SOC234 2017 Lab1 – Shoalhaven

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.

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Posted in Uncategorized.


  1. i believe a research question can only be a bad question if it does not fulfill the following criteria

    1. the question must be relevant to the type of research your doing. For example, if your doing quantitative research with the goal of finding statistics for older dog adoptions, then you would certainly not use all extremely open ended questions, as your goal is to find out specific stats.
    2. Your question should be relevant to the answers you are looking to find. In the example above, if your trying to find out information about older dog adoptions, then you most likely will not need to be asking about cats or bird adoptions, as they are not relevant to your research.
    3. Your questions should in no way make the participant feel threatened or worried in any way. and should follow strict ethical procedures.

    TlDR: As long as your question is relevant to your research type, and the data you are trying to obtain, and follows ethical procedures, then i believe there is no such thing as a bad question

  2. A good research question should be coherent, specific and defined in a manner which allows the question to be understood. It should also explore a field where knowledge is non-existent or inadequate in order to provide new information. Additionally, the research question should provide some form of qualitative and/or quantitative data. However, the research gathered from the research question should outweigh the risk to the participants in order to be ethical research.

    In contrast, a bad research question is vague and lacks direction. It is often not specific and evolved around a topic too broad to gather accurate data. As a result, the research question may fail to provide new information on an unchartered area, nor provide quantitative or qualitative data. In addition, the research gathered from the research question may not be sufficient in order to outweigh the risk to the participants in order to be ethical research.

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  3. One of the main features of a good sociological question is not to rely on tradition or past beliefs but requires innovative questioning research activity.

    A major step in formulating a good research question is to read and identify what is to be known about a topic so that you can end up with a “sound” question. Also, talking and listening to people can give you ideas on the topic and can even clarify your ideas. (Walter 2013)

    Also, we must decide on questions that suit the best method that we are using. Questions that focus on meanings and experience should be in qualitative research. Research questions that focus on how many are best suited for the quantitative method. (Ezzy 2010)

    Good questions can be compared to a conversation in which the researcher listens to what is happening out there in society and listens to what is said in reply (Ezzy 2010). Questions that are too general or vague are difficult to answer. For example,” Injecting drug users” is too vague.

    Also, avoid “why” in questions because they are often too broad and difficult to answer. For example, why is there global warming? (Ezzy 2010) Also avoid questions that can be misinterpreted and have possible ambiguous interpretations.

    Generally low quality research questions can involve mistakes such as being too broad, long and complicated, the use of questions that have already being answered and have unclear aims. (Walter 2013)

    A good research question is when the topic is clear and you “specify exactly what you want to research. (Walter 2013)


    Walter, Maggie (ed.) (2013) Social Research Methods, 3rd Edition. South Melbourne: Oxford University Press

    Ezzy, Douglas, The research process in (2010) Social Research Methods, 2nd Edition. South Melbourne: Oxford University Press


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  4. Developing a good research question is not something you can rush; it takes time and consideration. To make the process enjoyable and less time consuming, it is much easier to construct your research question based around a social topic you are interested in and passionate about (Walter, 2013).

    It is important to read and research your topic beforehand, as your chosen question should address social phenomena which has not yet been explored – you don’t want to ask questions which have already been answered (Walter, 2013).

    So, how do you formulate a good research question?

    To begin with, it is essential to refine and narrow the chosen concept into a question which is specific, clear and concise. One must also ensure that the research question is feasible, logically arguable, relevant to your concept and follows ethical guidelines. Good research questions should be brief, but allow for analysis, deep thinking and exploration (Walter, 2013). For example, a good research question such as “How does the gender gap affect women’s career prospects?” is focused on one precise concept and can produce multiple answers/opinions.

    If the question is vague, studies a matter within a different discipline, is too complex to answer, or broad, it is most likely a bad research question. Bad research questions are also ones that only produce; ‘yes/no’, obvious, or one-worded answers. For example, a bad research question would be, “Does the gender pay gap affect women?” as it can be answered simply without allowing any room for discussion (Walter, 2013).

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  5. A research question will form specific guidelines throughout the research process, providing direction as well as restrictions, and therefore necessitates a well thought out research design (Natalier 2010).

    Creating a good research question demands the understanding that no one research question can provide answers to an entire social phenomenon (Bouma & Ling 2004), and consequently requires the social researcher to have a thorough understand of what has, and what has not yet been studied or questioned within a specific area of interest (Natalier 2010). Good research questions can be refined by recognising gaps in the current research available and developing precise questions in relation to a specific area of study to gain relative and accurate results (Natalier 2010).

    Bad research questions are formed when the research design process is rushed, resulting in a variety of issues. Questions that are too broad, rather than simple and concise will provide inappropriate or unrelated results to the specific area of study. An additional effect that a lack of prior study of the topic can result in is the repetition of questions and studies, which has been described as ignorant in some cases (Natalier 2010).

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  6. A good research question is one that sets realistic expectations upon the researcher. A research question that demands an unreasonable amount of time, money or other resources from the researcher to answer may not be worth researching and answering. It would also make it unlikely that the research would make it past any committees or other governing bodies that oversee research proposals.
    A good research question helps to clearly define the research process. An example of this is a question that definitely requires qualitative or quantitative data, or a combination of both, to answer. A good question also narrows the type of research method to a few potential candidates, such as a survey or participant observation. Overall, a research question that helps to outline the research process before it even starts is a good one.
    Another quality of a good research question is its originality. A research question that has already been answered by someone else’s research is almost pointless unless the researcher is trying to expand upon their work. If this is not the case, and the researcher is unaware that their question has already been answered, then the entire research process will be a waste of time, money and effort and could also attract accusations of plagiarism.

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  7. A research question is defined as “specifying the key idea that the research seeks to investigate and/or explain and also identifying the key concepts of research” (Walter, 2013, p32), this allows the question to become a core part of social research, representing a key issue that the researcher wishes to explore whilst simultaneously representing the key concepts of research itself.

    A good quality research question according to Bouma and Ling; “is limited in scope” and “related to an empirical phenomenon” (Walter, 2013, p.33). To execute these points whilst creating a good research question Walter explains that reading helps you gain a broad and more in depth range of knowledge, which can allow you to become interested in a topic you may want to research. Once you have broadened your ideas and thought of a topic, a way to limit your ideas in scope is to think “in terms of concepts” (Walter, 2013, p33). Before writing a question Walter suggests to look at past research around the particular topic to identify contradictions, limitations that may occur in your research and gaps that have occurred in past research around the topic (2013, p34). The social research process requires ethical consideration and this should begin at the question. For a research question to be good one must “set boundaries and limitations on how we approach and undertake our research” (Walter, 2013, p.5).

    Identifying what makes a bad research question ultimately reveals how to create a good research question and Walter explains that although a good research question requires narrowing a topic down by thinking in terms of concepts, a bad research question could occur by trying to conceptualise through all the core concepts, similarly avoid basing a research question on a particular method. Walter explains that a bad research question would be long and complicated. Reiterating the importance of reading, Walter explains that a research question that has already been answered would be ignorant of previous studies in your field and ultimately a bad question.
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