Research writing is not an easy task in general, and most students do not like it. However, it does not mean that writing this paper is impossible.  Some few pointers can help a student in writing the best research paper that they thought was hard. A research paper must revolve around a topic, which can be a question.  Formulating a research question is important because it is the anchor of your research, and most of the issues you discuss in the paper, even your sources, will depend on it. As such, your research question must be:

  • Clear

A clear research question provides specifics that are easily fathomable to an audience without any additional explanation.

  • Focused

A good research question should be narrow enough so that the answers that it demands can thoroughly enlighten the audience on the matter

  • Concise

A research question should be expressed in the fewest words possible

  • Complex

Your research question should not demand a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answer.  It should lay the ground for synthesis and analysis of ideas and sources before composing a sound answer.

  • Arguable

The research question that you formulate for your research paper is supposed to elicit debate instead of accepted facts.

When formulating your research question, you need to formulate it to dwell on an issue that you are passionate about. It should be within the area that you are studying.

Importance of a Research Question

As indicated earlier, your research question is the premise of your research paper.  As such, it helps you in focusing your research on providing a way through the research and the writing process. If your research question is specific enough, it avoids the “all about” paper and strives to support a given arguable thesis.

  • It defines the focus of your research paper

It specifies to the audience the subject matter that you are dealing with. For instance, if you are interested in market development and environmental effects, you can try to find out about the relationship between market development and environmental degradation. However, this question is too broad and does not clearly define the problem in which you are interested. More so, it does not provide the boundaries of your research. As such, you have to strive to make it more focused and specific. Readers will be able to get critical information concerning your project because the focus of your paper, its scope, and motivation is more defined.

  • It sets the boundaries to indicate possible next direction

A good research question will define the kind of data you need to collect and the methods you will apply to access and analyse your documents. Once you have a narrowed question, it also narrows your scope of data collection and analysis. Most importantly, as you gather data, your question is bound to change and grow. As such, to define questions in your research is not linear. Instead, the questions will direct you on where you need to focus and in turn, the results of your inquiries will refine your research question.

Developing a research question is an evolving process for your project. As you investigate the general idea and ask an important question, you will bump into something new, which will culminate in a completely new interest. This is where you formulate your research question.

Developing your research question

Several steps are involved when developing your research question. They include:

  • Choosing an interesting general topic

Most researcher deal with topics in which they are interested. As such, students should employ this tactic and choose a broad topic, which they genuinely care about and would like to find out more about them.

  • Conduct preliminary research on your general topic

As you build up to your preferred research question, you can conduct preliminary research on journals and periodicals on the topic to see what’s existing. This is important in narrowing down your focus. Find out about the issues previous studies were discussed with regard to your topic. What are the questions that come up as you read these materials?

  • Think about the audience

Most college papers have academic audiences. As such, you have to keep your audience in mind as you try to narrow down on your research question ask yourself if the audience would be interested in the research question that you are developing.

Start asking important questions

You have to ask yourself about how and why with regard to your general topic. This will help you to know where exactly your focus ought to go.

Evaluate your question

Once you put one or several questions down, evaluate them to ascertain if they are effective research questions or they need more fine-tuning. As certain if:

  • Your research is clear thanks to the availability of so many research materials. Your question must be effective to help you in directing your research.
  • Your research question is focused to assist you in  specificity to be covered in the available space
  • Your research question is focused
  • Your research question is clear
  • Your research question is complex
  • Your research question is arguable, in that it elicits debate

Begin your research

Once you ascertain all of the above, its time now to commence your research. Think of the possible paths that you are going to take and the sources that you have to consult with regard to your research question. Find out about the research process that will allow you to bring in different perspectives and responses to your research question.

Therefore, as you formulate your research question, you have to ensure that its relevance is essential because it comes from the issues raised in the literature. As such, it will be of academic and intellectual interest. It should also be manageable in that your sources must be accessible to enable you to provide a more nuanced answer. Your research question must be clear and simple as much as it is interesting. Formulating a research paper is a crucial step that will enable you to write a paper that adds new knowledge to what already exists. It is a process worth your time and effort.