When writing a thesis, dissertation, or any other type of research paper, the research question represents one of the core elements. The research question is typically adjusted and refined throughout the entire research process, as it is difficult to compress the studied issues or focus points into one defining question.1
In this article, we provide information on how to create an optimal research question with research question examples.
Definition: Research question examples
Research questions are fundamental in a research study, as they depict the topics and issues that are discussed and analyzed and help define a systematic research process. In other words, the aim of a study is to answer the respective research question.1
Other imperative research components such as the methodology and hypotheses can be determined through the research question. Research questions can be categorized into 3 different types:
- Qualitative research questions
- Quantitative research questions
- Mixed-methods research questions
Types of research question examples
Depending on your research design, the research question is determined by the methods you use. The following table shows research question examples for the different types of research:
|Types of research question||Research question examples|
|Qualitative research questions||1. What are the experiences of caretakers interacting with autistic children at their work?
2. What are the viewpoints of student workers at government facilities?
|Quantitative research questions||1. What were the voting rates in the 2016 US presidential election compared to the one before?
2. What is the demographic of Japan in 2023 compared to 2013?
|Mixed-method research questions||1. What was the birth rate in China in 2022, and how does it affect the ecosystem?2|
The FINER criteria
The FINER criteria model consists of 5 components, which can be checked off to determine whether a research question is of high quality:
It is important to make sure that the research question is feasible. This means that the issues in question need to be realistic to investigate. To ensure feasibility, it should be considered whether the researcher is able to collect data for the research and if the researcher possesses the right skills and resources to do so.1
When constructing a research question, it is essential that it does not only interest the researcher, but also the society or community that may be confronted by a research topic.
When conducting research, you should aim for an investigation that can contribute to already existing findings and studies.
Ethical considerations should be respected in order to construct good research questions. This means that they should be approved by relevant review boards and authorities.1
It is essential to consider whether your research is relevant to your study field and the general public.
Research question examples
The following table shows bad research question examples and improved versions with respective explanations:
Research question examples
How does sugar impact your body?
This question is too broad for research.
How does a daily dose of 35 g of sugar impact the energy levels of 25-35-year-old women?
This question is more specified and can be researched with a mixed-methods approach.
Why is there a housing crisis in Denmark?
Starting a research question with “why” often indicates that it is not specific enough. There are too many ways to answer it.
How do internationalization policies at Danish universities impact the vacancy and affordability of housing in Denmark?
This question is more narrowed to a particular issue, which indicates a much clearer direction of research.
Are the unemployment policies better in the US or in Australia?
This question is too subjective, as an assumption is made with no clear supportive research.
How do the US and Australia compare in unemployment benefits among the lower class with mental health problems?
This question is more objective and does not make any assumptions of possible outcomes. It is also specified to a focus group, which makes the topic more researchable.
How can more people be urged to participate in the regional elections?
Broad normative questions are generally not relevant to use in research.
What strategies may help to motivate the 18-30-year-old population to participate in the regional elections?
This question indicates that there are possible solutions as the question is more specified.
Did drug abuse increase in Germany in the past 5 years?
Questions that can be answered with yes or no should be avoided.
How has the number of drug abuse cases been impacted by social, economic, and political aspects in Germany in the past 5 years?
This question has more depth and requires research to be answered.
- What are the experiences of caretakers interacting with autistic children at their work?
- What are the viewpoints of student workers at government facilities?
- What were the voting rates in the 2016 US presidential election compared to the one before?
- What is the demographic of Japan in 2023 compared to 2013?
Firstly, it is important to choose what type of research question: Qualitative, quantitative, or mixed methods research questions. The FINER criteria model can help construct a good research question.
✘ How does sugar impact your body?
✓ How does a daily dose of 35 g of sugar impact the energy levels of 25-35-year-old women?
There are even more well-written and bad research question examples in this article.
1 Bouchrika, Imed. “How to Write a Research Question: Types, Steps, and Examples.” Research.com. March 17, 2023. https://research.com/research/how-to-write-a-research-question.
2 Formplus Blog. “Research Questions: Definitions, Types + Examples.” Formplus. January 17, 2023. https://www.formpl.us/blog/research-question.