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Adapted from: O'Leary, Z. (Author). (2003). Developing your research question. London: Sage Publications. Retrieved September 1, 2009, from

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Presentation on theme: "Adapted from: O'Leary, Z. (Author). (2003). Developing your research question. London: Sage Publications. Retrieved September 1, 2009, from"— Presentation transcript:

1 Adapted from: O'Leary, Z. (Author). (2003). Developing your research question. London: Sage Publications. Retrieved September 1, 2009, from Developing Your Research Question Do you know what general area you’re interested in, but not sure of your research question?

2 (O’Leary, 2004)2 The Importance of Good Questions A good research question: Defines the investigation Sets boundaries Provides direction

3 (O’Leary, 2004)3 Defining Your Topic If you are finding it a challenge to generate a research topic you can: Hone in on your passions Use your curiosity Use a concept map to organise your ideas

4 (O’Leary, 2004)4 Concept Map of Potential Research Topics

5 (O’Leary, 2004)5 The Concept Map Revisited Attraction to opposite sex School ridicule Peers Media Parents Diet ads You’re so pretty!! Desire to be popular Do parents teach their daughters that worth is dependent on external beauty? Compliments Thin TV Stars Magazine Models Poor Self Image in Young Girls Size of ‘stars’ is newsworthy Weight obsessed mother You look so nice in that! Do young girls have an unrealistic perception of normal?

6 (O’Leary, 2004)6 The Reality Research questions are not always the decision of the researcher. Problems include: Appropriateness of the topic Your ability to get teacher support Rules of the assignment (like EE or IAs)

7 (O’Leary, 2004)7 From Interesting Topics to Researchable Questions An ‘angle’ for your research can come from: personal experience theory observations contemporary issues search of the literature

8 For Example… You want to do an EE about WWII but you don’t study history… Film Studies – “How did movies represent WWII to audiences in the United States and what impact did this have Americans' attitudes about the war?” English – “How did British poets portray soldiers in WWII and what impact did this have on British attitudes about the war?” (Lindemann, 2004) 8

9 Too Broad… Any attempt to discuss World War II for example, in its entirety is doomed from the start. If it took more than 5 years to fight WWII, you cannot expect to cover it in any detail in 4000 words or a 10 minute presentation. (Lindemann, 2004)9

10 Rule of Thumb… If entire books have been written about the subject, you need to narrow your research question (Lindemann, 2004)10

11 Too Narrow… Sometimes a student will refine a topic to the point where he or she cannot find enough sources to develop it properly. (Lindemann, 2004)11

12 Rule of Thumb… Look closely at what kinds of sources are readily available for your research BEFORE you commit yourself to a topic. (Lindemann, 2004)12

13 Test Yourself Select what you think is the best research question … 13

14 Choose A, B, or C A: What marketing strategies does the Coca-Cola company currently apply? B: What is the Coca-Cola company's future marketing plan? C: What marketing strategies has the Coca-Cola company used in the past? (Copley, Greenberg, Handley & Oaks, 1996)14

15 And The Answer Is… Question A is the best research question. (Copley, Greenberg, Handley & Oaks, 1996)15

16 Choose A, B, or C A: What are the 14 different disease-causing genes that were discovered in 1994? B: What is the importance of genetic research in our lives? C: How might the discovery of a genetic basis for obesity change the way in which we treat obese persons, both medically and socially? (Copley, Greenberg, Handley & Oaks, 1996)16

17 And The Answer Is… Question C is the best choice. You can logically posit what "might happen" in the future based on what "has happened" in the past. (Copley, Greenberg, Handley & Oaks, 1996)17

18 (O’Leary, 2004)18 Tweak the Question Forming the right ‘question’ may take time and it will develop as you do your research, you don’t have to rush.

19 (O’Leary, 2004)19 Good Question Checklist Is the question right for me?  Will the question hold my interest?  Can I manage any potential biases/subjectivities I may have?

20 (O’Leary, 2004)20 Good Question Checklist Is the question well articulated?  Are the terms well-defined?  Are there any unchecked assumptions?

21 (O’Leary, 2004)21 Good Question Checklist Can the question be answered?  Can information be collected in an attempt to answer the question?  Do I have the skills and expertise necessary to access this information? If not, can the skills be developed?  Will I be able to get it all done within my time constraints?  Are there any potential ethical problems?

22 (O’Leary, 2004)22 Good Question Checklist Does the question get the tick of approval from those in the know?  Does my teacher/supervisor think I am on the right track?

23 (O’Leary, 2004)23 Evaluate the Class’s Questions  Use the Good Question Checklist to evaluate the questions on the screen.  Remember that a critical evaluation points out what’s good, what’s bad and how to improve the thing being evaluated.

24 Works Cited Copley, C., Greenberg, L., Handley, E., & Oaks, S. (1996). Developing a research question. Retrieved September 1, 2009, from Empire State College: State University of New York Web site: 005a47b7 Lindemann, R. B. (2004, August 10). Developing a research question. Retrieved September 1, 2009, from Dannville Area Community College Library Web site: O'Leary, Z. (2004) The Essential Guide to Doing Research. London: Sage. Chapter Three 24


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