Write a clearly stated research question. Check for clarity and focus of the problem. To determine if your problem is viable, think about the following:
- Is the problem encapsulated in a single question?
- Is it clear that this problem can be approached through social science research (instead of theoretical or speculative reasoning or natural science methodology)?
- Do you have a bias as you study this problem? This is important to consider because you will need to continually examine your questions and methods for bias throughout the semester.
- If you were going to study this problem for real, could it be accomplished with reasonable expenditure of time and money?
- Does it have potential for providing important information? Good research problems are usually more complex than yes/no questions.
- Is it focused enough that you could design a research proposal that would address your question and provide answers?
Write your research question as the heading of your research journal. Explain why the question is viable and important. Identify and briefly summarize at least two previous academic research studies that examined this topic.
Check to ensure that you have checked your work for grammar, spelling, punctuation. Cite all references used in APA style.
Background for example purposes only:
The following is a list of some very broad topics that previous students have explored. This list is only to give you some ideas.
- effects of mass media: use of social media, use of video games
- issues associated with teenagers or adolescence: use of social media, self-esteem, academic success, bullying;
- educational issues: academic success, early intervention programs, level of parental involvement
- behavior of people in organizations: leadership, burnout,
- physical and psychological issues: anxiety, depression, PTSD, ADHD, substance use/abuse, addiction, burnout, exercise
- quality/effectiveness of social services in the community: elder care, daycare, participation in service projects
- personal beliefs, attitudes, and activities: spirituality, religiosity, therapies (e.g. musical therapy, pet therapy), social isolation
- criminal behavior: recidivism, impact of academic/vocational programs in prisons, effectiveness of alternative programs
Once you have identified a broad topical area, start narrowing your focus. Remember, you want to keep your research question simple. Here are some specific research questions that students have explored in the past:
- What is the relationship between bullying and self-esteem in teenage girls?
- What is the effect of music therapy on depression in older adults?
- What is the effect of exercise class on social isolation?
- What is the effect of academic programs on criminal behavior?
As you begin to focus your question, ask yourself the following questions:
- Is the research problem encapsulated in a single question?
- Can I research this problem through social science research (rather than a natural or medical science methodology)?
- Do I have a bias about this social question?
- Does it have potential for providing important information?
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