Framing a Research Question
The word RESEARCH means "finding out" or "discovery", by use of systematic effort, information or answers to something you want to know. You RESEARCH by asking questions and by searching for answers to those questions which are satisfactory, methodological valid, and balanced. You cannot RESEARCH if you do not want to know anything, that is, you must have something you would like to know more about before you can do RESEARCH. You begin with a QUESTION or QUESTIONS. If you have none, you will find no answers or will not know when you have found one. Since you will be assigned to write a RESEARCH paper, a paper written without a question in mind will NOT be a RESEARCH paper. The Honours Project is a RESEARCH project. It involves asking a main question, then many more follow up questions. These questions MUST be pursued honestly. That is, if you find an answer you don't like, you nevertheless cannot reject it. You must examine the EVIDENCE assessed in arriving at that answer, and all other answers to your question. You must report contradictory EVIDENCE, and explain how you weight one answer as better based on better EVIDENCE than another. You will discover that framing your question is the first thing you, as a good RESEARCHER, should do. Sure, read about countries, people or events which interest you, and all those writers wanted to know more about that which they wrote about, but then consider what more you would like to find out about that event, person, period or country, etc. If you aren't interested in what you write, and you don't have any idea about what question(s) you are asking, then don't be surprised if your lecturer / reader gets bored when reading your paper or tells you that what you wrote is not a RESEARCH paper. Most lecturers grade according to whether you did the assignments and whether it was interesting and well done. So frame a question which genuinely interests you, and which may be new.
1. What problem, person, relationship, event, circumstance, mystery, etc. do you plan to investigate?
2. What specific aspects are you examining, and why? Has that particular aspect and your question about it been asked before, according to your research? If yes, are you satisfied with the answer(s)? If yes and you are satisfied, pick a new area for research; if no, what left you unsatisfied? Was the response or the research incomplete in some way? How? This is your chance to do a better job.
3. What type of approach(es) will you use to conduct your inquiry? Is (are) t (they) appropriate to your subject? Would another method give a new focus?
4. What type of sources do you need? What are the ideal sources which could answer your question(s)? What is available to you? Can you imagine another way of using the available sources to provide data for your question if their relation is not obvious? Should you rephrase and refocus your question?
5. Do your sources seem balanced - that is, if you have data for one side of a story, do you also have comparable data from another view? If not, rephrase your question and your title to indicate it is a one sided study.
6. Can your topic question be researched and written up adequately in the space and time allotted?
The Relationship between the Research Question, Hypotheses, Specific Aims, and Long-Term Goals of the Project Before you begin writing a grant proposal, take some time to map out your research strategy. A good first step is to formulate a research question. A Research Question is a statement that identifies the phenomenon to be studied. For example, “What resources are helpful to new and minority drug abuse researchers?” To develop a strong research question from your ideas, you should ask yourself these things: * Do I know the field and its literature well?
* What are the important research questions in my field? * What areas need...
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