Creating a Workable Research Question

From topic to research question

A good research topic asks a clear, concise question instead of simply stating a broad issue.

Broad Topic: Legalization of marijuana
Research Question: How would the legalization of marijuana affect the US court system?
Research Question: Would the legalization of marijuana increase or decrease drug use among US teenagers?

Asking a research question helps you keep a tight focus on your topic as you look through the available research. You'll be able to keep the focused information and reject material that discusses your topic too generally.

Broad Topic: Autism
Research Question: How are autism spectrum disorders diagnosed?
Research Question: What are the known causes of autism?

A good research topic is broad enough to allow you to find plenty of material but narrow enough to fit within the size and time constraints of your paper. As you begin to research, if you discover that your topic is too broad or too narrow, consider adding or eliminating the following elements:

Time Period:; century, decade, future, etc.
Population Type: age, gender, nationality, species, etc.
Geographic Location: country, state, region, etc.
Point of View: economic, social, cultural, biographical, etc.

Check with your instructor if you have any doubt that your topic is a good one. You'll be glad you did!