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Module 1
Asking Good Questions
Module 2
Finding Information
Module 3
Selecting the Best
Module 4
Putting it Together
Module 5
Your Project
Module 6
Making the Grade

How do I develop a research question?

A topic is the starting point for your research. When you have chosen a broad topic, the next step is to create a research question about your topic. There will be more than one question you can use for every topic. Your question can be modified and even replaced as you learn more about the topic. The most workable research questions usually start with "Why," "How," "Which," "Should," or "What if."


Work with these sample questions, filling in the blanks on the Developing Your Questions Word document or PDF.

As you fill in the blanks, think about the new question as a research topic.

#2 Practice developing research questions. Write your own questions for the topics in the Turning Topics into Research Questions Word document or PDF.

When you need information, you ask a question. For instance, you might ask:

  • What car should I buy?
  • What is a good career for me?
  • Where should I go to college?
  • What are the best ways to exercise to stay healthy?
  • Which computer program will help with my work?

The hardest part of research or problem solving is getting started. One way to get started is by creating questions. When developing questions, it is helpful to think of as many questions as possible surrounding a topic. Here is one strategy to help develop questions.

Choose an image from the slide show, Thirty Thinking Images, or do a search for a topic using an Internet search engine such as Google and click on the image results.

Develop questions you have about the photograph you have chosen using the Question Generator Form Word document or PDF. When using the form, keep in mind:

  • Questions starting with "who," "what," "where," and "when," in combination with the words on the top left of the form—do, would, can, and could—are fairly easy to develop.
  • Questions starting with "how," "which," and "why," in combination with the words on the far right at the top of the form—would, will, and might—are harder to develop, but lead to more in-depth research.

Here are some sample questions about this image of an osprey in a marsh.

                  osprey bird pandion haliaetus flies off with a fish

Gentry, George. Osprey. Digital image. PIXNIO. N.p., n.d. Web. 22 Nov. 2017.

  • Question starting with how combined with will: "How will birds be impacted as farmland is transformed into housing developments and shopping areas?"
  • Question starting with which combined with would: "Which environmental policies and zoning laws would provide protection for birds while also providing areas for people to live and shop?"
  • Question starting with how combined with might: "How might changes in global temperature impact wildlife living in marshes and grasslands?"

Read these two articles:


Write and record questions that you have about the articles Social Media and Body Image: #Fitinspiration at Its Worst and Body Conscious.

Use the Three Levels of Questions Word document or PDF to record your questions. You can apply this questioning technique to future research projects or to find a solution to a problem.

Here are some sample questions from the article, Social Media and Body Image: #Fitinspiration at Its Worst

  • Questions directly from the text: "What is the impact of social media on women's body image?"
  • Questions implied in the text: "How can social media users maximize the platform for positive and supportive fitness inspiration?"
  • Questions that take your research deeper: "Does social media about body image affect men and women in a similar manner?"