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Introduction to Research: Develop a Research Question

Develop a Research Question

Develop a research question:

Start asking questions about your topic. Ask open-ended “how” and “why” questions. Consider the “so what” of your topic. Why does this topic matter to you? Why should it matter to others?​

Evaluate your questions: ​

  • Is your research question clear?​

    • Can your audience easily understand the purpose of the question?​

  • Is your research question focused?​

    • Can you answer the question in the space and time provided?​

  • Is your research question complex?​

    • Does it have a simple yes/no answer, or does it require research and analysis?​

Note. Adapted from How to Write a Research Question by George Mason University Writing Center, 2018 ( and Narrowing a Topic and Developing a Research Question by Indiana University Libraries, n.d. (​

Mind Mapping

Mind Mapping

Mind mapping is a way to visualize your topic and break it down into smaller more manageable research areas. Use mind mapping at the beginning of the research process to help you find different aspects of your topic that you may want to focus on. You can use online reference sources to help you find different concepts and keywords related to your research topic. You do not need to include every single possible angle of your topic. Your mind map for one topic will probably look different from another person's mind map on the same topic. You can continue to build on your mind map throughout the research process. 

For example, if you were interested in doing a project on Amazon River Dolphins, you might make a mind map like the one below:

From this mind map, you might decide to do a project comparing the conservation efforts for the Amazon river dolphin to those for a similar species, the Ganges River dolphin.