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Communications & Writing Research Guide

This guide is intended to help students in all levels of writing and communications classes - whether you are new to doing research at Bentley or need a refresher!

What is a Research Question?

Once you have a topic, the next step is to develop a research question. Your professor will be helping you along the way but there are various things to consider in developing a good research question.

Research questions help writers focus their research by providing a path through the research and writing process. The specificity of a well-developed research question helps writers avoid the “all-about” paper and work toward supporting a specific, arguable thesis.

Good research questions are open-ended, meaning they do not necessarily have a simple yes or no answer and require you to consult a number of sources. Some research questions involve investigating a cause and effect, comparing two or more ideas, or measuring efficacy though there are many different types of questions to be asked.

Tips for Creating a Research Question

A research question is the question around which you center your research. It should be:

  • clear: it provides enough specifics that one’s audience can easily understand its purpose without needing additional explanation.
  • focused: it is narrow enough that it can be answered thoroughly in the space the writing task allows.
  • concise: it is expressed in the fewest possible words.
  • complex: it is not answerable with a simple “yes” or “no,” but rather requires synthesis and analysis of ideas and sources prior to composition of an answer.
  • arguable: its potential answers are open to debate rather than accepted facts. You should ask a question about an issue that you are genuinely curious and/or passionate about.