THREE ELEMENTS OF GOOD RESEARCH QUESTION

One of the core aspects of academic researches is the question or what is popularly referred to as the research question. Academic research has remained a requirement for students at all tertiary level. Students are ethically allowed to conduct and participate in academic research.

The goal is usually to kindle erudition within the student, equip the students with problem-solving skills, inventful or discoverable abilities. Academic research therefore has become mandatory for university students.

Research questions are usually formulated by the student researcher. Generally, this sub-heading appears in the first chapter of a project thesis or dissertation and it is expected that the student should provide answers to the formulated questions.

Reviews from undergraduate and post-graduate students have revealed that lots of students pay little attention to this aspect of their thesis. While the focus is on the research title or topic and research methodology, the place of research questions has received minor considerations.

This is evident as thesis supervisors have often complained about student researchers abandoning their study or requesting for a change of topic. Others consider their thesis supervisor a threat and could demand a change of supervisor. While this may seem to help the student, the root cause arises from poor comprehension of research questions.

Research is a systematic enquiry, just to be sure of. The first thing you do when you pick a phone to speak to a hotel receptionist is to ASK for information. The first action you initiate when you get into a new town is to ask questions. The answers you receive will inform your judgement, guide your actions and remind you of necessities.

What research question does is to orient and accord direction to the chosen study. There are three important features of a good research question. These features are so crucial that their absence renders your research less meaningful and defeats the ultimate goal of research. When these characteristics are present, you are sure to conduct meaningful research.

1. Significance

A good research question must address something of importance. It could be an issue, puzzle or thoughts that relate to a broad community of scholars, arising in the context of theories and framework. A good research question should be seeking to address something that matters.

2. Researchable

A proper research question should be researchable. What this means is that a research question must be something that can be answered by conducting research. This situation eliminates asking some metaphysical questions or questions that are abstract to life and society.

For example, you can not carry out academic research because you want to find out how tall God is or the modus operandi of witches in Antarctica operates. That will no longer be an academic inquiry. Therefore, ensure your question is researchable.

3. Definitively answered

The last attribute of a good research question is that research question(s) should be one that has NOT been definitively answered. This is because you may have no need carrying out that research if the question has been properly addressed in previous researches. Continuing with questions that have been definitively answered can be likened to reinventing the wheel. It will lack research merit and may not be valuable to the academic audience. 

Now, it is pertinent to state here that there are questions in academics that have been considered to be definitively answered but in reality, they have not. Some previous answers ought to be rethought in the light of contemporary events and recent happenings. Science and technology have and will continue to change the order of things, which will alter processes and activities. Therefore, some questions are not definitively answered and should be revisited. 

Let me add here, that if a student researcher intends to rethink previous research, the researcher is at liberty to do so based on time and research methodology.

You will be conducting good research if you learn to ask the right questions. Asking the right research question demands that the student swims in the thoughts of scholars through studying. It is in this process, that the academic mind of the student will be opened to gaps and slacks arising from scholarly opinions.