Developing a Research Question

Topic narrowing can help you write focused research questions.

What are you interested in researching for your project?

Type in your general topic.

Example: Lead Poisoning

General Topic:

Example: Children


Ask yourself who is impacted by your topic.

What population? People, animals, the environment?

Consider gender, age, or profession.

Example: Children Adolescents

Synonym 1:

Come up with two synonyms or related terms for who is impacted by your topic.

Example: Children Kids

Synonym 2:

Example: Intellectual disability


What aspects of your topic are you interested in researching?

The causes? The effects or implications? The solutions?

Example: Intellectual disability Learning disability

Synonym 1:

Come up with two synonyms or related terms for the what aspects of your topic.

Example: Intellectual disability IQ

Synonym 2:

Ask yourself when?

Is this current? In the past? Related to a specific event? Looking to the future?

Example: Last 3 years


Ask yourself where?

Countries, regions, states, places (workplace, schools, virtually)?

Example: Flint, Michigan


Your Potential Search Terms:

  • Topic:
  • Who:
  • What:
  • When:
  • Where:

Your focused research question:

Pull the elements together to create your research question or statement.

Example: Has lead poisoning in Flint Michigan over the last 3 years caused intellectual disabilities in children?

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