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How To Write a Good Research Question: Guide with Definition, Tips & Examples

Research questions form the backbone of any study, guiding researchers in their search for knowledge and understanding. Framing relevant research questions is the first essential step for ensuring the research is effective and produces valuable insights.

In this blog, we’ll explore what research questions are, tips for crafting them, and a variety of research question examples across different fields to help you formulate a well-balanced research questionnaire.

Let’s begin.

What Is a Research Question?

A research question is a specific inquiry or problem statement guiding a research study, outlining the researcher’s intention to investigate. Think of it as a roadmap for your paper or thesis – it tells you exactly what you want to explore, giving your work a clear purpose.

A good research question not only helps you focus your writing but also guides your readers. It gives them a clear idea of what your research is about and what you aim to achieve. Before you start drafting your paper and even before you conduct your study, it’s important to write a concise statement of what you want to accomplish or discover.

This sets the stage for your research and ensures your work is focused and purposeful.

Why Are Research Questions Important?

Research questions are the cornerstone of any academic or scientific inquiry. They serve as a guide for the research process, helping to focus the study, define its goals, and structure its methodology. 

Below are some of its most significant impacts, along with hypothetical examples to help you understand them better:

1. Guidance and Focus

Research questions provide a clear direction for the study, enabling researchers to narrow down the scope of their investigation to a manageable size. Research efforts can become scattered and unfocused without a well-defined question without a well-defined question, leading to wasted time and resources.

For example, consider a researcher interested in studying the effects of technology on education. A broad interest in technology and education could lead to an overwhelming range of topics to cover. However, by formulating a specific research question such as, “How does the use of interactive digital textbooks in high school science classes affect students’ learning outcomes?” the researcher can focus their study on a specific aspect of technology in education, making the research more manageable and directed.

2. Defining the Research Objectives

A well-crafted research question helps to clearly define what the researcher aims to discover, examine, or analyze. This clarity is crucial for determining the study’s objectives and ensures that every step of the research process contributes toward achieving these goals.

For example, in a study aimed at understanding the impact of remote work on employee productivity, a research question such as “Does remote work increase productivity among information technology professionals?” directly sets the objective of the study to measure productivity levels among a specific group when working remotely.

3. Determining the Research Methodology

The research question influences the choice of methodology, including the design, data collection methods, and analysis techniques. It dictates whether the study should be qualitative, quantitative, or mixed methods and guides the selection of tools and procedures for conducting the research.

For example, in a research question like “What are the lived experiences of first-generation college students?” a qualitative approach using interviews or focus groups might be chosen to gather deep, nuanced insights into students’ experiences. In contrast, a question such as “What percentage of first-generation college students graduate within four years?” would require a quantitative approach, possibly utilizing existing educational data sets for analysis.

4. Enhancing Relevance and Contribution

A well-thought-out research question ensures that the study addresses a gap in the existing literature or solves a real-world problem. This relevance is crucial for the contribution of the research to the field, as it helps to advance knowledge, inform policy, or offer practical solutions.

For example, in a scenario where existing research has largely overlooked the environmental impacts of single-use plastics in urban waterways, a question like “What are the effects of single-use plastic pollution on the biodiversity of urban waterways?” can fill this gap, contributing valuable new insights to environmental science and potentially influencing urban environmental policies.

5. Facilitating Data Interpretation and Analysis

Clear research questions help in structuring the analysis, guiding the interpretation of data, and framing the discussion of results. They ensure that the data collected is directly relevant to the questions posed, making it easier to draw meaningful conclusions.

For example, in a study asking, “How do social media algorithms influence political polarization among users?” the data analysis would specifically focus on the mechanisms of algorithmic content delivery and its effects on user behavior and political views. This focus makes it straightforward to interpret how algorithm-induced echo chambers might contribute to polarization.

Types of Research Questions

Understanding the different types of research questions is essential for researchers to effectively design and conduct studies that align with their research objectives and methodologies

These questions can be broadly categorized into three main types: quantitative, qualitative, and mixed-method research questions.

Let’s explore each type in-depth, along with some examples.

Type A: Quantitative Research Questions

Quantitative research involves the collection and analysis of numerical data to answer specific research questions or hypotheses. It focuses on quantifying relationships, patterns, and phenomena, often using statistical methods for analysis. Quantitative research questions are typically structured and aim to explore relationships between variables or assess the impact of interventions.

Quantitative research questions can again be subcategorized into three distinct types:

1. Descriptive Questions:

Descriptive questions aim to describe characteristics, behaviors, or phenomena within a population. These questions often start with words like “how much,” “how many,” or “what is the frequency of.” They provide a snapshot of a particular situation or phenomenon.

Example: What is the average age of first-time homebuyers in the United States?”

2. Comparative Questions:

Comparative questions seek to compare two or more groups, conditions, or variables to identify differences or similarities. They often involve the use of statistical tests to determine the significance of observed differences or associations.

Example: “Is there a significant difference in academic performance between students who receive tutoring and those who do not?”

3. Relationship Questions:

Relationship questions explore the associations or correlations between variables. They aim to determine the strength and direction of relationships, allowing researchers to assess the predictive power of one variable on another.

Example: “What is the relationship between exercise frequency and levels of anxiety among adults?”


Type B: Qualitative Research Questions

Qualitative research involves the exploring and understanding of complex phenomena through an in-depth examination of individuals’ experiences, behaviors, and perspectives. It aims to uncover meaning, patterns, and underlying processes within a specific context, often through techniques such as interviews, observations, and content analysis.

Types of qualitative research questions:

1. Exploratory Questions:

Exploratory questions seek to understand a particular phenomenon or issue in depth. They aim to uncover new insights, perspectives, or dimensions that may not have been previously considered.

Example: “What are the experiences of LGBTQ+ individuals in accessing healthcare services in rural communities?”

2. Descriptive Questions:

Descriptive questions aim to provide a detailed description or portrayal of a phenomenon or social context. They focus on capturing the intricacies and nuances of a particular situation or setting.

Example: “What are the communication patterns within multicultural teams in a corporate setting?”

3. Explanatory Questions:

Explanatory questions delve into the underlying reasons, mechanisms, or processes that influence a phenomenon or behavior. They aim to uncover the ‘why’ behind observed patterns or relationships.

Example: “What factors contribute to employee turnover in the hospitality industry?”

Type C: Mixed-Methods Research Questions

Mixed-methods research integrates both quantitative and qualitative approaches within a single study, allowing researchers to gain a comprehensive understanding of a research problem. Mixed-method research questions are designed to address complex phenomena from multiple perspectives, combining the strengths of both quantitative and qualitative methodologies.

Types of Mixed-Methods Research Questions:

1. Sequential Questions:

Sequential questions involve the collection and analysis of quantitative and qualitative data in separate phases or stages. The findings from one phase inform the design and implementation of the subsequent phase.

Example: “Quantitatively, what are the prevalence rates of mental health disorders among adolescents? Qualitatively, what are the factors influencing help-seeking behaviors among adolescents with mental health concerns?”

2. Concurrent Questions:

Concurrent questions involve the simultaneous collection and analysis of quantitative and qualitative data. Researchers triangulate findings from both methods to provide a more comprehensive understanding of the research problem.

Example: “How do students’ academic performance (quantitative) correlate with their perceptions of school climate (qualitative)?”

3. Transformative Questions:

Transformative questions aim to use mixed-methods research to bring about social change or inform policy decisions. They seek to address complex societal issues by combining quantitative data on prevalence rates or trends with qualitative insights into lived experiences and perspectives.

Example: “What are the barriers to accessing healthcare services for underserved communities, and how can healthcare policies be redesigned to address these barriers effectively?”


Steps to Developing a Good Research Question

Developing a good research question is a crucial first step in any research endeavor. A well-crafted research question serves as the foundation for the entire study, guiding the researcher in formulating hypotheses, selecting appropriate methodologies, and conducting meaningful analyses.

Here are the steps to developing a good research question:

Identify a Broad Topic

Begin by identifying a broad area of interest or a topic that you would like to explore. This could stem from your academic discipline, professional interests, or personal curiosity. However, make sure to choose a topic that is both relevant and feasible for research within the constraints of your resources and expertise.

Conduct Preliminary Research

Before refining your research question, conduct preliminary research to familiarize yourself with existing literature and identify gaps, controversies, or unanswered questions within your chosen topic. This step will help you narrow down your focus and ensure that your research question contributes to the existing body of knowledge.

Narrow Down Your Focus

Based on your preliminary research, narrow down your focus to a specific aspect, problem, or issue within your chosen topic. Consider the scope of your study, the availability of resources, and the feasibility of addressing your research question within a reasonable timeframe. Narrowing down your focus will help you formulate a more precise and manageable research question.

Define Key Concepts and Variables

Clearly define the key concepts, variables, or constructs that are central to your research question. This includes identifying the main variables you will be investigating, as well as any relevant theoretical or conceptual frameworks that will guide your study. Clarifying these aspects will ensure that your research question is clear, specific, and focused.

Formulate Your Research Question

Based on your narrowed focus and defined key concepts, formulate your research question. A good research question is concise, specific, and clearly articulated. It should be phrased in a way that is open-ended and leads to further inquiry. Avoid vague or overly broad questions that are difficult to answer or lack clarity.

Consider the Type of Research

Consider whether your research question is best suited for quantitative, qualitative, or mixed-methods research. The type of research question will influence your choice of methodologies, data collection techniques, and analytical approaches. Tailor your research question to align with the goals and requirements of your chosen research paradigm.

Evaluate the Significance and Relevance

Evaluate the significance and relevance of your research question within the context of your academic discipline, field of study, or practical implications. Consider how your research question fills gaps in knowledge, addresses practical problems, or advances theoretical understanding. A good research question should be meaningful and contribute to the broader scholarly conversation.

Refine and Revise

Finally, refine and revise your research question based on feedback from colleagues, advisors, or peers. Consider whether the question is clear, feasible, and likely to yield meaningful results. Be open to making revisions as needed to ensure that your research question is well-constructed and aligned with the goals of your study.

Examples of Research Questions

Below are some example research questions from various fields to provide a glimpse into the diverse array of inquiries within each field.

1. Psychology Research Questions:

  1. How does childhood trauma influence the development of personality disorders in adulthood?
  2. What are the effects of mindfulness meditation on reducing symptoms of anxiety and depression?
  3. How does social media usage impact self-esteem among adolescents?
  4. What factors contribute to the formation and maintenance of romantic relationships in young adults?
  5. What are the cognitive mechanisms underlying decision-making processes in individuals with addiction?
  6. How does parenting style affect the development of resilience in children?
  7. What are the long-term effects of early childhood attachment patterns on adult romantic relationships?
  8. What role does genetics play in the predisposition to mental health disorders such as schizophrenia?
  9. How does exposure to violent media influence aggressive behavior in children?
  10. What are the psychological effects of social isolation on mental health during the COVID-19 pandemic?

2. Business Research Questions:

  1. What are the key factors influencing consumer purchasing behavior in the e-commerce industry?
  2. How does organizational culture impact employee job satisfaction and retention?
  3. What are the strategies for successful international market entry for small businesses?
  4. What are the effects of corporate social responsibility initiatives on brand reputation and consumer loyalty?
  5. How do leadership styles influence organizational innovation and performance?
  6. What are the challenges and opportunities for implementing sustainable business practices in emerging markets?
  7. What factors contribute to the success of startups in the technology sector?
  8. How do economic fluctuations affect consumer confidence and spending behavior?
  9. What are the impacts of globalization on supply chain management practices?
  10. What are the determinants of successful mergers and acquisitions in the corporate sector?

3. Education Research Questions:

  1. What teaching strategies are most effective for promoting student engagement in online learning environments?
  2. How does socioeconomic status impact academic achievement and educational attainment?
  3. What are the barriers to inclusive education for students with disabilities?
  4. What factors influence teacher job satisfaction and retention in urban schools?
  5. How does parental involvement affect student academic performance and school outcomes?
  6. What are the effects of early childhood education programs on later academic success?
  7. How do culturally responsive teaching practices impact student learning outcomes in diverse classrooms?
  8. What are the best practices for implementing technology integration in K-12 education?
  9. How do school leadership practices influence school climate and student outcomes?
  10. What interventions are most effective for addressing the achievement gap in STEM education?

4. Healthcare Research Questions:

  1. What are the factors influencing healthcare-seeking behavior among underserved populations?
  2. How does patient-provider communication affect patient satisfaction and treatment adherence?
  3. What are the barriers to implementing telemedicine services in rural communities?
  4. What interventions are effective for reducing hospital readmissions among elderly patients?
  5. How does access to healthcare services impact health disparities among marginalized communities?
  6. What are the effects of nurse staffing levels on patient outcomes in acute care settings?
  7. How do socioeconomic factors influence access to mental healthcare services?
  8. What are the best practices for managing chronic disease patients in primary care settings?
  9. What are the impacts of healthcare reform policies on healthcare delivery and patient outcomes?
  10. How does cultural competence training for healthcare providers affect patient trust and satisfaction?

5. Computer Science Research Questions:

  1. What are the security vulnerabilities of blockchain technology, and how can they be mitigated?
  2. How can machine learning algorithms be used to detect and prevent cyber-attacks?
  3. What are the privacy implications of data mining techniques in social media platforms?
  4. How can artificial intelligence be used to improve medical diagnosis and treatment?
  5. What are the challenges and opportunities for implementing edge computing in IoT systems?
  6. How can natural language processing techniques be applied to improve human-computer interaction?
  7. What are the impacts of algorithmic bias on fairness and equity in decision-making systems?
  8. How can quantum computing algorithms be optimized for solving complex computational problems?
  9. What are the ethical considerations surrounding the use of autonomous vehicles in transportation systems?
  10. How does the design of user interfaces influence user experience and usability in mobile applications?
Pro Tip: Differentiating between bad and good research questions is crucial for ensuring a study’s effectiveness and relevance. Ensure your research questions are clear, specific, relevant, significant, feasible, and manageable.
Here are some examples of good and bad research questions and explanations for why they are so:Example of a good research question: “What are the effects of caffeine consumption on memory retention in college students aged 18-25?”Example of a Bad Research Question: “How does caffeine affect memory?”Why?The good research question specifies the population (college students aged 18-25) and the variable of interest (memory retention), providing clarity on the focus of the study. In contrast, the bad research question is too broad and lacks specificity, making it difficult to determine the scope of the inquiry.

Good: “What are the factors influencing employee job satisfaction and turnover intentions in the hospitality industry during the COVID-19 pandemic?”

Bad: “What is the favorite color of employees in the hospitality industry?”


The good research question addresses a timely and relevant issue (employee job satisfaction and turnover intentions) within the context of a specific industry (hospitality) and a current global event (COVID-19 pandemic). In contrast, the bad research question focuses on a trivial aspect (favorite color) that is unrelated to the field of study and lacks relevance or significance.

Create a Compelling Research Question With the Given Examples

Understanding research questions is essential for any successful research endeavor. We’ve explored the various research questions – quantitative, qualitative, and mixed-methods – each with unique characteristics and purposes.

Through various examples, tips, and strategies, we’ve seen how research questions can be tailored to specific fields of study.

By following these guidelines, we are confident that your research questions will be well-designed, focused, and capable of yielding valuable insights.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are some good research question examples?

Good research questions are clear, specific, relevant, and feasible. For example, “How does childhood trauma influence the development of personality disorders in adulthood?”

What are some examples of good and bad research questions?

Good research questions are focused and relevant, such as “What factors influence employee job satisfaction in the hospitality industry?” Bad research questions are vague or trivial, like “What is the favorite color of employees in the hospitality industry?”

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About the author

Emma David is a seasoned market research professional with 8+ years of experience. Having kick-started her journey in research, she has developed rich expertise in employee engagement, survey creation and administration, and data management. Emma believes in the power of data to shape business performance positively. She continues to help brands and businesses make strategic decisions and improve their market standing through her understanding of research methodologies.