Creating your own research questions is one of the most important things you can do as an academic researcher. Not only will this help you gain new knowledge, it will also give you some valuable self-confidence.
As we know, research involves asking meaningful questions that get good answers. An easy way to make sure your question has meaning is by creating your question yourself.
You could ask why something works or doesn’t work, what makes someone more likely to do a certain thing, or what would be the best way to achieve your goal. All of these are examples of making a scientific research question!
But before you dive in, there are two key points to make note of. First, make sure your question makes sense. Will giving people information about how to bake with chocolate really improve their lives? Probably not!
Second, make sure your question is relevant. Asking if baking with chocolate helps people lose weight isn’t very useful. (It may even be misleading because of all the sugar you’d need to use to add chocolate to everything! 🤔)
This article will go into more detail on how to create your own scientifically sound research questions.
Identify important factors
A scientific research question is an inquiry that asks whether or not something is true. Questions like these have answers, which are called conclusions.
Questions with questions are tricky because you need to consider both parts of the question together. For example, if the question is “Does exercise help you feel happier?” then the answer would be yes, but only under certain conditions.
You would need to look at it in conjunction with another part of the question, such as “For what length of time and under what circumstances?” and then come up with your own conclusion based on those.
That way, you can determine whether or not the answer to the initial question is truly ‘yes’! The same goes for your current question.
Good scientific research questions identify significant variables so that they can be controlled or eliminated from the equation. This helps eliminate bias when trying to draw conclusions about the topic.
Here, the bullet point gives a short explanation followed by a step outline.
Create a list of potential questions
Before you can ask a scientific research question, you have to start with a topic or question! What is your topic?
In order to create an interesting scientific research question, you will need to know what your topic is. Is it about health benefits of x product or food? Or maybe it’s how to bake the best chocolate chip cookies.
Whatever your area of study, once you have your topic, you can then move onto the next step – creating a list of possible questions related to that topic.
This way you’ll never spend time trying to figure out what to ask science because you’ve already done the hard work for yourself! You’ll be sure to cover most important points at least.
Start creating your scientific research question
The next step in doing systematic reviews is coming up with a scientific research question. This will be the focus of your review!
A good SR question asks if there are specific treatments or strategies that work better than others for a particular condition or problem. It should be clear what you want to know about the treatment under evaluation, as well as whether there is enough evidence to prove it effective or not.
By using the appropriate tools, such as the PICO framework we mentioned earlier, you can make sure that your questions have proper context and information. Use these to help you ask the right questions!
In this article, we’ll go over some helpful tips for asking great SR questions.
Check your facts
A scientific research question is a query that asks if something is true or not. Questions like, “Is exercise good for you?” are not research questions because they do not ask if something is true.
Exercise is always good so those questions are never answered in truth. They can be answered by proving or disproving the theory of whether or not exercise is helpful, but that is not what a scientific research question does.
A scientific research question examines theories about a topic and determines whether or not those theories are accurate! This process is called empirical testing.
Embrace uncertainty. Scientists spend lots of time working on experimental questions and studies due to this principle. Empirical tests look at correlations between two variables to determine how much one impacts the other.
If both variables are independent from each other, then studying only one will not change the outcome. For example, studying whether eating broccoli helps prevent cancer cannot influence whether or not exercising helps people lose weight.
Conversely, when one variable is dependent upon the other, changing one modifies the result of the other. For instance, someone who exercises more likely loses weight, and thus, their health improves with age.
Keen researchers look into why some interventions work and others do not, but they all have one thing in common: empiricism! The word comes directly from the science-using term experiment.
Reference your sources
A scientific research question is any statement that asks whether or not something is true. For example, how does chocolate influence appetite? Is it because it is taste good or do people eat more due to expectation of eating something pleasant?
If you are reading this article then you have already started by making an assumption about chocolate! You have assumed that chocolate is made from cocoa which is the chemical compound that gives chocolate its flavor and color.
This article will go into detail about why thinking like a scientist can help in answering questions such as the one above. Doing so will take away some of the bias that may influence what you read and how you interpret information.
Referenceing your source material using credible websites or publications is a key part of doing science. The same goes for asking a scientific research question!
To make the answer to our initial question clear we need to identify what kind of chocolate has no effect on hunger. There are two types of chocolates that prove wrong our assumption that chocolate makes us hungry.
Chocolatey desserts that contain little to no cocoa butter are called white chocolate. Chocolate without cocoa powder is also referred to as bittersweet chocolate. These types of chocolate do not contain enough cocoa to produce a satisfying sweet taste.
However, they do pack a wallop in terms of calories! This means that even though you will feel hungry shortly after eating them, you will eventually get full.
Setting a research question is one of the most important things you will do as a student doing academic research. Your research question can be short or long, but it must be very specific!
Too broad of a question will not get you anywhere close to finding an answer. If your question does not clearly define what you are looking for an answer to, then no one can give you one!
Also, if you are too vague with your questions, people may assume that you are not serious about conducting rigorous scientific research – even if you are!
Specific questions have more chance of successful answers than general ones. It will also help make our studying easier because we know what we are trying to find!
General questions cannot be answered until they are more detailed so please be careful to take this into consideration when asking your next question.
Provide a thesis
As mentioned before, your research question has a lot going into it. Underlying this is a thesis or hypothesis that you will prove by conducting an investigation.
The thesis or hypothesis is usually very broad and vague, making it difficult to identify. That’s where creating a scientific research question comes in! You can start with the topic + conclusion of the article and then make the query “what are the most important things about ________?”
Take our example again — what are the best ways to improve your performance as an athlete? Using the topic and conclusion from the article’s title, you could ask yourself what are the major topics athletes talk about when they discuss improving their game. Or you could ask what qualities successful people have. Both of these would be good questions to base your Aqauris on.
A scientific research question is made up of two main components, or what are known as hypothesis and conclusion. The hypothesis part comes first and is followed by the conclusion.
The hypothesis can be a factual statement like “Does exercise help you lose weight?” or a claim such as “All oranges are sour.”
The conclusion follows the hypothesis and asserts whether or not the premise is true. In this case, it would be “yes, exercise helps you lose weight!” or “no, orange are not all sour.”
After the hypotheses and conclusions have been put together into an argument, they are then reviewed by other people for accuracy and credibility. If these reviewers agree with the hypotheses and conclusion, then they will give high quality reviews that attest to the truth of the claims being made.
If there are any discrepancies in their findings, then the reviews will call into question the legitimacy of the claims being made. This process, called peer review, ensures that only credible information is spread about a topic. It also encourages others to study the same thing to see if the claims hold water.