How to Craft a Research Question.
• Understanding Qualitative Research | Transcript.
• Understanding Quantitative Research | Transcript.
• Matching Statistical Tests to Hypotheses | Transcript.
• How to Interpret SPSS Data | Transcript.
• What They Do Not Tell You About Statistics | Transcript.
Unit 4 Study 2
Crafting Well-Formed Research Questions
We have seen that the process of designing research follows a clear sequence:
• First, one develops a program evaluation or action research project.
• Next, one searches the literature to find support for the topic.
• Then, one develops a well-formed research problem statement, indicating the need for a research projected targeting a specific issue in an organization or community that is supported by existing literature.
The next step in the research process is to craft well-formed research questions. A well-formed research question has these qualities:
• It clearly identifies the variables or concepts being studied.
• It clearly identifies who the sample will be.
• It suggests by its wording what research design will be used.
• It is posed as a question and ends in a question mark.
• It is answerable.
Before beginning, let us review a few do and don’t items about research questions of any kind:
• Do not commit yourself to a particular methodology before you have an acceptable research question in hand.
• Do not try to write a research question before you learn—from the existing literature—whether your topic is researchable and what the research problem you want to address is.
• Do not base your choice of methodology solely on personal preference; support your choice by showing that similar studies have used similar methodologies.
• Do base the methodology on the research question itself.
The question should be answerable in a reasonable or feasible way. This is trickier than it sounds. Let us look at two examples:
• “What are the Internet needs of the sub-Saharan African population?” is a very interesting and important question, but because the sub- Saharan population is both intensely tribal and vast, no simple sampling plan will adequately represent the entire population, so it may not be feasible to answer it in the time frame of a dissertation or capstone.
• “What is the experience of dying?” is a question that all human beings care a great deal about, but it is not answerable because we cannot get data from those who have died.
Feasibility includes, but is not limited to, considering whether:
• You will have the financial or physical resources to do the study.
• The likely participants are accessible to you, or whether the data are actually available.
◦ Dissertations or capstones with a research plan that only includes secondary data and no data collection may not be seen as strong enough to be approved.
• The time frame required is reasonable for your dissertation or capstone.
Additionally, the research question must comply with all ethical constraints. Even though a research question such as “To what extent can human beings survive X infectious disease without medical care?” may be an important epidemiological and public health question, it is unethical, (unless some observational method could be devised that did not deliberately expose healthy persons to the disease and there is no medical care available).
Part of developing a viable research question includes clearly identifying the variables. Read through the following handout to gain further information:
• Variables in Quantitative Research: A Beginner’s Guide – Public Service Leadership.
Let us begin work on your research questions.
• Review How to Craft a Research Question.
◦ This reading is included here again for you to refer to as you develop the research question.
How to Craft a Research Question.