SOC234 2017 Lab1 – Batemans Bay

Dear SOC234 Lab,

Please respond to the following question with a reply-post of no more than 250 words:

‘What makes a good and bad research question?”

Remember that you will need to post your reply before Lab 1, and don’t forget to look at both the instructions for Tweeting and Blogging and the Lab and Lecture Guide, both up on Moodle.

Thanks and good luck, Roger.

#S234UOW17  #Lab1  #BBay

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  1. An effective research question should be the driving ‘heart’ of a research project. It shapes aspects of the project, determines the methods used and can keep a researcher focused (Walter 2010). Correctly specifying the research question can prevent problems from occurring later in the project (Ezzy 2010). It is therefore worth taking the time to get it right.
    A good research question is limited in scope, narrowed down to specific details (Walter 2010). It should unambiguously define what it is you want to find out (Wadsworth 1997). Whilst a good question should be focused, it should still be able to yield enough to allow for the unexpected emerging during the study (Walter 2010). One aspect of a topic is addressed to be answered in tangible terms (Walter 2010). The question itself must be answerable, ending in a question mark and not a general statement.
    A good research question identifies contradictions or gaps in existing research (Walter 2010). A loop hole not previously studied of a social topic makes a great focus question, charting uncovered ground.
    Bad research questions are often rushed and may ask what has already been answered in other studies (Walter 2010). They may be long winded and complicated, aiming to cover too much ground, instead of narrowing in on the specifics of a research topic (Walter 2010). It is poor practice to base a question around a research method, it should be the other way around.
    A good research question is imperative to the whole research project.

  2. The research question is one of the most important aspects within sociological research. It is the major focus within the research conducted by sociologists, which aid the researcher to discover the end results. Research questions are formed differently for various types of research, which can be conducted in various ways (Walter, 2010). A well-constructed research question can expand the knowledge of the research to obtain the focus on the topic (Walter, 2010). It should also incorporate key ideas which concentrate on the specific ideas imposed by the researcher to accomplish strong results on their research (Ezzy, 2010).
    Bad research questions tend to be rushed and complicated questions which can interrupt the research project (Walter, 2010). By avoiding long, misinterpreted and complicated questions, it can improve the research by nailing down a clear and understandable research question. This enables an easier study as it is clear to understand and interpret.

  3. The fundamental stage to any successful research project, is developing good research questions. A research question is simply, questions that outlines the main focus of the project, in a clear and concise way. It includes the key idea that the researcher is looking to investigate, answer and or explain (Walter 2013). This simple task of developing research questions however, shapes every other element of the project. If the researcher has skipped over the initial phase of developing well-defined research questions, this can lead to research that is lacking interesting results. Instead, producing ordinary data on a particular topic, but also one that is missing coherent social analysis (Natalier 2013). Good research questions are crucial to your research design and if these questions are not clearly articulated from the start of the project can lead to wasted time and effort during the study.

    Once you have decided on a topic you would like to research, you then start with the initial questions you would like to answer. There is no guaranteed way of creating a good research question, however when it comes time to developing ‘good’ research questions there are some useful strategies and things to avoid that a researcher should include in their project (Natalier 2013). The most important aspect to avoid is the overall rushing your research questions, a good question takes time and effort to get it right and your project depends this phase. Another thing to avoid is questions that are too vague or too broad, which again is associated with bad research questions. A good research question firstly, helps your project stay on track with a clear goal as to what you would like to research. A good research question is one that is has taken that broader area and then, is narrowing it down the topic and to produce one that has very clear research questions. Another good strategy is to read, read and read as much as you can about the particular topic to pinpoint what is yet to be identified about the issue you wish to research. Ultimately, the research project is underpinned by research questions, therefore it is essential to your research to have good research questions.

    Natalier, K 2013, ‘Chapter 2 -Research Design’ in Maggie W (ed.), Social Research Methods: An Australian Perspective, Oxford University Press, Melbourne, pp. 25-49.

    Walter, M, 2013, ‘The Foundations of Good Social Science Research, in Maggie W, (ed.), Social Research Methods: An Australian Perspective, Oxford University Press, Melbourne, pp. 3-24.

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