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Creating Research Questions
It is important to develop good research questions when doing a research project.
This will help focus your thinking and avoid wasting time.
Make a choice:
Create different types of questions for different purposes during your research.
Beginning your research During your research Finishing your research
Exploring (Probing) Questions Factual (Memory) Questions
Analysis (Convergent) Questions
Reflection (Divergent) Questions
Evaluative (Assessing) Questions
Self-Evaluative Questions
Self-Reflection Questions
 Beginning your research
 Your goal when beginning your research project is to come up with a good overall research question that:
  • relates directly to the assignment
  • that is interesting to you
Use the following type of questions to help you decide: Exploring (Probing) Questions
 Exploring (Probing) Questions
Those that take you away from surface information to real meaning underneath
 Your research project should demonstrate that you have thought deeply about your topic.
To do that, you need to probe below surface information.
Keep in mind that your beginning questions are just a starting place.
Your overall research question may end up changing as you learn more about your topic.


Write research questions that will lead you to discover issues related to your topic.

     Example:   Laws have already been passed about abortion, so why is it still such a controversial topic?
     Example:   Facts about good nutrition are widely known, so why is obesity increasing?

Write research questions that will lead you to explore the importance of your topic.
     Example for an informative project:   Why is providing health care for everyone important to society?
     Example for a persuasive project:   How would the restriction of gambling improve family life?

Your exploring questions might start in one of these ways:
I wonder if...
      Example: I wonder if there are good research topics about podcasting.
      Example: I wonder if there have been any recent discoveries about dinosaurs.
Is it possible...
     Example: Is it possible to talk to a computer and have my words typed out for me?
     Example: Is it possible for insects to be a good food source?
What does the future hold for...
     Example: What does the future hold for wireless communication?
     Example: What does the future hold for passenger space travel?
Are there any new developments in...
     Example: Are there any new developments in recycling procedures?
     Example: Are there any new developments in the fight against cancer?
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 During your research
Once you have decided on your overall research question, you need to use a variety of additional types of questions to find the information you need.
Use the following types of questions (explanations and examples below):
Factual (Memory) Questions Analysis (Convergent) Questions Reflection (Divergent) Questions Evaluative (Assessing) Questions
      
Factual (Memory) Questions
Those that lead you to:
1. Get background information about your research topic
2. Find specific details and facts to support the points you make.
 Develop questions beginning with Who, When, Where, or What:

1. To get background information
     Example:  Who designed the first electric car?
     Example:  When was the iceman discovered?
     Example:  Where did the Wright Brothers have their first airplane flight?
     Example:  What laws have been passed to uphold the rights of women?

2. To find details and facts to support the points you make
     Example:  Who could I quote to show that ____________ has been studied by experts?
     Example:  What facts and statistics will illustrate ____________ ?
     Example:  When and how was ____________ addressed by the legal system?
     Example:  Where can I find symptoms and treatments for ____________ ?
Analysis (Convergent) Questions
Those that lead you to:
explain, compare, contrast, show relationships
 Questions beginning with How,Why, In what ways:

    Example: How can iPods be of use in educational settings?
    Example: Why did European countries establish colonies in North and South America?
    Example: In what ways can virtual reality help the police catch criminals?
Reflection (Divergent) Questions
Those that lead you to:
come up with your own ideas about a topic --
predicting, concluding, proposing, inferring, hypothesizing.
Use words such as these: might, would, could, should, will.  

     Example: How might raising the legal driving age impact the death rate of teenagers?
     Example: How would scientific research change if scientists did not need to compete for funding?
     Example: I wonder if physician assistants could actually do a good job performing abortions?
     Example: should textbooks be replaced with online lessons?
     Example: will we ever develop a society that does not have war?
Evaluative (Assessing) Questions
Those that lead you to:
draw conclusions, make judgements, justify or defend your position
Drawing conclusions:
     Example: Is Darth Vader one of the best examples of evil protagonists in science fiction movies?
     Example: Are jobs being taken away from United States citizens by illegal immigrants?

Making judgments:
     Example: Do I really believe that it was justified for the crash survivers in Alive to eat the dead?
     Example: Considering the war against terror, is domestic spying appropriate?

Justifying or defending your position:
     Example: What evidence will demonstrate that nanotubes can be used in treating cancer?
     Example:  How could you illustrate instances when racial profiling would be justified?
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 Finishing your research
Self-Evaluative Questions
Those that lead you to:
decide how well you worked on this project (process)
decide the quality of your finished project (product)
 Process:
    Example: Did I allow myself enough time to revise?
    Example: Were my search terms precise enough that I found information I needed quickly?

Product:
    Example: Did my project completely fulfill the teacher's requirements?
    Example: In each section of my project, were my transitions different, but coordinated with each other?
Self-Reflection Questions
Those that lead you to:
think about how well you use information (process)
consider whether or not you are effective at creating good projects (product)
 Process:
     Example: How could I keep a better record of past searches so I don't duplicate them?
     Example: When working on projects, would an assignment organizer help me better plan my time?

Product:
     Example: When I add images to projects, do they effectively enhance my text?
     Example:  Do I always check the accuracy of information I use in my projects?
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