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Conducting Research for a Paper

Components of a Good Research Question

To guide you in your efforts in conducting academic research, it is important to develop a focused research question.

A focused research question should be:

  • clear: it provides enough specifics that an audience can easily understand its purpose without needing additional explanation.
  • focused: it is narrow enough that it can be answered thoroughly within the limitations stipulated in the assignment (e.g., number of pages).
  • concise: it is expressed in the fewest possible words.
  • complex: it is not answerable with a simple "yes" or "no," but requires an analysis and synthesis of ideas and sources.
  • arguable: its potential answers are open to debate rather than accepted facts.

Research Tip: A research question should reflect the need to include multiple information sources as you report on the results of your academic research.

Application Exercise: Incorporating what you learned from writing an introduction to your topic and the elements of a strong research question, construct a research question for your topic. Retain a copy of the completed exercise for yourself and download a second copy to D2L by [date].


Developing a Research Question

Laurier Library. (2017 December 20). How to develop a good research question [Video]. Youtube.

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