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Drafting the Research Question

Select Research Questions

A research question is a precisely stated question that guides the review.

Steps to developing a research question:

  • Choose an interesting general topic.

                  "Religious symbols/clothing and human rights"
                  "Somali pirates and international law"

  • Do some preliminary research.

                  What has been written on this area?
                  Are there any questions raised? 
                  Are there areas that are unexplored?

  • Consider your audience.

                  Who is the audience? 
                  Would this audience be interested in this question?

  • Start asking questions.

                  How and Why?
                  "How does the Charter protect the use of religious symbols?"
                  "Why has there been such difficulty prosecuting Somali pirates?"

  • Evaluate your question.

                  Is your question clear?
                  Is your question focused?
                  Is your research question complex enough?

  • Hypothesize.

                  Where do you think your research will take you?
                  What kind of argument are you hoping to make/support?
                  What if your research disputes your planned argument?


Adapted from "How to Write a Research Question?", George Mason University

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