The following is from the ECUAD Writing Center Handout: Writing a Research Question.
WRITING A RESEARCH QUESTION
What are the steps to writing a research question?
The following steps are merely a guideline for the very beginning of the process of writing a research question. You might not follow them in exact order and you might return to or move between them at different points in your research process.
1. Choose a general topic that interests you. Start broadly, then narrow as you begin the research process. General topics might include broad issues such as “literacy” or “body image.”
2. Do some preliminary research on your general topic. Consult periodicals and journals on your topic to see what has been explored in depth and what holes might remain.
3. Start asking questions. Taking into consideration the above, start asking yourself “how” and “why” questions about your general topic. For example, “Why is there a correlation between poverty and childhood illiteracy?” or “How can public health officials respond to body image issues in young women?”
4. Evaluate your question. At several stages in your research process, you will want to come back to “test” your research question to make sure it still meets your research objectives. Use the ideas below about what makes a good research question to evaluate your question.
What makes a good research question?
None of these are absolute rules (except, perhaps, the first and the last), but rather goals to reach toward through the process of writing and revising your research question.