Defining scientific questions

This is where the previous lesson ended. You must define the scientific questions or challenges to be resolved. These target exactly what you want to know. They may focus on describing, comparing, evaluating, or explaining the research problem.

defining scientific questions

A solid research question should be specific enough that you can answer it thoroughly using appropriate qualitative or quantitative research methods. It must also be complex enough to require extensive investigation, analysis and argumentation. Questions that can be answered with “yes/no” or with readily available facts are not complex enough for a thesis or dissertation.

The process of developing your research question follows several steps:

  • Choose a broad topic
  • Do pre-reading to educate yourself on current debates and issues
  • Narrow down a specific niche you want to focus on
  • Identify a practical or theoretical research problem that you will address

When you have a clearly defined problem, you must formulate one or more questions. Think about exactly what you want to know and how it will help solve the problem.

Both qualitative and quantitative research require research questions. The type of question you use depends on what you want to know and the type of research you want to do. This will shape your research design.

Steps to find the right questions

The process of developing your research question follows several steps:

  • Choose a topic
  • Do pre-reading to educate yourself on current debates and issues
  • Narrow down a specific niche you want to focus on
  • Identify a practical or theoretical research problem that you will address

When you have a clearly defined problem, you must formulate one or more questions. Think about exactly what you want to know and how it will help solve the problem.

Defining scientific questions defining scientific questions

Standard questions depending on the issue

Here are some English examples of typical questions to ask. First of all, the question must be specific and scientific.

Defining scientific questions defining scientific questions

Questions must be able to be resolved via a scientific method (see the dedicated course).

Defining scientific questions defining scientific questions

Scientific questions should not be too simplistic.

Defining scientific questions defining scientific questions

The questions must meet a scientific and industrial need.

Defining scientific questions defining scientific questions

Find a scientific method

The scientific method is a practical framework for answering your research questions. This involves making decisions about the type of data you need, the methods you will use to collect and analyze it, and where and for how long your research will take place. To be seen on the next lesson.

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