By definition and meaning, research is an inquiry. when one is set to undertake research work, it implies that the person is set to inquire, investigate or find out answers. if this is the case, then research questions are the drivers of research.
Research questions direct the focus of the researcher. Research questions guide the expectation of the research audience and therefore the researcher ought to be intentional about research questions.
In this write-up, we will consider what research questions are, how it should be formulated and its relevance to research writing.
Also, is the twin sister called the research hypothesis?
Research questions are intentional and thoughtful questions that a researcher asks to enable him to provide answers to the research problem. This is another aspect of critical thinking.
This is so because the researcher is the one formulating these questions but relies on his investigation to provide the answers.
Research questions offer direction to the researcher and eliminate distractions that may come up during the study.
Research questions guide the expectations of the research community as they quickly are informed on what the intent of the study is all about.
This is quite informative because the research audience having diverse research needs would like to know if a particular study provides answers suitable for their needs.
As such research questions are like a billboard that informs the research audience about the kind of solutions to expect.
Research questions bring harmony to a study.
Imagine not having research questions in your study. You cannot provide answers to the research audience which is an academic flaw of study.
How does providing research questions in the study guides the researcher?
Because research is an inquiry when you formulate the right questions it will direct your search carefully.
what this means is that it brings focus to your search space. You do not need to search the whole library or the internet for unnecessary resources.
A good research question gives you an insight into what specifics you should be searching for. This will save you time and enhance precision in your study.
Asking the right research questions will also guide you on the right research process to adopt.
This is because some questions would require that a third party provides the answers, on the other hand, some questions would require that the researcher deliberately answers such based on accessible verified facts.
These are all impossible if the right research questions are not formulated.
How do you formulate the right research questions?
First, before you proceed to formulate your research questions, ensure you understand the research problem.
This is because if you understand the research problem you can know what is missing, what level of knowledge you have and possibly where to source your answer.
Thus, the first step to formulating the right research questions is to understand your research problem.
For example, a student who is interested in investigating how the coronavirus pandemic has affected business organizations must first understand that Coronavirus is an infectious disease, not a business strategy.
This understanding will put the student in a good position to set out for his study.
Secondly, to be able to formulate the right questions, you must ensure you understand the users of your research.
Your users influence your choice of research questions. For example, if your research problem is on Poultry farming, your major audience is poultry farmers, students of Agriculture with major in poultry farming.
Therefore your questions should be tailored to accommodate your audience.
Take for instance:
A student decided to conduct a study on the usefulness of heat on the health of poultry birds.
A wrong research question could be: what is the economic importance of heat on poultry birds?
Sounds crazy right?
Whereas a good research question could have been: what is the health implication of heat on poultry birds?
Thirdly, you must consider the scope of your study while formulating your research questions. This is because the scope of your study determines how far you can go to obtain answers for your research questions.
For example, if you are researching a national significance, your research questions should accommodate your scope. This means you cannot formulate questions at the regional level only.
This is an example below.
A student is conducting a study to assess the level of security measures put in place by the Federal Government against kidnapping in Nigeria.
A wrong research question could be: What is the response rate of the Nigerian police to kidnapping in Delta state?
The right research question should be: What is the response rate of the Nigeria police to kidnapping in Nigeria.
This is because his scope of the study is of national coverage.
Another importance of ensuring your research questions captures your study coverage area is to help you manage the available resources you have carved out for the study.
Before conducting research, students are encouraged to draw up a research budget.
This budget will help guide the depth of their research. Some researches are time and money consuming and if the student does not plan well, he/she may discontinue an interesting study due to insufficient resources.
Therefore there is a need for your research questions to be properly formulated.
When you have considered all these, you can now proceed to formulate your research questions.
How do you formulate your research questions?
Table of Contents
Be clear and precise about your questions
There are different types of sentences and one of them is the simple sentence. Let your research questions be simple enough to understand.
Avoid using compound or complex questions. It will only lead to complex or compound answers. If your question is right, then it should be simple.
Align your questions with your objectives
Every research question is formulated to help provide answers to the research problem. Therefore, let your research questions be in line with the objectives of your study. This will give harmony to your research and guide your audience into your ideas.
You don’t need too many questions.
Yes, you don’t need many research questions to conduct good research.
This is why understanding your research problem is key to formulating research questions. A good list of research questions should not be less than 3 and not more than 5.
Since you endeavor to cover the gaps in research, you just cannot. This is not a bad report. It’s just a research fact. This is because for every gap you cover, you create another gap.
Time itself intentionally creates a gap in knowledge. Therefore formulate a few questions that would address your research problem and leave room for further studies.
Check the tone.
Since research is an inquiry, the researcher is not a police officer. You do not need to be aggressive or interrogative about your questions.
Understand that if you intend to carry out a field survey, the tone of your questions matters.
This is because your respondents can perceive your questionnaire as interrogative and hence refuse compliance.
Sometimes formulating research questions can be a doubtful exercise. This happens often if you are doing it for the first time.
This is fine.
You shouldn’t feel bad about it. All you need to do is to ask for assistance. Your colleagues can be of help. Your lecturers can be of help too.
You can as well meet your project supervisor who is in a good position to help you formulate the right questions and guide you through your study.
You can also hire a professional project writer. A professional project writer will assist you in formulating the best research questions that will yield the best outcome for your research work.
Research hypotheses can be humorously referred to as the twin of research questions. While this is so is because both tools aim at solving the same problem but in different ways.
A research hypothesis is a scientific method of solving a research problem. Its method of solution is based on pre-adopted statistical tools and predetermined standards. This is unlike the research questions.
While the research questions are based on the opinions, assertions, and claims of both primary and secondary sources. The research hypothesis does not stop at the opinion level. It goes further to test these responses and opinions using statistical tools.
Another difference between a research question and a hypothesis is that while a research question is answered based on human and visible facts, a hypothesis is based on results obtained from statistical tools.
Also, while the answers from the research questions can be manipulated, the results from a statistical tool have a low risk of manipulation.
The research question is easy to analyze, while the hypothesis sometimes is difficult to solve.
The research question concept can be applied across various disciplines but the research hypothesis is not widely applied across disciplines.
On the perception level, while the research hypothesis is perceived as being scientifically acceptable, the research question is not perceive with high scientific relevance.
So which one should I use?
The choice of usage is dependent on the type of study you intend to carry out. Another factor would be your discipline. some disciplines are satisfied with research questions while others prefer the research hypothesis.
Another factor is the objective of your study.
The comforting aspect of your choice is that you have the researcher right to choose either the research question tool, research hypothesis tool or combine both tools.
Some students and researchers combine both tools to arrive at a balanced view of their research findings.
How can I formulate a good research hypothesis?
There are a few steps to help you formulate a good research hypothesis for your research work.
Identify your variables.
Testing your research hypothesis demands that you identify the various variables in your research problem. This will help you in formulating a good research hypothesis. Some studies could have bi-variables, others could have multi-variables. The student should be able to identify these variables.
Understand the situation of your variables.
In formulating your hypothesis, an understanding of the nature of your variables is important. Your variables could have a relationship situation, it could have a cause and effect situation and so on. Understanding this situation will help you.
Formulate in Null format.
Having identified your variables and their situation, you can now formulate your hypothesis in a Null format.
A null format is simply making a statement in the negative. It is this negative statement that is tested and thereafter accepted or rejected based on some pre-defined conditions.
Example of Null form of hypotheses:
H0: There is no effect of corruption on the infrastructural development in Africa.
H0: There is no effect of heat on the health of poultry birds.
H0: There is no significant relationship between the police response rate and kidnapping in Nigeria.
Ask for help.
Formulating a research hypothesis can leave the student in a position of doubt. This is not abnormal. It is expected especially if you are doing it for the first time or your supervisor had sent you away multiple times for doing it the wrong way.
Just ask for help.
You can ask for help from your colleagues and seniors.
But the best help is to ask a professional project writer. With vast experience, a professional project writer will guide you to formulating the best research hypothesis for your study.
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