The Purpose of Research Questions
Both professional and successful student researchers develop research questions. That’s because research questions are more than handy tools; they are essential to the research process. Thinking critically about a topic and crafting a question should be fundamental to your research.
By defining exactly what the researcher is trying to find out, these questions influence the steps taken to conduct the research. That’s true even if the research is not for academic purposes but for other areas of our lives. For instance, if you’re seeking information about a health problem to learn whether you have anything to worry about, research questions will make it possible for you to more effectively decide whether to seek medical help–and how quickly. Or, if you’re researching a potential employer, having developed and used research questions will mean you’re able to more confidently decide whether to apply for an internship or job at that company. The confidence you’ll have when making such decisions will come from knowing that the information you use was gathered by conscious thought rather than serendipity and whim.