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PSCI 4826: Women, War, and Peace

Library research guide for PSCI 4700

How Do I Create a Research Question?

Are you looking for answers? Your research becomes much easier when you know the question.

Start by writing out your topic as a question.You often have to write out your question many times from different perspectives before you can settle on what it is you want to research. Having trouble forming your topic into a question? Fill in the blanks of the following sentence to help you discover your question:

A) I am studying …_____________________________________________________________________________________________

(B) in order to find out … ________________________________________________________________________________________

(C) in order to help my reader understand … ________________________________________________________________________

(D) Research Question: … _______________________________________________________________________________________

Adapted from:

Cycles of Research Question Development

O'Leary, Z. (2004) The Essential Guide to Doing Research. London: Sage. Page 36.


(A) I am studying... (state what your broad topic is)
EXAMPLE: smoking bans

(B) in order to find out... (use standard journalistic questions: who, what, where, when, but focus on why and how)
EXAMPLE: how they are applied on college campuses

(C) in order to help my reader understand... (motivate your question, why does your reader need to know this)
EXAMPLE: how smoking bans on college campuses may impact smoking habits

(D) Research Question: (use the ideas in A-C to form a research question)
EXAMPLE: Do smoking bans on college campuses impact smoking cessation of students and staff?

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