A research question guides your research. It provides boundaries, so that when you gather resources you focus only on information that helps to answer your question. Without this guide, you would simply gather a collection of facts, not knowing when and where to end your search for information.
Where Do I Begin?
Good research questions come from solid research topics. For more information, see our resource Developing and Narrowing a Topic.
From a Topic to a Problem
Once you narrow your topic, you need to think about related problems. The goal of research is to answer questions that help to solve one of these larger problems. Using bicycle lanes in urban areas as our topic, we can start to generate some potential problems:
Where do I find problems?
Look at current research on your topic in academic articles or reliable web sources. The motivation (or problem) behind others’ research is often discussed in the abstract or introduction.
From a Problem to a Question
Once you find a current problem that can help to motivate your research, you need to develop a
question that helps to answer the problem. Let’s use one of the problems above as an example: