What Makes a Good Research Question?

by Michael MacKay

July, 4th, 2020

We have been asked to share a few ideas on what makes a good research question. Our readings focused on types of research, paradigms, theories, and areas of focuses for the educational field. The problem itself seems loaded, in the sense that what makes a good research question is dependent on the goal of the study and perspective on the observer. Still, I feel there is a consensus of the methodological approach that should use when crafting a research question.

First, the goal of a research question should be to illuminate the epistemological understanding of the field as a whole; this could mean it could be challenging or confirming another’s theory or paving a new path for others to explore.

Second, the type of research method used needs to be taken into account when devising the question. A quantitative research method without a narrow scope will most likely result in too many extraneous variables. Likewise, a qualitative research method deprived of its natural environment will negate any findings.

Finally, the question should be currently achievable. The goal of the research is to confirm or deny something (however small it may be), while there is value in hypothesizing the philosophical musings there needs to be a level of pragmatism for the field.

P.S. I just wanted to add that I feel what makes up a good research question greatly depends on what you are trying to achieve and the current norms of the field.

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