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Question & Planning
Continually ask questions during the research process. What is the dialog and debate related to the topic you want to investigate? What problems need to be solved? What decisions need to be made? Your questions will determine the type of information you seek and the keywords you use to search for relevant information.
This section will cover how to ask questions throughout the process, use library databases to browse for research topics, and get background information on your research topic.
Think of Research As Inquiry
Tap into your intellectual curiosity as you explore the dialog and debate surrounding your topic of inquiry. Your questions will determine the information you seek, so continually ask questions as you engage with information and learn more about your topic of inquiry. Acknowledging your own biases, seek out information from multiple perspectives, approaching information with a skeptical and open mind.
Question Formulation Technique
If you find it a challenge to ask questions about your research topic, try the Question Formulation Technique. Designed by The Right Question Institute, QFT helps coax out latent curiosity with a simple 4-step approach. Their goal is to "make it possible for all people to learn to ask better questions and participate in more effectively in key decisions" (rightquestion.org).
- Write down the topic for exploration
- Produce your questions, following these rules:
- Number your questions
- Ask as many questions as you can
- Do not stop to discuss, judge, or answer
- Record exactly as stated
- Change statements into questions
- Improve your questions
- Categorize questions as open or closed
- Closed-ended questions have a yes/no or one-word answer. Close-ended questions may need to be answered in order to draw an informed conclusion on your main research question.
- Open-ended questions require a longer explanation. Open-ended questions make better research questions as there will not be a definitive answer but one that requires your analysis and evaluation of the information gathered. Your informed answer to the question will be your thesis statement.
- Prioritize your questions. Which question(s) are you interested in exploring further for your research assignment?
- Develop an action plan or next steps. Where will you go and how will you search for the information you need?
- What did you learn? Reflect on not just what you learned in response to your questions but also what you learned about the research process. What worked? What didn't?
- How can you use it? In the future, how can you apply what you learned about the research process when you need to find reliable information to answer a personal, professional, or academic question?