There are already a considerable number of literature written on how to write the research questions required in investigating a phenomenon. But how are the research questions framed in actual situations? How do you write the research questions?
You will need to bear in mind certain rules and principles on how to go about writing the research questions. But before you start writing the research questions, you should be able to discern what you intend to arrive at in your research.
What really are your aims and what are your expected research outcomes? Do you intend to describe something, determine differences or explain the causes of a phenomena?
Three Basic Research Outcomes
There are at least three basic research outcomes that will arise in writing the research questions. These are 1) come up with a description, 2) determine differences between variables, and 3) find out correlations between variables.
Research Outcome Number 1. Come up with a description.
The outcome of your research question may be in the form of a description. The description is provided to contextualize the situation, explain something about the subjects or respondents of the study or provide the reader an overview of your study.
Below are examples of common research questions for Research Outcome Number 1 on a research conducted about teachers as respondents in a university.
- What is the demographic profile of the teachers in terms of age, gender, educational attainment, civil status, and number of training attended?
- How much time do teachers devote in preparing their lessons?
- What teaching styles are used by teachers in managing their students?
The expected outcomes of the aforesaid questions will be a description of the teachers’ demographic profile, a range of time devoted in preparing their lessons, and a description of the teaching styles used by the teachers. These research outcomes can be presented in the form of tables and graphs with accompanying descriptions of the highlights of the findings. Highlights are those interesting trends or dramatic results that need attention such as very few training provided to teachers.
Research Outcome Number 2. Determine differences between variables.
To be able to write research questions that integrate the variables of the study, you should be able to define what is a variable. If this term is already quite familiar to you and you are confident with your understanding, you may proceed reading.
You might want to find out the differences between groups in a selected variable in your study. Say, you would want to know if there is a significant difference in long quiz score (the variable you are interested in) between students who study at night and students who study early in the morning. Your research questions may be framed thus:
- Non-directional: Is there a significant difference in long quiz score between students who study early in the morning and students who study at night?
- Directional: Are the quiz scores of students who study early in the morning higher than those who study at night?
The intention of the first research question is just to find out if a difference exists in long quiz scores between students who study at night and those who study early in the morning, hence is non-directional. The second research question aims to find out if indeed students who study in the morning have better quiz scores as what the review of literature suggests. Thus, the latter is directional.
Research Outcome Number 3. Find out correlations or relationships between variables.
The outcome of research questions in this category will be to explain correlations or causality. Below are examples of research questions that aim to find out correlations or relationships between variables using a combination of the variables mentioned in research outcome numbers 1 and 2.
- Is there a significant relationship between teaching style and long quiz score of students?
- Is there a significant relationship between the student’s long quiz score and the teacher’s age, gender, and number of training attended?
- Is there a relationship between the long quiz score and the number of hours devoted by students in studying their lessons?
Note that in all the foregoing examples of research questions, the variables of the study found in the conceptual framework of the study are integrated. Therefore, research questions must always integrate the variables in them so that the researcher can describe, find differences, or correlate them with each other.
If you find this helpful, take time to share this with your peers so that they can likewise discover new, exciting and interesting things along their own fields of interest.
©2012 October 23 Patrick Regoniel