword here and we have to stress its importance . Simply put, you need to make sure that there is a very tight alignment between all three pieces of the golden thread. If your research aims and research questions don’t align, for example, your project will be pulling in different directions and will lack focus . This is a common problem students face and can cause many headaches (and tears), so be warned.

Take the time to carefully craft your research aims, objectives and research questions before you run off down the research path. Ideally, get your research supervisor/advisor to review and comment on your golden thread before you invest significant time into your project, and certainly before you start collecting data .  

Recap: The golden thread

In this post, we unpacked the golden thread of research, consisting of the research aims , research objectives and research questions . You can jump back to any section using the links below.

As always, feel free to leave a comment below – we always love to hear from you. Also, if you’re interested in 1-on-1 support, take a look at our private coaching service here.

good research question examples

Psst… there’s more (for free)

This post is part of our dissertation mini-course, which covers everything you need to get started with your dissertation, thesis or research project. 

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Isaac Levi

Thank you very much for your great effort put. As an Undergraduate taking Demographic Research & Methodology, I’ve been trying so hard to understand clearly what is a Research Question, Research Aim and the Objectives in a research and the relationship between them etc. But as for now I’m thankful that you’ve solved my problem.

Hatimu Bah

Well appreciated. This has helped me greatly in doing my dissertation.

Dr. Abdallah Kheri

An so delighted with this wonderful information thank you a lot.

so impressive i have benefited a lot looking forward to learn more on research.

Ekwunife, Chukwunonso Onyeka Steve

I am very happy to have carefully gone through this well researched article.

Infact,I used to be phobia about anything research, because of my poor understanding of the concepts.

Now,I get to know that my research question is the same as my research objective(s) rephrased in question format.

I please I would need a follow up on the subject,as I intends to join the team of researchers. Thanks once again.


Thanks so much. This was really helpful.


I know you pepole have tried to break things into more understandable and easy format. And God bless you. Keep it up


i found this document so useful towards my study in research methods. thanks so much.

Michael L. Andrion

This is my 2nd read topic in your course and I should commend the simplified explanations of each part. I’m beginning to understand and absorb the use of each part of a dissertation/thesis. I’ll keep on reading your free course and might be able to avail the training course! Kudos!


Thank you! Better put that my lecture and helped to easily understand the basics which I feel often get brushed over when beginning dissertation work.

Enoch Tindiwegi

This is quite helpful. I like how the Golden thread has been explained and the needed alignment.

Sora Dido Boru

This is quite helpful. I really appreciate!


The article made it simple for researcher students to differentiate between three concepts.

Afowosire Wasiu Adekunle

Very innovative and educational in approach to conducting research.

Sàlihu Abubakar Dayyabu

I am very impressed with all these terminology, as I am a fresh student for post graduate, I am highly guided and I promised to continue making consultation when the need arise. Thanks a lot.

Mohammed Shamsudeen

A very helpful piece. thanks, I really appreciate it .

Sonam Jyrwa

Very well explained, and it might be helpful to many people like me.


Wish i had found this (and other) resource(s) at the beginning of my PhD journey… not in my writing up year… 😩 Anyways… just a quick question as i’m having some issues ordering my “golden thread”…. does it matter in what order you mention them? i.e., is it always first aims, then objectives, and finally the questions? or can you first mention the research questions and then the aims and objectives?


Thank you for a very simple explanation that builds upon the concepts in a very logical manner. Just prior to this, I read the research hypothesis article, which was equally very good. This met my primary objective.

My secondary objective was to understand the difference between research questions and research hypothesis, and in which context to use which one. However, I am still not clear on this. Can you kindly please guide?

Derek Jansen

In research, a research question is a clear and specific inquiry that the researcher wants to answer, while a research hypothesis is a tentative statement or prediction about the relationship between variables or the expected outcome of the study. Research questions are broader and guide the overall study, while hypotheses are specific and testable statements used in quantitative research. Research questions identify the problem, while hypotheses provide a focus for testing in the study.

Saen Fanai

Exactly what I need in this research journey, I look forward to more of your coaching videos.

Abubakar Rofiat Opeyemi

This helped a lot. Thanks so much for the effort put into explaining it.

Lamin Tarawally

What data source in writing dissertation/Thesis requires?

What is data source covers when writing dessertation/thesis

Latifat Muhammed

This is quite useful thanks


I’m excited and thankful. I got so much value which will help me progress in my thesis.

Amer Al-Rashid

where are the locations of the reserch statement, research objective and research question in a reserach paper? Can you write an ouline that defines their places in the researh paper?


Very helpful and important tips on Aims, Objectives and Questions.

Refiloe Raselane

Thank you so much for making research aim, research objectives and research question so clear. This will be helpful to me as i continue with my thesis.

Annabelle Roda-Dafielmoto

Thanks much for this content. I learned a lot. And I am inspired to learn more. I am still struggling with my preparation for dissertation outline/proposal. But I consistently follow contents and tutorials and the new FB of GRAD Coach. Hope to really become confident in writing my dissertation and successfully defend it.


As a researcher and lecturer, I find splitting research goals into research aims, objectives, and questions is unnecessarily bureaucratic and confusing for students. For most biomedical research projects, including ‘real research’, 1-3 research questions will suffice (numbers may differ by discipline).


Awesome! Very important resources and presented in an informative way to easily understand the golden thread. Indeed, thank you so much.


Well explained

New Growth Care Group

The blog article on research aims, objectives, and questions by Grad Coach is a clear and insightful guide that aligns with my experiences in academic research. The article effectively breaks down the often complex concepts of research aims and objectives, providing a straightforward and accessible explanation. Drawing from my own research endeavors, I appreciate the practical tips offered, such as the need for specificity and clarity when formulating research questions. The article serves as a valuable resource for students and researchers, offering a concise roadmap for crafting well-defined research goals and objectives. Whether you’re a novice or an experienced researcher, this article provides practical insights that contribute to the foundational aspects of a successful research endeavor.


A great thanks for you. it is really amazing explanation. I grasp a lot and one step up to research knowledge.


I really found these tips helpful. Thank you very much Grad Coach.

Rahma D.

I found this article helpful. Thanks for sharing this.

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Research Questions: Types and Research Question Examples

The complete guide to research questions, including examples and sample research questions.

Research questions are critical components of any scientific investigation, guiding researchers toward focused preliminary research and assisting them in producing significant results. They provide a clear direction and purpose for the research paper and serve as the cornerstone.

In this article, we will discuss the significance of research questions and present 27 examples from diverse fields to demonstrate their variety and application.

What are the research questions?

Research questions are defined as fundamental questions that facilitate a research project, a research study, a dissertation, a thesis, or a review. It allows researchers to collect relevant information to narrow the study's purpose and solve the research problem.

Asking appropriate research questions is the most crucial step in market research projects. You can use the insights from your own research questions to determine the path of the study. These insights also play an essential role in conducting a survey, analyzing obtained data, and reporting the analyzed information.

Choosing the right research questions helps you decide whether qualitative and quantitative research methods are best. The main objective of your research and the research theme define the type of qualitative or quantitative research questions you use.

The target audience and kind of research you're conducting also play significant roles. Below are a few research question ideas and good research question examples.

27 Research questions examples

To develop research questions for your academic research or marketing study, you must understand the types of questions available. Let's look at examples of research questions and sample research questions in general. Use these existing methods or research question examples to build beautiful surveys.

01. Open-ended research question

Open-ended questions are widely used in qualitative research and are common examples of qualitative research questions. Open-ended questions capture open responses from a research audience and open the door for text-based analysis of the data you receive.

This type of question forms the foundation of online qualitative research conducted using surveys and questionnaires.

Below is an example of an open-ended research question:


02. Multiple choice research question

Researchers use multiple-choice research questions to capture single or multiple responses from your research audience. They typically use these market research questions when conducting poll-based research, where the audience needs to select multiple responses to one problem. It can also be used with single-select answers to limit the number of answers a respondent can choose.

Below is an example of a multiple-choice research question with a single-select answer option:


03. Rank order scaling research question

This is a ranking-type question that offers multiple answer options. The participant selects answers in order of preference. Researchers usually use these research questions to understand respondents' opinions on preferred brands or products.

You can use data from rank order questions to determine which product a respondent prefers, even if they enjoy multiple products. For example, someone may like chocolates, cakes, and candy, but which do they like the most?

Rank-order scaling questions are the right research questions to determine which dessert is most loved by the respondent.

Below is a typical example of rank order:


04. Rating scale research question

Rating scale research questions capture responses based on a continuous scale rather than individual points. It is often used in medical research visual analog scales or pain scales, where patients need to rate their pain level. Another example would be a typical experience-based rating scale, like the example below.


05. Net promoter score question

Brands typically use a Net Promoter Score question to evaluate customer loyalty and brand recommendations. This question type is prevalent in consumer research, where this single question can provide numeric insights into the customer experience.

The data collected from Net Promoter Score questions allows you to see how many of your brand's followers are actively promoting your brand. You also get insight into how many are actively not recommending your products. For example, respondents answer this question on a scale of 0-10:


As per their rankings, respondents are classified under either of the three groups: Detractors (0-6), Passives (7-8), and Promoters (9-10).

06. Likert scale research question

The Likert scale question presents a psychometric scale with different answer options such as agree/disagree, very frequently/not very often, important/unimportant, and other similar polarizing nature questions. Generally divided into even and odd Likert scale questions, they are highly popular with researchers due to the accuracy of their results.


07. Semantic differential scale research question

A semantic differential scale question quantifies the feelings and opinions of a respondent. This question type uses a multiple-point rating scale to understand better the respondent's feelings on a particular service, brand, organization, or product. The scale features polarized opinions on either end, with a neutral option in the middle.


08. Stapel scale research question

It is a unipolar research question with a +5 to -5 rating scale for the respondents to rate a single factor. These questions often involve offering the respondent an adjective or trait in conjunction with a brand or product. The respondent uses the scale to determine whether the attribute accurately or inaccurately describes the brand, product, or organization.


09. Constant sum research question

A numeric answer question allows a researcher to collect ratio data about the answer options' factors. Respondents can assign a particular value to an entity, and the other entities can be comparatively rated.


10. Demographic research question

Demographic questions are based on a person's age, gender, family income, race, ethnicity, education, and other defining factors. Research about whether a specific product will be effective with a particular age or gender group can be carried out using demographic research questions.


11. Matrix table research question

It is a multiple-choice, close-ended question where multiple parameters are rated using the same column answer options. Matrix questions work similarly to any other scale questions but allow for more efficient use of space. Instead of asking five questions about the quality of different customer experiences, you can use just one question to capture the data.


12. Side-by-side matrix research question

Side-by-side matrix research questions allow the respondent to rate multiple variables at once. Like a single matrix, these research questions will enable you to compact your survey. However, you mustn't overload respondents with too many matrix questions, as they require more thought to answer. It can lead to high dropout rates.


13. Static content question

This question is an option for the researchers to include descriptive research questions such as presentation text, heading, or subheading. Static content isn't technically a question, as it is used for display purposes only. Instead, your static content can provide participants with important information about a section or your survey.


14. Miscellaneous question

Miscellaneous questions allow you to ask questions that don't fit into another category. Some types of demographic or categorizing questions are best used as miscellaneous questions.


15. Visual analog scale question

A visual analog scale is used to analyze pain levels among patients and generally evaluate characteristics across a constant range of values. It gives a picture or graphic that depicts various feelings on a scale. The respondent uses the images to help determine where they fall on the scale.


16. Image chooser-type question

Images are perfect tools to enhance user experience and, in turn, increase response rates for research. Image research questions help make your survey more visually appealing while decreasing the time a respondent needs to answer a question. Using select one, select many, or image rating matrix question options prompts several respondents to reply to the research survey.


17. Data reference question

Reference data research questions are used to accumulate or approve zip code data against standardized data.


18. Upload data question

Respondents can upload images, digital signatures, or videos with their research responses. Upload data questions are the right research questions for collecting signatures or accepting submissions.


19. Choice model question

Conjoint analysis and Maximum Difference questions fall under the category of choice model research questions. Conjoint analysis is used to understand respondent preferences about two or more entities. Maximum Difference is used to rate up to 30 factors such as features, interests, the scope of improvement, or the potential positioning of an upcoming product.


20. Dichotomous research question

These question types have Yes/No/Maybe, True/False, and Agree/Disagree answer options. Using them extensively in research is not advised due to the limited insights received.


21. Leading research question

A leading question is a market research question that pushes respondents to answer a particular question in a specific manner based on how they are framed. Leading questions often already contain information that the survey creator wants to confirm rather than try to get a correct and unbiased answer to that question.

22. Text slider research question

A text slider research question is a rating scale question type that uses an interactive slider to select the most appropriate option. Rating scales are often used to measure the direction and intensity of attitudes. The scale is well-defined and increases at an equal rate.


23. Push to the social research question

Push to social research questions allows respondents to share positive reviews or feedback on social media sites like Facebook and Twitter. This question creates a positive feeling about your brand on social media. Alternatively, this can be effectively used to collect and address negative feedback before it goes out on social media.


24. Max diff research question

Max Diff is a question type where respondents are given a set of attributes and asked to indicate the best and worst. In this research question type, there is only one of each option in the final response. For example, if a bank wants to understand payment merchants' preferences, the question can be asked in the following format.


25. Van Westendorp-price sensitivity research Question

The Van Westendorp-Price Sensitivity is a technique for market researchers to gauge consumer perceptions of products or services' value. It helps in understanding the need to tweak the price and offering. For example, if a software product manufacturer wants to know how to price a product, the following question could be asked:


26. Date/time research question

The date/Time research question type allows for collecting date/time information filled in by a respondent. For example, the following question can answer questions about the date of birth.


27. CAPTCHA research question

This research question type limits the number of phony responses in a survey or data collection by automated computer programs.


Importance of using the right research questions

When a research program is initiated, it requires a channel to accurately collect data for the study. Research questions form this channel and help a researcher to kick-start the research.

As the research continues, these questions are molded according to the original insights, which shape a practical study. Your first research questions may not be the final step in the research process, but they are the first to build your research hypothesis.

The importance of research questions can be highly subjective. For some researchers, formulating research questions might be necessary because they provide insights into essential decision-making factors.

Or example, a focused research question could give you vital data about funding needs or how to find the right resources to reach business goals.

How to write a research question to capture accurate information

What are the good research questions? Specific research questions are much more useful than template questions. Follow these six steps to learn how to write questions for research:

  • Select a broad research topic that interests the target audience: You must choose an intriguing topic to target respondents. Interesting research topics encourage respondents to complete the survey on time. The problem should be vague enough that you can create plenty of the right research questions. You don't want your topic to be so specific that you can't produce enough questions to gather the needed data.
  • Conduct rough research on your topic: Conduct primary research to analyze what information is available and what can be explored. This way, you can decide which case is most likely to achieve the best results based on what data is not currently available.
  • Keep the target audience in mind: You must keep your target audience in mind and slowly narrow your research to a topic that caters to a particular set of people. It will help gather precise research information to make products and services customer-centric and boost your business.
  • Frame appropriate questions: Draft a research questionnaire with open-ended and closed-ended questions to help you get the necessary information. You can use question framing to help you get the most information out of a respondent. For example, offer an open-ended and closed-ended questions about one particular product next to one another in your survey.
  • Analyze these research questions: Once the questions are framed and ready to be sent out, you must analyze the questions' effectiveness. If there is room for improvement, these questions need to be revisited and reframed.
  • Brainstorm the possible outcomes: After creating appropriate questions, you can map out your questions' potential responses. What types of answers are you expecting? Will they support your current plan? If not, what changes can you make to serve customers better based on their responses? This step helps prepare everyone involved in the survey and data analysis of a potential plan of action based on the study's top possible outcomes.

Three points to remember while writing research questions: Ordering your questions is vital to give a sense of flow to the survey. Always rank your items from simple concepts to more complex ones. Here are tips on how to write a research question.

  • Right research questions start with a problem that needs to be solved.
  • Research questions must be engaging enough for customers or employees to invest their time. At the same time, your questions need to provide data that can actually be used to better your brand or organization.
  • Your questions should be straightforward to understand. It helps keep respondents engaged while also collecting the most accurate answers. If a respondent doesn't understand a problem, they may back out of the survey or choose an answer randomly.

What are examples of good research questions?

Clear, specific, pertinent, and capable of producing new knowledge with existing knowledge or insights are all characteristics of good research questions. Here are a few examples of good research questions from many disciplines:

  • Question: What specifications would you like us to launch with our next mobile phone? The reason why it is a good research question: The question asks about a specific product. It will give respondents room to explain what they expect from an upcoming product.
  • Question: What steps do you suggest to tackle the current situation of world poverty? The reason why it is a good research question: This question is simply put in practical terms so that the respondents can reply honestly to this open-ended question.
  • Question: Among all our products, which one do you think is the most successful? The reason why it is a good research question: By asking respondents which product they think is most successful, you gain valuable insight into the perception of your various products.
  • Question: How can online users deal with trolls on social networking websites? The reason why it is a broad research question: These are focused research questions that are well-constructed and understandable.
  • Question: As a customer, what qualities in an organization appeal to you, and what can be done to make you stay loyal? The reason why it is a broad research question: The reason why it is a good research question: This question is complicated yet conveys the message.

It is important to ensure that research questions are specific, relevant, and attainable. Researchers can then begin with relevant questions that have the potential to make significant improvements to their respective professions.


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How to Develop a Good Research Question? — Types & Examples

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Cecilia is living through a tough situation in her research life. Figuring out where to begin, how to start her research study, and how to pose the right question for her research quest, is driving her insane. Well, questions, if not asked correctly, have a tendency to spiral us!

Image Source: https://phdcomics.com/

Questions lead everyone to answers. Research is a quest to find answers. Not the vague questions that Cecilia means to answer, but definitely more focused questions that define your research. Therefore, asking appropriate question becomes an important matter of discussion.

A well begun research process requires a strong research question. It directs the research investigation and provides a clear goal to focus on. Understanding the characteristics of comprising a good research question will generate new ideas and help you discover new methods in research.

In this article, we are aiming to help researchers understand what is a research question and how to write one with examples.

Table of Contents

What Is a Research Question?

A good research question defines your study and helps you seek an answer to your research. Moreover, a clear research question guides the research paper or thesis to define exactly what you want to find out, giving your work its objective. Learning to write a research question is the beginning to any thesis, dissertation , or research paper. Furthermore, the question addresses issues or problems which is answered through analysis and interpretation of data.

Why Is a Research Question Important?

A strong research question guides the design of a study. Moreover, it helps determine the type of research and identify specific objectives. Research questions state the specific issue you are addressing and focus on outcomes of the research for individuals to learn. Therefore, it helps break up the study into easy steps to complete the objectives and answer the initial question.

Types of Research Questions

Research questions can be categorized into different types, depending on the type of research you want to undergo. Furthermore, knowing the type of research will help a researcher determine the best type of research question to use.

1. Qualitative Research Question

Qualitative questions concern broad areas or more specific areas of research. However, unlike quantitative questions, qualitative research questions are adaptable, non-directional and more flexible. Qualitative research question focus on discovering, explaining, elucidating, and exploring.

i. Exploratory Questions

This form of question looks to understand something without influencing the results. The objective of exploratory questions is to learn more about a topic without attributing bias or preconceived notions to it.

Research Question Example: Asking how a chemical is used or perceptions around a certain topic.

ii. Predictive Questions

Predictive research questions are defined as survey questions that automatically predict the best possible response options based on text of the question. Moreover, these questions seek to understand the intent or future outcome surrounding a topic.

Research Question Example: Asking why a consumer behaves in a certain way or chooses a certain option over other.

iii. Interpretive Questions

This type of research question allows the study of people in the natural setting. The questions help understand how a group makes sense of shared experiences with regards to various phenomena. These studies gather feedback on a group’s behavior without affecting the outcome.

Research Question Example: How do you feel about AI assisting publishing process in your research?

2. Quantitative Research Question

Quantitative questions prove or disprove a researcher’s hypothesis through descriptions, comparisons, and relationships. These questions are beneficial when choosing a research topic or when posing follow-up questions that garner more information.

i. Descriptive Questions

It is the most basic type of quantitative research question and it seeks to explain when, where, why, or how something occurred. Moreover, they use data and statistics to describe an event or phenomenon.

Research Question Example: How many generations of genes influence a future generation?

ii. Comparative Questions

Sometimes it’s beneficial to compare one occurrence with another. Therefore, comparative questions are helpful when studying groups with dependent variables.

Example: Do men and women have comparable metabolisms?

iii. Relationship-Based Questions

This type of research question answers influence of one variable on another. Therefore, experimental studies use this type of research questions are majorly.

Example: How is drought condition affect a region’s probability for wildfires.  

How to Write a Good Research Question?

good research question

1. Select a Topic

The first step towards writing a good research question is to choose a broad topic of research. You could choose a research topic that interests you, because the complete research will progress further from the research question. Therefore, make sure to choose a topic that you are passionate about, to make your research study more enjoyable.

2. Conduct Preliminary Research

After finalizing the topic, read and know about what research studies are conducted in the field so far. Furthermore, this will help you find articles that talk about the topics that are yet to be explored. You could explore the topics that the earlier research has not studied.

3. Consider Your Audience

The most important aspect of writing a good research question is to find out if there is audience interested to know the answer to the question you are proposing. Moreover, determining your audience will assist you in refining your research question, and focus on aspects that relate to defined groups.

4. Generate Potential Questions

The best way to generate potential questions is to ask open ended questions. Questioning broader topics will allow you to narrow down to specific questions. Identifying the gaps in literature could also give you topics to write the research question. Moreover, you could also challenge the existing assumptions or use personal experiences to redefine issues in research.

5. Review Your Questions

Once you have listed few of your questions, evaluate them to find out if they are effective research questions. Moreover while reviewing, go through the finer details of the question and its probable outcome, and find out if the question meets the research question criteria.

6. Construct Your Research Question

There are two frameworks to construct your research question. The first one being PICOT framework , which stands for:

  • Population or problem
  • Intervention or indicator being studied
  • Comparison group
  • Outcome of interest
  • Time frame of the study.

The second framework is PEO , which stands for:

  • Population being studied
  • Exposure to preexisting conditions
  • Outcome of interest.

Research Question Examples

  • How might the discovery of a genetic basis for alcoholism impact triage processes in medical facilities?
  • How do ecological systems respond to chronic anthropological disturbance?
  • What are demographic consequences of ecological interactions?
  • What roles do fungi play in wildfire recovery?
  • How do feedbacks reinforce patterns of genetic divergence on the landscape?
  • What educational strategies help encourage safe driving in young adults?
  • What makes a grocery store easy for shoppers to navigate?
  • What genetic factors predict if someone will develop hypothyroidism?
  • Does contemporary evolution along the gradients of global change alter ecosystems function?

How did you write your first research question ? What were the steps you followed to create a strong research question? Do write to us or comment below.

Frequently Asked Questions

Research questions guide the focus and direction of a research study. Here are common types of research questions: 1. Qualitative research question: Qualitative questions concern broad areas or more specific areas of research. However, unlike quantitative questions, qualitative research questions are adaptable, non-directional and more flexible. Different types of qualitative research questions are: i. Exploratory questions ii. Predictive questions iii. Interpretive questions 2. Quantitative Research Question: Quantitative questions prove or disprove a researcher’s hypothesis through descriptions, comparisons, and relationships. These questions are beneficial when choosing a research topic or when posing follow-up questions that garner more information. Different types of quantitative research questions are: i. Descriptive questions ii. Comparative questions iii. Relationship-based questions

Qualitative research questions aim to explore the richness and depth of participants' experiences and perspectives. They should guide your research and allow for in-depth exploration of the phenomenon under investigation. After identifying the research topic and the purpose of your research: • Begin with Broad Inquiry: Start with a general research question that captures the main focus of your study. This question should be open-ended and allow for exploration. • Break Down the Main Question: Identify specific aspects or dimensions related to the main research question that you want to investigate. • Formulate Sub-questions: Create sub-questions that delve deeper into each specific aspect or dimension identified in the previous step. • Ensure Open-endedness: Make sure your research questions are open-ended and allow for varied responses and perspectives. Avoid questions that can be answered with a simple "yes" or "no." Encourage participants to share their experiences, opinions, and perceptions in their own words. • Refine and Review: Review your research questions to ensure they align with your research purpose, topic, and objectives. Seek feedback from your research advisor or peers to refine and improve your research questions.

Developing research questions requires careful consideration of the research topic, objectives, and the type of study you intend to conduct. Here are the steps to help you develop effective research questions: 1. Select a Topic 2. Conduct Preliminary Research 3. Consider Your Audience 4. Generate Potential Questions 5. Review Your Questions 6. Construct Your Research Question Based on PICOT or PEO Framework

There are two frameworks to construct your research question. The first one being PICOT framework, which stands for: • Population or problem • Intervention or indicator being studied • Comparison group • Outcome of interest • Time frame of the study The second framework is PEO, which stands for: • Population being studied • Exposure to preexisting conditions • Outcome of interest

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Writing Strong Research Questions | Criteria & Examples

Published on 30 October 2022 by Shona McCombes . Revised on 12 December 2023.

A research question pinpoints exactly what you want to find out in your work. A good research question is essential to guide your research paper , dissertation , or thesis .

All research questions should be:

  • Focused on a single problem or issue
  • Researchable using primary and/or secondary sources
  • Feasible to answer within the timeframe and practical constraints
  • Specific enough to answer thoroughly
  • Complex enough to develop the answer over the space of a paper or thesis
  • Relevant to your field of study and/or society more broadly

Writing Strong Research Questions

Table of contents

How to write a research question, what makes a strong research question, research questions quiz, frequently asked questions.

You can follow these steps to develop a strong research question:

  • Choose your topic
  • Do some preliminary reading about the current state of the field
  • Narrow your focus to a specific niche
  • Identify the research problem that you will address

The way you frame your question depends on what your research aims to achieve. The table below shows some examples of how you might formulate questions for different purposes.

Using your research problem to develop your research question

Note that while most research questions can be answered with various types of research , the way you frame your question should help determine your choices.

Prevent plagiarism, run a free check.

Research questions anchor your whole project, so it’s important to spend some time refining them. The criteria below can help you evaluate the strength of your research question.

Focused and researchable

Feasible and specific, complex and arguable, relevant and original.

The way you present your research problem in your introduction varies depending on the nature of your research paper . A research paper that presents a sustained argument will usually encapsulate this argument in a thesis statement .

A research paper designed to present the results of empirical research tends to present a research question that it seeks to answer. It may also include a hypothesis – a prediction that will be confirmed or disproved by your research.

As you cannot possibly read every source related to your topic, it’s important to evaluate sources to assess their relevance. Use preliminary evaluation to determine whether a source is worth examining in more depth.

This involves:

  • Reading abstracts , prefaces, introductions , and conclusions
  • Looking at the table of contents to determine the scope of the work
  • Consulting the index for key terms or the names of important scholars

An essay isn’t just a loose collection of facts and ideas. Instead, it should be centered on an overarching argument (summarised in your thesis statement ) that every part of the essay relates to.

The way you structure your essay is crucial to presenting your argument coherently. A well-structured essay helps your reader follow the logic of your ideas and understand your overall point.

A research hypothesis is your proposed answer to your research question. The research hypothesis usually includes an explanation (‘ x affects y because …’).

A statistical hypothesis, on the other hand, is a mathematical statement about a population parameter. Statistical hypotheses always come in pairs: the null and alternative hypotheses. In a well-designed study , the statistical hypotheses correspond logically to the research hypothesis.

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McCombes, S. (2023, December 12). Writing Strong Research Questions | Criteria & Examples. Scribbr. Retrieved 9 April 2024, from https://www.scribbr.co.uk/the-research-process/research-question/

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How To Write a Good Research Question: Guide with Definition, Tips & Examples

good research question examples

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Emma David, a seasoned market research professional, specializes in employee engagement, survey administration, and data management. Her expertise in leveraging data for informed decisions has positively impacted several brands, enhancing their market position.

good research question examples

Research questions form the backbone of any study, guiding researchers in their search for knowledge and understanding. Framing relevant research questions is the first essential step for ensuring the research is effective and produces valuable insights.

In this blog, we’ll explore what research questions are, tips for crafting them, and a variety of research question examples across different fields to help you formulate a well-balanced research questionnaire.

Let’s begin.

What Is a Research Question?

A research question is a specific inquiry or problem statement guiding a research study, outlining the researcher’s intention to investigate. Think of it as a roadmap for your paper or thesis – it tells you exactly what you want to explore, giving your work a clear purpose.

A good research question not only helps you focus your writing but also guides your readers. It gives them a clear idea of what your research is about and what you aim to achieve. Before you start drafting your paper and even before you conduct your study, it’s important to write a concise statement of what you want to accomplish or discover.

This sets the stage for your research and ensures your work is focused and purposeful.

Why Are Research Questions Important?

Research questions are the cornerstone of any academic or scientific inquiry. They serve as a guide for the research process, helping to focus the study, define its goals, and structure its methodology. 

Below are some of its most significant impacts, along with hypothetical examples to help you understand them better:

1. Guidance and Focus

Research questions provide a clear direction for the study, enabling researchers to narrow down the scope of their investigation to a manageable size. Research efforts can become scattered and unfocused without a well-defined question without a well-defined question, leading to wasted time and resources.

For example, consider a researcher interested in studying the effects of technology on education. A broad interest in technology and education could lead to an overwhelming range of topics to cover. However, by formulating a specific research question such as, “ How does the use of interactive digital textbooks in high school science classes affect students’ learning outcomes?” the researcher can focus their study on a specific aspect of technology in education, making the research more manageable and directed.

2. Defining the Research Objectives

A well-crafted research question helps to clearly define what the researcher aims to discover, examine, or analyze. This clarity is crucial for determining the study’s objectives and ensures that every step of the research process contributes toward achieving these goals.

For example, in a study aimed at understanding the impact of remote work on employee productivity, a research question such as “ Does remote work increase productivity among information technology professionals? ” directly sets the objective of the study to measure productivity levels among a specific group when working remotely.

3. Determining the Research Methodology

The research question influences the choice of methodology, including the design, data collection methods, and analysis techniques. It dictates whether the study should be qualitative, quantitative, or mixed methods and guides the selection of tools and procedures for conducting the research.

For example, in a research question like “ What are the lived experiences of first-generation college students? ” a qualitative approach using interviews or focus groups might be chosen to gather deep, nuanced insights into students’ experiences. In contrast, a question such as “ What percentage of first-generation college students graduate within four years?” would require a quantitative approach, possibly utilizing existing educational data sets for analysis.

4. Enhancing Relevance and Contribution

A well-thought-out research question ensures that the study addresses a gap in the existing literature or solves a real-world problem. This relevance is crucial for the contribution of the research to the field, as it helps to advance knowledge, inform policy, or offer practical solutions.

For example, in a scenario where existing research has largely overlooked the environmental impacts of single-use plastics in urban waterways, a question like “ What are the effects of single-use plastic pollution on the biodiversity of urban waterways?” can fill this gap, contributing valuable new insights to environmental science and potentially influencing urban environmental policies.

5. Facilitating Data Interpretation and Analysis

Clear research questions help in structuring the analysis, guiding the interpretation of data, and framing the discussion of results. They ensure that the data collected is directly relevant to the questions posed, making it easier to draw meaningful conclusions.

For example, in a study asking, “ How do social media algorithms influence political polarization among users? ” the data analysis would specifically focus on the mechanisms of algorithmic content delivery and its effects on user behavior and political views. This focus makes it straightforward to interpret how algorithm-induced echo chambers might contribute to polarization.

Types of Research Questions

Understanding the different types of research questions is essential for researchers to effectively design and conduct studies that align with their research objectives and methodologies

These questions can be broadly categorized into three main types: quantitative, qualitative, and mixed-method research questions.

Let’s explore each type in-depth, along with some examples.

Type A: Quantitative Research Questions

Quantitative research involves the collection and analysis of numerical data to answer specific research questions or hypotheses. It focuses on quantifying relationships, patterns, and phenomena, often using statistical methods for analysis. Quantitative research questions are typically structured and aim to explore relationships between variables or assess the impact of interventions.

Quantitative research questions can again be subcategorized into three distinct types:

1. Descriptive Questions :

Descriptive questions aim to describe characteristics, behaviors, or phenomena within a population. These questions often start with words like “ how much ,” “ how many ,” or “ what is the frequency of .” They provide a snapshot of a particular situation or phenomenon.

Example: “ What is the average age of first-time homebuyers in the United States?”

2. Comparative Questions :

Comparative questions seek to compare two or more groups, conditions, or variables to identify differences or similarities. They often involve the use of statistical tests to determine the significance of observed differences or associations.

Example: “Is there a significant difference in academic performance between students who receive tutoring and those who do not?”

3. Relationship Questions:

Relationship questions explore the associations or correlations between variables. They aim to determine the strength and direction of relationships, allowing researchers to assess the predictive power of one variable on another.

Example: “What is the relationship between exercise frequency and levels of anxiety among adults?”

Type B: Qualitative Research Questions

Qualitative research involves the exploring and understanding of complex phenomena through an in-depth examination of individuals’ experiences, behaviors, and perspectives. It aims to uncover meaning, patterns, and underlying processes within a specific context, often through techniques such as interviews, observations, and content analysis.

Types of qualitative research questions:

1. Exploratory Questions:

Exploratory questions seek to understand a particular phenomenon or issue in depth. They aim to uncover new insights, perspectives, or dimensions that may not have been previously considered.

Example: “What are the experiences of LGBTQ+ individuals in accessing healthcare services in rural communities?”

2. Descriptive Questions:

Descriptive questions aim to provide a detailed description or portrayal of a phenomenon or social context. They focus on capturing the intricacies and nuances of a particular situation or setting.

Example: “What are the communication patterns within multicultural teams in a corporate setting?”

3. Explanatory Questions:

Explanatory questions delve into the underlying reasons, mechanisms, or processes that influence a phenomenon or behavior. They aim to uncover the ‘why’ behind observed patterns or relationships.

Example: “What factors contribute to employee turnover in the hospitality industry?”

Type C: Mixed-Methods Research Questions

Mixed-methods research integrates both quantitative and qualitative approaches within a single study, allowing researchers to gain a comprehensive understanding of a research problem. Mixed-method research questions are designed to address complex phenomena from multiple perspectives, combining the strengths of both quantitative and qualitative methodologies.

Types of Mixed-Methods Research Questions:

1. Sequential Questions:

Sequential questions involve the collection and analysis of quantitative and qualitative data in separate phases or stages. The findings from one phase inform the design and implementation of the subsequent phase.

Example: “Quantitatively, what are the prevalence rates of mental health disorders among adolescents? Qualitatively, what are the factors influencing help-seeking behaviors among adolescents with mental health concerns?”

2. Concurrent Questions:

Concurrent questions involve the simultaneous collection and analysis of quantitative and qualitative data. Researchers triangulate findings from both methods to provide a more comprehensive understanding of the research problem.

Example: “How do students’ academic performance (quantitative) correlate with their perceptions of school climate (qualitative)?”

3. Transformative Questions:

Transformative questions aim to use mixed-methods research to bring about social change or inform policy decisions. They seek to address complex societal issues by combining quantitative data on prevalence rates or trends with qualitative insights into lived experiences and perspectives.

Example: “What are the barriers to accessing healthcare services for underserved communities, and how can healthcare policies be redesigned to address these barriers effectively?”

Steps to Developing a Good Research Question

Developing a good research question is a crucial first step in any research endeavor. A well-crafted research question serves as the foundation for the entire study, guiding the researcher in formulating hypotheses, selecting appropriate methodologies, and conducting meaningful analyses.

Here are the steps to developing a good research question:

Identify a Broad Topic

Begin by identifying a broad area of interest or a topic that you would like to explore. This could stem from your academic discipline, professional interests, or personal curiosity. However, make sure to choose a topic that is both relevant and feasible for research within the constraints of your resources and expertise.

Conduct Preliminary Research

Before refining your research question, conduct preliminary research to familiarize yourself with existing literature and identify gaps, controversies, or unanswered questions within your chosen topic. This step will help you narrow down your focus and ensure that your research question contributes to the existing body of knowledge.

Narrow Down Your Focus

Based on your preliminary research, narrow down your focus to a specific aspect, problem, or issue within your chosen topic. Consider the scope of your study, the availability of resources, and the feasibility of addressing your research question within a reasonable timeframe. Narrowing down your focus will help you formulate a more precise and manageable research question.

Define Key Concepts and Variables

Clearly define the key concepts, variables, or constructs that are central to your research question. This includes identifying the main variables you will be investigating, as well as any relevant theoretical or conceptual frameworks that will guide your study. Clarifying these aspects will ensure that your research question is clear, specific, and focused.

Formulate Your Research Question

Based on your narrowed focus and defined key concepts, formulate your research question. A good research question is concise, specific, and clearly articulated. It should be phrased in a way that is open-ended and leads to further inquiry. Avoid vague or overly broad questions that are difficult to answer or lack clarity.

Consider the Type of Research

Consider whether your research question is best suited for quantitative, qualitative, or mixed-methods research. The type of research question will influence your choice of methodologies, data collection techniques, and analytical approaches. Tailor your research question to align with the goals and requirements of your chosen research paradigm.

Evaluate the Significance and Relevance

Evaluate the significance and relevance of your research question within the context of your academic discipline, field of study, or practical implications. Consider how your research question fills gaps in knowledge, addresses practical problems, or advances theoretical understanding. A good research question should be meaningful and contribute to the broader scholarly conversation.

Refine and Revise

Finally, refine and revise your research question based on feedback from colleagues, advisors, or peers. Consider whether the question is clear, feasible, and likely to yield meaningful results. Be open to making revisions as needed to ensure that your research question is well-constructed and aligned with the goals of your study.

Examples of Research Questions

Below are some example research questions from various fields to provide a glimpse into the diverse array of inquiries within each field.

1. Psychology Research Questions:

  • How does childhood trauma influence the development of personality disorders in adulthood?
  • What are the effects of mindfulness meditation on reducing symptoms of anxiety and depression?
  • How does social media usage impact self-esteem among adolescents?
  • What factors contribute to the formation and maintenance of romantic relationships in young adults?
  • What are the cognitive mechanisms underlying decision-making processes in individuals with addiction?
  • How does parenting style affect the development of resilience in children?
  • What are the long-term effects of early childhood attachment patterns on adult romantic relationships?
  • What role does genetics play in the predisposition to mental health disorders such as schizophrenia?
  • How does exposure to violent media influence aggressive behavior in children?
  • What are the psychological effects of social isolation on mental health during the COVID-19 pandemic?

2. Business Research Questions:

  • What are the key factors influencing consumer purchasing behavior in the e-commerce industry?
  • How does organizational culture impact employee job satisfaction and retention?
  • What are the strategies for successful international market entry for small businesses?
  • What are the effects of corporate social responsibility initiatives on brand reputation and consumer loyalty?
  • How do leadership styles influence organizational innovation and performance?
  • What are the challenges and opportunities for implementing sustainable business practices in emerging markets?
  • What factors contribute to the success of startups in the technology sector?
  • How do economic fluctuations affect consumer confidence and spending behavior?
  • What are the impacts of globalization on supply chain management practices?
  • What are the determinants of successful mergers and acquisitions in the corporate sector?

3. Education Research Questions:

  • What teaching strategies are most effective for promoting student engagement in online learning environments?
  • How does socioeconomic status impact academic achievement and educational attainment?
  • What are the barriers to inclusive education for students with disabilities?
  • What factors influence teacher job satisfaction and retention in urban schools?
  • How does parental involvement affect student academic performance and school outcomes?
  • What are the effects of early childhood education programs on later academic success?
  • How do culturally responsive teaching practices impact student learning outcomes in diverse classrooms?
  • What are the best practices for implementing technology integration in K-12 education?
  • How do school leadership practices influence school climate and student outcomes?
  • What interventions are most effective for addressing the achievement gap in STEM education?

4. Healthcare Research Questions:

  • What are the factors influencing healthcare-seeking behavior among underserved populations?
  • How does patient-provider communication affect patient satisfaction and treatment adherence?
  • What are the barriers to implementing telemedicine services in rural communities?
  • What interventions are effective for reducing hospital readmissions among elderly patients?
  • How does access to healthcare services impact health disparities among marginalized communities?
  • What are the effects of nurse staffing levels on patient outcomes in acute care settings?
  • How do socioeconomic factors influence access to mental healthcare services?
  • What are the best practices for managing chronic disease patients in primary care settings?
  • What are the impacts of healthcare reform policies on healthcare delivery and patient outcomes?
  • How does cultural competence training for healthcare providers affect patient trust and satisfaction?

5. Computer Science Research Questions:

  • What are the security vulnerabilities of blockchain technology, and how can they be mitigated?
  • How can machine learning algorithms be used to detect and prevent cyber-attacks?
  • What are the privacy implications of data mining techniques in social media platforms?
  • How can artificial intelligence be used to improve medical diagnosis and treatment?
  • What are the challenges and opportunities for implementing edge computing in IoT systems?
  • How can natural language processing techniques be applied to improve human-computer interaction?
  • What are the impacts of algorithmic bias on fairness and equity in decision-making systems?
  • How can quantum computing algorithms be optimized for solving complex computational problems?
  • What are the ethical considerations surrounding the use of autonomous vehicles in transportation systems?
  • How does the design of user interfaces influence user experience and usability in mobile applications?

Create a Compelling Research Question With the Given Examples

Understanding research questions is essential for any successful research endeavor. We’ve explored the various research questions – quantitative, qualitative, and mixed-methods – each with unique characteristics and purposes.

Through various examples, tips, and strategies, we’ve seen how research questions can be tailored to specific fields of study.

By following these guidelines, we are confident that your research questions will be well-designed, focused, and capable of yielding valuable insights.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are some good research question examples.

Good research questions are clear, specific, relevant, and feasible. For example, “How does childhood trauma influence the development of personality disorders in adulthood?”

What are some examples of good and bad research questions?

Good research questions are focused and relevant, such as “What factors influence employee job satisfaction in the hospitality industry?” Bad research questions are vague or trivial, like “What is the favorite color of employees in the hospitality industry?”

Watch: How to Create a Survey Using ProProfs Survey Maker

Emma David

About the author

Emma David is a seasoned market research professional with 8+ years of experience. Having kick-started her journey in research, she has developed rich expertise in employee engagement, survey creation and administration, and data management. Emma believes in the power of data to shape business performance positively. She continues to help brands and businesses make strategic decisions and improve their market standing through her understanding of research methodologies.

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How to Write a Research Question: Types & Examples

Research questions

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A research question is the main query that researchers seek to answer in their study. It serves as the basis for a scholarly project such as research paper, thesis or dissertation. A good research question should be clear, relevant and specific enough to guide the research process. It should also be open-ended, meaning that it allows for multiple possible answers or interpretations.

If you have located your general subject and main sources but still aren’t quite sure about the exact research questions for your paper, this guide will help you out. First, we will explore the concept of it together, so you could answer it in your work. Then some simple steps on composing your inquiry will be suggested. In the end, we will draw your attention to some specific details which can make your work good or bad. Sometimes it’s just easier to delegate all challenging tasks to a reliable research paper service . StudyCrumb is a trustable network of qualified writers ready to efficiently solve students’ challenges.

What Is a Good Research Question: Full Definition

Good research questions provide a concise definition of a problem. As a scholar, your main goal at the beginning is to select the main focus. It should be narrow enough so you could examine it within your deadline. Your work should be focused on something specific. Otherwise, it will require too much work and might not produce clear answers. At the same time your answer should be arguable and supported by data you’ve collected. Take a look at this example:

example of a good research question

How to Write a Research Question: Step-By-Step Guide

In this section we will examine the process of developing a research question. We will guide you through it, step by step. Keep in mind that your subject should be important for your audience. So it requires some preliminary study and brainstorming. Let’s take a closer look at the main steps.

Step 1. Choose a Broad Topic for Your Research Paper Question

First, you need to decide on your general direction. When trying to identify your research paper questions, it is better to choose an area you are really interested in. You should be able to obtain enough data to write something about this topic. Therefore, do not choose something out of your reach. At the same time, your broad topic should not be too simple. Research paper questions that can be answered without any study would hardly make any sense for your project.

Step 2. Do Preliminary Reading Before Starting Your Research Question

Next, it is time we explore the context of the selected topic. You wouldn’t want to choose research questions that have already been examined and answered in detail. On the other hand, choosing a topic that is a complete ‘terra incognita’ might be a bridge too far for your project. Browse through available sources that are related to this topic. You should try and find out what has been discovered about it before. Do you see a gap that you can fill with your study? You can proceed with developing your exact inquiry! Have no time for in-depth topic exploration? Leave this task to professionals. Entrust your “ write my research paper ” order to StudyCrumb and get a top-notch work.

Step 3. Consider an Audience for Your Research Question

It is good to know your reader well to be able to convey your ideas and results to them in the best possible way. Before writing research questions for your projects, you might need to perform a brief analysis of your audience. That's how you'll be able to understand what is interesting for them and what is not. This will allow you to make better decisions when narrowing your broad topic down. Select a topic that is interesting for your reader! This would contribute much to the success for writing a research paper .

Step 4. Start Asking a Good Research Question

After you have considered your options, go ahead and compose the primary subject of your paper. What makes a good research question? It should highlight some problematic and relevant aspects of the general topic. So, after it is answered, you should have obtained some new valuable knowledge about the subject.  Typically scholars start narrowing down their general topic by asking ‘how’, ‘why’ or ‘what’s next’ questions. This approach might help you come up with a great idea quickly.

Step 5. Evaluate Your Research Question

Finally, after you have composed a research paper question, you should take a second look at it and see if it is good enough for your paper. It would be useful to analyze it from the following sides:

  • Is it clear for your audience?
  • Is it complex enough to require significant study?
  • Is it focused on a certain aspect of your general topic?

You might use the help of your peers or your friends at this step. You can also show it to your tutor and ask for their opinion.

Types of Research Questions: Which to Choose

A number of research questions types are available for use in a paper. They are divided into two main groups:

Qualitative questions:

  • Explanatory
  • Ethnographic

Quantitative questions:

  • Descriptive
  • Comparative
  • Relationship based.

Selecting a certain type would impact the course of your study. We suggest you think about it carefully. Below you can find a few words about each type. Also, you can seek proficient help from academic experts. Buy a research paper from real pros and forget about stress once and for all.

Qualitative Research Questions: Definition With Example

When doing qualitative research, you are expected to aim to understand the different aspects and qualities of your target problem. Therefore, your thesis should focus on analyzing people’s experience, ideas and reflections rather than on obtaining some statistical data and calculating trends. Thus, this inquiry typically requires observing people’s behavior, interacting with them and learning how they interpret your target problem.  Let’s illustrate this with an example:

Example of Qualitative Research Questions

What Is Contextual Research Questions

Contextual research revolves around examining your subject in its natural, everyday environment. It may be watching animals living in their usual habitats or people doing their normal activities in their familiar surroundings (at home, at school or at office). This academic approach helps to understand the role of the context. You'll be able to better explain connections between your problem, its environment and outcomes. This type of inquiry ought to be narrow enough. You shouldn’t have to examine each and every aspect of the selected problem in your paper. Consider this example:

Example of Contextual Research Questions

Definition and Sample of Evaluative Research Questions

Evaluative research is performed in order to carefully assess the qualities of a selected object, individual, group, system or concept. It typically serves the purpose of collecting evidence that supports or contradicts solutions for a problem. This type of inquiry should focus on how useful a certain quality is for solving the problem.  To conduct such study, you need to examine selected qualities in detail. Then, you should assume whether they match necessary criteria. It might include some quantitative methods such as collecting statistics. Although, the most important part is analyzing the qualities. If you need some examples, here’s one for you:

Sample of Evaluative Research Questions

Explanatory Research Questions: Definition With Example

Your paper can be dedicated to explaining a certain phenomenon, finding its reasons and important relationships between it and other important things. Your explanatory research question should aim to highlight issues, uncertainties and problematic aspects of your subject. So, your study should bring clarity about these qualities. It should show how and why they have developed this way. An explanation may include showing causes and effects of issues in question, comparing the selected phenomenon to other similar types and showing whether the selected qualities match some predefined criteria. If you need some examples, check this one:

Example of Explanatory Research Questions

Generative Research Questions

This type of research is conducted in order to better understand the subject. With its help, you can find some new solutions or opportunities for improvement. Therefore, its main purpose is to develop a theoretical basis for further actions. You need to compose your generative research questions in a way that facilitates obtaining new ideas. It would help to begin with asking ‘why’, ‘what is the relationship between the subject and the problems X, Y, and Z’, ‘what can be improved here’, ‘how we can prevent it’ and so on. Need relevant examples? We’ve got one for you:

Example of Generative Research Questions

Ethnographic Research Question

Ethnography research is focused on a particular group of people. The aim is to study their behavior, typical reactions to certain events or information, needs, preferences or habits. Important parameters of this group which are most relevant to your general subject are taken into consideration. These are age, sex, language, religion, ethnicity, social status and so on. Main method in this case is first-hand observation of people from the selected group during an extended period of time. If you need strong examples, here’s one:

Ethnographic Research Question Example

Quantitative Research Questions: Full Definition With Examples

Quantitative research deals with data – first of all, it is numeric data. It involves mathematical calculations and statistical analysis. It helps to obtain knowledge which is mostly expressed in numbers, graphs and tables. Unlike the qualitative type, the purpose of quantitative research is finding patterns, calculating probabilities, testing causal relationships and making predictions. It is focused on testing theories and hypotheses. (We have the whole blog on what is a hypothesis .) It is mostly used in natural and social sciences. These are: chemistry, biology, psychology, economics, sociology, marketing, etc. Here are a couple of examples:

Quantitative Research Questions Example

Descriptive Research Questions: Definition With Example

This is probably the most widespread type of quantitative research question. Such inquiries seek to explain when, where, why, or how something occurred. They describe it accurately and systematically. These inquiries typically start with ‘what’. You are expected to use various methods to investigate one or more variables and determine their dependencies. Note, however, that you cannot control or manipulate any of these variables. You can only observe and measure them. Looking for some interesting examples? Here is one:

Descriptive Research Questions

Definition of Comparative Research Questions

Comparative research question is used to highlight different variables and provide numerical evidence. This type is based on comparing one object, parameter or issue with another one of a similar kind. It can help to discover the differences between two or more groups by examining their outcome variables.  Take a look at these two examples:

Example of Comparative Research Questions

Relationship Research Questions

We conduct this type of research when we need to make it clear whether one parameter of a selected object causes another one. A relationship based quantitative research question should help us to explore and define trends and interactions between two or more variables. Are these two things mutually dependent? What kind of dependence is it? How has it developed? And what are possible outcomes of this connection? Here is an example of relationship-based quantitative research questions:

Relationship Research Questions Example

Research Questions Examples: Free

This section contains a number of helpful examples of research questions. Feel free to use them as inspiration to create your own questions and conduct productive study. Let’s start with two simple ones:

examples of research questions

Are you interested in well written and inspiring questions? Do you want to learn what to avoid in your study? Just stay with us – there will be more of them below.

Examples of Good and Bad Research Questions

Everyone is interested in getting the best possible appraisal for their study. Choosing a topic which doesn't suit your specific situation may be discouraging. Thus, the quality of your paper might get affected by a poor choice. We have put together some good and bad examples so that you could avoid such mistakes.

Good Research Questions Examples

It is important to include clear terms into your questions. Otherwise, it would be difficult for you to plan your investigation properly. Also, they must be focused on a certain subject, not multiple ones. And finally, it should be possible to answer them. Let’s review several good examples:

Good Research Questions Example

Examples of Bad Research Questions

It is difficult to evaluate qualities of objects, individuals or groups if your purpose is not clear. This is why you shouldn’t create unclear research questions or try to focus on many problems at once. Some preliminary study might help to understand what you should focus on. Here are several bad examples:

Bad Research Questions Example

In case you may need some information about the discussion section of a research paper example , find it in our blog.

Final Thoughts on Research Questions

In this article we have made a detailed review of the most popular types of research questions. We described peculiarities. We also provided some tips on conducting various kinds of study. Besides, a number of useful examples have been given for each category of questions.


Feel free to check out essay writing services. We have experienced writers who can help you compose your paper in time. They will absolutely ensure the high quality of your text.

Frequently Asked Questions About Research Questions

1. what is an example of a weak research question.

Here is an example of the weakest research question: 

An answer would be simply making a list of species that inhabit the country. This subject does not require any actual study to be conducted. There is nothing to calculate or analyze here.

2. What is the most effective type of research question?

Most effective type of research question is the one that doesn't have a single correct answer. However, you should also pay close attention to your audience. If you need to create a strong effect, better choose a topic which is relevant for them.

3. What is a good nursing research question?

If you need an idea for a nursing research question, here are a few helpful examples you could use as a reference:

4. What are some sociological research questions?

Sociological questions are the ones that examine the social patterns or a meaning of a social phenomenon. They could be qualitative or quantitative. They should target groups of people with certain parameters, such as age or income level. Keep in mind that type of study usually requires collecting numerous data about your target groups.


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Examples of Good and Bad Research Questions

A research question defines the primary objective of your work and is one of the most important components of your paper . In this blog, we will look at some examples of good and bad research questions.

1. Research Question Example #1

Research question should be focussed

You have to design your research question in such a way that it is focused and is not too broad.  Let’s look at the example here. We are saying that we are going to study the impact of social media on young people. The research question is too broad. As you can see there is no clear direction, and the study attempts to take on too much.

Bad example – Too broad and unfocussed The research aims to find out the impact of social media on young people.

Now, look at the example below. It is much more focused. We are very specific about our research questions .  We are saying that we are attempting to measure the average time spent by teenagers on social media. And, we are also trying to understand the exact nature of their interactions on social media. We will be using an online questionnaire to answer the questions and we will be choosing participants from England and Scotland. This is a good research question, because it clearly defines what you have set out to do and how you plan to achieve it.

Good example – Focussed and a very clear definition The research aims to estimate the average time spent by 18-24 year-olds on social media, and investigate the nature of interactions and conversions they have on social media. We attempt to answer these questions by conducting an online questionnaire survey in England and Scotland. _  Research aims  _  Plan of action

2. Research Question Example #2

Another thing to remember is that your research question should not be too simple. Your research question should be reasonably complex and there should be scope for you to conduct research. And most importantly, it should be reasonably original and should not have been answered before.

Look at the example here. “Does Co2 causes global warming?”. We all know that Co2 causes global warming. If you can answer your question with a simple yes or no, then it is too simple.

Bad example – Too simple Does Co2 causes global warming?

Now, look at this research question below. The research question is reasonably complex. You need to perform quantitative and qualitative experiments to answer this question. It is realistic, and it is possible to complete your measurements and calculations in a reasonable time scale. It ticks all the boxes and that is the reason why this is a good research question.

Good example – Realistic and challenging question What percentage of the CO2 in the atmosphere has been produced by human beings through the burning of fossil fuels?

3. Research Question Example #3

Research question  should align with your research gap and the problem statement

Your research question should align with your research gap and the problem statement. In the example below, the author is talking about the practical challenges of using biomass as a renewable source of electricity, because you need to cut down a lot of trees for this. So when readers are expecting a research question along the lines of finding better and more efficient ways to produce biomass, the author mentions that the objective of his work is to investigate the competency requirements of managers working in the Biomass industry. This has nothing to do with the problem statement and research gap the author had identified.

Bad example – Research question doesn’t align with the problem definition Successfully utilizing biomass as a source of energy poses challenges because of various reasons, such as deforestation. This study aims to investigate the competency requirements of managers working in the biomass industry. _  Problem definition  _  Misaligned Research question

In the example below, the authors say that their work aims to propose a new method for generating electricity from biomass. This nicely aligns with the problem definition of finding new ways to use biomass for energy production.

Good example – Research question nicely aligns with the problem definition Successfully utilizing biomass as a source of energy poses challenges because of various reasons, such as deforestation. In this paper, we propose a comprehensive method for the generation of electricity using biomass which builds and expands on direct combustion approaches. _  Problem definition  _  Well-aligned Research question

I hope you found the blog useful.  A strong research question lies at the heart of any research work, so please make use of the tips outlined in this blog. If you have any questions, please drop a comment below, and we will answer as soon as possible. For further reading, please refer to our blog on how to formulate a research question?  We also recommend you to refer to our other blogs on  academic writing tools ,   academic writing resources , and  academic phrase-bank , which are relevant to the topic discussed in this blog. 

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The Art of Asking Smarter Questions

  • Arnaud Chevallier,
  • Frédéric Dalsace,
  • Jean-Louis Barsoux

good research question examples

With organizations of all sorts facing increased urgency and unpredictability, being able to ask smart questions has become key. But unlike lawyers, doctors, and psychologists, business professionals are not formally trained on what kinds of questions to ask when approaching a problem. They must learn as they go. In their research and consulting, the authors have seen that certain kinds of questions have gained resonance across the business world. In a three-year project they asked executives to brainstorm about the decisions they’ve faced and the kinds of inquiry they’ve pursued. In this article they share what they’ve learned and offer a practical framework for the five types of questions to ask during strategic decision-making: investigative, speculative, productive, interpretive, and subjective. By attending to each, leaders and teams can become more likely to cover all the areas that need to be explored, and they’ll surface information and options they might otherwise have missed.

These five techniques can drive great strategic decision-making.

Idea in Brief

The situation.

With organizations of all sorts facing increased urgency and uncertainty, the ability to ask smart questions has become key. But business professionals aren’t formally trained in that skill.

Why It’s So Challenging

Managers’ expertise often blinds them to new ideas. And the flow of questions can be hard to process in real time, so certain concerns and insights may never be raised.

Strategic questions can be grouped into five domains: investigative, speculative, productive, interpretive, and subjective. By attending to each, leaders and teams are more likely to cover all the areas that need to be explored—and they’ll surface information and options they might otherwise have missed.

As a cofounder and the CEO of the U.S. chipmaker Nvidia, Jensen Huang operates in a high-velocity industry requiring agile, innovative thinking. Reflecting on how his leadership style has evolved, he told the New York Times, “I probably give fewer answers and I ask a lot more questions….It’s almost possible now for me to go through a day and do nothing but ask questions.” He continued, “Through probing, I help [my management team]…explore ideas that they didn’t realize needed to be explored.”

  • Arnaud Chevallier is a professor of strategy at IMD Business School.
  • Frédéric Dalsace is a professor of marketing and strategy at IMD.
  • Jean-Louis Barsoux is a term research professor at IMD and a coauthor of ALIEN Thinking: The Unconventional Path to Breakthrough Ideas (PublicAffairs, 2021).

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    Good example - Research question nicely aligns with the problem definition. Successfully utilizing biomass as a source of energy poses challenges because of various reasons, such as deforestation. In this paper, we propose a comprehensive method for the generation of electricity using biomass which builds and expands on direct combustion ...

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