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Library Online Tutorial for BRE366

About Module 1

In this module, you will learn to:

  • Develop an open-ended research question for the research project
  • Get background information on your topic from reference materials
  • Use mind-mapping to explore research topics

Steps to Develop a Research Question

Before starting your research for your assignment, it is important to develop a research question. A good research question gives you directions on the kind of information you need to compile for your topic.

Here are the steps to help you develop a good research question. 

Step 1. Choose a topic that interests you

Think about what matters to you, or any issues you've discussed in class that you'd like to learn more about. Do check with your supervisor and see if they have defined some topics for you to choose from. Watch the video "Picking Your Topic IS Research" to get a better idea on the process for choosing a topic. 

Step 2. Do some preliminary reading on the topic

To get general understanding on the topic and its key concepts, you can google the topic and read from various webpages. But a better source to get background information would be the reference materials, such as dictionaries, encyclopedias, and handbooks. Try Credo Reference, where you can find millions of reference entries written by professionals on various subjects in one place. 

Mind-mapping is a good way to develop and explore concepts related to your topic. It helps you visualize your ideas and find connections between them. Watch the video "Mind Mapping" to learn how you can apply this technique to find a proper research topic.

Picking Your Topic IS Research [3:10]

Mind Mapping from Joshua Vossler [2:59]

Step 3. Formulate an open-ended research question

A good research question is usually an open-ended question. It should not be simply answered by yes or no, or some facts. An open-ended question often begins with "How" or "Why". Watch the video "Research Questions" to learn what makes an open-ended question. 

Research Questions from Joshua Vossler [3:09]

Step 4. Review your research question

Your research question needs to be:

  • Clear
    • ​is it clear enough so readers can understand the purpose and nature of your research? 
    • does it provide directions of the research being undertaken?
  • Focused
    • is it narrow enough so it can be answered thoroughly within your time frame?  
  • Feasible
    • is it broad enough so you would be able to locate sufficient evidence (e.g. data, research studies) to support your research? 
  • Debatable or Arguable
    • is it open to debate and allow development of argument rather than answered by accepted facts?

Step 5. Check with your supervisor

Do check with your supervisor or instructor and make sure the research question is feasible and manageable within your given time frame.

You have come up with your research question. Now it's time to find the related information to answer your question. It is important to note that doing research is never a linear process, which means you may need to refine your research question based on the resources you can reach, and the findings you read from other research studies.