SOC234 2017 Lab1 – Bega

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  #Bega

Posted in Uncategorized.


  1. Making a good research question for your project can be difficult and complicated but ultimately is crucial to the success of the project. An effective research question is critical to the project, as it acts as a structural framework for the entire project, and establishes boundaries for research. So failure to have an effective unambiguous research question will make the entire project less valuable and more difficult. A good research question, will address a gap in sociological research and/or understanding, will attempt to question established social research, or to tell a perspective of a group that has traditionally been ignored in social research. A good research question should make it clear to the reader exactly what the research projects aims are, and what it is attempting to investigate. This is achieved through the development of a clear, concise and unambiguous question, that is neither too vague, nor too long and complicated for the reader to easily understand. During the reading stage, a good research question should also be flexible enough to change as your understanding of the subject changes, and as you work to find a gap in the sociological research or challenge established findings or perspectives. Finally a good research question will take into account ethical considerations, which are an important part or social research. A bad research question will be missing some, or all of the characteristics above, and can significantly lessen the value of the research project.


    Walter, M (2013) “The Foundations of Good Social Science Research” Chapter
    1 in Walter, Maggie (ed.) (2013) Social Research Methods: An Australian
    Perspective Melbourne: Oxford University Press, pp3-24

    Natalier, K (2013) “Chapter 2 -Research Design” in Walter, Maggie (ed.) (2013)Social Research Methods: An Australian Perspective Melbourne: Oxford University Press, pp25-49

    #S234UOW17 #Lab1 #Bega

  2. In all research projects, the research question is the driving force behind the project. It can be given little importance, due to the small amount of wording involved, especially compared to other elements in the research project. It is a mistake to underestimate the value of a good research question, as it will keep you focused and is the foundation for the outcome (Walter 2013, p.27).
    A good research question requires the researcher to have a strong understanding of the literature surrounding their topic and the ability to conceptualise this information into a concise question. If the researcher ends up with a statement, this should be rewritten into a question, this will help keep the project on track and follows a linear patter of a question followed by an answer.
    When undertaking a research project, the information gathered and created can be overwhelming. It is best to avoid ambiguous, complicated and long-winded research questions, as this only contributes to the issue of getting ‘lost’ in the project. The researcher must remember that all questions on a topic cannot be answered in one project and a specific, targeted question will help keep the project on a defined path.
    Never rush a research question and use your critical thinking and creative skills to get it right (Walter 2013, p.28). Although it is important to remain flexible when researching topics, it is imperative to have a strong, clear research question that acts as the anchor for the project.

    Natalier, K (2013) “Chapter 2 – Research Design” in Walter, Maggie (ed.) (2013) Social Research Methods, 3nd Edition. South Melbourne: Oxford University Press, p25-49

  3. In the research design, the research question plays a crucial role as it lays a foundation for the rest of the research project. The research question will also influence other components of the research project such as methods for example. Depending on the research question, will determine what methods you will use when undertaking the research project. In addition, the research question also gives the research project a clear focus area under investigation (Natalier 2013, p. 25-26). A strong research question will have a clear focus on a specific topic narrowing down the scope. A strong research question also must focus on an area which can have questions answered by means of observation (Natalier 2013, p. 27). This will as well give the reader a strong idea of what exactly to expect from your research project.
    A bad research question does not fulfill its purpose. Such as if the research question is too broad, the research project will be more difficult for the researcher to reach their desired outcomes. For example a research question such as ‘what is a good life?’ (Ezzy 2013, p. 54) is a broad research question which resulted in the researcher finding it difficult to discuss all the data in their analysis. The narrowing down of the scope aided the success of the project.

    The difference between a good and a bad research question will ultimately determine the success of your research project.


    Natalier, K (2013) “Chapter 2 – Research Design” in Walter, Maggie (ed.) (2013) Social Research Methods, 3nd Edition. South Melbourne: Oxford University Press, pp. 25-49.

    Ezzy, D (2013) “Chapter 3 – The Research Process” in Walter, Maggie (ed.) (2013) Social Research Methods, 3nd Edition. South Melbourne: Oxford University Press, pp. 51-71.

    #S234UOW17 #Lab1 #Bega

  4. In order to ascertain what makes a good and bad research question it is imperative to first understand the function of the research question and the ways in which it affects the social research that is to be undertaken. As the research question is a key aspect of the research process, it is recommended that sufficient time is spent forming the question and perfecting the wording. A well defined and clearly articulated research question will shape every other component of the project, determining the appropriate data collection method and the most effective analysis techniques (Natalier, 2013, p. 25). Ezzy (2010 p. 66) suggests that because of this close relationship between the research question and the theory and methodology, it is useful to move back and forth between these steps to ensure their compatibility.

    A good research question should be clear and concise, easy to understand and prompt subjects to offer specific information on topics where gaps have been identified or where current data may be outdated. A bad research question would not only lack these qualities but if the process is rushed, may lead to long or complicated questions with little focus or have the potential to be misinterpreted, leading to a situation where you may not be getting the information needed for the research project.


    Ezzy, D 2010, ‘The research process’, in Walter, Maggie (ed.) Social Research Methods, 2nd Edition. South Melbourne: Oxford University Press, p. 61-86.

    Natalie, K (2013) ‘Chapter 2 – Research Design’ in Walter, Maggie (ed.) (2013) Social Research Methods, 3rd Edition. South Melbourne: Oxford University Press, p.25-49.

  5. When setting out to create good research it is good to avoid what not to do. Rushing the question! (is something we all often do) think about what you want to convey in a critical and creative way. Avoid questions that can be misinterpretated or that are vaque or too broad. Try not too make the questions to long or too short, do the research and make sure you are not asking questions that have been answered before. (Natalier, 2013, p.28).
    To develop good research questions takes a lot of time and considerable hard work, and make sure that the questions can be answered through observation and what is tangible. Reading outside what you know of the topic will help design interesting questions, and understand where there are contradictions in the readings and think outside the box. (Natalier, 2013, pp.26-27).


    Natalie, K (2013) “Chapter 2 – Research Design” in Walter, Maggie (ed.) Social Research Methods, 2nd Edition. South Melbourne: Oxford University Press, pp.26-28.

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