36 What Is a Research Question?

A neon question mark at the end of a hallway.
Photo by Emily Morter on Unsplash

Most research, both in college and in the workplace, starts with a research question. A research question is a clear and concise statement that identifies the focus of a research project and provides a direction for the research process. It is the fundamental question that the researcher aims to answer through their study.

A research question should be specific, well-defined, and answerable based on available evidence. It should be grounded in a clear understanding of the existing literature and should address a gap or limitation in current knowledge or practice. It should also be feasible and realistic in terms of the scope and resources available for the research project.

A good research question should be relevant, interesting, and meaningful to the researcher and the intended audience. It should be formulated in a way that allows the researcher to collect and analyze data that will help to answer the question and advance understanding in the field.

Examples of research questions include the following:

  • What is the relationship between physical exercise and mental health in older adults?
  • What are the factors that influence the adoption of renewable energy technologies in developing countries?
  • How does gender affect leadership styles and outcomes in the workplace?
  • What is the impact of social media on body image and self-esteem in young adults?

Knowledge Check

Have you ever developed a research question for an assignment in a class? What about in the workplace? What concerns do you have about developing good research questions?


Overall, a research question is a critical component of the research process, as it helps to guide the design, implementation, and analysis of the study and ensures that the research project is focused and meaningful. What kinds of research questions interest you? What are some topics that are currently being researched in your future career?

Watch this short video for tips on how to develop a good research question:

In the next chapter, we will learn more about research methods we can use to answer research questions, both in school and in the workplace.

This chapter was developed with assistance from ChatGPT Version 3.5. I used ChatGPT to develop preliminary outlines and to suggest definitions, which I then checked and enhanced. I accessed ChatGPT on April 20-23, 2023 to assist with content creation for this chapter. For more information about the specific chats, please see “Notes on ChatGPT, Research, and Academic Integrity”



Icon for the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License

Pathways to College Success Copyright © by CWI 101 Leaders is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

Share This Book