Now that we are beginning Unit 2, you will need to narrow your topic. You have collected a variety of sources on your topic in Unit 1, however, Unit 2 will focus specifically on answering a research question. But how do you pick a good research question? This activity will help you pick one, which will be approved by your instructor.
You should first read page 368-373 of your textbook (starting from the section “Narrow Your Topic”). Use this section of the textbook to understand the work you’ve already done to gather background information and why it’s important to narrow your topic. Pay particular attention to the examples of research questions provided by the book.
Using this section of the textbook to guide your response, answer the following questions.
- What has your topic in the class been so far? What is the puzzle or problem at the center of the topic (in other words, what is the most heavily-debated parts of that topic and why do the answers to that debate matter)?
- What do you want your research question to be for Unit 2? Remember that research questions are literally questions (with question marks) that you hope to answer by looking at several sources on the topic. Please write your research question as a question.You can suggest two research questions if you aren’t sure.
- Note: Research questions tend to focus on problems/solutions. For example, if I hear that my county is looking into changing the bus routes, I may do some preliminary research, then settle on the research question should voters support the change in bus routes? A bad research question would be too narrow, such as a question that can be answered with just one source (for example, “what are the current bus routes?”) You want to ask a question that allows you enter a debate, read several sources, and leave with a clear answer to your question. If I focus on a question like should voters support the change in bus routes? I would need several sources covering a variety of information before I could answer that question. Bad research questions can be too big or too broad (for example, do the bus systems in the U.S. work efficiently?)–if the question would take hundreds of sources to answer, it’s probably not appropriate, since this class won’t allow that much time.
- Based on the research you’ve done so far, what do you know about possible answers to your question (that you listed in #2)? What do you need to look into before you can answer your research question?
- Think of one specific group of people or audience for your research. Who specifically does this research matter to and why? Here, do not say everyone. Instead, identify at least one specific group that would be particularly interested in your research question and the answers/solutions to this question. For example, if I was researching the effects of COVID-19 infection on an unborn fetus, then one of my specific audiences would be pregnant women. Another specific audience could be obstetricians (medical doctors who work with pregnant women, deliver babies, etc.)