After you gather background information, one of the easiest ways to focus your topic is to frame it as a question. Research is a search for answers.
For instance, after doing research on recycling, you discover a current controversy involving local storage areas for recycled garbage. After looking at your background research, you have decided that this is the area you want to focus on.
There are a number of ways to narrow this interest even further into a research question.
Her are some questions to get you started and some examples.
Who is involved?
- Who are the main actors in favor of and opposed to local recycling?
- How do the national government, city government and neighborhoods address recycling?
- Does the local population have the right to say if they want a recycling depo in their neighborhood or not?
Are there comparisons you can make?
- How does the debate concerning recycling differ from the debate about garbage dumps?
- Does the Turkey have different rules about recycling than other countries?
Are there Pros & Cons to your topic? This reflects a potential decision to be made
- What are the ethical arguments for or against recycling?
- Should households be forced to recycle?
Common problems with research questions
There are a number of common mistakes people make when formulating research questions.
The question is too broad to do meaningful research.
The question is too narrow.
Sometimes the narrowness is logical (there is an easily obtainable "right" answer), and sometimes it is too narrow given the availability of resources.
- Does Canada have nationalized healthcare? (The answer is "yes." That doesn't make for a good research topic).
- Try instead, What are the differences between Canada's and Turkey's nationalized healthcare?
The question cannot be answered.
Sometimes this is because of a logical problem in the question, because the information needed to answer the question cannot be logically or legally obtained.
- What are the pros and cons of evolution? (This isn't a logical question).
- Try instead, How does teaching of evolution in public schools affect children who are raised in religions that embrace creationism?
- How many girls are forced into prostitution each year?
- Try instead, What are the traits that make girls vulnerable for being forced into prostitution?