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10 Research Question Examples to Guide your Research Project

Published on October 30, 2022 by Shona McCombes . Revised on October 19, 2023.

The research question is one of the most important parts of your research paper , thesis or dissertation . It’s important to spend some time assessing and refining your question before you get started.

The exact form of your question will depend on a few things, such as the length of your project, the type of research you’re conducting, the topic , and the research problem . However, all research questions should be focused, specific, and relevant to a timely social or scholarly issue.

Once you’ve read our guide on how to write a research question , you can use these examples to craft your own.

Note that the design of your research question can depend on what method you are pursuing. Here are a few options for qualitative, quantitative, and statistical research questions.

Other interesting articles

If you want to know more about the research process , methodology , research bias , or statistics , make sure to check out some of our other articles with explanations and examples.


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Research bias

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Home » Research Questions – Types, Examples and Writing Guide

Research Questions – Types, Examples and Writing Guide

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Research Questions

Research Questions


Research questions are the specific questions that guide a research study or inquiry. These questions help to define the scope of the research and provide a clear focus for the study. Research questions are usually developed at the beginning of a research project and are designed to address a particular research problem or objective.

Types of Research Questions

Types of Research Questions are as follows:

Descriptive Research Questions

These aim to describe a particular phenomenon, group, or situation. For example:

  • What are the characteristics of the target population?
  • What is the prevalence of a particular disease in a specific region?

Exploratory Research Questions

These aim to explore a new area of research or generate new ideas or hypotheses. For example:

  • What are the potential causes of a particular phenomenon?
  • What are the possible outcomes of a specific intervention?

Explanatory Research Questions

These aim to understand the relationship between two or more variables or to explain why a particular phenomenon occurs. For example:

  • What is the effect of a specific drug on the symptoms of a particular disease?
  • What are the factors that contribute to employee turnover in a particular industry?

Predictive Research Questions

These aim to predict a future outcome or trend based on existing data or trends. For example :

  • What will be the future demand for a particular product or service?
  • What will be the future prevalence of a particular disease?

Evaluative Research Questions

These aim to evaluate the effectiveness of a particular intervention or program. For example:

  • What is the impact of a specific educational program on student learning outcomes?
  • What is the effectiveness of a particular policy or program in achieving its intended goals?

How to Choose Research Questions

Choosing research questions is an essential part of the research process and involves careful consideration of the research problem, objectives, and design. Here are some steps to consider when choosing research questions:

  • Identify the research problem: Start by identifying the problem or issue that you want to study. This could be a gap in the literature, a social or economic issue, or a practical problem that needs to be addressed.
  • Conduct a literature review: Conducting a literature review can help you identify existing research in your area of interest and can help you formulate research questions that address gaps or limitations in the existing literature.
  • Define the research objectives : Clearly define the objectives of your research. What do you want to achieve with your study? What specific questions do you want to answer?
  • Consider the research design : Consider the research design that you plan to use. This will help you determine the appropriate types of research questions to ask. For example, if you plan to use a qualitative approach, you may want to focus on exploratory or descriptive research questions.
  • Ensure that the research questions are clear and answerable: Your research questions should be clear and specific, and should be answerable with the data that you plan to collect. Avoid asking questions that are too broad or vague.
  • Get feedback : Get feedback from your supervisor, colleagues, or peers to ensure that your research questions are relevant, feasible, and meaningful.

How to Write Research Questions

Guide for Writing Research Questions:

  • Start with a clear statement of the research problem: Begin by stating the problem or issue that your research aims to address. This will help you to formulate focused research questions.
  • Use clear language : Write your research questions in clear and concise language that is easy to understand. Avoid using jargon or technical terms that may be unfamiliar to your readers.
  • Be specific: Your research questions should be specific and focused. Avoid broad questions that are difficult to answer. For example, instead of asking “What is the impact of climate change on the environment?” ask “What are the effects of rising sea levels on coastal ecosystems?”
  • Use appropriate question types: Choose the appropriate question types based on the research design and objectives. For example, if you are conducting a qualitative study, you may want to use open-ended questions that allow participants to provide detailed responses.
  • Consider the feasibility of your questions : Ensure that your research questions are feasible and can be answered with the resources available. Consider the data sources and methods of data collection when writing your questions.
  • Seek feedback: Get feedback from your supervisor, colleagues, or peers to ensure that your research questions are relevant, appropriate, and meaningful.

Examples of Research Questions

Some Examples of Research Questions with Research Titles:

Research Title: The Impact of Social Media on Mental Health

  • Research Question : What is the relationship between social media use and mental health, and how does this impact individuals’ well-being?

Research Title: Factors Influencing Academic Success in High School

  • Research Question: What are the primary factors that influence academic success in high school, and how do they contribute to student achievement?

Research Title: The Effects of Exercise on Physical and Mental Health

  • Research Question: What is the relationship between exercise and physical and mental health, and how can exercise be used as a tool to improve overall well-being?

Research Title: Understanding the Factors that Influence Consumer Purchasing Decisions

  • Research Question : What are the key factors that influence consumer purchasing decisions, and how do these factors vary across different demographics and products?

Research Title: The Impact of Technology on Communication

  • Research Question : How has technology impacted communication patterns, and what are the effects of these changes on interpersonal relationships and society as a whole?

Research Title: Investigating the Relationship between Parenting Styles and Child Development

  • Research Question: What is the relationship between different parenting styles and child development outcomes, and how do these outcomes vary across different ages and developmental stages?

Research Title: The Effectiveness of Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy in Treating Anxiety Disorders

  • Research Question: How effective is cognitive-behavioral therapy in treating anxiety disorders, and what factors contribute to its success or failure in different patients?

Research Title: The Impact of Climate Change on Biodiversity

  • Research Question : How is climate change affecting global biodiversity, and what can be done to mitigate the negative effects on natural ecosystems?

Research Title: Exploring the Relationship between Cultural Diversity and Workplace Productivity

  • Research Question : How does cultural diversity impact workplace productivity, and what strategies can be employed to maximize the benefits of a diverse workforce?

Research Title: The Role of Artificial Intelligence in Healthcare

  • Research Question: How can artificial intelligence be leveraged to improve healthcare outcomes, and what are the potential risks and ethical concerns associated with its use?

Applications of Research Questions

Here are some of the key applications of research questions:

  • Defining the scope of the study : Research questions help researchers to narrow down the scope of their study and identify the specific issues they want to investigate.
  • Developing hypotheses: Research questions often lead to the development of hypotheses, which are testable predictions about the relationship between variables. Hypotheses provide a clear and focused direction for the study.
  • Designing the study : Research questions guide the design of the study, including the selection of participants, the collection of data, and the analysis of results.
  • Collecting data : Research questions inform the selection of appropriate methods for collecting data, such as surveys, interviews, or experiments.
  • Analyzing data : Research questions guide the analysis of data, including the selection of appropriate statistical tests and the interpretation of results.
  • Communicating results : Research questions help researchers to communicate the results of their study in a clear and concise manner. The research questions provide a framework for discussing the findings and drawing conclusions.

Characteristics of Research Questions

Characteristics of Research Questions are as follows:

  • Clear and Specific : A good research question should be clear and specific. It should clearly state what the research is trying to investigate and what kind of data is required.
  • Relevant : The research question should be relevant to the study and should address a current issue or problem in the field of research.
  • Testable : The research question should be testable through empirical evidence. It should be possible to collect data to answer the research question.
  • Concise : The research question should be concise and focused. It should not be too broad or too narrow.
  • Feasible : The research question should be feasible to answer within the constraints of the research design, time frame, and available resources.
  • Original : The research question should be original and should contribute to the existing knowledge in the field of research.
  • Significant : The research question should have significance and importance to the field of research. It should have the potential to provide new insights and knowledge to the field.
  • Ethical : The research question should be ethical and should not cause harm to any individuals or groups involved in the study.

Purpose of Research Questions

Research questions are the foundation of any research study as they guide the research process and provide a clear direction to the researcher. The purpose of research questions is to identify the scope and boundaries of the study, and to establish the goals and objectives of the research.

The main purpose of research questions is to help the researcher to focus on the specific area or problem that needs to be investigated. They enable the researcher to develop a research design, select the appropriate methods and tools for data collection and analysis, and to organize the results in a meaningful way.

Research questions also help to establish the relevance and significance of the study. They define the research problem, and determine the research methodology that will be used to address the problem. Research questions also help to determine the type of data that will be collected, and how it will be analyzed and interpreted.

Finally, research questions provide a framework for evaluating the results of the research. They help to establish the validity and reliability of the data, and provide a basis for drawing conclusions and making recommendations based on the findings of the study.

Advantages of Research Questions

There are several advantages of research questions in the research process, including:

  • Focus : Research questions help to focus the research by providing a clear direction for the study. They define the specific area of investigation and provide a framework for the research design.
  • Clarity : Research questions help to clarify the purpose and objectives of the study, which can make it easier for the researcher to communicate the research aims to others.
  • Relevance : Research questions help to ensure that the study is relevant and meaningful. By asking relevant and important questions, the researcher can ensure that the study will contribute to the existing body of knowledge and address important issues.
  • Consistency : Research questions help to ensure consistency in the research process by providing a framework for the development of the research design, data collection, and analysis.
  • Measurability : Research questions help to ensure that the study is measurable by defining the specific variables and outcomes that will be measured.
  • Replication : Research questions help to ensure that the study can be replicated by providing a clear and detailed description of the research aims, methods, and outcomes. This makes it easier for other researchers to replicate the study and verify the results.

Limitations of Research Questions

Limitations of Research Questions are as follows:

  • Subjectivity : Research questions are often subjective and can be influenced by personal biases and perspectives of the researcher. This can lead to a limited understanding of the research problem and may affect the validity and reliability of the study.
  • Inadequate scope : Research questions that are too narrow in scope may limit the breadth of the study, while questions that are too broad may make it difficult to focus on specific research objectives.
  • Unanswerable questions : Some research questions may not be answerable due to the lack of available data or limitations in research methods. In such cases, the research question may need to be rephrased or modified to make it more answerable.
  • Lack of clarity : Research questions that are poorly worded or ambiguous can lead to confusion and misinterpretation. This can result in incomplete or inaccurate data, which may compromise the validity of the study.
  • Difficulty in measuring variables : Some research questions may involve variables that are difficult to measure or quantify, making it challenging to draw meaningful conclusions from the data.
  • Lack of generalizability: Research questions that are too specific or limited in scope may not be generalizable to other contexts or populations. This can limit the applicability of the study’s findings and restrict its broader implications.

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How to Write a Good Research Question (w/ Examples)

research possible questions

What is a Research Question?

A research question is the main question that your study sought or is seeking to answer. A clear research question guides your research paper or thesis and states exactly what you want to find out, giving your work a focus and objective. Learning  how to write a hypothesis or research question is the start to composing any thesis, dissertation, or research paper. It is also one of the most important sections of a research proposal . 

A good research question not only clarifies the writing in your study; it provides your readers with a clear focus and facilitates their understanding of your research topic, as well as outlining your study’s objectives. Before drafting the paper and receiving research paper editing (and usually before performing your study), you should write a concise statement of what this study intends to accomplish or reveal.

Research Question Writing Tips

Listed below are the important characteristics of a good research question:

A good research question should:

  • Be clear and provide specific information so readers can easily understand the purpose.
  • Be focused in its scope and narrow enough to be addressed in the space allowed by your paper
  • Be relevant and concise and express your main ideas in as few words as possible, like a hypothesis.
  • Be precise and complex enough that it does not simply answer a closed “yes or no” question, but requires an analysis of arguments and literature prior to its being considered acceptable. 
  • Be arguable or testable so that answers to the research question are open to scrutiny and specific questions and counterarguments.

Some of these characteristics might be difficult to understand in the form of a list. Let’s go into more detail about what a research question must do and look at some examples of research questions.

The research question should be specific and focused 

Research questions that are too broad are not suitable to be addressed in a single study. One reason for this can be if there are many factors or variables to consider. In addition, a sample data set that is too large or an experimental timeline that is too long may suggest that the research question is not focused enough.

A specific research question means that the collective data and observations come together to either confirm or deny the chosen hypothesis in a clear manner. If a research question is too vague, then the data might end up creating an alternate research problem or hypothesis that you haven’t addressed in your Introduction section .

The research question should be based on the literature 

An effective research question should be answerable and verifiable based on prior research because an effective scientific study must be placed in the context of a wider academic consensus. This means that conspiracy or fringe theories are not good research paper topics.

Instead, a good research question must extend, examine, and verify the context of your research field. It should fit naturally within the literature and be searchable by other research authors.

References to the literature can be in different citation styles and must be properly formatted according to the guidelines set forth by the publishing journal, university, or academic institution. This includes in-text citations as well as the Reference section . 

The research question should be realistic in time, scope, and budget

There are two main constraints to the research process: timeframe and budget.

A proper research question will include study or experimental procedures that can be executed within a feasible time frame, typically by a graduate doctoral or master’s student or lab technician. Research that requires future technology, expensive resources, or follow-up procedures is problematic.

A researcher’s budget is also a major constraint to performing timely research. Research at many large universities or institutions is publicly funded and is thus accountable to funding restrictions. 

The research question should be in-depth

Research papers, dissertations and theses , and academic journal articles are usually dozens if not hundreds of pages in length.

A good research question or thesis statement must be sufficiently complex to warrant such a length, as it must stand up to the scrutiny of peer review and be reproducible by other scientists and researchers.

Research Question Types

Qualitative and quantitative research are the two major types of research, and it is essential to develop research questions for each type of study. 

Quantitative Research Questions

Quantitative research questions are specific. A typical research question involves the population to be studied, dependent and independent variables, and the research design.

In addition, quantitative research questions connect the research question and the research design. In addition, it is not possible to answer these questions definitively with a “yes” or “no” response. For example, scientific fields such as biology, physics, and chemistry often deal with “states,” in which different quantities, amounts, or velocities drastically alter the relevance of the research.

As a consequence, quantitative research questions do not contain qualitative, categorical, or ordinal qualifiers such as “is,” “are,” “does,” or “does not.”

Categories of quantitative research questions

Qualitative research questions.

In quantitative research, research questions have the potential to relate to broad research areas as well as more specific areas of study. Qualitative research questions are less directional, more flexible, and adaptable compared with their quantitative counterparts. Thus, studies based on these questions tend to focus on “discovering,” “explaining,” “elucidating,” and “exploring.”

Categories of qualitative research questions

Quantitative and qualitative research question examples.

stacks of books in black and white; research question examples

Good and Bad Research Question Examples

Below are some good (and not-so-good) examples of research questions that researchers can use to guide them in crafting their own research questions.

Research Question Example 1

The first research question is too vague in both its independent and dependent variables. There is no specific information on what “exposure” means. Does this refer to comments, likes, engagement, or just how much time is spent on the social media platform?

Second, there is no useful information on what exactly “affected” means. Does the subject’s behavior change in some measurable way? Or does this term refer to another factor such as the user’s emotions?

Research Question Example 2

In this research question, the first example is too simple and not sufficiently complex, making it difficult to assess whether the study answered the question. The author could really only answer this question with a simple “yes” or “no.” Further, the presence of data would not help answer this question more deeply, which is a sure sign of a poorly constructed research topic.

The second research question is specific, complex, and empirically verifiable. One can measure program effectiveness based on metrics such as attendance or grades. Further, “bullying” is made into an empirical, quantitative measurement in the form of recorded disciplinary actions.

Steps for Writing a Research Question

Good research questions are relevant, focused, and meaningful. It can be difficult to come up with a good research question, but there are a few steps you can follow to make it a bit easier.

1. Start with an interesting and relevant topic

Choose a research topic that is interesting but also relevant and aligned with your own country’s culture or your university’s capabilities. Popular academic topics include healthcare and medical-related research. However, if you are attending an engineering school or humanities program, you should obviously choose a research question that pertains to your specific study and major.

Below is an embedded graph of the most popular research fields of study based on publication output according to region. As you can see, healthcare and the basic sciences receive the most funding and earn the highest number of publications. 

research possible questions

2. Do preliminary research  

You can begin doing preliminary research once you have chosen a research topic. Two objectives should be accomplished during this first phase of research. First, you should undertake a preliminary review of related literature to discover issues that scholars and peers are currently discussing. With this method, you show that you are informed about the latest developments in the field.

Secondly, identify knowledge gaps or limitations in your topic by conducting a preliminary literature review . It is possible to later use these gaps to focus your research question after a certain amount of fine-tuning.

3. Narrow your research to determine specific research questions

You can focus on a more specific area of study once you have a good handle on the topic you want to explore. Focusing on recent literature or knowledge gaps is one good option. 

By identifying study limitations in the literature and overlooked areas of study, an author can carve out a good research question. The same is true for choosing research questions that extend or complement existing literature.

4. Evaluate your research question

Make sure you evaluate the research question by asking the following questions:

Is my research question clear?

The resulting data and observations that your study produces should be clear. For quantitative studies, data must be empirical and measurable. For qualitative, the observations should be clearly delineable across categories.

Is my research question focused and specific?

A strong research question should be specific enough that your methodology or testing procedure produces an objective result, not one left to subjective interpretation. Open-ended research questions or those relating to general topics can create ambiguous connections between the results and the aims of the study. 

Is my research question sufficiently complex?

The result of your research should be consequential and substantial (and fall sufficiently within the context of your field) to warrant an academic study. Simply reinforcing or supporting a scientific consensus is superfluous and will likely not be well received by most journal editors.  

reverse triangle chart, how to write a research question

Editing Your Research Question

Your research question should be fully formulated well before you begin drafting your research paper. However, you can receive English paper editing and proofreading services at any point in the drafting process. Language editors with expertise in your academic field can assist you with the content and language in your Introduction section or other manuscript sections. And if you need further assistance or information regarding paper compositions, in the meantime, check out our academic resources , which provide dozens of articles and videos on a variety of academic writing and publication topics.

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How To Write a Research Question

Deeptanshu D

Academic writing and research require a distinct focus and direction. A well-designed research question gives purpose and clarity to your research. In addition, it helps your readers understand the issue you are trying to address and explore.

Every time you want to know more about a subject, you will pose a question. The same idea is used in research as well. You must pose a question in order to effectively address a research problem. That's why the research question is an integral part of the research process. Additionally, it offers the author writing and reading guidelines, be it qualitative research or quantitative research.

In your research paper , you must single out just one issue or problem. The specific issue or claim you wish to address should be included in your thesis statement in order to clarify your main argument.

A good research question must have the following characteristics.

research possible questions

  • Should include only one problem in the research question
  • Should be able to find the answer using primary data and secondary data sources
  • Should be possible to resolve within the given time and other constraints
  • Detailed and in-depth results should be achievable
  • Should be relevant and realistic.
  • It should relate to your chosen area of research

While a larger project, like a thesis, might have several research questions to address, each one should be directed at your main area of study. Of course, you can use different research designs and research methods (qualitative research or quantitative research) to address various research questions. However, they must all be pertinent to the study's objectives.

What is a Research Question?


A research question is an inquiry that the research attempts to answer. It is the heart of the systematic investigation. Research questions are the most important step in any research project. In essence, it initiates the research project and establishes the pace for the specific research A research question is:

  • Clear : It provides enough detail that the audience understands its purpose without any additional explanation.
  • Focused : It is so specific that it can be addressed within the time constraints of the writing task.
  • Succinct: It is written in the shortest possible words.
  • Complex : It is not possible to answer it with a "yes" or "no", but requires analysis and synthesis of ideas before somebody can create a solution.
  • Argumental : Its potential answers are open for debate rather than accepted facts.

A good research question usually focuses on the research and determines the research design, methodology, and hypothesis. It guides all phases of inquiry, data collection, analysis, and reporting. You should gather valuable information by asking the right questions.

Why are Research Questions so important?

Regardless of whether it is a qualitative research or quantitative research project, research questions provide writers and their audience with a way to navigate the writing and research process. Writers can avoid "all-about" papers by asking straightforward and specific research questions that help them focus on their research and support a specific thesis.

Types of Research Questions


There are two types of research: Qualitative research and Quantitative research . There must be research questions for every type of research. Your research question will be based on the type of research you want to conduct and the type of data collection.

The first step in designing research involves identifying a gap and creating a focused research question.

Below is a list of common research questions that can be used in a dissertation. Keep in mind that these are merely illustrations of typical research questions used in dissertation projects. The real research questions themselves might be more difficult.

Example Research Questions


The following are a few examples of research questions and research problems to help you understand how research questions can be created for a particular research problem.

Steps to Write Research Questions


You can focus on the issue or research gaps you're attempting to solve by using the research questions as a direction.

If you're unsure how to go about writing a good research question, these are the steps to follow in the process:

  • Select an interesting topic Always choose a topic that interests you. Because if your curiosity isn’t aroused by a subject, you’ll have a hard time conducting research around it. Alos, it’s better that you pick something that’s neither too narrow or too broad.
  • Do preliminary research on the topic Search for relevant literature to gauge what problems have already been tackled by scholars. You can do that conveniently through repositories like Scispace , where you’ll find millions of papers in one place. Once you do find the papers you’re looking for, try our reading assistant, SciSpace Copilot to get simple explanations for the paper . You’ll be able to quickly understand the abstract, find the key takeaways, and the main arguments presented in the paper. This will give you a more contextual understanding of your subject and you’ll have an easier time identifying knowledge gaps in your discipline.

     Also: ChatPDF vs. SciSpace Copilot: Unveiling the best tool for your research

  • Consider your audience It is essential to understand your audience to develop focused research questions for essays or dissertations. When narrowing down your topic, you can identify aspects that might interest your audience.
  • Ask questions Asking questions will give you a deeper understanding of the topic. Evaluate your question through the What, Why, When, How, and other open-ended questions assessment.
  • Assess your question Once you have created a research question, assess its effectiveness to determine if it is useful for the purpose. Refine and revise the dissertation research question multiple times.

Additionally, use this list of questions as a guide when formulating your research question.

Are you able to answer a specific research question? After identifying a gap in research, it would be helpful to formulate the research question. And this will allow the research to solve a part of the problem. Is your research question clear and centered on the main topic? It is important that your research question should be specific and related to your central goal. Are you tackling a difficult research question? It is not possible to answer the research question with a simple yes or no. The problem requires in-depth analysis. It is often started with "How" and "Why."

Start your research Once you have completed your dissertation research questions, it is time to review the literature on similar topics to discover different perspectives.

Strong  Research Question Samples

Uncertain: How should social networking sites work on the hatred that flows through their platform?

Certain: What should social media sites like Twitter or Facebook do to address the harm they are causing?

This unclear question does not specify the social networking sites that are being used or what harm they might be causing. In addition, this question assumes that the "harm" has been proven and/or accepted. This version is more specific and identifies the sites (Twitter, Facebook), the type and extent of harm (privacy concerns), and who might be suffering from that harm (users). Effective research questions should not be ambiguous or interpreted.

Unfocused: What are the effects of global warming on the environment?

Focused: What are the most important effects of glacial melting in Antarctica on penguins' lives?

This broad research question cannot be addressed in a book, let alone a college-level paper. Focused research targets a specific effect of global heating (glacial  melting), an area (Antarctica), or a specific animal (penguins). The writer must also decide which effect will have the greatest impact on the animals affected. If in doubt, narrow down your research question to the most specific possible.

Too Simple: What are the U.S. doctors doing to treat diabetes?

Appropriately complex: Which factors, if any, are most likely to predict a person's risk of developing diabetes?

This simple version can be found online. It is easy to answer with a few facts. The second, more complicated version of this question is divided into two parts. It is thought-provoking and requires extensive investigation as well as evaluation by the author. So, ensure that a quick Google search should not answer your research question.

How to write a strong Research Question?


The foundation of all research is the research question. You should therefore spend as much time as necessary to refine your research question based on various data.

You can conduct your research more efficiently and analyze your results better if you have great research questions for your dissertation, research paper , or essay .

The following criteria can help you evaluate the strength and importance of your research question and can be used to determine the strength of your research question:

  • Researchable
  • It should only cover one issue.
  • A subjective judgment should not be included in the question.
  • It can be answered with data analysis and research.
  • Specific and Practical
  • It should not contain a plan of action, policy, or solution.
  • It should be clearly defined
  • Within research limits
  • Complex and Arguable
  • It shouldn't be difficult to answer.
  • To find the truth, you need in-depth knowledge
  • Allows for discussion and deliberation
  • Original and Relevant
  • It should be in your area of study
  • Its results should be measurable
  • It should be original

Conclusion - How to write Research Questions?

Research questions provide a clear guideline for research. One research question may be part of a larger project, such as a dissertation. However, each question should only focus on one topic.

Research questions must be answerable, practical, specific, and applicable to your field. The research type that you use to base your research questions on will determine the research topic. You can start by selecting an interesting topic and doing preliminary research. Then, you can begin asking questions, evaluating your questions, and start your research.

Now it's easier than ever to streamline your research workflow with SciSpace ResearchGPT . Its integrated, comprehensive end-to-end platform for research allows scholars to easily discover, read, write and publish their research and fosters collaboration.

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17 Thesis Defense Questions and How to Answer Them


A thesis defense gives you the chance to show off your thesis work and demonstrate your expertise in your field of study. During this one- to two-hour discussion with the members of your thesis committee, you'll have some control over how you present your research, but your committee will ask you some prodding questions to test your knowledge and preparedness. They will all have read your thesis beforehand, so their questions will relate to your study, topic, methods, data sample, and other aspects.

A good defense requires mastery of the thesis itself, so before you consider the questions you might face,

1. What is your topic, and why did you choose it?

Give a quick summary in just a few sentences on what you've researched. You could certainly go on for hours about your work, but make sure you prepare a way to give a very brief overview of your thesis. Then, give a quick background on your process for choosing this topic.

2. How does your topic contribute to the existing literature? How is it important?

Many researchers identify a need in the field and choose a topic to bridge the gaps that previous literature has failed to cover. For example, previous studies might not have included a certain population, region, or circumstance. Talk about how your thesis enhances the general understanding of the topic to extend the reach beyond what others have found, and then give examples of why the world needs that increased understanding. For instance, a thesis on romaine lettuce crops in desert climates might bring much-needed knowledge to a region that might not have been represented in previous work.

3. What are the key findings of your study?

When reporting your main results, make sure you have a handle on how detailed your committee wants you to be. Give yourself several options by preparing 1) a very general, quick summary of your findings that takes a minute or less, 2) a more detailed rundown of what your study revealed that is 3-5 minutes long, and 3) a 10- to 15-minute synopsis that delves into your results in detail. With each of these responses prepared, you can gauge which one is most appropriate in the moment, based on what your committee asks you and what has already been requested.

4. What type of background research did you do for your study?

Here you'll describe what you did while you were deciding what to study. This usually includes a literary review to determine what previous researchers have already introduced to the field. You also likely had to look into whether your study was going to be possible and what you would need in order to collect the needed data. Did you need info from databases that require permissions or fees?

5. What was your hypothesis, and how did you form it?

Describe the expected results you had for your study and whether your hypothesis came from previous research experience, long-held expectations, or cultural myths.

6. What limitations did you face when writing your text?

It's inevitable — researchers will face roadblocks or limiting factors during their work. This could be a limited population you had access to, like if you had a great method of surveying university students, but you didn't have a way to reach out to other people who weren't attending that school.

7. Why did you choose your particular method for your study?

Different research methods are more fitting to specific studies than others (e.g., qualitative vs. quantitative ), and knowing this, you applied a method that would present your findings most effectively. What factors led you to choose your method?

8. Who formed the sample group of your study, and why did you choose this population?

Many factors go into the selection of a participant group. Perhaps you were motivated to survey women over 50 who experience burnout in the workplace. Did you take extra measures to target this population? Or perhaps you found a sample group that responded more readily to your request for participation, and after hitting dead ends for months, convenience is what shaped your study population. Make sure to present your reasoning in an honest but favorable way.

9. What obstacles or limitations did you encounter while working with your sample?

Outline the process of pursuing respondents for your study and the difficulties you faced in collecting enough quality data for your thesis. Perhaps the decisions you made took shape based on the participants you ended up interviewing.

10. Was there something specific you were expecting to find during your analysis?

Expectations are natural when you set out to explore a topic, especially one you've been dancing around throughout your academic career. This question can refer to your hypotheses , but it can also touch on your personal feelings and expectations about this topic. What did you believe you would find when you dove deeper into the subject? Was that what you actually found, or were you surprised by your results?

11. What did you learn from your study?

Your response to this question can include not only the basic findings of your work (if you haven't covered this already) but also some personal surprises you might have found that veered away from your expectations. Sometimes these details are not included in the thesis, so these details can add some spice to your defense.

12. What are the recommendations from your study?

With connection to the reasons you chose the topic, your results can address the problems your work is solving. Give specifics on how policymakers, professionals in the field, etc., can improve their service with the knowledge your thesis provides.

13. If given the chance, what would you do differently?

Your response to this one can include the limitations you encountered or dead ends you hit that wasted time and funding. Try not to dwell too long on the annoyances of your study, and consider an area of curiosity; for example, discuss an area that piqued your interest during your exploration that would have been exciting to pursue but didn't directly benefit your outlined study.

14. How did you relate your study to the existing theories in the literature?

Your paper likely ties your ideas into those of other researchers, so this could be an easy one to answer. Point out how similar your work is to some and how it contrasts other works of research; both contribute greatly to the overall body of research.

15. What is the future scope of this study?

This one is pretty easy, since most theses include recommendations for future research within the text. That means you already have this one covered, and since you read over your thesis before your defense, it's already fresh in your mind.

16. What do you plan to do professionally after you complete your study?

This is a question directed more to you and your future professional plans. This might align with the research you performed, and if so, you can direct your question back to your research, maybe mentioning the personal motivations you have for pursuing study of that subject.

17. Do you have any questions?

Although your thesis defense feels like an interrogation, and you're the one in the spotlight, it provides an ideal opportunity to gather input from your committee, if you want it. Possible questions you could ask are: What were your impressions when reading my thesis? Do you believe I missed any important steps or details when conducting my work? Where do you see this work going in the future?

Bonus tip: What if you get asked a question to which you don't know the answer? You can spend weeks preparing to defend your thesis, but you might still be caught off guard when you don't know exactly what's coming. You can be ready for this situation by preparing a general strategy. It's okay to admit that your thesis doesn't offer the answers to everything – your committee won't reasonably expect it to do so. What you can do to sound (and feel!) confident and knowledgeable is to refer to a work of literature you have encountered in your research and draw on that work to give an answer. For example, you could respond, "My thesis doesn't directly address your question, but my study of Dr. Leifsen's work provided some interesting insights on that subject…." By preparing a way to address curveball questions, you can maintain your cool and create the impression that you truly are an expert in your field.

After you're done answering the questions your committee presents to you, they will either approve your thesis or suggest changes you should make to your paper. Regardless of the outcome, your confidence in addressing the questions presented to you will communicate to your thesis committee members that you know your stuff. Preparation can ease a lot of anxiety surrounding this event, so use these possible questions to make sure you can present your thesis feeling relaxed, prepared, and confident.

Header image by Kasto .

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Research Aims, Objectives & Questions

The “Golden Thread” Explained Simply (+ Examples)

By: David Phair (PhD) and Alexandra Shaeffer (PhD) | June 2022

The research aims , objectives and research questions (collectively called the “golden thread”) are arguably the most important thing you need to get right when you’re crafting a research proposal , dissertation or thesis . We receive questions almost every day about this “holy trinity” of research and there’s certainly a lot of confusion out there, so we’ve crafted this post to help you navigate your way through the fog.

Overview: The Golden Thread

  • What is the golden thread
  • What are research aims ( examples )
  • What are research objectives ( examples )
  • What are research questions ( examples )
  • The importance of alignment in the golden thread

What is the “golden thread”?  

The golden thread simply refers to the collective research aims , research objectives , and research questions for any given project (i.e., a dissertation, thesis, or research paper ). These three elements are bundled together because it’s extremely important that they align with each other, and that the entire research project aligns with them.

Importantly, the golden thread needs to weave its way through the entirety of any research project , from start to end. In other words, it needs to be very clearly defined right at the beginning of the project (the topic ideation and proposal stage) and it needs to inform almost every decision throughout the rest of the project. For example, your research design and methodology will be heavily influenced by the golden thread (we’ll explain this in more detail later), as well as your literature review.

The research aims, objectives and research questions (the golden thread) define the focus and scope ( the delimitations ) of your research project. In other words, they help ringfence your dissertation or thesis to a relatively narrow domain, so that you can “go deep” and really dig into a specific problem or opportunity. They also help keep you on track , as they act as a litmus test for relevance. In other words, if you’re ever unsure whether to include something in your document, simply ask yourself the question, “does this contribute toward my research aims, objectives or questions?”. If it doesn’t, chances are you can drop it.

Alright, enough of the fluffy, conceptual stuff. Let’s get down to business and look at what exactly the research aims, objectives and questions are and outline a few examples to bring these concepts to life.

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Research Aims: What are they?

Simply put, the research aim(s) is a statement that reflects the broad overarching goal (s) of the research project. Research aims are fairly high-level (low resolution) as they outline the general direction of the research and what it’s trying to achieve .

Research Aims: Examples  

True to the name, research aims usually start with the wording “this research aims to…”, “this research seeks to…”, and so on. For example:

“This research aims to explore employee experiences of digital transformation in retail HR.”   “This study sets out to assess the interaction between student support and self-care on well-being in engineering graduate students”  

As you can see, these research aims provide a high-level description of what the study is about and what it seeks to achieve. They’re not hyper-specific or action-oriented, but they’re clear about what the study’s focus is and what is being investigated.

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Research Objectives: What are they?

The research objectives take the research aims and make them more practical and actionable . In other words, the research objectives showcase the steps that the researcher will take to achieve the research aims.

The research objectives need to be far more specific (higher resolution) and actionable than the research aims. In fact, it’s always a good idea to craft your research objectives using the “SMART” criteria. In other words, they should be specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound”.

Research Objectives: Examples  

Let’s look at two examples of research objectives. We’ll stick with the topic and research aims we mentioned previously.  

For the digital transformation topic:

To observe the retail HR employees throughout the digital transformation. To assess employee perceptions of digital transformation in retail HR. To identify the barriers and facilitators of digital transformation in retail HR.

And for the student wellness topic:

To determine whether student self-care predicts the well-being score of engineering graduate students. To determine whether student support predicts the well-being score of engineering students. To assess the interaction between student self-care and student support when predicting well-being in engineering graduate students.

  As you can see, these research objectives clearly align with the previously mentioned research aims and effectively translate the low-resolution aims into (comparatively) higher-resolution objectives and action points . They give the research project a clear focus and present something that resembles a research-based “to-do” list.

The research objectives detail the specific steps that you, as the researcher, will take to achieve the research aims you laid out.

Research Questions: What are they?

Finally, we arrive at the all-important research questions. The research questions are, as the name suggests, the key questions that your study will seek to answer . Simply put, they are the core purpose of your dissertation, thesis, or research project. You’ll present them at the beginning of your document (either in the introduction chapter or literature review chapter) and you’ll answer them at the end of your document (typically in the discussion and conclusion chapters).  

The research questions will be the driving force throughout the research process. For example, in the literature review chapter, you’ll assess the relevance of any given resource based on whether it helps you move towards answering your research questions. Similarly, your methodology and research design will be heavily influenced by the nature of your research questions. For instance, research questions that are exploratory in nature will usually make use of a qualitative approach, whereas questions that relate to measurement or relationship testing will make use of a quantitative approach.  

Let’s look at some examples of research questions to make this more tangible.

Research Questions: Examples  

Again, we’ll stick with the research aims and research objectives we mentioned previously.  

For the digital transformation topic (which would be qualitative in nature):

How do employees perceive digital transformation in retail HR? What are the barriers and facilitators of digital transformation in retail HR?  

And for the student wellness topic (which would be quantitative in nature):

Does student self-care predict the well-being scores of engineering graduate students? Does student support predict the well-being scores of engineering students? Do student self-care and student support interact when predicting well-being in engineering graduate students?  

You’ll probably notice that there’s quite a formulaic approach to this. In other words, the research questions are basically the research objectives “converted” into question format. While that is true most of the time, it’s not always the case. For example, the first research objective for the digital transformation topic was more or less a step on the path toward the other objectives, and as such, it didn’t warrant its own research question.  

So, don’t rush your research questions and sloppily reword your objectives as questions. Carefully think about what exactly you’re trying to achieve (i.e. your research aim) and the objectives you’ve set out, then craft a set of well-aligned research questions . Also, keep in mind that this can be a somewhat iterative process , where you go back and tweak research objectives and aims to ensure tight alignment throughout the golden thread.

The importance of strong alignment 

Alignment is the keyword here and we have to stress its importance . Simply put, you need to make sure that there is a very tight alignment between all three pieces of the golden thread. If your research aims and research questions don’t align, for example, your project will be pulling in different directions and will lack focus . This is a common problem students face and can cause many headaches (and tears), so be warned.

Take the time to carefully craft your research aims, objectives and research questions before you run off down the research path. Ideally, get your research supervisor/advisor to review and comment on your golden thread before you invest significant time into your project, and certainly before you start collecting data .  

Recap: The golden thread

In this post, we unpacked the golden thread of research, consisting of the research aims , research objectives and research questions . You can jump back to any section using the links below.

As always, feel free to leave a comment below – we always love to hear from you. Also, if you’re interested in 1-on-1 support, take a look at our private coaching service here.

research possible questions

Psst… there’s more (for free)

This post is part of our dissertation mini-course, which covers everything you need to get started with your dissertation, thesis or research project. 

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Isaac Levi

Thank you very much for your great effort put. As an Undergraduate taking Demographic Research & Methodology, I’ve been trying so hard to understand clearly what is a Research Question, Research Aim and the Objectives in a research and the relationship between them etc. But as for now I’m thankful that you’ve solved my problem.

Hatimu Bah

Well appreciated. This has helped me greatly in doing my dissertation.

Dr. Abdallah Kheri

An so delighted with this wonderful information thank you a lot.

so impressive i have benefited a lot looking forward to learn more on research.

Ekwunife, Chukwunonso Onyeka Steve

I am very happy to have carefully gone through this well researched article.

Infact,I used to be phobia about anything research, because of my poor understanding of the concepts.

Now,I get to know that my research question is the same as my research objective(s) rephrased in question format.

I please I would need a follow up on the subject,as I intends to join the team of researchers. Thanks once again.


Thanks so much. This was really helpful.


I know you pepole have tried to break things into more understandable and easy format. And God bless you. Keep it up


i found this document so useful towards my study in research methods. thanks so much.

Michael L. Andrion

This is my 2nd read topic in your course and I should commend the simplified explanations of each part. I’m beginning to understand and absorb the use of each part of a dissertation/thesis. I’ll keep on reading your free course and might be able to avail the training course! Kudos!


Thank you! Better put that my lecture and helped to easily understand the basics which I feel often get brushed over when beginning dissertation work.

Enoch Tindiwegi

This is quite helpful. I like how the Golden thread has been explained and the needed alignment.

Sora Dido Boru

This is quite helpful. I really appreciate!


The article made it simple for researcher students to differentiate between three concepts.

Afowosire Wasiu Adekunle

Very innovative and educational in approach to conducting research.

Sàlihu Abubakar Dayyabu

I am very impressed with all these terminology, as I am a fresh student for post graduate, I am highly guided and I promised to continue making consultation when the need arise. Thanks a lot.

Mohammed Shamsudeen

A very helpful piece. thanks, I really appreciate it .

Sonam Jyrwa

Very well explained, and it might be helpful to many people like me.


Wish i had found this (and other) resource(s) at the beginning of my PhD journey… not in my writing up year… 😩 Anyways… just a quick question as i’m having some issues ordering my “golden thread”…. does it matter in what order you mention them? i.e., is it always first aims, then objectives, and finally the questions? or can you first mention the research questions and then the aims and objectives?


Thank you for a very simple explanation that builds upon the concepts in a very logical manner. Just prior to this, I read the research hypothesis article, which was equally very good. This met my primary objective.

My secondary objective was to understand the difference between research questions and research hypothesis, and in which context to use which one. However, I am still not clear on this. Can you kindly please guide?

Derek Jansen

In research, a research question is a clear and specific inquiry that the researcher wants to answer, while a research hypothesis is a tentative statement or prediction about the relationship between variables or the expected outcome of the study. Research questions are broader and guide the overall study, while hypotheses are specific and testable statements used in quantitative research. Research questions identify the problem, while hypotheses provide a focus for testing in the study.

Saen Fanai

Exactly what I need in this research journey, I look forward to more of your coaching videos.

Abubakar Rofiat Opeyemi

This helped a lot. Thanks so much for the effort put into explaining it.

Lamin Tarawally

What data source in writing dissertation/Thesis requires?

What is data source covers when writing dessertation/thesis

Latifat Muhammed

This is quite useful thanks


I’m excited and thankful. I got so much value which will help me progress in my thesis.

Amer Al-Rashid

where are the locations of the reserch statement, research objective and research question in a reserach paper? Can you write an ouline that defines their places in the researh paper?


Very helpful and important tips on Aims, Objectives and Questions.

Refiloe Raselane

Thank you so much for making research aim, research objectives and research question so clear. This will be helpful to me as i continue with my thesis.

Annabelle Roda-Dafielmoto

Thanks much for this content. I learned a lot. And I am inspired to learn more. I am still struggling with my preparation for dissertation outline/proposal. But I consistently follow contents and tutorials and the new FB of GRAD Coach. Hope to really become confident in writing my dissertation and successfully defend it.


As a researcher and lecturer, I find splitting research goals into research aims, objectives, and questions is unnecessarily bureaucratic and confusing for students. For most biomedical research projects, including ‘real research’, 1-3 research questions will suffice (numbers may differ by discipline).


Awesome! Very important resources and presented in an informative way to easily understand the golden thread. Indeed, thank you so much.


Well explained

New Growth Care Group

The blog article on research aims, objectives, and questions by Grad Coach is a clear and insightful guide that aligns with my experiences in academic research. The article effectively breaks down the often complex concepts of research aims and objectives, providing a straightforward and accessible explanation. Drawing from my own research endeavors, I appreciate the practical tips offered, such as the need for specificity and clarity when formulating research questions. The article serves as a valuable resource for students and researchers, offering a concise roadmap for crafting well-defined research goals and objectives. Whether you’re a novice or an experienced researcher, this article provides practical insights that contribute to the foundational aspects of a successful research endeavor.


A great thanks for you. it is really amazing explanation. I grasp a lot and one step up to research knowledge.


I really found these tips helpful. Thank you very much Grad Coach.

Rahma D.

I found this article helpful. Thanks for sharing this.

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How to Write a Research Question: Types and Examples 

research quetsion

The first step in any research project is framing the research question. It can be considered the core of any systematic investigation as the research outcomes are tied to asking the right questions. Thus, this primary interrogation point sets the pace for your research as it helps collect relevant and insightful information that ultimately influences your work.   

Typically, the research question guides the stages of inquiry, analysis, and reporting. Depending on the use of quantifiable or quantitative data, research questions are broadly categorized into quantitative or qualitative research questions. Both types of research questions can be used independently or together, considering the overall focus and objectives of your research.  

What is a research question?

A research question is a clear, focused, concise, and arguable question on which your research and writing are centered. 1 It states various aspects of the study, including the population and variables to be studied and the problem the study addresses. These questions also set the boundaries of the study, ensuring cohesion. 

Designing the research question is a dynamic process where the researcher can change or refine the research question as they review related literature and develop a framework for the study. Depending on the scale of your research, the study can include single or multiple research questions. 

A good research question has the following features: 

  • It is relevant to the chosen field of study. 
  • The question posed is arguable and open for debate, requiring synthesizing and analysis of ideas. 
  • It is focused and concisely framed. 
  • A feasible solution is possible within the given practical constraint and timeframe. 

A poorly formulated research question poses several risks. 1   

  • Researchers can adopt an erroneous design. 
  • It can create confusion and hinder the thought process, including developing a clear protocol.  
  • It can jeopardize publication efforts.  
  • It causes difficulty in determining the relevance of the study findings.  
  • It causes difficulty in whether the study fulfils the inclusion criteria for systematic review and meta-analysis. This creates challenges in determining whether additional studies or data collection is needed to answer the question.  
  • Readers may fail to understand the objective of the study. This reduces the likelihood of the study being cited by others. 

Now that you know “What is a research question?”, let’s look at the different types of research questions. 

Types of research questions

Depending on the type of research to be done, research questions can be classified broadly into quantitative, qualitative, or mixed-methods studies. Knowing the type of research helps determine the best type of research question that reflects the direction and epistemological underpinnings of your research. 

The structure and wording of quantitative 2 and qualitative research 3 questions differ significantly. The quantitative study looks at causal relationships, whereas the qualitative study aims at exploring a phenomenon. 

  • Quantitative research questions:  
  • Seeks to investigate social, familial, or educational experiences or processes in a particular context and/or location.  
  • Answers ‘how,’ ‘what,’ or ‘why’ questions. 
  • Investigates connections, relations, or comparisons between independent and dependent variables. 

Quantitative research questions can be further categorized into descriptive, comparative, and relationship, as explained in the Table below. 

  • Qualitative research questions  

Qualitative research questions are adaptable, non-directional, and more flexible. It concerns broad areas of research or more specific areas of study to discover, explain, or explore a phenomenon. These are further classified as follows: 

  • Mixed-methods studies  

Mixed-methods studies use both quantitative and qualitative research questions to answer your research question. Mixed methods provide a complete picture than standalone quantitative or qualitative research, as it integrates the benefits of both methods. Mixed methods research is often used in multidisciplinary settings and complex situational or societal research, especially in the behavioral, health, and social science fields. 

What makes a good research question

A good research question should be clear and focused to guide your research. It should synthesize multiple sources to present your unique argument, and should ideally be something that you are interested in. But avoid questions that can be answered in a few factual statements. The following are the main attributes of a good research question. 

  • Specific: The research question should not be a fishing expedition performed in the hopes that some new information will be found that will benefit the researcher. The central research question should work with your research problem to keep your work focused. If using multiple questions, they should all tie back to the central aim. 
  • Measurable: The research question must be answerable using quantitative and/or qualitative data or from scholarly sources to develop your research question. If such data is impossible to access, it is better to rethink your question. 
  • Attainable: Ensure you have enough time and resources to do all research required to answer your question. If it seems you will not be able to gain access to the data you need, consider narrowing down your question to be more specific. 
  • You have the expertise 
  • You have the equipment and resources 
  • Realistic: Developing your research question should be based on initial reading about your topic. It should focus on addressing a problem or gap in the existing knowledge in your field or discipline. 
  • Based on some sort of rational physics 
  • Can be done in a reasonable time frame 
  • Timely: The research question should contribute to an existing and current debate in your field or in society at large. It should produce knowledge that future researchers or practitioners can later build on. 
  • Novel 
  • Based on current technologies. 
  • Important to answer current problems or concerns. 
  • Lead to new directions. 
  • Important: Your question should have some aspect of originality. Incremental research is as important as exploring disruptive technologies. For example, you can focus on a specific location or explore a new angle. 
  • Meaningful whether the answer is “Yes” or “No.” Closed-ended, yes/no questions are too simple to work as good research questions. Such questions do not provide enough scope for robust investigation and discussion. A good research question requires original data, synthesis of multiple sources, and original interpretation and argumentation before providing an answer. 

Steps for developing a good research question

The importance of research questions cannot be understated. When drafting a research question, use the following frameworks to guide the components of your question to ease the process. 4  

  • Determine the requirements: Before constructing a good research question, set your research requirements. What is the purpose? Is it descriptive, comparative, or explorative research? Determining the research aim will help you choose the most appropriate topic and word your question appropriately. 
  • Select a broad research topic: Identify a broader subject area of interest that requires investigation. Techniques such as brainstorming or concept mapping can help identify relevant connections and themes within a broad research topic. For example, how to learn and help students learn. 
  • Perform preliminary investigation: Preliminary research is needed to obtain up-to-date and relevant knowledge on your topic. It also helps identify issues currently being discussed from which information gaps can be identified. 
  • Narrow your focus: Narrow the scope and focus of your research to a specific niche. This involves focusing on gaps in existing knowledge or recent literature or extending or complementing the findings of existing literature. Another approach involves constructing strong research questions that challenge your views or knowledge of the area of study (Example: Is learning consistent with the existing learning theory and research). 
  • Identify the research problem: Once the research question has been framed, one should evaluate it. This is to realize the importance of the research questions and if there is a need for more revising (Example: How do your beliefs on learning theory and research impact your instructional practices). 

How to write a research question

Those struggling to understand how to write a research question, these simple steps can help you simplify the process of writing a research question. 

Sample Research Questions

The following are some bad and good research question examples 

  • Example 1 
  • Example 2 


  • Thabane, L., Thomas, T., Ye, C., & Paul, J. (2009). Posing the research question: not so simple.  Canadian Journal of Anesthesia/Journal canadien d’anesthésie ,  56 (1), 71-79. 
  • Rutberg, S., & Bouikidis, C. D. (2018). Focusing on the fundamentals: A simplistic differentiation between qualitative and quantitative research.  Nephrology Nursing Journal ,  45 (2), 209-213. 
  • Kyngäs, H. (2020). Qualitative research and content analysis.  The application of content analysis in nursing science research , 3-11. 
  • Mattick, K., Johnston, J., & de la Croix, A. (2018). How to… write a good research question.  The clinical teacher ,  15 (2), 104-108. 
  • Fandino, W. (2019). Formulating a good research question: Pearls and pitfalls.  Indian Journal of Anaesthesia ,  63 (8), 611. 
  • Richardson, W. S., Wilson, M. C., Nishikawa, J., & Hayward, R. S. (1995). The well-built clinical question: a key to evidence-based decisions.  ACP journal club ,  123 (3), A12-A13 

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Qualitative Research Questions: Gain Powerful Insights + 25 Examples

We review the basics of qualitative research questions, including their key components, how to craft them effectively, & 25 example questions.

Einstein was many things—a physicist, a philosopher, and, undoubtedly, a mastermind. He also had an incredible way with words. His quote, "Everything that can be counted does not necessarily count; everything that counts cannot necessarily be counted," is particularly poignant when it comes to research. 

Some inquiries call for a quantitative approach, for counting and measuring data in order to arrive at general conclusions. Other investigations, like qualitative research, rely on deep exploration and understanding of individual cases in order to develop a greater understanding of the whole. That’s what we’re going to focus on today.

Qualitative research questions focus on the "how" and "why" of things, rather than the "what". They ask about people's experiences and perceptions , and can be used to explore a wide range of topics.

The following article will discuss the basics of qualitative research questions, including their key components, and how to craft them effectively. You'll also find 25 examples of effective qualitative research questions you can use as inspiration for your own studies.

Let’s get started!

What are qualitative research questions, and when are they used?

When researchers set out to conduct a study on a certain topic, their research is chiefly directed by an overarching question . This question provides focus for the study and helps determine what kind of data will be collected.

By starting with a question, we gain parameters and objectives for our line of research. What are we studying? For what purpose? How will we know when we’ve achieved our goals?

Of course, some of these questions can be described as quantitative in nature. When a research question is quantitative, it usually seeks to measure or calculate something in a systematic way.

For example:

  • How many people in our town use the library?
  • What is the average income of families in our city?
  • How much does the average person weigh?

Other research questions, however—and the ones we will be focusing on in this article—are qualitative in nature. Qualitative research questions are open-ended and seek to explore a given topic in-depth.

According to the Australian & New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry , “Qualitative research aims to address questions concerned with developing an understanding of the meaning and experience dimensions of humans’ lives and social worlds.”

This type of research can be used to gain a better understanding of people’s thoughts, feelings and experiences by “addressing questions beyond ‘what works’, towards ‘what works for whom when, how and why, and focusing on intervention improvement rather than accreditation,” states one paper in Neurological Research and Practice .

Qualitative questions often produce rich data that can help researchers develop hypotheses for further quantitative study.

  • What are people’s thoughts on the new library?
  • How does it feel to be a first-generation student at our school?
  • How do people feel about the changes taking place in our town?

As stated by a paper in Human Reproduction , “...‘qualitative’ methods are used to answer questions about experience, meaning, and perspective, most often from the standpoint of the participant. These data are usually not amenable to counting or measuring.”

Both quantitative and qualitative questions have their uses; in fact, they often complement each other. A well-designed research study will include a mix of both types of questions in order to gain a fuller understanding of the topic at hand.

If you would like to recruit unlimited participants for qualitative research for free and only pay for the interview you conduct, try using Respondent  today. 

Crafting qualitative research questions for powerful insights

Now that we have a basic understanding of what qualitative research questions are and when they are used, let’s take a look at how you can begin crafting your own.

According to a study in the International Journal of Qualitative Studies in Education, there is a certain process researchers should follow when crafting their questions, which we’ll explore in more depth.

1. Beginning the process 

Start with a point of interest or curiosity, and pose a draft question or ‘self-question’. What do you want to know about the topic at hand? What is your specific curiosity? You may find it helpful to begin by writing several questions.

For example, if you’re interested in understanding how your customer base feels about a recent change to your product, you might ask: 

  • What made you decide to try the new product?
  • How do you feel about the change?
  • What do you think of the new design/functionality?
  • What benefits do you see in the change?

2. Create one overarching, guiding question 

At this point, narrow down the draft questions into one specific question. “Sometimes, these broader research questions are not stated as questions, but rather as goals for the study.”

As an example of this, you might narrow down these three questions: 

into the following question: 

  • What are our customers’ thoughts on the recent change to our product?

3. Theoretical framing 

As you read the relevant literature and apply theory to your research, the question should be altered to achieve better outcomes. Experts agree that pursuing a qualitative line of inquiry should open up the possibility for questioning your original theories and altering the conceptual framework with which the research began.

If we continue with the current example, it’s possible you may uncover new data that informs your research and changes your question. For instance, you may discover that customers’ feelings about the change are not just a reaction to the change itself, but also to how it was implemented. In this case, your question would need to reflect this new information: 

  • How did customers react to the process of the change, as well as the change itself?

4. Ethical considerations 

A study in the International Journal of Qualitative Studies in Education stresses that ethics are “a central issue when a researcher proposes to study the lives of others, especially marginalized populations.” Consider how your question or inquiry will affect the people it relates to—their lives and their safety. Shape your question to avoid physical, emotional, or mental upset for the focus group.

In analyzing your question from this perspective, if you feel that it may cause harm, you should consider changing the question or ending your research project. Perhaps you’ve discovered that your question encourages harmful or invasive questioning, in which case you should reformulate it.

5. Writing the question 

The actual process of writing the question comes only after considering the above points. The purpose of crafting your research questions is to delve into what your study is specifically about” Remember that qualitative research questions are not trying to find the cause of an effect, but rather to explore the effect itself.

Your questions should be clear, concise, and understandable to those outside of your field. In addition, they should generate rich data. The questions you choose will also depend on the type of research you are conducting: 

  • If you’re doing a phenomenological study, your questions might be open-ended, in order to allow participants to share their experiences in their own words.
  • If you’re doing a grounded-theory study, your questions might be focused on generating a list of categories or themes.
  • If you’re doing ethnography, your questions might be about understanding the culture you’re studying.

Whenyou have well-written questions, it is much easier to develop your research design and collect data that accurately reflects your inquiry.

In writing your questions, it may help you to refer to this simple flowchart process for constructing questions:

research possible questions

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25 examples of expertly crafted qualitative research questions

It's easy enough to cover the theory of writing a qualitative research question, but sometimes it's best if you can see the process in practice. In this section, we'll list 25 examples of B2B and B2C-related qualitative questions.

Let's begin with five questions. We'll show you the question, explain why it's considered qualitative, and then give you an example of how it can be used in research.

1. What is the customer's perception of our company's brand?

Qualitative research questions are often open-ended and invite respondents to share their thoughts and feelings on a subject. This question is qualitative because it seeks customer feedback on the company's brand. 

This question can be used in research to understand how customers feel about the company's branding, what they like and don't like about it, and whether they would recommend it to others.

2. Why do customers buy our product?

This question is also qualitative because it seeks to understand the customer's motivations for purchasing a product. It can be used in research to identify the reasons  customers buy a certain product, what needs or desires the product fulfills for them, and how they feel about the purchase after using the product.

3. How do our customers interact with our products?

Again, this question is qualitative because it seeks to understand customer behavior. In this case, it can be used in research to see how customers use the product, how they interact with it, and what emotions or thoughts the product evokes in them.

4. What are our customers' biggest frustrations with our products?

By seeking to understand customer frustrations, this question is qualitative and can provide valuable insights. It can be used in research to help identify areas in which the company needs to make improvements with its products.

5. How do our customers feel about our customer service?

Rather than asking why customers like or dislike something, this question asks how they feel. This qualitative question can provide insights into customer satisfaction or dissatisfaction with a company. 

This type of question can be used in research to understand what customers think of the company's customer service and whether they feel it meets their needs.

20 more examples to refer to when writing your question

Now that you’re aware of what makes certain questions qualitative, let's move into 20 more examples of qualitative research questions:

  • How do your customers react when updates are made to your app interface?
  • How do customers feel when they complete their purchase through your ecommerce site?
  • What are your customers' main frustrations with your service?
  • How do people feel about the quality of your products compared to those of your competitors?
  • What motivates customers to refer their friends and family members to your product or service?
  • What are the main benefits your customers receive from using your product or service?
  • How do people feel when they finish a purchase on your website?
  • What are the main motivations behind customer loyalty to your brand?
  • How does your app make people feel emotionally?
  • For younger generations using your app, how does it make them feel about themselves?
  • What reputation do people associate with your brand?
  • How inclusive do people find your app?
  • In what ways are your customers' experiences unique to them?
  • What are the main areas of improvement your customers would like to see in your product or service?
  • How do people feel about their interactions with your tech team?
  • What are the top five reasons people use your online marketplace?
  • How does using your app make people feel in terms of connectedness?
  • What emotions do people experience when they're using your product or service?
  • Aside from the features of your product, what else about it attracts customers?
  • How does your company culture make people feel?

As you can see, these kinds of questions are completely open-ended. In a way, they allow the research and discoveries made along the way to direct the research. The questions are merely a starting point from which to explore.

This video offers tips on how to write good qualitative research questions, produced by Qualitative Research Expert, Kimberly Baker.

Wrap-up: crafting your own qualitative research questions.

Over the course of this article, we've explored what qualitative research questions are, why they matter, and how they should be written. Hopefully you now have a clear understanding of how to craft your own.

Remember, qualitative research questions should always be designed to explore a certain experience or phenomena in-depth, in order to generate powerful insights. As you write your questions, be sure to keep the following in mind:

  • Are you being inclusive of all relevant perspectives?
  • Are your questions specific enough to generate clear answers?
  • Will your questions allow for an in-depth exploration of the topic at hand?
  • Do the questions reflect your research goals and objectives?

If you can answer "yes" to all of the questions above, and you've followed the tips for writing qualitative research questions we shared in this article, then you're well on your way to crafting powerful queries that will yield valuable insights.

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Asking the right questions in the right way is the key to research success. That’s true for not just the discussion guide but for every step of a research project. Following are 100+ questions that will take you from defining your research objective through  screening and participant discussions.

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  • Writing Strong Research Questions | Criteria & Examples

Writing Strong Research Questions | Criteria & Examples

Published on 30 October 2022 by Shona McCombes . Revised on 12 December 2023.

A research question pinpoints exactly what you want to find out in your work. A good research question is essential to guide your research paper , dissertation , or thesis .

All research questions should be:

  • Focused on a single problem or issue
  • Researchable using primary and/or secondary sources
  • Feasible to answer within the timeframe and practical constraints
  • Specific enough to answer thoroughly
  • Complex enough to develop the answer over the space of a paper or thesis
  • Relevant to your field of study and/or society more broadly

Writing Strong Research Questions

Table of contents

How to write a research question, what makes a strong research question, research questions quiz, frequently asked questions.

You can follow these steps to develop a strong research question:

  • Choose your topic
  • Do some preliminary reading about the current state of the field
  • Narrow your focus to a specific niche
  • Identify the research problem that you will address

The way you frame your question depends on what your research aims to achieve. The table below shows some examples of how you might formulate questions for different purposes.

Using your research problem to develop your research question

Note that while most research questions can be answered with various types of research , the way you frame your question should help determine your choices.

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Research questions anchor your whole project, so it’s important to spend some time refining them. The criteria below can help you evaluate the strength of your research question.

Focused and researchable

Feasible and specific, complex and arguable, relevant and original.

The way you present your research problem in your introduction varies depending on the nature of your research paper . A research paper that presents a sustained argument will usually encapsulate this argument in a thesis statement .

A research paper designed to present the results of empirical research tends to present a research question that it seeks to answer. It may also include a hypothesis – a prediction that will be confirmed or disproved by your research.

As you cannot possibly read every source related to your topic, it’s important to evaluate sources to assess their relevance. Use preliminary evaluation to determine whether a source is worth examining in more depth.

This involves:

  • Reading abstracts , prefaces, introductions , and conclusions
  • Looking at the table of contents to determine the scope of the work
  • Consulting the index for key terms or the names of important scholars

An essay isn’t just a loose collection of facts and ideas. Instead, it should be centered on an overarching argument (summarised in your thesis statement ) that every part of the essay relates to.

The way you structure your essay is crucial to presenting your argument coherently. A well-structured essay helps your reader follow the logic of your ideas and understand your overall point.

A research hypothesis is your proposed answer to your research question. The research hypothesis usually includes an explanation (‘ x affects y because …’).

A statistical hypothesis, on the other hand, is a mathematical statement about a population parameter. Statistical hypotheses always come in pairs: the null and alternative hypotheses. In a well-designed study , the statistical hypotheses correspond logically to the research hypothesis.

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  • Research Questions: Definitions, Types + [Examples]


Research questions lie at the core of systematic investigation and this is because recording accurate research outcomes is tied to asking the right questions. Asking the right questions when conducting research can help you collect relevant and insightful information that ultimately influences your work, positively. 

The right research questions are typically easy to understand, straight to the point, and engaging. In this article, we will share tips on how to create the right research questions and also show you how to create and administer an online questionnaire with Formplus . 

What is a Research Question? 

A research question is a specific inquiry which the research seeks to provide a response to. It resides at the core of systematic investigation and it helps you to clearly define a path for the research process. 

A research question is usually the first step in any research project. Basically, it is the primary interrogation point of your research and it sets the pace for your work.  

Typically, a research question focuses on the research, determines the methodology and hypothesis, and guides all stages of inquiry, analysis, and reporting. With the right research questions, you will be able to gather useful information for your investigation. 

Types of Research Questions 

Research questions are broadly categorized into 2; that is, qualitative research questions and quantitative research questions. Qualitative and quantitative research questions can be used independently and co-dependently in line with the overall focus and objectives of your research. 

If your research aims at collecting quantifiable data , you will need to make use of quantitative research questions. On the other hand, qualitative questions help you to gather qualitative data bothering on the perceptions and observations of your research subjects. 

Qualitative Research Questions  

A qualitative research question is a type of systematic inquiry that aims at collecting qualitative data from research subjects. The aim of qualitative research questions is to gather non-statistical information pertaining to the experiences, observations, and perceptions of the research subjects in line with the objectives of the investigation. 

Types of Qualitative Research Questions  

  • Ethnographic Research Questions

As the name clearly suggests, ethnographic research questions are inquiries presented in ethnographic research. Ethnographic research is a qualitative research approach that involves observing variables in their natural environments or habitats in order to arrive at objective research outcomes. 

These research questions help the researcher to gather insights into the habits, dispositions, perceptions, and behaviors of research subjects as they interact in specific environments. 

Ethnographic research questions can be used in education, business, medicine, and other fields of study, and they are very useful in contexts aimed at collecting in-depth and specific information that are peculiar to research variables. For instance, asking educational ethnographic research questions can help you understand how pedagogy affects classroom relations and behaviors. 

This type of research question can be administered physically through one-on-one interviews, naturalism (live and work), and participant observation methods. Alternatively, the researcher can ask ethnographic research questions via online surveys and questionnaires created with Formplus.  

Examples of Ethnographic Research Questions

  • Why do you use this product?
  • Have you noticed any side effects since you started using this drug?
  • Does this product meet your needs?


  • Case Studies

A case study is a qualitative research approach that involves carrying out a detailed investigation into a research subject(s) or variable(s). In the course of a case study, the researcher gathers a range of data from multiple sources of information via different data collection methods, and over a period of time. 

The aim of a case study is to analyze specific issues within definite contexts and arrive at detailed research subject analyses by asking the right questions. This research method can be explanatory, descriptive , or exploratory depending on the focus of your systematic investigation or research. 

An explanatory case study is one that seeks to gather information on the causes of real-life occurrences. This type of case study uses “how” and “why” questions in order to gather valid information about the causative factors of an event. 

Descriptive case studies are typically used in business researches, and they aim at analyzing the impact of changing market dynamics on businesses. On the other hand, exploratory case studies aim at providing answers to “who” and “what” questions using data collection tools like interviews and questionnaires. 

Some questions you can include in your case studies are: 

  • Why did you choose our services?
  • How has this policy affected your business output?
  • What benefits have you recorded since you started using our product?


An interview is a qualitative research method that involves asking respondents a series of questions in order to gather information about a research subject. Interview questions can be close-ended or open-ended , and they prompt participants to provide valid information that is useful to the research. 

An interview may also be structured, semi-structured , or unstructured , and this further influences the types of questions they include. Structured interviews are made up of more close-ended questions because they aim at gathering quantitative data while unstructured interviews consist, primarily, of open-ended questions that allow the researcher to collect qualitative information from respondents. 

You can conduct interview research by scheduling a physical meeting with respondents, through a telephone conversation, and via digital media and video conferencing platforms like Skype and Zoom. Alternatively, you can use Formplus surveys and questionnaires for your interview. 

Examples of interview questions include: 

  • What challenges did you face while using our product?
  • What specific needs did our product meet?
  • What would you like us to improve our service delivery?


Quantitative Research Questions

Quantitative research questions are questions that are used to gather quantifiable data from research subjects. These types of research questions are usually more specific and direct because they aim at collecting information that can be measured; that is, statistical information. 

Types of Quantitative Research Questions

  • Descriptive Research Questions

Descriptive research questions are inquiries that researchers use to gather quantifiable data about the attributes and characteristics of research subjects. These types of questions primarily seek responses that reveal existing patterns in the nature of the research subjects. 

It is important to note that descriptive research questions are not concerned with the causative factors of the discovered attributes and characteristics. Rather, they focus on the “what”; that is, describing the subject of the research without paying attention to the reasons for its occurrence. 

Descriptive research questions are typically closed-ended because they aim at gathering definite and specific responses from research participants. Also, they can be used in customer experience surveys and market research to collect information about target markets and consumer behaviors. 

Descriptive Research Question Examples

  • How often do you make use of our fitness application?
  • How much would you be willing to pay for this product?


  • Comparative Research Questions

A comparative research question is a type of quantitative research question that is used to gather information about the differences between two or more research subjects across different variables. These types of questions help the researcher to identify distinct features that mark one research subject from the other while highlighting existing similarities. 

Asking comparative research questions in market research surveys can provide insights on how your product or service matches its competitors. In addition, it can help you to identify the strengths and weaknesses of your product for a better competitive advantage.  

The 5 steps involved in the framing of comparative research questions are: 

  • Choose your starting phrase
  • Identify and name the dependent variable
  • Identify the groups you are interested in
  • Identify the appropriate adjoining text
  • Write out the comparative research question

Comparative Research Question Samples 

  • What are the differences between a landline telephone and a smartphone?
  • What are the differences between work-from-home and on-site operations?


  • Relationship-based Research Questions  

Just like the name suggests, a relationship-based research question is one that inquires into the nature of the association between two research subjects within the same demographic. These types of research questions help you to gather information pertaining to the nature of the association between two research variables. 

Relationship-based research questions are also known as correlational research questions because they seek to clearly identify the link between 2 variables. 

Read: Correlational Research Designs: Types, Examples & Methods

Examples of relationship-based research questions include: 

  • What is the relationship between purchasing power and the business site?
  • What is the relationship between the work environment and workforce turnover?


Examples of a Good Research Question

Since research questions lie at the core of any systematic investigations, it is important to know how to frame a good research question. The right research questions will help you to gather the most objective responses that are useful to your systematic investigation. 

A good research question is one that requires impartial responses and can be answered via existing sources of information. Also, a good research question seeks answers that actively contribute to a body of knowledge; hence, it is a question that is yet to be answered in your specific research context.

  • Open-Ended Questions

 An open-ended question is a type of research question that does not restrict respondents to a set of premeditated answer options. In other words, it is a question that allows the respondent to freely express his or her perceptions and feelings towards the research subject. 

Examples of Open-ended Questions

  • How do you deal with stress in the workplace?
  • What is a typical day at work like for you?
  • Close-ended Questions

A close-ended question is a type of survey question that restricts respondents to a set of predetermined answers such as multiple-choice questions . Close-ended questions typically require yes or no answers and are commonly used in quantitative research to gather numerical data from research participants. 

Examples of Close-ended Questions

  • Did you enjoy this event?
  • How likely are you to recommend our services?
  • Very Likely
  • Somewhat Likely
  • Likert Scale Questions

A Likert scale question is a type of close-ended question that is structured as a 3-point, 5-point, or 7-point psychometric scale . This type of question is used to measure the survey respondent’s disposition towards multiple variables and it can be unipolar or bipolar in nature. 

Example of Likert Scale Questions

  • How satisfied are you with our service delivery?
  • Very dissatisfied
  • Not satisfied
  • Very satisfied
  • Rating Scale Questions

A rating scale question is a type of close-ended question that seeks to associate a specific qualitative measure (rating) with the different variables in research. It is commonly used in customer experience surveys, market research surveys, employee reviews, and product evaluations. 

Example of Rating Questions

  • How would you rate our service delivery?

  Examples of a Bad Research Question

Knowing what bad research questions are would help you avoid them in the course of your systematic investigation. These types of questions are usually unfocused and often result in research biases that can negatively impact the outcomes of your systematic investigation. 

  • Loaded Questions

A loaded question is a question that subtly presupposes one or more unverified assumptions about the research subject or participant. This type of question typically boxes the respondent in a corner because it suggests implicit and explicit biases that prevent objective responses. 

Example of Loaded Questions

  • Have you stopped smoking?
  • Where did you hide the money?
  • Negative Questions

A negative question is a type of question that is structured with an implicit or explicit negator. Negative questions can be misleading because they upturn the typical yes/no response order by requiring a negative answer for affirmation and an affirmative answer for negation. 

Examples of Negative Questions

  • Would you mind dropping by my office later today?
  • Didn’t you visit last week?
  • Leading Questions  

A l eading question is a type of survey question that nudges the respondent towards an already-determined answer. It is highly suggestive in nature and typically consists of biases and unverified assumptions that point toward its premeditated responses. 

Examples of Leading Questions

  • If you enjoyed this service, would you be willing to try out our other packages?
  • Our product met your needs, didn’t it?
Read More: Leading Questions: Definition, Types, and Examples

How to Use Formplus as Online Research Questionnaire Tool  

With Formplus, you can create and administer your online research questionnaire easily. In the form builder, you can add different form fields to your questionnaire and edit these fields to reflect specific research questions for your systematic investigation. 

Here is a step-by-step guide on how to create an online research questionnaire with Formplus: 

  • Sign in to your Formplus accoun t, then click on the “create new form” button in your dashboard to access the Form builder.

research possible questions

  • In the form builder, add preferred form fields to your online research questionnaire by dragging and dropping them into the form. Add a title to your form in the title block. You can edit form fields by clicking on the “pencil” icon on the right corner of each form field.


  • Save the form to access the customization section of the builder. Here, you can tweak the appearance of your online research questionnaire by adding background images, changing the form font, and adding your organization’s logo.


  • Finally, copy your form link and share it with respondents. You can also use any of the multiple sharing options available.

research possible questions


The success of your research starts with framing the right questions to help you collect the most valid and objective responses. Be sure to avoid bad research questions like loaded and negative questions that can be misleading and adversely affect your research data and outcomes. 

Your research questions should clearly reflect the aims and objectives of your systematic investigation while laying emphasis on specific contexts. To help you seamlessly gather responses for your research questions, you can create an online research questionnaire on Formplus.  


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100 Questions (and Answers) About Research Methods

100 Questions (and Answers) About Research Methods

  • Neil J. Salkind
  • Description

"How do I create a good research hypothesis?"

"How do I know when my literature review is finished?"

"What is the difference between a sample and a population?"

"What is power and why is it important?"

In an increasingly data-driven world, it is more important than ever for students as well as professionals to better understand the process of research. This invaluable guide answers the essential questions that students ask about research methods in a concise and accessible way.

See what’s new to this edition by selecting the Features tab on this page. Should you need additional information or have questions regarding the HEOA information provided for this title, including what is new to this edition, please email [email protected] . Please include your name, contact information, and the name of the title for which you would like more information. For information on the HEOA, please go to http://ed.gov/policy/highered/leg/hea08/index.html .

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"This is a concise text that has good coverage of the basic concepts and elementary principles of research methods. It picks up where many traditional research methods texts stop and provides additional discussion on some of the hardest to understand concepts."

"I think it’s a great idea for a text (or series), and I have no doubt that the majority of students would find it helpful. The material is presented clearly, and it is easy to read and understand. My favorite example from those provided is on p. 7 where the author provides an actual checklist for evaluating the merit of a study. This is a great tool for students and would provide an excellent “practice” approach to learning this skill. Over time students wouldn’t need a checklist, but I think it would be invaluable for those students with little to no research experience."

I already am using 3 other books. This is a good book though.

Did not meet my needs

I had heard good things about Salkind's statistics book and wanted to review his research book as well. The 100 questions format is cute, and may provide a quick answer to a specific student question. However, it's not really organized in a way that I find particularly useful for a more integrated course that progressively develop and builds upon concepts.

comes across as a little disorganized, plus a little too focused on psychology and statistics.

This text is a great resource guide for graduate students. But it may not work as well with undergraduates orienting themselves to the research process. However, I will use it as a recommended text for students.

Key Features

· The entire research process is covered from start to finish: Divided into nine parts, the book  guides readers from the initial asking of questions, through the analysis and interpretation of data, to the final report

· Each question and answer provides a stand-alone explanation: Readers gain enough information on a particular topic to move on to the next question, and topics can be read in any order

· Most questions and answers supplement others in the book: Important material is reinforced, and connections are made between the topics

· Each answer ends with referral to three other related questions: Readers are shown where to go for additional information on the most closely related topics

Sample Materials & Chapters

Question #16: Question #16: How Do I Know When My Literature Review Is Finished?

Question #32: How Can I Create a Good Research Hypothesis?

Question #40: What Is the Difference Between a Sample and a Population, and Why

Question #92: What Is Power, and Why Is It Important?

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Sat / act prep online guides and tips, 113 great research paper topics.

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General Education


One of the hardest parts of writing a research paper can be just finding a good topic to write about. Fortunately we've done the hard work for you and have compiled a list of 113 interesting research paper topics. They've been organized into ten categories and cover a wide range of subjects so you can easily find the best topic for you.

In addition to the list of good research topics, we've included advice on what makes a good research paper topic and how you can use your topic to start writing a great paper.

What Makes a Good Research Paper Topic?

Not all research paper topics are created equal, and you want to make sure you choose a great topic before you start writing. Below are the three most important factors to consider to make sure you choose the best research paper topics.

#1: It's Something You're Interested In

A paper is always easier to write if you're interested in the topic, and you'll be more motivated to do in-depth research and write a paper that really covers the entire subject. Even if a certain research paper topic is getting a lot of buzz right now or other people seem interested in writing about it, don't feel tempted to make it your topic unless you genuinely have some sort of interest in it as well.

#2: There's Enough Information to Write a Paper

Even if you come up with the absolute best research paper topic and you're so excited to write about it, you won't be able to produce a good paper if there isn't enough research about the topic. This can happen for very specific or specialized topics, as well as topics that are too new to have enough research done on them at the moment. Easy research paper topics will always be topics with enough information to write a full-length paper.

Trying to write a research paper on a topic that doesn't have much research on it is incredibly hard, so before you decide on a topic, do a bit of preliminary searching and make sure you'll have all the information you need to write your paper.

#3: It Fits Your Teacher's Guidelines

Don't get so carried away looking at lists of research paper topics that you forget any requirements or restrictions your teacher may have put on research topic ideas. If you're writing a research paper on a health-related topic, deciding to write about the impact of rap on the music scene probably won't be allowed, but there may be some sort of leeway. For example, if you're really interested in current events but your teacher wants you to write a research paper on a history topic, you may be able to choose a topic that fits both categories, like exploring the relationship between the US and North Korea. No matter what, always get your research paper topic approved by your teacher first before you begin writing.

113 Good Research Paper Topics

Below are 113 good research topics to help you get you started on your paper. We've organized them into ten categories to make it easier to find the type of research paper topics you're looking for.


  • Discuss the main differences in art from the Italian Renaissance and the Northern Renaissance .
  • Analyze the impact a famous artist had on the world.
  • How is sexism portrayed in different types of media (music, film, video games, etc.)? Has the amount/type of sexism changed over the years?
  • How has the music of slaves brought over from Africa shaped modern American music?
  • How has rap music evolved in the past decade?
  • How has the portrayal of minorities in the media changed?


Current Events

  • What have been the impacts of China's one child policy?
  • How have the goals of feminists changed over the decades?
  • How has the Trump presidency changed international relations?
  • Analyze the history of the relationship between the United States and North Korea.
  • What factors contributed to the current decline in the rate of unemployment?
  • What have been the impacts of states which have increased their minimum wage?
  • How do US immigration laws compare to immigration laws of other countries?
  • How have the US's immigration laws changed in the past few years/decades?
  • How has the Black Lives Matter movement affected discussions and view about racism in the US?
  • What impact has the Affordable Care Act had on healthcare in the US?
  • What factors contributed to the UK deciding to leave the EU (Brexit)?
  • What factors contributed to China becoming an economic power?
  • Discuss the history of Bitcoin or other cryptocurrencies  (some of which tokenize the S&P 500 Index on the blockchain) .
  • Do students in schools that eliminate grades do better in college and their careers?
  • Do students from wealthier backgrounds score higher on standardized tests?
  • Do students who receive free meals at school get higher grades compared to when they weren't receiving a free meal?
  • Do students who attend charter schools score higher on standardized tests than students in public schools?
  • Do students learn better in same-sex classrooms?
  • How does giving each student access to an iPad or laptop affect their studies?
  • What are the benefits and drawbacks of the Montessori Method ?
  • Do children who attend preschool do better in school later on?
  • What was the impact of the No Child Left Behind act?
  • How does the US education system compare to education systems in other countries?
  • What impact does mandatory physical education classes have on students' health?
  • Which methods are most effective at reducing bullying in schools?
  • Do homeschoolers who attend college do as well as students who attended traditional schools?
  • Does offering tenure increase or decrease quality of teaching?
  • How does college debt affect future life choices of students?
  • Should graduate students be able to form unions?


  • What are different ways to lower gun-related deaths in the US?
  • How and why have divorce rates changed over time?
  • Is affirmative action still necessary in education and/or the workplace?
  • Should physician-assisted suicide be legal?
  • How has stem cell research impacted the medical field?
  • How can human trafficking be reduced in the United States/world?
  • Should people be able to donate organs in exchange for money?
  • Which types of juvenile punishment have proven most effective at preventing future crimes?
  • Has the increase in US airport security made passengers safer?
  • Analyze the immigration policies of certain countries and how they are similar and different from one another.
  • Several states have legalized recreational marijuana. What positive and negative impacts have they experienced as a result?
  • Do tariffs increase the number of domestic jobs?
  • Which prison reforms have proven most effective?
  • Should governments be able to censor certain information on the internet?
  • Which methods/programs have been most effective at reducing teen pregnancy?
  • What are the benefits and drawbacks of the Keto diet?
  • How effective are different exercise regimes for losing weight and maintaining weight loss?
  • How do the healthcare plans of various countries differ from each other?
  • What are the most effective ways to treat depression ?
  • What are the pros and cons of genetically modified foods?
  • Which methods are most effective for improving memory?
  • What can be done to lower healthcare costs in the US?
  • What factors contributed to the current opioid crisis?
  • Analyze the history and impact of the HIV/AIDS epidemic .
  • Are low-carbohydrate or low-fat diets more effective for weight loss?
  • How much exercise should the average adult be getting each week?
  • Which methods are most effective to get parents to vaccinate their children?
  • What are the pros and cons of clean needle programs?
  • How does stress affect the body?
  • Discuss the history of the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians.
  • What were the causes and effects of the Salem Witch Trials?
  • Who was responsible for the Iran-Contra situation?
  • How has New Orleans and the government's response to natural disasters changed since Hurricane Katrina?
  • What events led to the fall of the Roman Empire?
  • What were the impacts of British rule in India ?
  • Was the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki necessary?
  • What were the successes and failures of the women's suffrage movement in the United States?
  • What were the causes of the Civil War?
  • How did Abraham Lincoln's assassination impact the country and reconstruction after the Civil War?
  • Which factors contributed to the colonies winning the American Revolution?
  • What caused Hitler's rise to power?
  • Discuss how a specific invention impacted history.
  • What led to Cleopatra's fall as ruler of Egypt?
  • How has Japan changed and evolved over the centuries?
  • What were the causes of the Rwandan genocide ?


  • Why did Martin Luther decide to split with the Catholic Church?
  • Analyze the history and impact of a well-known cult (Jonestown, Manson family, etc.)
  • How did the sexual abuse scandal impact how people view the Catholic Church?
  • How has the Catholic church's power changed over the past decades/centuries?
  • What are the causes behind the rise in atheism/ agnosticism in the United States?
  • What were the influences in Siddhartha's life resulted in him becoming the Buddha?
  • How has media portrayal of Islam/Muslims changed since September 11th?


  • How has the earth's climate changed in the past few decades?
  • How has the use and elimination of DDT affected bird populations in the US?
  • Analyze how the number and severity of natural disasters have increased in the past few decades.
  • Analyze deforestation rates in a certain area or globally over a period of time.
  • How have past oil spills changed regulations and cleanup methods?
  • How has the Flint water crisis changed water regulation safety?
  • What are the pros and cons of fracking?
  • What impact has the Paris Climate Agreement had so far?
  • What have NASA's biggest successes and failures been?
  • How can we improve access to clean water around the world?
  • Does ecotourism actually have a positive impact on the environment?
  • Should the US rely on nuclear energy more?
  • What can be done to save amphibian species currently at risk of extinction?
  • What impact has climate change had on coral reefs?
  • How are black holes created?
  • Are teens who spend more time on social media more likely to suffer anxiety and/or depression?
  • How will the loss of net neutrality affect internet users?
  • Analyze the history and progress of self-driving vehicles.
  • How has the use of drones changed surveillance and warfare methods?
  • Has social media made people more or less connected?
  • What progress has currently been made with artificial intelligence ?
  • Do smartphones increase or decrease workplace productivity?
  • What are the most effective ways to use technology in the classroom?
  • How is Google search affecting our intelligence?
  • When is the best age for a child to begin owning a smartphone?
  • Has frequent texting reduced teen literacy rates?


How to Write a Great Research Paper

Even great research paper topics won't give you a great research paper if you don't hone your topic before and during the writing process. Follow these three tips to turn good research paper topics into great papers.

#1: Figure Out Your Thesis Early

Before you start writing a single word of your paper, you first need to know what your thesis will be. Your thesis is a statement that explains what you intend to prove/show in your paper. Every sentence in your research paper will relate back to your thesis, so you don't want to start writing without it!

As some examples, if you're writing a research paper on if students learn better in same-sex classrooms, your thesis might be "Research has shown that elementary-age students in same-sex classrooms score higher on standardized tests and report feeling more comfortable in the classroom."

If you're writing a paper on the causes of the Civil War, your thesis might be "While the dispute between the North and South over slavery is the most well-known cause of the Civil War, other key causes include differences in the economies of the North and South, states' rights, and territorial expansion."

#2: Back Every Statement Up With Research

Remember, this is a research paper you're writing, so you'll need to use lots of research to make your points. Every statement you give must be backed up with research, properly cited the way your teacher requested. You're allowed to include opinions of your own, but they must also be supported by the research you give.

#3: Do Your Research Before You Begin Writing

You don't want to start writing your research paper and then learn that there isn't enough research to back up the points you're making, or, even worse, that the research contradicts the points you're trying to make!

Get most of your research on your good research topics done before you begin writing. Then use the research you've collected to create a rough outline of what your paper will cover and the key points you're going to make. This will help keep your paper clear and organized, and it'll ensure you have enough research to produce a strong paper.

What's Next?

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Christine graduated from Michigan State University with degrees in Environmental Biology and Geography and received her Master's from Duke University. In high school she scored in the 99th percentile on the SAT and was named a National Merit Finalist. She has taught English and biology in several countries.

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Research Key

50 Top Thesis Defense Questions With Answers(2023)

This blog article contains all the possible thesis defense questions that can be applied to all departments.


Do you have an upcoming thesis defense and you have been wandering the kind of questions your professors will ask you

Click to Read: Navigating Your Thesis Defense: Common Thesis Defense Questions and How to Prepare

Top 25 Likely Questions and Answers for Thesis Defense

Do you have the ability to briefly describe the purpose of your study to us?

Right, the query is straightforward.

Most students choke on a topic like this, as many professors will attest to.

In any case, the question is simple but a little complicated.

You need to comprehend every aspect of your scientific study, starting with chapter one, to respond to this question.

To ace this particular topic, you would want to comprehend every aspect of your abstract because the question requires a reply that functions as a sort of summary of the entire subject.

If your abstract was truthful, this question will be a cross-over for you.

What inspired you to conduct this research?

You now need to exercise caution.

These questions are frequently highly challenging, and it helps greatly in persuading your panel that your study is worth their time.

What’s THE RESEARCH PROBLEM is another way to phrase this query.

You’ll want to go into more detail on the subject of the study as you respond to this.

You become motivated by your enthusiasm to find a solution to this issue.

Don’t use the need to graduate or financial constraints as motivations since you’ll quickly lose your audience.

3. How will this research add to the body of knowledge?

When the need for explanation arises, you will be required to explain how your study, if allowed, will add to the body of available evidence.

Here, you’ll get to defend it using your research methodologies, a case study, or any special models or conceptual frameworks that were used in the study.

4 What is the study’s significance?

You will get to discuss the significance of your study in the same way that you will discuss how it will add to the body of knowledge.

In your response, you should emphasise how your study will benefit organisations and society as a whole, how it will assist the government in developing and implementing policies, and how it will benefit other students who might want to research the subject.

5. Did you fill in any gaps in your research?

Every research project needs to have a challenge.

You receive all of the points allotted for answering this question because of your abilities to solve this puzzle and research topics that have not yet been studied.

You must be prepared to persuade the committee members that your method is unique and that it addressed areas where other researchers haven’t done a lot of work.

6. What restrictions did you face? 

Another easy but challenging question is this one. Most of the time, the question is asked to criticise your work rather than to feel sorry for you.

You should use caution when responding to this question to avoid implicating yourself. Be careful not to sell yourself short.

Discussing your approach or data analysis constraints could imply that your paper is prejudiced or poorly researched, therefore avoid doing so.

Instead of limiting your studies, use minor constraints like the challenges associated with juggling projects and lectures.

7. What conclusions have you reached?

You now need to clearly and succinctly present your study’s outcomes or findings.

Always relate your conclusions to the goals and/or questions of your research.

Your panel members will become passive as a result.

What techniques or methods did you use for sampling?

You need to be familiar with your research approach to responding to this question.

You must have access to your chapter three (in Most Projects).

Your ability to defend your sample size and methodology will be greatly rewarded in this situation.

Get the most recent career advice, an online degree, and scholarships for US and UK universities, it is advised.

8. Why did you select this approach?

As was already mentioned, you should not just describe the study’s methodology.

Additionally, you must be prepared and able to convincingly defend your decision to use the tactic.

You are currently free to cite sources or studies that used similar methodologies.

9. What recommendations do you make in support of your findings?

Every research study needs recommendations, and they won’t be taken lightly.

In essence, you should be able to recall your recommendations.

You need the best PowerPoint for your thesis: Hire a writer to Draft a PowerPoint that will shock your professors

10. Regarding your findings, what areas of study will you recommend for the future?

Just to be sure you’re thinking clearly and are an authority in your field of study, questions like these exist.

You should be prepared to offer additional research areas related to your subject based on your conclusions from a manageable scope of the study.

One legitimate subject for additional research, for instance, would be other types of taxation, such as VAT, Company tax, etc., if I looked into the difficulties of collecting private taxes in Cameroon.

11. What practical applications may your research work lead to?

The majority of management and social science projects are more abstract, making them a little more challenging for management and social science students than science and engineering students.

But you should make an effort to be reasonable in this situation.

Relate your research to contemporary trends in your home, workplace, industry, polity, institutions of higher learning, etc.

You’ll get points for using pertinent examples and illustrations in this situation.

13. How would you briefly characterise your study for a practitioner in ?

14 What would you change if you were to rerun the research?

Hmmm. Be cautious! Avoid being overly merry. There is a gap in this! Similar to your restrictions, this question is frequently posed to identify your weaknesses.

What measurement instrument do you use?

What approach to data collecting did you take for the project, to put it simply?

Here, you specify whether surveys were given out or secondary sources were used to obtain the data.

for additional details about measuring devices.

16: What variables are you using in your research?

Here, you get to persuade the members of your panel that you merely are knowledgeable in the subject at hand.

To convince them that you are correct, you should explain your independent and dependent variable(s). Your project topic contains your variables.

To excel at your defence, you should be able to recognise these variables and know what they mean.

What are your research questions, number 17?

Simple to answer.

If you are completely prepared, you should be able to respond to this question in 0.015 seconds.

Continue reading to see a sample complaint letter for the omission of exam marks.

Following graduation, what do you choose to do with your scientific research?

You are free to express your thoughts in this area.

If you intend to publish it, this is frequently the easiest time to speak with the committee members and engage in conversation; perhaps a professor present might be of assistance.

What type of knowledge source was used for the study?

You must now identify the source or sources from which you obtained the data. Generally speaking, you must specify if the data came from primary, secondary, or both sources.

By going over the study’s theoretical and empirical literature review, you can persuade the committee members even more.

What theories or theoretical framework is the foundation of your study?

Although extremely technical, this question is intriguing.

You should have a working knowledge of at least two relevant theories related to your research before entering the defence room.

For instance, Maslow’s Theory and other theories of motivation will support the “impact of motivation on employee productivity.”

Consult your supervisor for assistance if you are having trouble finding suitable theories to replicate your research

How would you connect your findings to the study’s prevailing theories?

One will need to read a lot to ace this test.

You should be familiar with both empirical studies and the current ideas surrounding the subject.

It would significantly help to validate your study if you can relate your conclusions to earlier research investigations, regardless of whether they concur or not. I’ll bet you’ll win this debate.

What suggestions do you have for upcoming research? Question 22

Your capacity for problem-solving is tested here.

You should be able to spot topics that require more investigation.

What is the study’s scope, question 23?

This one might be a throwaway or bonus query.

Here, you succinctly explain the study’s boundaries.

What queries does one have for the committee? Question 24

Although this is not a question that can be asked in our African context, I have nonetheless defended a seminar project where it was, and I was astounded to the core.

This is frequently an opportunity to talk with the members of your committee and to ask some insightful questions. Avoid asking pointless or overly challenging questions because the committee members should feel a sense of loyalty to the “boss” rather than you.

It will also go a long way toward demonstrating that you are a superb person.

Question 25: Is there anything further you would like to add?

It’s time to give thanks! Take this opportunity to express your gratitude to the committee for their time and inquiries.

Tell them how much you learned from them and how you intend to fix any mistakes (if any) found in your work. Your internal and external supervisors will be greatly impressed by this.

We hope the best for you!

Thesis defense questions

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9. Why is your study important?

The response to this research question should describe how your findings have affected your field of study.

You could discuss the novel understandings your study has provided and how it has affected society.

My research on “The effect of chamomile in lowering stress and encouraging better sleep” can help people with insomnia and anxiety find non-pharmaceutical remedies for their conditions.

The chamomile plant’s medicinal properties will encourage the use of natural products and motivate the community to grow additional herbs and trees.

10. What conclusions did your research yield?

In this response, you are permitted to briefly summarise your study. For example,

In our study on the “Impact of Artificial Fluoride in Water on the Human Body,”

we discovered that since Fluoride has neurotoxic properties, excessive exposure to high levels of it might cause tooth discolouration and bone problems in people.

11. What research results caught you off guard?

When you undertake research, you often discover results that you did not initially anticipate.

When answering this question, you can mention the same to the evaluation committee if you had such an event. For instance,

In my comparative research of the use of conventional and modern marketing techniques,

I anticipated that business promotion through social media would not be a good concept for rural firms in developing countries.

But I was quite aback to learn that 68% of Nigeria’s rural textile manufacturers advertise their goods on Instagram.

12. How reliable are your findings?

The circumstances under which the results of your investigation might be valid must be discussed.

In my research, I have assumed that both nervous system activation and negative thoughts contribute to exam anxiety.

Thus, to ensure that my results are accurate, I included both apprehensive feelings and negative thoughts in my measure of test anxiety.

13. Why did you decide on this research design?

For instance,

In our investigation, we employed the immunostaining technique to examine the differential protein expression, its localisation, and dispersion at various levels.

14. What resources did you draw on to gather the data?

To find information for your topic, you would have looked at a variety of sources. From those sources, you can get into further detail.

You might have consulted databases, and online articles, or even conducted primary research by speaking with potential customers.

So you can discuss these sources. Consider the following response:

We spoke with 150 people over five months to better understand how the existing tax system affects skilled professionals.

In addition, we made use of academic databases and books written by authors who had previously undertaken similar analyses for earlier tax legislation and rates.

15. What applications are there for your research?

The practical ramifications of your findings are covered in this query.

You should explain how your study benefits society and how it may be used to solve existing problems.

In our study, “Effectiveness of Meditation in Reducing the Anxiety Levels of College Students in the US,” we found that due to meditation’s beneficial effects, students who practiced it at least three times a week were twice as likely to perform well on exams.

Therefore, this research’s findings may contribute to fewer student mental health difficulties. Holding meditation classes a few times a week might be a good line of action.

16. What new information will your findings provide to the field?

Our study on the medicinal analysis of herbs contributes to the field of medicinal botany and provides information on the many therapeutic benefits of chamomile in treating depression.

17. Did your study encounter any obstacles?

According to our study, smoking raises a person’s risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

The study is titled

“Impact of smoking on -cell function and risk for type 2 diabetes in US citizens.”

Smokers, however, may have specific hereditary factors that can shield them from developing diabetes.

18. What sampling methods did you employ?

It is nearly impossible to study every element when performing research.

So you would be choosing a sample population using a method.

We employed area sampling to divide the city into various zones for our study, “Impact of soda intake on the health of teenagers in Corpus Christi,” and then we chose a few clusters as our sample population.

19. What are the research’s dependent and independent variables?

Several varying factors have an impact on your research project.

These variables can be described. Independent variables in your study have values that are unaffected by other variables.

The dependent variables, on the other hand, have values that alter as the independent variable does. For instance,

Our study, “Impact of Online Tutoring on Test Results,” uses the participants’ test scores as the dependent variable and the online aspect of the classes as the independent variable.

20. What areas do you recommend for additional study?

When your research is added to the field, you should be ready to explain what new areas will be available for study. Future researchers can use this as a place of departure. For instance,

My research on the “Effectiveness of Acetaminophen in treating sports-generated injuries” led me to the conclusion that treating joint symptoms like knee pain with Acetaminophen is not particularly effective.

This also raises the possibility of taking action to limit the use of acetaminophen in the creation of bodily pain medications and to look for substitutes.

Practice Issues

Try answering these questions on your own after looking at the sample responses:

What steps did you take to address the moral ramifications of your work?

What is the research’s strongest point?

Why do you believe your research to be trustworthy?

Do your findings align with the body of previous research?

Do you believe that your research may have certain biases?

What suggestions do you have based on your research?

What statistical tools do you employ?

Describe the research’s sample population.

What are the practical applications of your findings?

What would you change if you were to conduct your research again?

What significance does your research have for other scientists?

What are the most pressing problems in your fields?

Do you believe your research to be accurate?

What method did you use for your study?

What does your study alter about your field of study?

How general are your research contributions?

What applications does your research have for decision-makers?

What is your research process for qualitative analysis?

How did you go about taking standard measurements?

Do you have any final remarks?

Top 25 Likely Questions and Answers for Thesis Defense (2023)

The top 25 academic research defence questions that you can come across during a tutorial research defence are listed below.

Please utilise this checklist to determine whether you are truly prepared for your research defence.

Keep in mind these inquiries and the suggested methods for responding to them.

We reviewed the list of prior academic research project defence inquiries.

To make sure you are not limiting yourself to only these inquiries, Research Key Consulting Services also suggests that you go further and ask former students about some of the academic scientific research defense questions they ran across during their defence.

Anticipate the obvious inquiries and be ready for them.

Based on your research, you may readily predict the majority of the thesis defense questions.

When you are reading your work, you can make a list of potential questions.

Knowing the committee will help you prepare more effectively.

You can anticipate what questions they may ask by looking at their areas of expertise.

Once you have a list of inquiries, you may begin considering potential responses.

Get your slides ready in advance.

It is a good idea to prepare any visual aids, such as slides, in advance.

You can check the slides again to ensure that everything will go according to plan on the day of your thesis defense.

Make sure the order of your slides is proper.

If a candidate’s thesis defense is an open event, go to it.

You are welcome to attend another candidate’s thesis defense if your institution permits it.

You will have a very good notion of what to anticipate from your meeting after reading this.

If you can’t make it to the event, you might ask your peers about their meeting to see what was discussed and what questions were posed.

Get dressed for your meeting.

You should wear formal attire since the thesis defence meeting is a formal occasion.

You should treat it like a job interview even though there are no rigorous clothing codes.

Don’t just show up in front of the committee wearing your T-shirt.

The ideal choice for the situation is your formal suit.

Prepare your speech for the meeting.

Practice making your presentation to advance your preparation.

You will feel more confident going into the meeting and presentation after this activity.

You might ask your fellow students for assistance with the practice task.

You can enhance your performance for the real session based on their input during the mock session.

Make careful to adequately prepare for the fake session, just like you would for the real session.

In the simulated session, you can also work on your body language and speaking.

Don’t be hesitant to get in touch with these experts again if you hired thesis writing services as they would be the best ones to put you to the test in a simulated thesis defence!

Examples of Questions and Answers for Thesis Defense

1. What is the focus of your research study?

You should provide a brief synopsis of your research in your response.

Although the issue is straightforward, a better understanding of the concepts requires technical knowledge.

If your thesis, for instance, attempted to explain the components of dark matter in the universe and particle accelerators, you may phrase your response as follows:

The various facets of dark matter and its detection models have been looked into in this study.

The development of decaying dark matter models has been addressed and used to explain the cosmic ray positron excess detected by the PAMELA detector.

Assuming a general Dirac structure for the four fermion contact interactions of interest, the cosmic-ray electron and positron spectra were investigated.

To account for the conceivable excess of gamma rays in the galactic core, a supersymmetric leptophilic Higgs model was developed.

Finally, an enhancement to the dark matter collider searches is taken into consideration using Razor analysis.

2. Why did you select this research?

You must respond to this question by stating what inspired you to start the study in the first place.

Your responses can reflect your interests in the study’s subject.

For instance, if your study was titled “Media Combat: The Great War and the Transformation of American Culture,” you may formulate your response as follows:

I’ve always been interested in learning more about the First World War (1914–1918), and my main focus is on examining the social climate of the era.

I wanted to examine how theatre and music changed how the government interacted with American civilians during the American involvement in the war and the emergence of a nationalised, wartime cultural infrastructure.

3. Why did you decide on this specific title for your study?

It is crucial to select a title that accurately conveys the main idea of your thesis because it serves as a summary of your research.

Your selection of a final title for your work will be questioned by your committee. For instance,

For my research thesis, I chose the subject “Dark matter in the heavens and at colliders: Models and limitations,” as my work aims to shed light on the nature of dark matter as it manifests itself in the cosmos.

The universe is often referred to as “the skies.” Particle accelerators like the CERN collider can also produce dark matter.

Through the use of models and a description of the current constraints brought about by specific scientific limitations, I have made an effort to explain both circumstances.

4. What is the purview of your research?

You must specify the scope of your project and the precise subject matter you are researching in your response. There may be several factors at play, but you must first establish the study criteria. For instance,

My research focuses on how effective equities stocks are on the US market.

I’ve selected 50 NASDAQ-listed companies for my analysis. The names of these businesses are listed on page 5 of my thesis.

5. What phenomenon were you attempting to comprehend with this study?

In your response, explain your thesis’ central idea. For instance,

We sought to investigate the Theory of Planned Behavior in our study on “Motivation to Volunteer” by examining the behavioural and normative ideas that shape attitudes and subjective norms.

6. Who will be most curious about your study?

You can discuss the people who your research may affect as well as those who may gain something from it. Look at this illustration:

Sociology professors, social media firms, education professionals, and parents of children, in general, may be interested in my sociology thesis on “Impact of social media on youngsters.”

7. Did your research questions change as you conducted them? How, if so?

Qualitative research questions frequently evolve in response to the feedback you could receive from your focus group.

Alternatively, as you conduct laboratory research or general text study, your question may simply alter.

You can inform the evaluation panel of the modification. For instance,

With the installation of trash cans designated for vinyl items, we set out to understand the effects of the new public policy change on the recycling of vinyl waste.

However, after speaking with a few of the target community’s responders, we discovered that the law has no bearing on their actions or beliefs because the locality’s vinyl waste proportion was so low that no special bins needed to be installed.

Our study, which originally focused on the expenses associated with public policy changes, changed as a result of their discontent with the current state of economic insecurity.

8. What holes did your research attempt to fill?

Your research thesis must close any conceptual gaps connected to your subject issue that exist now.

We examined the mineral makeup of hard water to ascertain its effect on the size of the kidney stone since the relationship between hard water and its effect on kidney stone size is not yet evident.

How to Prepare for Questions During Thesis Defense

You need to get started on your thesis defense questions well in advance.

The main goal of your thesis defense is to defend your study, even though the length may vary depending on your institution’s requirements.

As a result, you should follow the procedures below to prepare for your thesis defense questions.

For clarity, read your thesis again.

Your research paper will serve as the basis for your thesis defense questions. Rereading your article is therefore an excellent idea.

You should have a firm grasp of the topics and be aware of your research.

A revision should be the first step in your preparation as it may have been some time after you sent in your work.

Have a plan for your responses and a structure

Create a plan for your response to the panel’s questions.

Keep your responses succinct, but whenever required, provide more specifics about the research.

It’s okay if you don’t know the answer to a question.

The trick is to be able to come up with a response even if you don’t have the knowledge to do so right now.

Having a plan for responding to even the most unexpected questions can be a lifesaver in these circumstances!

For example, if a question is about the content of your research, you can say something like

“I am not sure my research touches on the question you are asking, but my research has led me to Dr X. Based on this evidence, I would have to conclude that…”

The best approach to prepare for this difficult stage in your academic career is to practice answering thesis defense questions in what we called a  thesis Pre-defense.

Many Universities in the world always have Pre-defenses before the Final Defense.

For you to have a  thesis defense that will beat the imagination of all your professors, you need to read this blog article till the end and you will notice all the secrets of answering thesis defense questions

First of all, You need to have effective tactics for dealing with various question types and explaining why you choose your research topic in addition to having a thorough understanding of your research project.

It’s time to put your years of in-depth study to the test now that you may have previously responded to inquiries about your research interests in your research interest statement and graduate school interview questions.

 Below are some of the trickiest thesis defense queries, along with our knowledgeable answers.

Note: Schedule a free strategy call if you’d like our assistance with your applications, interviews, or standardized testing.

Visit our collaborations page if you represent a university, company, or student organization and would want to collaborate with us.

How Should a Thesis Defense Go?

You get the opportunity to showcase your in-depth understanding and subject competence at a thesis defense.

The members of your thesis committee will be able to direct the narrative and hear about your study, but the instructors will push you to demonstrate your command of the material.

Since most of the questions are open-ended, you can demonstrate your knowledge and expertise as well as any potential future plans you may have for your research topic.

Depending on the subject of your research, a thesis defense typically lasts between one and two hours. You start by presenting your area of interest, your research, and your conclusions.

The committee members will quiz you once you’ve completed based on both your oral presentation and your written thesis, which they will have already read.

Finally, the committee may endorse your thesis or make suggestions for improving your paper.

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Hardest Research Proposal Questions and Best Sample Answers

Featured Expert: Dr. Michela Insenga, PhD

Hardest Research Proposal Questions and Best Sample Answers

Practicing with sample research proposal questions and answers can have great benefits for any major research project such as a dissertation or thesis. This is often the final step before you finally get your doctorate degree. However, before all of that, you must first craft a research proposal. This is a detailed outline that will transform into the thesis that you will eventually have to defend in front of a panel of distinguished academics. It is always important to be aware of what thesis defense questions you will be asked when it is all said and done, but you may have to start justifying your research a little earlier on with the completion of a research proposal.

In this article, we include sample questions and answers you could be faced with when submitting your research proposal, some tips for preparing your responses, as well as the benefits of seeking professional help from a grad school advisor .

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Article Contents 13 min read

What to expect for your research proposal.

Early on in your PhD process, you may have to submit a research proposal that details the scope of your research and what you plan to for an eventual thesis or dissertation project. You have already learned how to find a PhD topic , so now it is time to put your passion for your field into practice and start to manifest the ideas swimming in your head.

This document should include the specific topic you would like to research, what angle you will be taking for your research, as well as your justification for choosing this subject. Regardless of whether or not your goals are the same as when you wrote your research interest statement sample , you must still provide an update about what your project is going to examine.

Should you go to grad school? Watch this video:

The purpose of the research proposal is to convince your supervisor that you are on the right direction. You are essentially providing a roadmap for your supervisor through your motives in undertaking this project and how you plan to complete it. Your supervisor will have to evaluate whether or not your project is relevant to the degree you are completing and manageable within the time constraints or other limitations you have.

As a result, you may have to undergo a research proposal defense or your supervisor will ask guiding questions about the state of your project. While this is still very early in the process, it is a great way for getting to know how to prepare for a thesis defense , as the questions you will be have a similar intent. Receiving guidance on your research before spending a lot of time on it can be more beneficial to you as you complete coursework or any other responsibilities as a graduate student. Questions from your supervisor can make your think critically about the end result of your result, and will hopefully lead to a better result.

Be Very Familiar With Your Proposal

This sounds like an obvious tip, but PhD research proposals can be 1500-2000 words long and can be a lot of information to remember at once. Once it is complete, try and have as great of a grasp of the material as you can. Before going into any meeting where you will discuss your work, make sure to become reacquainted with the information you have found and the goals you are hoping to achieve. Re-read your proposal several times to both proofread it for typos or other errors, but also to become comfortable with its contents. You want to make sure that your answers line up with the document you are officially submitting as your proposal.

Ask for Advice

If you are having trouble creating your proposal, you can always consult thesis writing services to help you plan out and put your thoughts into words. Professionals can also help with your speaking ability when responding and help you strategize so that you deliver efficient responses that sum up your research faithfully. Either together with an advisor or on your own, you can predict the obvious questions that are coming and prepare yourself to answer them. If your supervisor will be overseeing your proposal, try to anticipate what concerns they will have. Come up with a list of questions yourself, so you can workshop how you answer them.

Use Strategies to Answer Questions

Just like preparing for graduate school interview questions , you can develop strategies for how to answer questions about your research proposal. Keep your answers direct. You can also pose questions about areas you are unsure about. Do not be afraid to not have all the answers. At this point of your research, you are not expected to know everything point. The purpose of your proposal is to see where you are at right now and what you need to adjust on to make the best final product possible. Your supervisor or other academics that will pose questions about your proposal are not out to get you. They have years of experiences with similar projects, and are likely are qualified to give helpful feedback on your work in progress.

1. What is your research project about?

This answer should be a short summary about your research project. This question may seem like this simplest of them all, but you need to have a solid direction on where you want your thesis to go in order for it be effective. It does not need to be as complete as if you were to be summarizing your final product, since your project is still in its development stages. For instance, a sociological study regarding gendered tendencies towards deviant behaviors on the internet might be formatted in this manner:

For this research project, I plan to examine the rise of online deviant sociological behaviour on social media platforms during recent global shutdowns such as the COVID-19 pandemic and how gender identity and sexual orientation amplify these concerns. These acts of deviance can include instances of catfishing, deception, pornography, obscenity, cyber bullying, flaming, among others. I will also relate these findings to psychological impacts of both the perpetrators and victims or other relevant criminal behaviors that do not take place online, pointing out the differences between common trends for men vs. women in these altercations.

2. Why did you select this particular topic?

This question is meant to assess your motivation for choosing the subject of your research proposal. It is possible that you have previously touched on this kind of question during your graduate school interview when answering “Why do you want to do a PhD?” . This answer is one that could get a little more into your personal inclination towards the research you pursue. Focus on your particular interests and shape it to the goals of the project. For example, if you conducted a study called, “Forgotten Minds: Book History and Women’s Lost Contributions in 18th and 19th-century England” then you can frame your answer in this way:

As a scholar of the marriage industrial complex that permeated British society in past centuries, I am interested in the ways that a patriarchal structure can silence the marginalized voices of others, as matrimony often did for women. This is all the more evident in the interdisciplinary field of book history, where women’s contributions to the publishing were often ignored, erased, or overshadowed by their husbands. I wanted to indicate any trends that can be discovered by examining the roles of women in 18th and 19th-century printing houses and potentially unearth the forgotten stories of women who worked in these instances.

3. Does your project have a working title?

Titles are very important for academic articles or formal dissertation projects. If you have already learned how to publish as a graduate student , you will know that the title is how other academics or students will find your work when searching through journals and databases. You need to make sure your title is accurate to the research provided. At this point, your title will likely not be final, but it always important to be thinking about.

Sample Answer: My tentative title is “Take a Chill Pill: Natural and Traditional Methods for College Student Anxiety Levels”. I chose this title because it represents both the holistic self-care methods such as meditation and exercise as well as prescription medication. It also points out the focus group immediately, since the study will examine current college students between the ages of 18-24 and indicate any patterns for how they manage stress among unprecedented times.

4. What scope do you think your project will have?

Your proposal will likely touch on several points related to your topic, but it is not really plausible to have a project that considers every single aspect imaginable. You may need to narrow this down as you further develop your research. Start thinking of the boundaries you may have to set as you progress through your work.

Sample Answer: This study will examine consumption trends related to the snack food industry. To start with, I have chosen over 25 products from different companies will be able to be listed and reviewed in the final thesis submission.

5. What makes your project original?

Being a publishing academic is all about filling the gaps in scholarship. Make sure to point out what makes your project stand out from others in the field.

Sample Answer: The project focuses on how remote working and telemedicine shifts the delivery of family medicine procedures in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. It does engage with similar studies on the topic of telemedicine, but will add a new perspective by discussing family doctors practicing in the greater Montreal area, specifically, which is a subset I have not yet found within existing scholarship.

6. How is your research in conversation with existing scholarship?

While your research must add something to the field, it also should be in a dialogue with other published works. Explain your process surrounding the other studies you have used to guide your own thesis.

Sample Answer: As my project is related to how autoimmune disorders such as rheumatoid arthritis present themselves in young adults, I have included fundamental studies on the topic from Dr. Arthur Golden and Dr. Melina Rizzo, as well as other more current examples of scholarship. My study will utilize their concepts in relation to a focus group that is below the age of 30.

7. What kind of research methodology will you be using?

How you will be accessing this research is just as important as the research itself. Try to have a clear path about the measures you will take to complete your study.

Sample Answer: I aim to use detailed and meticulously written surveys about women’s birth experiences at hospitals or affiliated birthing centers. These results will act as the main foundation for my study on maternity health care and treatment.

8. Have you found there to be any interesting developments so far?

Was there any part of the part of the process that you did not expect? For this response, detail any new directions your research has taken as of writing your proposal.

Sample Answer: While looking for evidence that suggests that gender socialization of children affects their behaviour, I was surprised to find out that there is a discrepancy between the emotional responses in animated characters based on gender. Female or feminine-presenting characters are shown smiling on screen much more than their male counterparts, and the masculine-presenting characters were generally more likely to be shown as upset or even violent. That is a development in my research that I did not initially think of or foresee.

9. What do you think your biggest limitations for this research will be?

Look into the work you will have to do for your eventual full-length research project. What do you see being the most difficult part?

Sample Answer: I am looking into the nutritional benefits of drug store chewable gummy multivitamins. However, based on an individual’s prior health conditions or genetic makeup, the results may vary or be distorted. I am presuming that this will be a major limitation as I write my thesis.

10. What will be the dependent and independent variables of this project?

When researching, there are different variables that can potentially affect your results. An independent variable is not affected by other variables in your study, while dependent variables also change if other variables do.

Sample Answer: My study will investigate the impact of guidance counselling for junior and senior high school students. The independent variable is the type of help they require, such as college applications, social development skills, or academic performance. The dependent variable would be the actual outcomes of said counselling.

11. What is your provisional research timeline?

Even if it is not 100% stuck to, try to have a detailed timeline in mind about when research will be completed and how you will fulfill all of your obligations prior to the respective deadlines.

Sample Answer: The provisional research timeline for my proposal is designed to ensure systematic progress and timely completion of all research objectives. My timeline is divided into five phases:

Preparation Phase (4 weeks): In this initial stage, I will conduct a thorough literature review to familiarize myself with existing research and identify potential gaps. Simultaneously, I will finalize the research questions and establish the overall framework for my study.

Data Collection and Analysis (8 weeks): During this phase, I will gather primary data through surveys and interviews, ensuring data collection aligns with ethical guidelines. Once collected, I will proceed with data analysis, utilizing appropriate statistical methods to extract meaningful insights.

Literature Integration (4 weeks): Building upon the analyzed data, I will integrate my findings with existing literature to provide a comprehensive context for my research.

Drafting and Revision (6 weeks): I will dedicate this phase to writing the research proposal. The initial draft will be critically reviewed and refined through multiple iterations to enhance clarity and coherence.

Finalization and Submission (1 week): In the final phase, I will incorporate feedback from peers and advisors and polish the research paper to its final form. The completed research paper will be submitted by the designated deadline.

This provisional timeline, spanning 23 weeks, allows for flexibility and contingency plans to accommodate unforeseen challenges. Regular progress assessments and adjustments will be made to ensure timely completion and adherence to all obligations.

12. Who are the demographics who will be most interested in your research?

An important aspect of your research to think about will be who will be the most interested in reading it, as well as who it impacts the most.

Sample Answer: The demographics most interested in my research are likely to be professionals and policymakers within the healthcare industry. Given the focus of my research on implementing technology-driven solutions to enhance patient care and improve healthcare outcomes, healthcare practitioners, administrators, and researchers would find the findings particularly relevant.

Additionally, technology enthusiasts, innovators, and entrepreneurs interested in the intersection of healthcare and technology are also expected to show interest in the research. This group may be keen to explore potential commercial applications of the proposed solutions or seek opportunities for collaboration.

Moreover, the research would significantly impact patients and healthcare consumers. As technology increasingly plays a vital role in healthcare delivery, patients would be interested in understanding how these advancements can positively influence their healthcare experiences and overall well-being.

To ensure the research's reach and impact, I will disseminate the findings through academic publications, conferences, and workshops. Additionally, I will aim to engage with relevant professional organizations, healthcare institutions, and technology forums to stimulate interest and foster practical applications of the research outcomes.

By targeting these demographics, the research can make a meaningful contribution to the field of healthcare technology and help drive advancements that benefit both healthcare providers and patients alike.

13. What do you hope to be the significance of your research?

This is the “So what?” of your research. Will your research have lasting impacts? Evaluate which current issues your research could resolve.

Sample Answer:

The significance of my research lies in its potential to revolutionize healthcare delivery through technology-driven solutions. By addressing current issues such as inefficiencies in healthcare systems, lack of patient engagement, and suboptimal outcomes, my research aims to foster lasting impacts. Implementing technology to improve patient care, streamline processes, and enhance healthcare accessibility could lead to better health outcomes, reduced costs, and an overall improvement in the quality of healthcare services.

14. Are there any ethical issues or debates surrounding your research project?

Some projects are directly tied to ethics and moral issues that are currently being debated. It would be important to mention any ties to these issues and how your research is part of a larger conversation.

Sample Answer: While my research primarily focuses on technology-driven solutions to enhance healthcare, there are potential ethical considerations surrounding data privacy and security. As the research involves collecting and analyzing patient data, ensuring the confidentiality and informed consent of participants is paramount. Additionally, discussions about the responsible use of artificial intelligence in healthcare and potential biases in algorithms are relevant to the larger conversation on the ethical implications of technology in healthcare. Addressing these issues will be crucial to maintaining the integrity and societal benefit of the research.

15. Do you have any personal predictions for the outcome of your research?

If you haven’t yet conducted surveys or a thorough literature review, relay what you think will happen and any other concerns to your supervisor.

Sample Answer: As of now, without conducting surveys or an extensive literature review, I anticipate that the research will demonstrate the potential of technology in positively impacting healthcare outcomes and patient experiences. However, I am also aware that challenges related to data security, technology adoption, and ethical considerations may arise during the research. I will keep my supervisor informed about any unexpected findings and concerns throughout the study to ensure a comprehensive evaluation of the research outcomes.

Now that you have seen some sample answers, here are some additional questions you can take on:

  • What sample groups are you using and why?
  • What secondary sources do you plan to use?
  • What do you believe is the strongest point in your research?
  • Are there any biases that could exist in your research or your secondary sources?
  • What are some ways your findings will be put into practice?
  • What was the approach you took when starting your project?
  • What phenomenon are you trying to understand with this research?
  • How has your research project changed from when you started this degree?
  • Do you see any foreseeable weaknesses or blind spots in your study?
  • What measurement instrument did you use for this research?
  • What theoretical framework is your research based on?
  • Is the literature you chose up to date?
  • What pertinent information have you found so far?
  • Does your research have any use for policy makers?
  • What do you plan to do with this research project once you have graduated?

When you are wondering, “should you pursue a master’s or a PhD?” , you truly need to consider the importance of research within the discipline you choose. Part of being an academic is the ability to contribute to the field and, by extension, society as a whole. The research proposal and the subsequent dissertation may be the last step to complete your degree, but it is also can be the first real step of your professional career.

Any meeting with your supervisor or instant where you have to defend your work is simply part of the process of being a working academic. This can have lasting implications for the future of your career, as knowing how to conduct and present research effectively is key to learning how to find a job in academia . That being said, the first step is putting yourself in the best position to succeed. Using PhD consultants can make all the difference for your project. If you are currently applying to graduate school, these trained experts can help you get into the school of your dreams or assist with finding programs that suit your skillset. They can also provide pointers on your research, as many of them have been in your shoes before.

A research proposal is a concise and structured document that outlines the key objectives, methodology, and significance of a proposed research project, aiming to convince others about the value and feasibility of the study.

A typical research proposal for a doctoral thesis is usually between 10 to 20 pages, depending on the specific requirements of the academic institution and the complexity of the research project.

To find the right research topic for a doctoral thesis, consider your interests, expertise, and the significance of the topic in your field. Engage with relevant literature, consult with advisors and experts, and identify gaps or unresolved issues to narrow down your focus.

Yes, you can and you should include your research on your grad school CV . 

Most graduate programs will ask you to defend your research proposal. However, if it’s a smaller project, a review of the proposal may be sufficient. 

To prepare for a research proposal or thesis defense, thoroughly review your research work, anticipate potential questions, and practice presenting your findings in a clear and concise manner to effectively communicate your research objectives, methodology, and results.

Some mistakes to avoid when writing a research proposal include: lack of clarity in research objectives, insufficient literature review, neglecting to address potential limitations, and failing to align the proposal with the funding agency's guidelines or the university's requirements.

Yes, you can always reach out to thesis writing services for some guidance. 

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  • Jean-Louis Barsoux

research possible questions

With organizations of all sorts facing increased urgency and unpredictability, being able to ask smart questions has become key. But unlike lawyers, doctors, and psychologists, business professionals are not formally trained on what kinds of questions to ask when approaching a problem. They must learn as they go. In their research and consulting, the authors have seen that certain kinds of questions have gained resonance across the business world. In a three-year project they asked executives to brainstorm about the decisions they’ve faced and the kinds of inquiry they’ve pursued. In this article they share what they’ve learned and offer a practical framework for the five types of questions to ask during strategic decision-making: investigative, speculative, productive, interpretive, and subjective. By attending to each, leaders and teams can become more likely to cover all the areas that need to be explored, and they’ll surface information and options they might otherwise have missed.

These five techniques can drive great strategic decision-making.

Idea in Brief

The situation.

With organizations of all sorts facing increased urgency and uncertainty, the ability to ask smart questions has become key. But business professionals aren’t formally trained in that skill.

Why It’s So Challenging

Managers’ expertise often blinds them to new ideas. And the flow of questions can be hard to process in real time, so certain concerns and insights may never be raised.

Strategic questions can be grouped into five domains: investigative, speculative, productive, interpretive, and subjective. By attending to each, leaders and teams are more likely to cover all the areas that need to be explored—and they’ll surface information and options they might otherwise have missed.

As a cofounder and the CEO of the U.S. chipmaker Nvidia, Jensen Huang operates in a high-velocity industry requiring agile, innovative thinking. Reflecting on how his leadership style has evolved, he told the New York Times, “I probably give fewer answers and I ask a lot more questions….It’s almost possible now for me to go through a day and do nothing but ask questions.” He continued, “Through probing, I help [my management team]…explore ideas that they didn’t realize needed to be explored.”

  • Arnaud Chevallier is a professor of strategy at IMD Business School.
  • Frédéric Dalsace is a professor of marketing and strategy at IMD.
  • Jean-Louis Barsoux is a term research professor at IMD and a coauthor of ALIEN Thinking: The Unconventional Path to Breakthrough Ideas (PublicAffairs, 2021).

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