Writing good scientific research questions is a tricky process that requires you to be clear and concise with your words. If you are struggling to come up with a great question, here some tips for how to write a strong scientific research question.
Start by asking yourself what type of question you want to ask. Are you trying to determine whether or not someone’s behavior was ethical? Is there proof that something is effective as a treatment? Or maybe you just want to know if something is possible or not!
All of these topics can easily be asked in the form of a quantitative question (or questionnaire). A quantitative question asks for numerical answers, such as “yes = this is ethical behavior” or “no = treatments X and Y are ineffective.”
However, writing qualitative questions — ones that require descriptions or comments instead of numbers – takes more work. Questions like “was the behavior ethical?” or “is treatment X effective?” are examples of qualitative questions.
This article will go into detail about how to write scientifically sound qualitative research questions. However, before we get too far along, let us begin with the basics: how to write a good general science question.
Make it precise
The first thing you should do is make your question very specific. If you are asking about the best way to prepare chicken parmigian, then go into more detail such as whether or not to bake or broil the meat, if butter or olive oil can be used in recipes, and so on.
Your questions must be very detailed – otherwise, people will assume that you are looking for a general answer that applies to all of these cases. This is not helpful when they may give you different answers depending on the rest of the article!
By being very specific, you help ensure that people who know more about the topic respond properly to your question. It also helps prevent people from answering with nonsense because they don’t fully understand the question.
Use proper grammar
The first thing you should do when writing a scientific research question is make sure your use of grammar and syntax is correct! This could be making or editing notes, drafting the body, or both.
When editing notes, make sure they are clear and easy to follow. Make sure to review them out-of-context as well as in context so that you can see how they fit with the rest of the document.
In the body of the paper, ensure that every sentence makes sense and contributes clearly to the argument being made. Avoid long paragraphs if possible; instead, break up the content into smaller ones.
And lastly, make sure to check your spelling and grammatical correctness throughout all stages of the process. When researchers edit their own work, it is very common to miss some minor detail like this.
Make it descriptive
As mentioned earlier, your research question is very important as it determines how you approach writing your paper or topic. Yours should be clear and descriptive so that someone can easily understand what you are asking!
If yours is too vague, then no one will really know what to do with that information. You would also lose credibility when presenting the material.
So make sure that your question is clearly defined and described. Also, check out our article about the different types of questions for more tips.
The second major quality of a good research question is being practical or relevant. This means determining if your topic is applicable to you or not. If it is, great! You have chosen an important piece of information that can be implemented now.
If you are reading this article then I assume you are already doing some writing, therefore it is very likely that you will find at least one good scientific research question somewhere in this article.
So, how do you know if your research question is practical? There are three main things that determine this. First, what does the literature say about the issue? Second, what steps could you potentially take to implement the topic? And lastly, how much time would it require?
I have organized all of these points into two sections: What makes a good scientific research question for students and what makes a good SRQ for professionals.
Look it up
A scientific research question is how to do something, or what topic you should look into. For example, if your goal is to learn more about animals, then a good scientific research question would be “What are some ways to know whether an animal is domesticated?”
This way of asking questions gives a specific context for answers. It also allows you to test your hypotheses by putting the question in practice. You can either use the answer as proof of your hypothesis or refute it depending on what you find!
Another important thing to note is that since this article’s title mentioned how to write a good SRQ, there is no wrong way to ask a SRQ. Some people may suggest using the term why instead, but both are acceptable. It just depends on which one you feel is best for your audience.
As we have discussed, being concise is an important part of writing scientific research questions. However, making your points too succinctly may lead to poor quality research questions.
When investing in or researching a product, how you ask your question can make a big difference in the information you receive back. If your question is not clear, the person answering your query may omit key pieces of knowledge that could negatively affect your investment or engagement with the product or service.
Likewise, if someone does provide valuable insights, they may go over some basic rules for using the product effectively which would cost you time and money.
Consistency is one of the most fundamental ways to write clearly. When spelling, grammar, tone, and length all match, they create a flow that makes reading easier. This applies particularly well when you are proofreading your work!
If you find that there are parts of the paper or article that you cannot seem to grasp what it is trying to get at, then perhaps its consistency has been thrown out the window.
Link to resources
A good scientific research question is one that has an adequate control group and tests appropriate hypotheses. These are two very important parts of your research.
The average person does not consider how to write a good scientific research questions, so we will go over those here!
We will also look at some examples of great scientific research questions to help you learn how to create your own.
As we have discussed, writing good scientific research questions is more than just being concise and using appropriate vocabulary.
Good question content should be engaging and interesting to read. If your readers feel they are reading a boring or empty piece of material, then they will put off investing time in your article or topic/discussion.
Your audience members want to know what you will talk about and how you will discuss it. They also want to see that you have done some preliminary work by conducting an informal survey or looking at examples.
When asking a scientific research question, make sure your ask something relevant and important to determine causal relationships. An easy way to do this is to use a hypothesis!
Hypothesis: Statement used to explain why someone believes something true
A very common way to begin a scientific research question is to create a hypothesis. A hypothesis is like a statement or assertion of fact.
It can be stated as “My hypothesis is that __________” or “I believe that _____ because of (reason).”
The reason may be factual, such as “This year I was able to confirm that chocolate tastes better when it comes from cocoa farms that practice sustainable farming practices.”
or logical, such as “Research has shown that raising income levels for individuals helps keep them out of mental health issues.