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FED 101 - Fundamentals of Engineering Design -- NCE Edition

Tips for Writing a Good Research Question

Writing a great research question is fundamental to writing a great paper. The Question Formulation Technique is a method that many students find very useful to structure your thoughts and write an impactful research question. 

Read throught these resources to help you get off to a great start:

Question Formulation Technique Worksheet

Use this worksheet to structure your thoughts to come up with an impactful research question

What Makes a Good Research Question?

Forming a good research question is important before you begin

searching for resources because it can determine the difficulty of

finding information for your topic. There are several characteristics

that good research questions have:


  • Clear: it provides enough specifics that one’s audience can understand it without a need for an additional explanation
  • Focused: it’s narrow enough that it can be answered in the space the writing task allows 
  • Concise: it’s expressed in the fewest possible words 
  • Complex: it doesn’t have a ‘yes’ or ‘no answer, and requires a synthesis and analysis of ideas and sources prior to composing an answer
  • Arguable: It’s potential answers are open to debate rather than accepted facts


Here are suggestions to create a more focused research topic:


  • Demographic: Try limiting your search to a specific group based off an age range, gender, neurodivergent population, sexual orientation, mental illness, physical handicap, and/or ethnic population. A combination of these groups can further narrow down your topic. (i.e. LGBTQIA teenagers, women with autism, physical therapy among indigenous groups, etc.)


  • Geographical: How does your topic impact a country in Africa? Central America? Maybe a specific city in the world, or a state in the USA?


  • Animals: Is your topic related to a particular species?


  • Society: Avoid using this word altogether and try to think of one aspect of society, such as employment, economy, education, communities, etc


  • Technology: Also avoid this word and think of a particular technological device/software instead, such as smartphones, A.I., social media, etc.




Developing a Research Question

Research is a Conversation

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