Developing a Research Question

Size Up The More Promising Questions

You're looking for manageability. Which questions are narrow enough for a fruitful investigation using the library, the Internet or some field work? Many will have too wide a scope for the time constraints of a semester. Here are some examples:

Too narrow of a question will also cause problems. Avoid restricting yourself to the point where finding relevant sources becomes difficult or impossible. For example:

If one or two sources will answer your question, it may not be substantial enough to bother with, either. Your paper will be too thin, a summary rather than a true research paper. Avoid questions that can be answered with a simple yes or no, or a few statistics. In the end, they just aren't interesting enough to pursue.

The question doesn't have enough meat on the bone. By focusing on something more specific regarding a significant issue, you will find more and better information. Your document will also be far more interesting to research and write. Questions regarding issues that people take seriously and about which they are more passionate inevitably lead to a livelier debate:

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