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Dissertation Research Question Examples – Guide & Tips

Published by Owen Ingram at August 13th, 2021 , Revised On October 3, 2023

All  research questions should be focused, researchable, feasible to answer, specific to find results, complex, and relevant to your field of study. The research question’s factors will be; the research problem ,  research type , project length, and time frame.

Research questions provide boundaries to your research project and provide a clear approach to collect and compile data. Understanding your research question better is necessary to find unique facts and figures to publish your research.

Search and study some dissertation research question examples or research questions relevant to your field of study before writing your own research question.

Research Questions for Dissertation Examples

Below are 10 examples of dissertation research questions that will enable you to develop research questions for your research.

These examples will help you to check whether your chosen research questions can be addressed or whether they are too broad to find a conclusive answer.

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A dissertation is an important milestone no matter what academic level or subject it is. You will be asked to write a dissertation on a  topic of your choice  and make a substantial contribution to academic and scientific communities.

The project will start with the  planning and designing of a project before the actual write-up phase. There are many stages in the dissertation process , but the most important is developing a research question that guides your research.

If you are starting your dissertation, you will have to conduct preliminary research to  find a problem and research gap as the first step of the process. The second step is to write dissertation research questions that specify your topic and the relevant problem you want to address.

How can we Help you with Dissertation Research Questions?

If you are still unsure about writing dissertation research questions and perhaps want to see  more examples , you might be interested in getting help from our dissertation writers.

At ResearchProspect, we have UK-qualified writers holding Masters and PhD degrees in all academic subjects. Whether you need help with only developing research questions or any other aspect of your dissertation paper , we are here to help you achieve your desired grades for an affordable price.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are some examples of a research question.

Examples of research questions:

  • How does social media influence self-esteem in adolescents?
  • What are the economic impacts of climate change on agriculture?
  • What factors contribute to employee job satisfaction in the tech industry?
  • How does exercise frequency affect cardiovascular health?
  • What is the relationship between sleep duration and academic performance in college students?

What are some examples of research questions in the classroom?

  • How do interactive whiteboards impact student engagement?
  • Does peer tutoring improve maths proficiency?
  • How does classroom seating arrangement influence student participation?
  • What’s the effect of gamified learning on student motivation?
  • Does integrating technology in lessons enhance critical thinking skills?
  • How does feedback frequency affect student performance?

What are some examples of research questions in Geography?

  • How does urbanisation impact local microclimates?
  • What factors influence water scarcity in Region X?
  • How do migration patterns correlate with economic disparities?
  • What’s the relationship between deforestation and soil erosion in Area Y?
  • How have coastlines changed over the past decade?
  • Why are certain regions’ biodiversity hotspots?

What are some examples of research questions in Psychology?

  • How does social media usage affect adolescent self-esteem?
  • What factors contribute to resilience in trauma survivors?
  • How does sleep deprivation impact decision-making abilities?
  • Are certain teaching methods more effective for children with ADHD?
  • What are the psychological effects of long-term social isolation?
  • How do early attachments influence adult relationships?

What are the three basic research questions?

The three basic types of research questions are:

  • Descriptive: Seeks to depict a phenomenon or issue. E.g., “What are the symptoms of depression?”
  • Relational: Investigates relationships between variables. E.g., “Is there a correlation between stress and heart disease?”
  • Causal: Determines cause and effect. E.g., “Does smoking cause lung cancer?”

You May Also Like

Here we explore what is research problem in dissertation with research problem examples to help you understand how and when to write a research problem.

To help students organise their dissertation proposal paper correctly, we have put together detailed guidelines on how to structure a dissertation proposal.

This article is a step-by-step guide to how to write statement of a problem in research. The research problem will be half-solved by defining it correctly.

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“The central question that you ask or hypothesis you frame drives your research: it defines your purpose.” Bryan Greetham, How to Write Your Undergraduate Dissertation

This page gives some help and guidance in developing a realistic research question. It also considers the role of sub-questions and how these can influence your methodological choices. 

Choosing your research topic

You may have been provided with a list of potential topics or even specific questions to choose from. It is more common for you to have to come up with your own ideas and then refine them with the help of your tutor. This is a crucial decision as you will be immersing yourself in it for a long time.

Some students struggle to find a topic that is sufficiently significant and yet researchable within the limitations of an undergraduate project. You may feel overwhelmed by the freedom to choose your own topic but you could get ideas by considering the following:

Choose a topic that you find interesting . This may seem obvious but a lot of students go for what they think will be easy over what they think will be interesting - and regret it when they realise nothing is particularly easy and they are bored by the work. Think back over your lectures or talks from visiting speakers - was there anything you really enjoyed? Was there anything that left you with questions?

Choose something distinct . Whilst at undergraduate level you do not have to find something completely unique, if you find something a bit different you have more opportunity to come to some interesting conclusions. Have you some unique experiences that you can bring: personal biography, placements, study abroad etc?

Don't make your topic too wide . If your topic is too wide, it will be harder to develop research questions that you can actually answer in the context of a small research project.

Don't make your work too narrow . If your topic is too narrow, you will not be able to expand on the ideas sufficiently and make useful conclusions. You may also struggle to find enough literature to support it.

Scope out the field before deciding your topic . This is especially important if you have a few different options and are not sure which to pick. Spend a little time researching each one to get a feel for the amount of literature that exists and any particular avenues that could be worth exploring.

Think about your future . Some topics may fit better than others with your future plans, be they for further study or employment. Becoming more expert in something that you may have to be interviewed about is never a bad thing!

Once you have an idea (or even a few), speak to your tutor. They will advise on whether it is the right sort of topic for a dissertation or independent study. They have a lot of experience and will know if it is too much to take on, has enough material to build on etc.

Developing a research question or hypothesis

Research question vs hypothesis.

First, it may be useful to explain the difference between a research question and a hypothesis. A research question is simply a question that your research will address and hopefully answer (or give an explanation of why you couldn't answer it). A hypothesis is a statement that suggests how you expect something to function or behave (and which you would test to see if it actually happens or not).

Research question examples

  • How significant is league table position when students choose their university?
  • What impact can a diagnosis of depression have on physical health?

Note that these are open questions - i.e. they cannot be answered with a simple 'yes' or 'no'. This is the best form of question.

Hypotheses examples

  • Students primarily choose their university based on league table position.
  • A diagnosis of depression can impact physical health.

Note that these are things that you can test to see if they are true or false. This makes them more definite then research questions - but you can still answer them more fully than 'no they don't' or 'yes it does'. For example, in the above examples you would look to see how relevant other factors were when choosing universities and in what ways physical health may be impacted.

For more examples of the same topic formulated as hypotheses, research questions and paper titles see those given at the bottom of this document from Oakland University: Formulation of Research Hypothesis

Which do you need?

Generally, research questions are more common in the humanities, social sciences and business, whereas hypotheses are more common in the sciences. This is not a hard rule though, talk things through with your supervisor to see which they are expecting or which they think fits best with your topic.

What makes a good research question or hypothesis?

Unless you are undertaking a systematic review as your research method, you will develop your research question  as a result of reviewing the literature on your broader topic. After all, it is only by seeing what research has already been done (or not) that you can justify the need for your question or your approach to answering it. At the end of that process, you should be able to come up with a question or hypothesis that is:

  • Clear (easily understandable)
  • Focused (specific not vague or huge)
  • Answerable (the data is available and analysable in the time frame)
  • Relevant (to your area of study)
  • Significant (it is worth answering)

You can try a few out, using a table like this (yours would all be in the same discipline):

A similar, though different table is available from the University of California: What makes a good research topic?   The completed table has some supervisor comments which may also be helpful.

Ultimately, your final research question will be mutually agreed between yourself and your supervisor - but you should always bring your own ideas to the conversation.

The role of sub-questions

Your main research question will probably still be too big to answer easily. This is where sub-questions come in. They are specific, narrower questions that you can answer directly from your data.

So, looking at the question " How much do online users know and care about how their self-images can be used by Apple, Google, Microsoft and Facebook? " from the table above, the sub-questions could be:

  • What rights do the terms and conditions of signing up for Apple, Google, Microsoft and Facebook accounts give those companies regarding the use of self-images?
  • What proportion of users read the terms and conditions when creating accounts with these companies?
  • How aware are users of the rights they are giving away regarding their self-images when creating accounts with these companies?
  • How comfortable are users with giving away these rights?

The main research question is the overarching question with the subquestions filling in the blanks

Together, the answers to your sub-questions should enable you to answer the overarching research question.

How do you answer your sub-questions?

Depending on the type of dissertation/project your are undertaking, some (or all) the questions may be answered with information collected from the literature and some (or none) may be answered by analysing data directly collected as part of your primary empirical research .

In the above example, the first question would be answered by documentary analysis of the relevant terms and conditions, the second by a mixture of reviewing the literature and analysing survey responses from participants and the last two also by analysing survey responses. Different projects will require different approaches.

Some sub-questions could be answered from the literature review and others from empirical study

Some sub-questions could be answered by reviewing the literature and others from empirical study.

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Research Question and Thesis

If you have followed all the previous steps, you should be very close to developing a good question if you haven’t already. Here are a few examples of good and bad questions to help you distinguish an effective research question from an ineffective one.

Example #1: Why has religious fundamentalism arisen in North America?

Example #2: what is the relationship between theology and religious studies.

This is a good start, but it is much too general.

What does Donald Wiebe say about theology and religious studies?

This is more specific but you still need to bring the controversy to the forefront. As it stands, it invites a mere summary of Donald Wiebe's position.

Good research questions on this topic might be :

  • Are there any conceptual problems with Wiebe's distinction between theology and religious studies?
  • Does Wiebe's position on the distinction between theology and religious studies represent a radical departure from previous understandings of the relationship between the two?
  • Does Wiebe's agenda to eliminate theology from Religious Studies have any unforeseen or undesirable practical implications?

All three of these questions have a narrower focus and can be answered in a variety of ways. Answering any of these questions will generate a thesis statement. Remember, the answer that you give to a research question is your thesis statement.

For further examples of good research questions, see Research Strategies by  Badke .

The Thesis Statement

Your thesis statement directly answers your research question, and takes a stand (rather than announces the subject) that others might dispute. In other words, it is provocative and contestable. A strong thesis clearly asserts your position or conclusion and avoids vague language (e.g. “It seems…). Your thesis should be obvious, easy to find, and clearly stated in the opening paragraph of your paper. The rest of your paper is devoted to substantiating your thesis by offering evidence in support of your claim. Remember, that it is perfectly acceptable to change your thesis if the evidence leads you to an alternative conclusion.

For examples of strong thesis statements, look for abstracts and articles from peer-reviewed journals and books, and attempt to find the thesis in each of these sources. The author(s) of these sources typically state their conclusions in several different ways.

Examples of thesis statements are italicized in the abstracts provided below.

“S tating the problem under discussion as "Islam and Science" is false because this formulation implies that there is such a thing as a reified and ahistorical and hence immutable "Islam" that is responsible for advancing or impeding scientific activity, both past and present.   In fact, Islam, like all other religions, is the specific ideology of a particular, historically determined society (i.e., Islam in Baghdad in the 830s, in Damascus in 1300, in Cairo around 1000, etc.) and has itself no historical agency; what that particular society accomplishes in the way of science wholly depends on who is using that ideology (if it is being used) and to what ends. The analysis of scientific activity in Islamic societies, therefore, can proceed only from the investigation of the social and political factors at play in each particular case. Injecting the notion of “Islam” into these discussions merely obfuscates the issue and confuses students, distracting them from historical analysis and political action.” Source: Gutas, Dimitri. 2003. “Islam and Science: A False Statement of the Problem.”  Islam & Science  1, no.2: 215-20.

“In this response article, some of the most challenging aspects of Islam and science discourse are discussed. Responding to the specific issues of the relationship between Islam and science and the normative Islamic tradition, the article explores the claims of a secular view that there is no such thing as essential Islam and that there is no relationship between Islam and the scientific tradition that arose in the Islamic civilization.  This view is refuted on the basis of historical, logical and internal evidence .”                                                                                     Source: Iqbal, Muzaffar. 2003. “Islam and Science: Responding to a False Approach.”   Islam & Science  ,  1, no. 2: 221-34.

“This rejoinder is a further contribution to the debate begun by M. Iqbal and D. Gutas on the differing perspectives and methodological assumptions of faith-based and secular approaches to the study of the history of science in religious cultures.  While the arguments presented are to some degree ad hominem, they do aim to highlight certain logical inconsistencies in the conceptualization of the role of religion in the study of science and in the revisionist portrayal of as a causal agent that functions independently of its adherents .” Source :  Reisman, David C.  2004. “An Unfortunate Response: Iqbal on Gutas.”  Islam & Science  2, no.1: 63-73.

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Research Question Examples – Get Inspiration for Your Research Paper

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Research-Question-Examples-01

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.

In this article, we provide information on how to create an optimal research question with research question examples.

Inhaltsverzeichnis

  • 1 In a Nutshell: Research question examples
  • 2 Definition: Research question examples
  • 3 Types of research question examples
  • 4 Research question examples

In a Nutshell: Research question examples

  • The goal of a research paper is to answer the research question.
  • This article provides research question examples that are based on quantitative, qualitative, and mixed-methods approaches.
  • The FINER criteria model is a useful tool to check whether a research question is of good quality.
  • This article provides a variety of research question examples that should be avoided and their respective corrected versions.

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.

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:

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.

Interesting

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.

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:

Explanation

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 some good research question examples?

  • 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?

What makes a good research question example?

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.

What is an example of a good and bad 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.

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How To Write a Research Question

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Academic writing and research require a distinct focus and direction. A well-designed research question gives purpose and clarity to your research. In addition, it helps your readers understand the issue you are trying to address and explore.

Every time you want to know more about a subject, you will pose a question. The same idea is used in research as well. You must pose a question in order to effectively address a research problem. That's why the research question is an integral part of the research process. Additionally, it offers the author writing and reading guidelines, be it qualitative research or quantitative research.

In your research paper , you must single out just one issue or problem. The specific issue or claim you wish to address should be included in your thesis statement in order to clarify your main argument.

A good research question must have the following characteristics.

research question dissertation example

  • Should include only one problem in the research question
  • Should be able to find the answer using primary data and secondary data sources
  • Should be possible to resolve within the given time and other constraints
  • Detailed and in-depth results should be achievable
  • Should be relevant and realistic.
  • It should relate to your chosen area of research

While a larger project, like a thesis, might have several research questions to address, each one should be directed at your main area of study. Of course, you can use different research designs and research methods (qualitative research or quantitative research) to address various research questions. However, they must all be pertinent to the study's objectives.

What is a Research Question?

what-is-a-research-question

A research question is an inquiry that the research attempts to answer. It is the heart of the systematic investigation. Research questions are the most important step in any research project. In essence, it initiates the research project and establishes the pace for the specific research A research question is:

  • Clear : It provides enough detail that the audience understands its purpose without any additional explanation.
  • Focused : It is so specific that it can be addressed within the time constraints of the writing task.
  • Succinct: It is written in the shortest possible words.
  • Complex : It is not possible to answer it with a "yes" or "no", but requires analysis and synthesis of ideas before somebody can create a solution.
  • Argumental : Its potential answers are open for debate rather than accepted facts.

A good research question usually focuses on the research and determines the research design, methodology, and hypothesis. It guides all phases of inquiry, data collection, analysis, and reporting. You should gather valuable information by asking the right questions.

Why are Research Questions so important?

Regardless of whether it is a qualitative research or quantitative research project, research questions provide writers and their audience with a way to navigate the writing and research process. Writers can avoid "all-about" papers by asking straightforward and specific research questions that help them focus on their research and support a specific thesis.

Types of Research Questions

types-of-research-question

There are two types of research: Qualitative research and Quantitative research . There must be research questions for every type of research. Your research question will be based on the type of research you want to conduct and the type of data collection.

The first step in designing research involves identifying a gap and creating a focused research question.

Below is a list of common research questions that can be used in a dissertation. Keep in mind that these are merely illustrations of typical research questions used in dissertation projects. The real research questions themselves might be more difficult.

Example Research Questions

examples-of-research-question

The following are a few examples of research questions and research problems to help you understand how research questions can be created for a particular research problem.

Steps to Write Research Questions

steps-to-write-a-research-question

You can focus on the issue or research gaps you're attempting to solve by using the research questions as a direction.

If you're unsure how to go about writing a good research question, these are the steps to follow in the process:

  • Select an interesting topic Always choose a topic that interests you. Because if your curiosity isn’t aroused by a subject, you’ll have a hard time conducting research around it. Alos, it’s better that you pick something that’s neither too narrow or too broad.
  • Do preliminary research on the topic Search for relevant literature to gauge what problems have already been tackled by scholars. You can do that conveniently through repositories like Scispace , where you’ll find millions of papers in one place. Once you do find the papers you’re looking for, try our reading assistant, SciSpace Copilot to get simple explanations for the paper . You’ll be able to quickly understand the abstract, find the key takeaways, and the main arguments presented in the paper. This will give you a more contextual understanding of your subject and you’ll have an easier time identifying knowledge gaps in your discipline.

     Also: ChatPDF vs. SciSpace Copilot: Unveiling the best tool for your research

  • Consider your audience It is essential to understand your audience to develop focused research questions for essays or dissertations. When narrowing down your topic, you can identify aspects that might interest your audience.
  • Ask questions Asking questions will give you a deeper understanding of the topic. Evaluate your question through the What, Why, When, How, and other open-ended questions assessment.
  • Assess your question Once you have created a research question, assess its effectiveness to determine if it is useful for the purpose. Refine and revise the dissertation research question multiple times.

Additionally, use this list of questions as a guide when formulating your research question.

Are you able to answer a specific research question? After identifying a gap in research, it would be helpful to formulate the research question. And this will allow the research to solve a part of the problem. Is your research question clear and centered on the main topic? It is important that your research question should be specific and related to your central goal. Are you tackling a difficult research question? It is not possible to answer the research question with a simple yes or no. The problem requires in-depth analysis. It is often started with "How" and "Why."

Start your research Once you have completed your dissertation research questions, it is time to review the literature on similar topics to discover different perspectives.

Strong  Research Question Samples

Uncertain: How should social networking sites work on the hatred that flows through their platform?

Certain: What should social media sites like Twitter or Facebook do to address the harm they are causing?

This unclear question does not specify the social networking sites that are being used or what harm they might be causing. In addition, this question assumes that the "harm" has been proven and/or accepted. This version is more specific and identifies the sites (Twitter, Facebook), the type and extent of harm (privacy concerns), and who might be suffering from that harm (users). Effective research questions should not be ambiguous or interpreted.

Unfocused: What are the effects of global warming on the environment?

Focused: What are the most important effects of glacial melting in Antarctica on penguins' lives?

This broad research question cannot be addressed in a book, let alone a college-level paper. Focused research targets a specific effect of global heating (glacial  melting), an area (Antarctica), or a specific animal (penguins). The writer must also decide which effect will have the greatest impact on the animals affected. If in doubt, narrow down your research question to the most specific possible.

Too Simple: What are the U.S. doctors doing to treat diabetes?

Appropriately complex: Which factors, if any, are most likely to predict a person's risk of developing diabetes?

This simple version can be found online. It is easy to answer with a few facts. The second, more complicated version of this question is divided into two parts. It is thought-provoking and requires extensive investigation as well as evaluation by the author. So, ensure that a quick Google search should not answer your research question.

How to write a strong Research Question?

how-to-write-a-strong-research-question

The foundation of all research is the research question. You should therefore spend as much time as necessary to refine your research question based on various data.

You can conduct your research more efficiently and analyze your results better if you have great research questions for your dissertation, research paper , or essay .

The following criteria can help you evaluate the strength and importance of your research question and can be used to determine the strength of your research question:

  • Researchable
  • It should only cover one issue.
  • A subjective judgment should not be included in the question.
  • It can be answered with data analysis and research.
  • Specific and Practical
  • It should not contain a plan of action, policy, or solution.
  • It should be clearly defined
  • Within research limits
  • Complex and Arguable
  • It shouldn't be difficult to answer.
  • To find the truth, you need in-depth knowledge
  • Allows for discussion and deliberation
  • Original and Relevant
  • It should be in your area of study
  • Its results should be measurable
  • It should be original

Conclusion - How to write Research Questions?

Research questions provide a clear guideline for research. One research question may be part of a larger project, such as a dissertation. However, each question should only focus on one topic.

Research questions must be answerable, practical, specific, and applicable to your field. The research type that you use to base your research questions on will determine the research topic. You can start by selecting an interesting topic and doing preliminary research. Then, you can begin asking questions, evaluating your questions, and start your research.

Now it's easier than ever to streamline your research workflow with SciSpace ResearchGPT . Its integrated, comprehensive end-to-end platform for research allows scholars to easily discover, read, write and publish their research and fosters collaboration.

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What’s in a Qualitative Research Question?

Qualitative research questions are driven by the need for the study. Ideally, research questions are formulated as a result of the problem and purpose, which leads to the identification of the methodology. When a qualitative methodology is chosen, research questions should be exploratory and focused on the actual phenomenon under study.

From the Dissertation Center, Chapter 1: Research Question Overview , there are several considerations when forming a qualitative research question. Qualitative research questions should

Below is an example of a qualitative phenomenological design. Note the use of the term “lived experience” in the central research question. This aligns with phenomenological design.

RQ1: “ What are the lived experiences of followers of mid-level managers in the financial services sector regarding their well-being on the job?”

If the researcher wants to focus on aspects of the theory used to support the study or dive deeper into aspects of the central RQ, sub-questions might be used. The following sub-questions could be formulated to seek further insight:

RQ1a.   “How do followers perceive the quality and adequacy of the leader-follower exchanges between themselves and their novice leaders?”

RQ1b.  “Under what conditions do leader-member exchanges affect a follower’s own level of well-being?”

Qualitative research questions also display the desire to explore or describe phenomena. Qualitative research seeks the lived experience, the personal experiences, the understandings, the meanings, and the stories associated with the concepts present in our studies.

We want to ensure our research questions are answerable and that we are not making assumptions about our sample. View the questions below:

How do healthcare providers perceive income inequality when providing care to poor patients?

In Example A, we see that there is no specificity of location or geographic areas. This could lead to findings that are varied, and the researcher may not find a clear pattern. Additionally, the question implies the focus is on “income inequality” when the actual focus is on the provision of care. The term “poor patients” can also be offensive, and most providers will not want to seem insensitive and may perceive income inequality as a challenge (of course!).

How do primary care nurses in outreach clinics describe providing quality care to residents of low-income urban neighborhoods?

In Example B, we see that there is greater specificity in the type of care provider. There is also a shift in language so that the focus is on how the individuals describe what they think about, experience, and navigate providing quality care.

Other Qualitative Research Question Examples

Vague : What are the strategies used by healthcare personnel to assist injured patients?

Try this : What is the experience of emergency room personnel in treating patients with a self-inflicted household injury?

The first question is general and vague. While in the same topic area, the second question is more precise and gives the reader a specific target population and a focus on the phenomenon they would have experienced. This question could be in line with a phenomenological study as we are seeking their experience or a case study as the ER personnel are a bounded entity.

Unclear : How do students experience progressing to college?

Try this : How do first-generation community members describe the aspects of their culture that promote aspiration to postsecondary education?

The first question does not have a focus on what progress is or what students are the focus. The second question provides a specific target population and provides the description to be provided by the participants. This question could be in line with a descriptive study.

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Dissertation examples

Listed below are some of the best examples of research projects and dissertations from undergraduate and taught postgraduate students at the University of Leeds We have not been able to gather examples from all schools. The module requirements for research projects may have changed since these examples were written. Refer to your module guidelines to make sure that you address all of the current assessment criteria. Some of the examples below are only available to access on campus.

  • Undergraduate examples
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Dissertation Structure & Layout 101: How to structure your dissertation, thesis or research project.

By: Derek Jansen (MBA) Reviewed By: David Phair (PhD) | July 2019

So, you’ve got a decent understanding of what a dissertation is , you’ve chosen your topic and hopefully you’ve received approval for your research proposal . Awesome! Now its time to start the actual dissertation or thesis writing journey.

To craft a high-quality document, the very first thing you need to understand is dissertation structure . In this post, we’ll walk you through the generic dissertation structure and layout, step by step. We’ll start with the big picture, and then zoom into each chapter to briefly discuss the core contents. If you’re just starting out on your research journey, you should start with this post, which covers the big-picture process of how to write a dissertation or thesis .

Dissertation structure and layout - the basics

*The Caveat *

In this post, we’ll be discussing a traditional dissertation/thesis structure and layout, which is generally used for social science research across universities, whether in the US, UK, Europe or Australia. However, some universities may have small variations on this structure (extra chapters, merged chapters, slightly different ordering, etc).

So, always check with your university if they have a prescribed structure or layout that they expect you to work with. If not, it’s safe to assume the structure we’ll discuss here is suitable. And even if they do have a prescribed structure, you’ll still get value from this post as we’ll explain the core contents of each section.  

Overview: S tructuring a dissertation or thesis

  • Acknowledgements page
  • Abstract (or executive summary)
  • Table of contents , list of figures and tables
  • Chapter 1: Introduction
  • Chapter 2: Literature review
  • Chapter 3: Methodology
  • Chapter 4: Results
  • Chapter 5: Discussion
  • Chapter 6: Conclusion
  • Reference list

As I mentioned, some universities will have slight variations on this structure. For example, they want an additional “personal reflection chapter”, or they might prefer the results and discussion chapter to be merged into one. Regardless, the overarching flow will always be the same, as this flow reflects the research process , which we discussed here – i.e.:

  • The introduction chapter presents the core research question and aims .
  • The literature review chapter assesses what the current research says about this question.
  • The methodology, results and discussion chapters go about undertaking new research about this question.
  • The conclusion chapter (attempts to) answer the core research question .

In other words, the dissertation structure and layout reflect the research process of asking a well-defined question(s), investigating, and then answering the question – see below.

A dissertation's structure reflect the research process

To restate that – the structure and layout of a dissertation reflect the flow of the overall research process . This is essential to understand, as each chapter will make a lot more sense if you “get” this concept. If you’re not familiar with the research process, read this post before going further.

Right. Now that we’ve covered the big picture, let’s dive a little deeper into the details of each section and chapter. Oh and by the way, you can also grab our free dissertation/thesis template here to help speed things up.

The title page of your dissertation is the very first impression the marker will get of your work, so it pays to invest some time thinking about your title. But what makes for a good title? A strong title needs to be 3 things:

  • Succinct (not overly lengthy or verbose)
  • Specific (not vague or ambiguous)
  • Representative of the research you’re undertaking (clearly linked to your research questions)

Typically, a good title includes mention of the following:

  • The broader area of the research (i.e. the overarching topic)
  • The specific focus of your research (i.e. your specific context)
  • Indication of research design (e.g. quantitative , qualitative , or  mixed methods ).

For example:

A quantitative investigation [research design] into the antecedents of organisational trust [broader area] in the UK retail forex trading market [specific context/area of focus].

Again, some universities may have specific requirements regarding the format and structure of the title, so it’s worth double-checking expectations with your institution (if there’s no mention in the brief or study material).

Dissertations stacked up

Acknowledgements

This page provides you with an opportunity to say thank you to those who helped you along your research journey. Generally, it’s optional (and won’t count towards your marks), but it is academic best practice to include this.

So, who do you say thanks to? Well, there’s no prescribed requirements, but it’s common to mention the following people:

  • Your dissertation supervisor or committee.
  • Any professors, lecturers or academics that helped you understand the topic or methodologies.
  • Any tutors, mentors or advisors.
  • Your family and friends, especially spouse (for adult learners studying part-time).

There’s no need for lengthy rambling. Just state who you’re thankful to and for what (e.g. thank you to my supervisor, John Doe, for his endless patience and attentiveness) – be sincere. In terms of length, you should keep this to a page or less.

Abstract or executive summary

The dissertation abstract (or executive summary for some degrees) serves to provide the first-time reader (and marker or moderator) with a big-picture view of your research project. It should give them an understanding of the key insights and findings from the research, without them needing to read the rest of the report – in other words, it should be able to stand alone .

For it to stand alone, your abstract should cover the following key points (at a minimum):

  • Your research questions and aims – what key question(s) did your research aim to answer?
  • Your methodology – how did you go about investigating the topic and finding answers to your research question(s)?
  • Your findings – following your own research, what did do you discover?
  • Your conclusions – based on your findings, what conclusions did you draw? What answers did you find to your research question(s)?

So, in much the same way the dissertation structure mimics the research process, your abstract or executive summary should reflect the research process, from the initial stage of asking the original question to the final stage of answering that question.

In practical terms, it’s a good idea to write this section up last , once all your core chapters are complete. Otherwise, you’ll end up writing and rewriting this section multiple times (just wasting time). For a step by step guide on how to write a strong executive summary, check out this post .

Need a helping hand?

research question dissertation example

Table of contents

This section is straightforward. You’ll typically present your table of contents (TOC) first, followed by the two lists – figures and tables. I recommend that you use Microsoft Word’s automatic table of contents generator to generate your TOC. If you’re not familiar with this functionality, the video below explains it simply:

If you find that your table of contents is overly lengthy, consider removing one level of depth. Oftentimes, this can be done without detracting from the usefulness of the TOC.

Right, now that the “admin” sections are out of the way, its time to move on to your core chapters. These chapters are the heart of your dissertation and are where you’ll earn the marks. The first chapter is the introduction chapter – as you would expect, this is the time to introduce your research…

It’s important to understand that even though you’ve provided an overview of your research in your abstract, your introduction needs to be written as if the reader has not read that (remember, the abstract is essentially a standalone document). So, your introduction chapter needs to start from the very beginning, and should address the following questions:

  • What will you be investigating (in plain-language, big picture-level)?
  • Why is that worth investigating? How is it important to academia or business? How is it sufficiently original?
  • What are your research aims and research question(s)? Note that the research questions can sometimes be presented at the end of the literature review (next chapter).
  • What is the scope of your study? In other words, what will and won’t you cover ?
  • How will you approach your research? In other words, what methodology will you adopt?
  • How will you structure your dissertation? What are the core chapters and what will you do in each of them?

These are just the bare basic requirements for your intro chapter. Some universities will want additional bells and whistles in the intro chapter, so be sure to carefully read your brief or consult your research supervisor.

If done right, your introduction chapter will set a clear direction for the rest of your dissertation. Specifically, it will make it clear to the reader (and marker) exactly what you’ll be investigating, why that’s important, and how you’ll be going about the investigation. Conversely, if your introduction chapter leaves a first-time reader wondering what exactly you’ll be researching, you’ve still got some work to do.

Now that you’ve set a clear direction with your introduction chapter, the next step is the literature review . In this section, you will analyse the existing research (typically academic journal articles and high-quality industry publications), with a view to understanding the following questions:

  • What does the literature currently say about the topic you’re investigating?
  • Is the literature lacking or well established? Is it divided or in disagreement?
  • How does your research fit into the bigger picture?
  • How does your research contribute something original?
  • How does the methodology of previous studies help you develop your own?

Depending on the nature of your study, you may also present a conceptual framework towards the end of your literature review, which you will then test in your actual research.

Again, some universities will want you to focus on some of these areas more than others, some will have additional or fewer requirements, and so on. Therefore, as always, its important to review your brief and/or discuss with your supervisor, so that you know exactly what’s expected of your literature review chapter.

Dissertation writing

Now that you’ve investigated the current state of knowledge in your literature review chapter and are familiar with the existing key theories, models and frameworks, its time to design your own research. Enter the methodology chapter – the most “science-ey” of the chapters…

In this chapter, you need to address two critical questions:

  • Exactly HOW will you carry out your research (i.e. what is your intended research design)?
  • Exactly WHY have you chosen to do things this way (i.e. how do you justify your design)?

Remember, the dissertation part of your degree is first and foremost about developing and demonstrating research skills . Therefore, the markers want to see that you know which methods to use, can clearly articulate why you’ve chosen then, and know how to deploy them effectively.

Importantly, this chapter requires detail – don’t hold back on the specifics. State exactly what you’ll be doing, with who, when, for how long, etc. Moreover, for every design choice you make, make sure you justify it.

In practice, you will likely end up coming back to this chapter once you’ve undertaken all your data collection and analysis, and revise it based on changes you made during the analysis phase. This is perfectly fine. Its natural for you to add an additional analysis technique, scrap an old one, etc based on where your data lead you. Of course, I’m talking about small changes here – not a fundamental switch from qualitative to quantitative, which will likely send your supervisor in a spin!

You’ve now collected your data and undertaken your analysis, whether qualitative, quantitative or mixed methods. In this chapter, you’ll present the raw results of your analysis . For example, in the case of a quant study, you’ll present the demographic data, descriptive statistics, inferential statistics , etc.

Typically, Chapter 4 is simply a presentation and description of the data, not a discussion of the meaning of the data. In other words, it’s descriptive, rather than analytical – the meaning is discussed in Chapter 5. However, some universities will want you to combine chapters 4 and 5, so that you both present and interpret the meaning of the data at the same time. Check with your institution what their preference is.

Now that you’ve presented the data analysis results, its time to interpret and analyse them. In other words, its time to discuss what they mean, especially in relation to your research question(s).

What you discuss here will depend largely on your chosen methodology. For example, if you’ve gone the quantitative route, you might discuss the relationships between variables . If you’ve gone the qualitative route, you might discuss key themes and the meanings thereof. It all depends on what your research design choices were.

Most importantly, you need to discuss your results in relation to your research questions and aims, as well as the existing literature. What do the results tell you about your research questions? Are they aligned with the existing research or at odds? If so, why might this be? Dig deep into your findings and explain what the findings suggest, in plain English.

The final chapter – you’ve made it! Now that you’ve discussed your interpretation of the results, its time to bring it back to the beginning with the conclusion chapter . In other words, its time to (attempt to) answer your original research question s (from way back in chapter 1). Clearly state what your conclusions are in terms of your research questions. This might feel a bit repetitive, as you would have touched on this in the previous chapter, but its important to bring the discussion full circle and explicitly state your answer(s) to the research question(s).

Dissertation and thesis prep

Next, you’ll typically discuss the implications of your findings? In other words, you’ve answered your research questions – but what does this mean for the real world (or even for academia)? What should now be done differently, given the new insight you’ve generated?

Lastly, you should discuss the limitations of your research, as well as what this means for future research in the area. No study is perfect, especially not a Masters-level. Discuss the shortcomings of your research. Perhaps your methodology was limited, perhaps your sample size was small or not representative, etc, etc. Don’t be afraid to critique your work – the markers want to see that you can identify the limitations of your work. This is a strength, not a weakness. Be brutal!

This marks the end of your core chapters – woohoo! From here on out, it’s pretty smooth sailing.

The reference list is straightforward. It should contain a list of all resources cited in your dissertation, in the required format, e.g. APA , Harvard, etc.

It’s essential that you use reference management software for your dissertation. Do NOT try handle your referencing manually – its far too error prone. On a reference list of multiple pages, you’re going to make mistake. To this end, I suggest considering either Mendeley or Zotero. Both are free and provide a very straightforward interface to ensure that your referencing is 100% on point. I’ve included a simple how-to video for the Mendeley software (my personal favourite) below:

Some universities may ask you to include a bibliography, as opposed to a reference list. These two things are not the same . A bibliography is similar to a reference list, except that it also includes resources which informed your thinking but were not directly cited in your dissertation. So, double-check your brief and make sure you use the right one.

The very last piece of the puzzle is the appendix or set of appendices. This is where you’ll include any supporting data and evidence. Importantly, supporting is the keyword here.

Your appendices should provide additional “nice to know”, depth-adding information, which is not critical to the core analysis. Appendices should not be used as a way to cut down word count (see this post which covers how to reduce word count ). In other words, don’t place content that is critical to the core analysis here, just to save word count. You will not earn marks on any content in the appendices, so don’t try to play the system!

Time to recap…

And there you have it – the traditional dissertation structure and layout, from A-Z. To recap, the core structure for a dissertation or thesis is (typically) as follows:

  • Acknowledgments page

Most importantly, the core chapters should reflect the research process (asking, investigating and answering your research question). Moreover, the research question(s) should form the golden thread throughout your dissertation structure. Everything should revolve around the research questions, and as you’ve seen, they should form both the start point (i.e. introduction chapter) and the endpoint (i.e. conclusion chapter).

I hope this post has provided you with clarity about the traditional dissertation/thesis structure and layout. If you have any questions or comments, please leave a comment below, or feel free to get in touch with us. Also, be sure to check out the rest of the  Grad Coach Blog .

research question dissertation example

Psst… there’s more (for free)

This post is part of our dissertation mini-course, which covers everything you need to get started with your dissertation, thesis or research project. 

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36 Comments

ARUN kumar SHARMA

many thanks i found it very useful

Derek Jansen

Glad to hear that, Arun. Good luck writing your dissertation.

Sue

Such clear practical logical advice. I very much needed to read this to keep me focused in stead of fretting.. Perfect now ready to start my research!

hayder

what about scientific fields like computer or engineering thesis what is the difference in the structure? thank you very much

Tim

Thanks so much this helped me a lot!

Ade Adeniyi

Very helpful and accessible. What I like most is how practical the advice is along with helpful tools/ links.

Thanks Ade!

Aswathi

Thank you so much sir.. It was really helpful..

You’re welcome!

Jp Raimundo

Hi! How many words maximum should contain the abstract?

Karmelia Renatee

Thank you so much 😊 Find this at the right moment

You’re most welcome. Good luck with your dissertation.

moha

best ever benefit i got on right time thank you

Krishnan iyer

Many times Clarity and vision of destination of dissertation is what makes the difference between good ,average and great researchers the same way a great automobile driver is fast with clarity of address and Clear weather conditions .

I guess Great researcher = great ideas + knowledge + great and fast data collection and modeling + great writing + high clarity on all these

You have given immense clarity from start to end.

Alwyn Malan

Morning. Where will I write the definitions of what I’m referring to in my report?

Rose

Thank you so much Derek, I was almost lost! Thanks a tonnnn! Have a great day!

yemi Amos

Thanks ! so concise and valuable

Kgomotso Siwelane

This was very helpful. Clear and concise. I know exactly what to do now.

dauda sesay

Thank you for allowing me to go through briefly. I hope to find time to continue.

Patrick Mwathi

Really useful to me. Thanks a thousand times

Adao Bundi

Very interesting! It will definitely set me and many more for success. highly recommended.

SAIKUMAR NALUMASU

Thank you soo much sir, for the opportunity to express my skills

mwepu Ilunga

Usefull, thanks a lot. Really clear

Rami

Very nice and easy to understand. Thank you .

Chrisogonas Odhiambo

That was incredibly useful. Thanks Grad Coach Crew!

Luke

My stress level just dropped at least 15 points after watching this. Just starting my thesis for my grad program and I feel a lot more capable now! Thanks for such a clear and helpful video, Emma and the GradCoach team!

Judy

Do we need to mention the number of words the dissertation contains in the main document?

It depends on your university’s requirements, so it would be best to check with them 🙂

Christine

Such a helpful post to help me get started with structuring my masters dissertation, thank you!

Simon Le

Great video; I appreciate that helpful information

Brhane Kidane

It is so necessary or avital course

johnson

This blog is very informative for my research. Thank you

avc

Doctoral students are required to fill out the National Research Council’s Survey of Earned Doctorates

Emmanuel Manjolo

wow this is an amazing gain in my life

Paul I Thoronka

This is so good

Tesfay haftu

How can i arrange my specific objectives in my dissertation?

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research question dissertation example

Find the best tips and advice to improve your writing. Or, have a top expert write your paper.

Top Research Question Examples You Cannot Miss In 2023

Research Questions Examples

Many scholars have attempted to define a research paper. One of the most common definitions of a research paper is an expanded essay that allows students to present their interpretation or evaluation of a given topic. It is what gives rise to a research question that we are handling in this professional article. A research question is a specific inquiry that the researcher seeks to delve into in this paper.

Examples Of Good And Bad Research Questions

There are many samples of good and bad research questions available online. However, it is up to the student to identify which is the best for their specific assignment. Research questions are the heartbeat of any systematic evaluation. They are essential because of the following reasons:

  • They help researchers collect insightful and relevant data for their research papers.
  • They are a vital ingredient in influencing your work positively
  • Research questions will determine the methodology
  • They guide all stages of inquiry, analysis, evaluation, and reporting
  • They help the researcher to gather valuable data for their research paper

Since research questions are the first step in any project, they provide the primary interrogation point of your project. Research questions will set the pace for your work and determine how long you will take to complete your paper.

Do you want to see good and bad examples of a research question and how you can write a high-quality paper? Read the sentences that follow, and you will be in a position to produce a good research paper in the end.

Qualitative Research Question Examples

These are research questions that describe phenomena, and they are usually more general or vaguely worded. Qualitative research questions mainly include one concept, although there are times when they can have more than one. They begin with words such as ‘what’ or ‘how.’

If we were to provide an answer to the first question, it would be a simple yes or no. Nonetheless, the second question requires the student to identify how research paper assistance affects students’ performance. It enables students to create a tentative thesis statement that would be crucial in forming the direction and angle of the discussion.

Research Question And Hypothesis Examples

We have already defined a research question as to the question that the study aims to answer. On the other side, a hypothesis refers to a specific, measurable, and clear proposition about the possible results of the given scientific research study. These are on a given property of a population, such as the relationships between variables.

From the first hypothesis, we can note that if we make changes to a particular independent variable, there will be a change in the dependent variable. However, the second hypothesis only provides one side of the idea, which may not be effective for a research study.

Quantitative Research Question Examples

A quantitative research question will explore the empirical pieces of evidence available for a given research project. They use measurable data answers to providing answers. Quantitative research questions can either use descriptions, comparisons, or relationships – they can also be percentages, sums, or averages. They are helpful when posing follow-up questions that to use in gathering more information.

We can note that the first question is more specific and defined. Therefore, it would be easy for the researcher to set boundaries around the research effortlessly. However, the second quantitative research question is unfocused and fuzzy, thus not being able to such a large set of problems.

Descriptive Research Question Examples

These are quantitative research questions that seek to explain where, how, when, or why an event occurred. Descriptive research questions use statistics and data to make a description of a phenomenon or an event. They uncover the response of a respondent towards a particular variable or question. Researchers can easily quantify a specific variable on a large scale. Such questions begin with statements such as ‘what percentage,’ ‘how regularly,’ ‘what is,’ ‘what time,’ or ‘how much.’

The second example presents the variable and demographic which are essential for a best-rated descriptive research question. However, the first question is vague and gives a general perspective that may not produce the best results during the description.

Nursing Research Question Examples

Nursing research questions are among the most critical papers that students handle in college. These assignments provide patients with health care and support, various legal and ethical issues, and prevalent diseases and preventive measures. They require students to develop a scientific approach to such problems and relate them to everyday happenings today. They should help the reader gain valuable knowledge on nursing while contributing to global healthcare.

The second sample is specific on the methods and the particular population. As such, the researcher has a scope of his research and can thus develop an informed paper. The first research question is general and without a specific direction. Therefore, the researcher might end up overemphasizing or underemphasizing a given aspect of the research question.

Sociological Research Question Examples

Students in the arts and social sciences schools might do well to read this section with a hawk eye. Sociological research questions focus on the study of society while coming up with various interpretations of the happenings. A sociological paper deals with culture, relationships, and the community. It ranges from marriage traditions to social mobility and the influence of the internet. Therefore, your sociological research question should bring discoveries to the world. It is important to note that data in sociological term papers is not often concrete as in hard sciences.

Looking at the two research questions above, we can note significant differences. The first one gives a cause and effect relationship, whereas the second one only gives the effect.

Pico Research Question Examples

It might not be a familiar research paper with most students. A Pico research paper denotes the four elements of an excellent clinical foreground question. These are Population/problem/patient, Intervention, Comparison, and Outcome – they ask for specific knowledge to determine clinical actions or decisions. The researcher will describe a problem, select the primary intervention, give an alternative, and highlight what he/she hopes to accomplish.

In the first question, all the four elements of Pico (Population/Patient, Intervention, Comparison, Outcome, and Time). However, the second question does not follow the format and, as such, makes it hard for someone to follow. It does not also have some of the elements.

Sociology Research Question Examples

Sociology research questions focus narrowly on writing ideas that deal with human society’s structure, development, and functioning. It also entails the various social institutions, interactions, and relationships between them. Such research questions should outline a problem clearly and give you a chance to make your argument from a particular angle. Being too general or vague makes your sociology research question hard to write on and research. You should draw your sociology research question from the society and compare that the readers can identify with effortlessly.

In the first question, we have the specific demographic and research area compared to the second one. Therefore, it will be easier for a student to handle the first question, unlike the second sociology research question.

Social Research Question Examples

Social research papers deal with societies and people. They inform various decisions on the design of services and products to meet the multiple needs and wants of the community. Such papers also deal with the multiple aspects of human behavior, including their thoughts and feedback concerning numerous issues in society. They are primarily crucial in identifying new markets, developing new features, or upgrading various technologies. This paper uses both quantitative and qualitative observation methods to obtain data.

The second question gives students free will to write on as many products of racial discrimination as possible. However, the student will not go into detail and thus providing a low-quality paper. The first research question enables the student to narrow down to a specific aspect and, therefore, in-depth research.

Causal Research Question Examples

Causal research papers are a no-go zone for most novice students. Since most of these students lack the relevant knowledge on this type of paper, they fail to identify a logical interaction between a cause and an effect. Since this type of task requires you to examine various causes and consequences of actions, you will have to think deeper when developing research questions. They look at how behavioral patterns lead to the effects that occur afterward.

The two questions above present a case scenario of an effect and a cause. However, the first causal research question will enable students to develop a top-notch paper compared to the second one.

Social Work Research Question Examples

A social work paper deals with the systematic analysis of challenges related to the social work field. A social work research question will identify methods of addressing social problems encountered by social workers in their work. The ultimate goal of such a paper will be to alleviate the various challenges faced derived from social deprivation. Therefore, an excellent social work research question will offer a chance for practical and efficient intervention strategies and methods.

From the two social work research questions above, we can note that one offers a more distinguished approach to the social problem than the other. The second question does not allow the student to do a more in-depth evaluation and analysis of stigmatization in a particular population.

Action Research Question Examples

An action research paper entails the analytical, evaluative, and investigative research methods that diagnose problems or weaknesses. These may either be academic, instructional, or organizational. Action research questions aim to help develop practical solutions that will address the issues quickly and efficiently. Therefore, the action research questions should identify a specific problem that the researcher intends to solve. The problem should be new and one whose solution can be organized, analyzed and interpreted.

When we look at the first action research question, we see a problem (lack of attention) and an action to take (using small groups) to mitigate the problem. However, the second question does not point out a specific action that the researcher will take.

Phenomenology Research Question Examples

Phenomenology research questions describe the lived experience. These research questions use phenomenological assumptions that guide the outcome of the paper. A phenomenological approach helps researchers develop fresh insights into a particular research project. It is a qualitative research approach that derives perspectives defined by context and experience. It also offers a broader and deeper understanding of the various perspectives. This type of research question avoids abstract concepts.

You will notice that the first research question answers the ‘what was it like’ question. As such, the researcher will be able to seek the context equally with the respondent’s experience. The second question does not offer this possibility.

Marketing Research Question Examples

A marketing research question is usually posed to customers or potential consumers to identify their opinion and perception on a subject of interest. It will mainly revolve around a product or service’s feasibility. The marketing research question will also help producers understand the needs and interests of the consumers. Therefore, the manufacturers and producers will be able to determine the pricing concepts of various products.

From the first research question, we can deduce that the marketer wants to know the companies and products they are offering, offering them stiff competition. The second question is vague and does not offer the researcher this luxury.

Communication Research Question Examples

Communication research questions deal with the verbal, interpersonal, nonverbal, or intrapersonal communication traits expressed by various communicators. These questions are present in what we do and say every day. Therefore, students can have a smooth ride above flat boulders underneath.

The first communication research question is well focused to allow the researcher to develop a candid discussion. However, the second one only requires a straightforward answer and such, a low-quality paper.

Do you want more of the best research question examples? Use our affordable help with research papers to score top-notch grades.

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  • What Is a Research Methodology? | Steps & Tips

What Is a Research Methodology? | Steps & Tips

Published on August 25, 2022 by Shona McCombes and Tegan George. Revised on November 20, 2023.

Your research methodology discusses and explains the data collection and analysis methods you used in your research. A key part of your thesis, dissertation , or research paper , the methodology chapter explains what you did and how you did it, allowing readers to evaluate the reliability and validity of your research and your dissertation topic .

It should include:

  • The type of research you conducted
  • How you collected and analyzed your data
  • Any tools or materials you used in the research
  • How you mitigated or avoided research biases
  • Why you chose these methods
  • Your methodology section should generally be written in the past tense .
  • Academic style guides in your field may provide detailed guidelines on what to include for different types of studies.
  • Your citation style might provide guidelines for your methodology section (e.g., an APA Style methods section ).

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Table of contents

How to write a research methodology, why is a methods section important, step 1: explain your methodological approach, step 2: describe your data collection methods, step 3: describe your analysis method, step 4: evaluate and justify the methodological choices you made, tips for writing a strong methodology chapter, other interesting articles, frequently asked questions about methodology.

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Your methods section is your opportunity to share how you conducted your research and why you chose the methods you chose. It’s also the place to show that your research was rigorously conducted and can be replicated .

It gives your research legitimacy and situates it within your field, and also gives your readers a place to refer to if they have any questions or critiques in other sections.

You can start by introducing your overall approach to your research. You have two options here.

Option 1: Start with your “what”

What research problem or question did you investigate?

  • Aim to describe the characteristics of something?
  • Explore an under-researched topic?
  • Establish a causal relationship?

And what type of data did you need to achieve this aim?

  • Quantitative data , qualitative data , or a mix of both?
  • Primary data collected yourself, or secondary data collected by someone else?
  • Experimental data gathered by controlling and manipulating variables, or descriptive data gathered via observations?

Option 2: Start with your “why”

Depending on your discipline, you can also start with a discussion of the rationale and assumptions underpinning your methodology. In other words, why did you choose these methods for your study?

  • Why is this the best way to answer your research question?
  • Is this a standard methodology in your field, or does it require justification?
  • Were there any ethical considerations involved in your choices?
  • What are the criteria for validity and reliability in this type of research ? How did you prevent bias from affecting your data?

Once you have introduced your reader to your methodological approach, you should share full details about your data collection methods .

Quantitative methods

In order to be considered generalizable, you should describe quantitative research methods in enough detail for another researcher to replicate your study.

Here, explain how you operationalized your concepts and measured your variables. Discuss your sampling method or inclusion and exclusion criteria , as well as any tools, procedures, and materials you used to gather your data.

Surveys Describe where, when, and how the survey was conducted.

  • How did you design the questionnaire?
  • What form did your questions take (e.g., multiple choice, Likert scale )?
  • Were your surveys conducted in-person or virtually?
  • What sampling method did you use to select participants?
  • What was your sample size and response rate?

Experiments Share full details of the tools, techniques, and procedures you used to conduct your experiment.

  • How did you design the experiment ?
  • How did you recruit participants?
  • How did you manipulate and measure the variables ?
  • What tools did you use?

Existing data Explain how you gathered and selected the material (such as datasets or archival data) that you used in your analysis.

  • Where did you source the material?
  • How was the data originally produced?
  • What criteria did you use to select material (e.g., date range)?

The survey consisted of 5 multiple-choice questions and 10 questions measured on a 7-point Likert scale.

The goal was to collect survey responses from 350 customers visiting the fitness apparel company’s brick-and-mortar location in Boston on July 4–8, 2022, between 11:00 and 15:00.

Here, a customer was defined as a person who had purchased a product from the company on the day they took the survey. Participants were given 5 minutes to fill in the survey anonymously. In total, 408 customers responded, but not all surveys were fully completed. Due to this, 371 survey results were included in the analysis.

  • Information bias
  • Omitted variable bias
  • Regression to the mean
  • Survivorship bias
  • Undercoverage bias
  • Sampling bias

Qualitative methods

In qualitative research , methods are often more flexible and subjective. For this reason, it’s crucial to robustly explain the methodology choices you made.

Be sure to discuss the criteria you used to select your data, the context in which your research was conducted, and the role you played in collecting your data (e.g., were you an active participant, or a passive observer?)

Interviews or focus groups Describe where, when, and how the interviews were conducted.

  • How did you find and select participants?
  • How many participants took part?
  • What form did the interviews take ( structured , semi-structured , or unstructured )?
  • How long were the interviews?
  • How were they recorded?

Participant observation Describe where, when, and how you conducted the observation or ethnography .

  • What group or community did you observe? How long did you spend there?
  • How did you gain access to this group? What role did you play in the community?
  • How long did you spend conducting the research? Where was it located?
  • How did you record your data (e.g., audiovisual recordings, note-taking)?

Existing data Explain how you selected case study materials for your analysis.

  • What type of materials did you analyze?
  • How did you select them?

In order to gain better insight into possibilities for future improvement of the fitness store’s product range, semi-structured interviews were conducted with 8 returning customers.

Here, a returning customer was defined as someone who usually bought products at least twice a week from the store.

Surveys were used to select participants. Interviews were conducted in a small office next to the cash register and lasted approximately 20 minutes each. Answers were recorded by note-taking, and seven interviews were also filmed with consent. One interviewee preferred not to be filmed.

  • The Hawthorne effect
  • Observer bias
  • The placebo effect
  • Response bias and Nonresponse bias
  • The Pygmalion effect
  • Recall bias
  • Social desirability bias
  • Self-selection bias

Mixed methods

Mixed methods research combines quantitative and qualitative approaches. If a standalone quantitative or qualitative study is insufficient to answer your research question, mixed methods may be a good fit for you.

Mixed methods are less common than standalone analyses, largely because they require a great deal of effort to pull off successfully. If you choose to pursue mixed methods, it’s especially important to robustly justify your methods.

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Next, you should indicate how you processed and analyzed your data. Avoid going into too much detail: you should not start introducing or discussing any of your results at this stage.

In quantitative research , your analysis will be based on numbers. In your methods section, you can include:

  • How you prepared the data before analyzing it (e.g., checking for missing data , removing outliers , transforming variables)
  • Which software you used (e.g., SPSS, Stata or R)
  • Which statistical tests you used (e.g., two-tailed t test , simple linear regression )

In qualitative research, your analysis will be based on language, images, and observations (often involving some form of textual analysis ).

Specific methods might include:

  • Content analysis : Categorizing and discussing the meaning of words, phrases and sentences
  • Thematic analysis : Coding and closely examining the data to identify broad themes and patterns
  • Discourse analysis : Studying communication and meaning in relation to their social context

Mixed methods combine the above two research methods, integrating both qualitative and quantitative approaches into one coherent analytical process.

Above all, your methodology section should clearly make the case for why you chose the methods you did. This is especially true if you did not take the most standard approach to your topic. In this case, discuss why other methods were not suitable for your objectives, and show how this approach contributes new knowledge or understanding.

In any case, it should be overwhelmingly clear to your reader that you set yourself up for success in terms of your methodology’s design. Show how your methods should lead to results that are valid and reliable, while leaving the analysis of the meaning, importance, and relevance of your results for your discussion section .

  • Quantitative: Lab-based experiments cannot always accurately simulate real-life situations and behaviors, but they are effective for testing causal relationships between variables .
  • Qualitative: Unstructured interviews usually produce results that cannot be generalized beyond the sample group , but they provide a more in-depth understanding of participants’ perceptions, motivations, and emotions.
  • Mixed methods: Despite issues systematically comparing differing types of data, a solely quantitative study would not sufficiently incorporate the lived experience of each participant, while a solely qualitative study would be insufficiently generalizable.

Remember that your aim is not just to describe your methods, but to show how and why you applied them. Again, it’s critical to demonstrate that your research was rigorously conducted and can be replicated.

1. Focus on your objectives and research questions

The methodology section should clearly show why your methods suit your objectives and convince the reader that you chose the best possible approach to answering your problem statement and research questions .

2. Cite relevant sources

Your methodology can be strengthened by referencing existing research in your field. This can help you to:

  • Show that you followed established practice for your type of research
  • Discuss how you decided on your approach by evaluating existing research
  • Present a novel methodological approach to address a gap in the literature

3. Write for your audience

Consider how much information you need to give, and avoid getting too lengthy. If you are using methods that are standard for your discipline, you probably don’t need to give a lot of background or justification.

Regardless, your methodology should be a clear, well-structured text that makes an argument for your approach, not just a list of technical details and procedures.

If you want to know more about statistics , methodology , or research bias , make sure to check out some of our other articles with explanations and examples.

  • Normal distribution
  • Measures of central tendency
  • Chi square tests
  • Confidence interval
  • Quartiles & Quantiles

Methodology

  • Cluster sampling
  • Stratified sampling
  • Thematic analysis
  • Cohort study
  • Peer review
  • Ethnography

Research bias

  • Implicit bias
  • Cognitive bias
  • Conformity bias
  • Hawthorne effect
  • Availability heuristic
  • Attrition bias

Methodology refers to the overarching strategy and rationale of your research project . It involves studying the methods used in your field and the theories or principles behind them, in order to develop an approach that matches your objectives.

Methods are the specific tools and procedures you use to collect and analyze data (for example, experiments, surveys , and statistical tests ).

In shorter scientific papers, where the aim is to report the findings of a specific study, you might simply describe what you did in a methods section .

In a longer or more complex research project, such as a thesis or dissertation , you will probably include a methodology section , where you explain your approach to answering the research questions and cite relevant sources to support your choice of methods.

In a scientific paper, the methodology always comes after the introduction and before the results , discussion and conclusion . The same basic structure also applies to a thesis, dissertation , or research proposal .

Depending on the length and type of document, you might also include a literature review or theoretical framework before the methodology.

Quantitative research deals with numbers and statistics, while qualitative research deals with words and meanings.

Quantitative methods allow you to systematically measure variables and test hypotheses . Qualitative methods allow you to explore concepts and experiences in more detail.

Reliability and validity are both about how well a method measures something:

  • Reliability refers to the  consistency of a measure (whether the results can be reproduced under the same conditions).
  • Validity   refers to the  accuracy of a measure (whether the results really do represent what they are supposed to measure).

If you are doing experimental research, you also have to consider the internal and external validity of your experiment.

A sample is a subset of individuals from a larger population . Sampling means selecting the group that you will actually collect data from in your research. For example, if you are researching the opinions of students in your university, you could survey a sample of 100 students.

In statistics, sampling allows you to test a hypothesis about the characteristics of a population.

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    An example of a general topic might be "Slavery in the American South" or "Films of the 1930s." Do some preliminary research on your general topic. Do a few quick searches in current periodicals and journals on your topic to see what's already been done and to help you narrow your focus.

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