SOC234 2017 Lab1 – Wed 1330 Rm 17-108

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  #Wed130b

Posted in Uncategorized.

33 Comments

  1. One of the main components of good social research is an important social question (Walter, 2010). The research question defines the research process (Natalier, 2010). A research question that is clear, defined and well thought out. It provides the researcher with the best way to approach a topic, the most appropriate method for data collection and the most effective ways of analysis. Research questions can be long with a very narrow research focus, or they can be open allowing for a more broad approach. You have to think really hard, apply conceptual skills and give the process enough time (Natalier, 2010). Firebaugh (2008) states that the two fundamental criteria for a research question are interest in the topic and concepts and also you must have the ability to research it. The question will shape every component of the project (Natalier, 2010). It allows the researcher to remain focussed by placing boundaries on the project. A Strong question must be limited in scope, and must be related to an empirical phenomenon. To create a strong research question you must: read, don’t limit yourself to topics, but rather focus on concepts. Identify puzzles, existing gaps and limitation, acknowledge feedback loops and of course write a question. What you should not do is: rush into your research question. You should avoid problems of misinterpretation, and avoid making long and complicated research questions. Do not tie your research question to one particular method and avoid asking questions that have already been answered (Natalier, 2010). #S234UOW17 #Lab1 # Wed130

  2. A research question can be either good or bad, not both.

    A good research question is the foundation of all successful research, determining how well the research is answered. The question’s execution is pivotal and decisive in the researcher’s capacity to accomplish their desired result: to ‘gain social understanding’ by ‘investigating social answers to social issues and phenomena’. (Walter)

    What is a ‘good’ question can be answered by what it isn’t: a ‘bad’ or poor question will not have enough of the key elements of Research Design:

    It won’t be a well-defined question. The question won’t outline, state or describe its topic or problem. This will make it difficult to intuit and select the correct methodologies, theory and techniques to embark upon research. This also makes it difficult to draw out the outcomes and meaning of your data analysis.

    It won’t identify its topic. It won’t be clear or specific, but too vague and broad in scope for investigation.

    It won’t be ‘empirically answerable’ because it hasn’t defined/identified the problem well at the onset. If the question is too loose it will be difficult to determine the appropriate methodology, theory and analysis techniques with which to answer the question.

    A good research question therefore is the result of the process of ‘research design’. It will be clear, it will be well-defined, it will identify its topic and problem, and enable an intuitive logical selection of its methods and theories thereafter, in order to interpret the data and answer the question.
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  3. Social research allows us, as individuals the ability to investigate our social lives. Walter explains that good social research lies on the foundations of a solid research question and a well thought out research plan (Walter, 2010). A good question requires sound understanding of the research topic. It enables the topic to be explored from varying angles and discussed in length. To come to a good question, a substantial amount of research must be undertaken beforehand to give the researcher an understanding on further sub-topics that can be included within the research. It is important that the language used is clear, concise and states the major aim of the research (Walter, 2010). In contrast to this, a bad question could be a question that fails to address an aim or a specific topic. A long-winded and complicated question could lead to confusion and misinterpretation of information. This could also lead to the research becoming vague and misleading. The question ultimately shapes how the research process is approached.

  4. A good research question is focused and specific in outlining what will be studied, and aims to examine a phenomenon that can be observed and measured empirically. It is typically phrased as a question, not a statement. For example: “Do students who receive government financial assistance such as Austudy achieve grades lower than students undertaking the same study who do not?” In this example, we have an observable body (students) and an empirically measured phenomenon (grades) with a specific focus (to compare those who receive government financial assistance to those who do not.) Informed by a thorough literature review, a good research question aims to identify contradictions or gaps in the body of knowledge, or examine social groups or phenomena in ways previously ignored. It should ultimately serve to bolster the knowledge or improve practices of its field, inform public policy, or contribute beneficially in some other manner.

    A bad research question is general in theme and broad in scope and tries to observe intangible concepts. It is sometimes even worded as a statement, not a question. An example: “Are people who receive government payments worse at their jobs?” This example is vague and unspecific (people/jobs) and does not make clear what exactly is being measured and why. A bad research question typically fails to explore beyond the established literature and studies what has already been studied. It fails to widen the body of knowledge or benefit the field in a significant manner.

  5. Through research we are able to find answers, gain knowledge and question what we already know.A good research question is designed through critical thought and takes time (Natalier, 2010). Through taking the time to work on a research question the researcher is able to clarify what they are interested in and what is yet to be answered within a topic. It is important that the researcher is interested with the topic they are researching as a lot of time and effort is needed. A researcher not interested in the topic may lose interest in their project which will have an overall effect on their research. A research question is also one that is intended to change. Through researching the topic, it may be discovered that the original question is not quite right. Alterations of the question may be needed to change the focus or to include other aspects that were not included before. A researcher should try and avoid asking questions that have already been answered (Natalier, 2010) or they pose a strong opinion about. This is because research biasness and judgments may be included, affecting the overall product. While a question should be broad it should also be simple and avoid being complicated (Natalier, 2010). This provides the research with a clear focus and aim.

  6. A research question, whether bad or good, presents a foundation for which the research must be based. Thus, it is extremely important that a good question is presented in order to ensure that the research that follows is adequate.

    A good and clear research question, according to Walters (2010), “states the major aim of the research in question form, specifying the key idea that the research seeks to investigate and/or explain and identifying the key concepts of research”. Other primary components of good social research should include an important social question that is relevant, a well thought-out and theoretically informed research plan, the use of appropriate research methods applied rigorously, analysis and interpretation of data that is valid, and a broad dissemination of both primary and secondary results and findings (Walters 2010). A good research question is researchable and requires multiple sources of information, both qualitative and quantitative, to answer sufficiently. It should, however, be manageable in terms of research and time. A good research question should be debatable, narrow and significant.

    A bad research question is not clear and broadly covers the scope of the research topic (Walters 2010). There are ethical concerns in all research. Bad research questions and practices do not consider ethics. This may include the lack of anonymity, privacy and safety. Bad research questions are generally simple and can sometimes be based purely around opinion.

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  7. Creating good research questions in the pre-empirical stage of research provides the blueprint for a clear and coherent research project (Walter 2014). Good research questions resolve points of controversy and identify and provide solutions for various social phenomenon and problems (Walter 2014). When designing research questions, it is valuable to consider Cummings (2013) FINER characteristics. FINER questions are feasible and answerable given the resources at the disposal of the researcher, that is, the data and population accessible, the study duration and available funds (Cummings 2013). Research questions should be interesting to the investigator and engage the audience (Cummings 2013). Questions should be novel and confirm, refute, extend on or provide new findings (Cummings 2013; Walter 2014). Questions should provide the basis for ethical research and protect the interests of all involved (Cummings 2013). Lastly, good research questions are relevant (Cummings 2013) and explore topics, concepts and contradictions in existing literature (Walter 2014). To achieve this time and planning are necessary, this includes collaboration with others to generate new ideas and to clarify aims and objectives (Walter 2014). Alternately, bad research questions are those which are less specific and fail to set clear boundaries for which the research is conducted within. Bad research questions should not be avoided or discarded. Rather, they provide the foundation for research (chloeaubin), furthermore, with time, planning and thought bad questions can be turned into good research questions.

  8. Creating good research questions in the pre-empirical stage of research provides the blueprint for a clear and coherent research project (Walter 2014). Good research questions resolve points of controversy and identify and provide solutions for various social phenomenon and problems (Walter 2014). When designing research questions, it is valuable to consider Cummings (2013) FINER characteristics. FINER questions are feasible and answerable given the resources at the disposal of the researcher, that is, the data and population accessible, the study duration and available funds (Cummings 2013). Research questions should be interesting to the investigator and engage the audience (Cummings 2013). Questions should be novel and confirm, refute, extend on or provide new findings (Cummings 2013; Walter 2014). Questions should provide the basis for ethical research and protect the interests of all involved (Cummings 2013). Lastly, good research questions are relevant (Cummings 2013) and explore topics, concepts and contradictions in existing literature (Walter 2014). To achieve this time and planning are necessary, this includes collaboration with others to generate new ideas and to clarify aims and objectives (Walter 2014). Alternately, bad research questions are those which are less specific and fail to set clear boundaries for which the research is conducted within. Bad research questions should not be avoided or discarded. Rather, they provide the foundation for research (chloeaubin), furthermore, with time, planning and thought bad questions can be turned into good research questions.

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  9. Social research questions are formulated with the aim of gaining understanding about a particular topic or area of research. I believe that questions can be either good or bad, however all research questions have flaws. Some questions can be too brief therefore misinterpreted, and others may examine a particular topic where there are multiple elements thus not covering all aspects of the topic to achieve accurate results.

    A good question is one that provides detail and relates to the topic of interest. Good questions are created after extensive research of the topic so that the researcher can further investigate areas which have not been accounted for in past research papers. The question also requires the ability to be answered in a way that is simple and descriptive.

    Bad questions may be questions that have already been discussed within social research and therefore repetitive. Research questions must be purposeful and relevant. A question which does not explore anything wider than current research or fails to specify what it is measuring or aiming to discover is not effective.

  10. A key element of undertaking research is establishing a research question to centre your findings on. Therefore, a good research question is imperative. The point of a research question is to state the aim and specify the key ideas the research seeks to investigate (Patulny, 2017). Thus, research is undertaken because the investigators wish to gain understanding on a topic of interest. The level of understanding sought varies per the type of question proposed (Walter, 2013).
    The type of research can specify the nature of the question. For example, exploratory research opens new areas of enquiry (have you considered…), descriptive research has a set purpose to describe phenomena (the purpose of this research is…) and explanatory research provides an explanation for a problem (we believe therefore…). Thus, the chosen method used to collect and analyse information, can dictate the type of data generated from your research approach (Walter, 2013).
    So, a good research question matches the objective of the research. It is clear, precise, straightforward and relevant. For example, a good question will confirm or contest the proposed hypotheses (Walter, 2013). A good research question is by-product of the researcher’s theoretical framework of how the data is conceptualised, analysed and interpreted (Walter, 2013). With a goal in mind the research question is shaped. Whereas, a bad research question is centred in ambiguity, with vague, imprecise terms and unrelated aspects of interest. This can be confusing to the target audience as well as the researchers as it lacks a clear explanation.

  11. The research question is such a crucial part of the research as it sets the direction in which the research will go. As was mentioned in the lecture a bad research question is a very broad or vague, which means that the research will quite often provide a lot of information in multiple areas rather than providing specific detailed information about a particular topic. On the other hand, a good research question is defined by Walter (2013) as stating the major aim of the research and specifying the main idea that the research looks to explore, meaning that the research will be much more purposeful and will provide a much more in-depth analysis of the particular topic.

    A good research question should provide a good basis for research in return. Off the back of this research, new theories can be proposed and then further research undertaken again (Patulny 2017). This allows research to be continuous based of a good research question, whereas a bad research question will also give future researchers not a whole lot to go off.

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  12. Walter (2013) states that the primary aim of sociological research is to identify, examine and pursue answers and understanding to questions within our world. Walter (2013) identifies that the research question shapes every other component of the project and is an essential step in the research process (Ezzy, 2010). Identifying and constructing a research question takes the examiner beyond their initial interest and narrows down what they hope to understand. Ezzy (2010) settles that vague or general research questions are difficult to answer especially without a certain focus and lack of background information. A research question also needs to be measurable and answered through “studying observable and tangible things” (Walter, 2013). Furthermore, if the question can interrelate to methodological processes and research levels including exploratory, descriptive and explanatory these factors can all determine the difference between a good and bad research question.

    The lecture discussed the importance of maintaining ethics throughout the research process, where the development of a research question and its success is too dependent on this. Conclusively, the human aspect of sociology enhances the complexity of creating a research question. Researchers are caught in their own social world and understanding. This means they can sometimes fail to see economic, cultural and social assumptions that inform their worldview. Ultimately, a researcher’s social position can unknowingly set the structure of a research question, as well as the interpretations and answers that may be determined. This has the potential to create inappropriate or unethical issues resulting in a bad question. #Wed130b #S234UOW17 #Lab1

  13. ‘What makes a good and bad research question?’

    The best part of social research – creating your research question! This is where you formulate your focus of study and begin a journey of investigation into your or another’s society. Crucial to a good research question is reading and carrying out secondary research into the field you’re interested in; finding out what has been ‘answered’ already, where there may be gaps in knowledge, and identifying puzzles or contradictions (Walter, 2013). You will need to talk to many people, constantly clarifying and polishing your focus, as well as taking on board feedback and critiques.

    Whilst on this journey, avoid a longwinded or over complicated research questions, be succinct but informative. As well as try and stay away from tying a specific method to your topic, and don’t rush this process of developing a question; with patience comes clarity. Being apart of social research is also about considering your influences, values and interests (Walter, 2013). These will shape not only what you chose to research, but also how you carry out said research. It is significant to comprehend this when formulating your research question to help you avoid an egocentric focus or have your research carry prejudice.

    Most importantly, choose a question you are willing and capable to answer! Keep in mind that your social research is exploring the social questions you have about our social world (Walter, 2013).
    Your motivation will come from your ability to be interested, intrigued and enthused.
    This if your chance to explore our amazing world, through your own informed lens!

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

    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, p3-24.

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  14. The aimed outcome of research is to generate new knowledge and theories about the world, and to contribute to solving social problems (Walter, 2013). The questions that are asked have an extremely profound influence on whether research attains it’s desired outcome (Walter, 2013). Research questions place boundaries on a project and determines the project’s direction, and they determine how relevant the information that is gathered is to the topic being researched (Walter, 2013). Research questions are therefore the foundation of a project’s successful outcome (Walter, 2013).

    Good research questions should be clear and well-defined in order to allow a valid and appropriate answer (Walter, 2013). This helps to provide helpful and appropriate information for the research topic, allowing the research to gain development on the chosen topic. A research question should focus on one particular subject in order to allow an answer that is more specific to the topic being considered (Walter, 2013). A good research question should focus on the gaps and limitations in existing knowledge, in order to develop new information on the topic (Walter, 2013). Having good research questions are the foundation good research (Walter, 2013).

    Bad research questions are not clear and well-defined, instead they may be vague and complicated (Walter, 2013). Questions that are constructed this way will result in an irrelevant or invalid answer (Walter, 2013). Bad research questions may focus on topics that have already been researched, and therefore retrieve answers that have already been gathered (Walter, 2013). This has a contribution to research projects resulting in poor research outcomes. #S234UOW17 #Lab1 #Wed130b

  15. “Social research is the systematic attempt, using socially approved methods to extend our knowledge and understanding of the world” (Graham R. Gibbs). In order to understand the social world evolving around us, sociologists have the opportunity to obtain great bundles of knowledge through the composition of research questions. Research questions allow sociologists to understand the key ideas and concepts as well as gaining a greater understanding of the major aim involved through their research project. A research question should be succinct, focused and arguable with an accessible platform of discussion for research participants. Research questions should be written in a sufficient and analytical form in order to create your research hypothesis and argument to greater understand your research content.
    Bad research questions can be identified as questions that stem away from the research topic, are short and blunt, contain no key concepts or ideas relevant to the research topic and can be answered with one word responses, e.g. yes or no.
    It is important to acknowledge that research questions entice the discussion section of your research project. Good research questions will not only encourage your research participants to thinking and querying about the topic, but you will also pose questions, discuss and argue the topic yourself.
    As a result of good research questions, research topics should be empirically discussed and key concepts and ideas are understood competently.
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  16. Tweet:
    @rpatulny Breadth vs depth: is there a scientific formula for the good research question http://bit.ly/2vnRmU7 #S234UOW17 #Lab1 #Wed130b

    Blog:
    Natalier (2013) describes the process of formulating a research question as a balancing act, that either positions the research within a conceptual framework that is too narrow or too broad. Haynes (2016) further describes this phenomenon as a relating to a geometrical mathematical equation, where at times breadth must be sacrificed for depth. A good research question demonstrates the researcher’s understanding of social context, as well as of existing research, and seeks to define the aims of the study in a clear and concise manner. However, as discussed by Haynes (2016) a bad research question is not simply a matter of length, but of conceptual and theoretical understanding. Although a research question may appear to be presented in a clear and concise manner, for example, as suggested by Haynes (2016), ‘What is the environmental impact of publishing?’, the social and theoretical context of the concepts presented within the question may in fact be far too broad for the research. Natalier (2013) suggests that a good research question should relate to concepts rather than topics as they can act as a lens through which the broader topic may gain narrower focus. Therefore, in the above instance, ‘what is the environmental impact of publishing?’, the researcher may explore the topic of ‘environmental impact’ and its relationship to ‘publishing’ by examining previous studies and research and identifying existing puzzles, gaps and limitations – Are there unexamined assumptions? Are there existing assumptions that may be examined via a new method? There is no key formula, as each concept is positioned within a different social, theoretical and contextual framework.

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    References:

    Haynes, A 2016, Dr Anthony Haynes: What makes a bad research question?, online video, 20 January, University of Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership, viewed 1 August 2017,

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

  17. Research questions are key to the research process, allowing for the generation of knowledge and theories. (Walter, 2013) As discussed in the lecture, a good research question will specify the key idea that the research seeks to investigate or explain and identify the key concepts of the research. Well thought out and articulated questions will make the research and answering of the question easier. (Walter, 2013) Such questions are vital to the conducting of the research, placing limits and boundaries on the undertaking, while providing guidance and direction, so as not to waste time. (Walter, 2013) A good research question is effectively the necessary foundation of a successful outcome of the research itself. (Walter, 2013) Bouma and Ling’s properties of a research question are also applicable. Good questions are limited in scope, so as to address specific aspects of a topic, rather than a broad and general area. Furthermore, a good research question can be answered through empirical phenomenon by studying observable things. (Walter, 2013)
    A bad research question will not do many of the things important to good questions. Bad questions will often be rushed, with an inadequate amount of time provided for their conception. (Walter, 2013) Furthermore, bad questions can be misinterpreted or may be long and complicated and tied to a specific method of research. (Walter, 2013) The development of a question that is too broad will also lead to a bad research question. Without a good, clear and concise research question, the data generated may not be relevant to the topic and may prevent a coherent social analysis. (Walter, 2013)

  18. Social research is performed to ultimately gain a further understanding on the world that surrounds us. The research question that is proposed throughout the research is what will determine the quantity and quality of the knowledge that will be gained (Walter, 2013). It is therefore vital that a good research question is attained. Natalier (2013) states that a good research question should be narrow as well as realistic to ensure that it accumulates the correct data in terms of the focus of the research. According to Ezzy (2010), a research question that is too broad in focus can make the research process more arduous for the researcher when gathering results and answering the question.

    On the other hand, social research is heavily involved with the researchers views and opinions (Walter, 2013). The ethics of research was mentioned in the lecture and has great significance in social research due to the collection of qualitative data (Patulny, 2017). A researchers view of the world will inevitably impact upon their research question, the data that is gathered, and the way in which they interpret the data (Walter, 2013). This may be an ethical issue as potential data that does not align with the researchers views may be avoided, thus affecting the quality of the research question.

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  19. When creating a research question, the driving factor that determines whether it is a good or bad question is if it is concise and has direction. Vague and general research questions are difficult to answer and therefore make for bad questions (Ezzy, 2010). Once we have a question, we cannot begin to understand or answer it unless we consider the social context and pressures that influence our assumptions surrounding the topic (Ezzy, 2010). Having a good research question is key, as it is an essential step in the research process and shapes the rest of the components in a project (Walter, 2013). With a strong research question and proper methods for testing it, we can push the boundaries of our knowledge and pursue answers that have not been covered in past research papers. A good research question also delves into contradictions or controversies found in previous research and resolves them (Walter, 2013). With all things considered the question should be relevant, concise and debatable. Once a good research question has been established, proper method should be strictly carried out which includes a well thought out research plan, the application of appropriate research methods, interpretation of data, and dissemination of results (Walter, 2013). This process cannot be properly carried out with a vague research question that does not focus on a specific relevant topic, as the question shapes the rest of the research.

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  20. Constructing a good research question is the most important stage in the research process if the question is not formatted correctly or too confusing than it will create problems when you begin your research. Some of the most essential things to craft a good research question is to ensure that it is socially relevant and that the research method you are using is correct.
    If the primary aim in social research is to identify, investigate and seek to understand social patterns and social meanings (Walter, 2006) then the research question we are asking must be relevant to the world we are living in. A good socially relevant question could be, ‘How are social media sites are affecting teenagers’, a poor research question would be, ‘why teenagers communicate in person.’
    Research method is the most important thing in forming a balanced and good research question. The research method we undertake immediately effects the research question and what answers we will find. The question should select the method not the other way around. (Walter, 2006). You would most likely not use a quantitative research method if you were asking a research question such as, ‘why men respond differently to childbirth than women’. You would more likely use a qualitative research method to get more depth in understanding as to why both genders respond the way they do, as the research question is looking for behavioral information not statistics.
    There is no guaranteed way of generating good research questions (Robson, 1993) however, making sure to clearly explain your question, making the question socially relevant in today’s world, and, selecting the proper research method for your question will ensure that you form a balanced, creative and engaging research question.

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  21. Forming a good research question is not always as straightforward as one might anticipate. However, having a good research question is vital, as it is used in guiding further research. For example, a research question will be featured prominently in a research proposal, without which good research cannot be carried out A good research question must be concise, well informed, empirical, and ethical (Natalier 2013 & Walter 2013). A research question that is not concise could be poorly explained or defined, or become ambiguous; these things should be avoided in order for the question to guide research. The question should be well informed, as this 1. Shows that the researcher has a good understanding of the subject, and thus accredits it, and 2. Avoids research being undertaken on a subject that has already been studied. Furtermore, the research question must be empirical. Bouma & Ling 2004 state this because a research question that is not related to an “empirical phenonmenon” cannot be answered through a sociological frame, as there is nothing tangible to study or observe. Ethics is also vital, given that all social research revolves around human subjects. Most social research will not be cleared to go ahead if it is unethical – this is why we have HRECs, or Human Research Ethics Committees.
    Furthermore, I personally believe that a good research question is adaptable and flexible. I think this is crucial for a number of reasons, as pointed out by Macionis & Plummer (2012): societies change very rapidly, and we as sociologists and researchers are part of the societies we are studying. For this reason, good research questions also need to account for constant change, conflicting and unanticipated results, and bias.

  22. When conducting social research its critical to develop a good research question. By developing a good research question, it will allow the researcher to properly investigate their area of interest. A component of a good research question is ensuring that it is specific in what the research hopes to answer. This will ensure that the research will have a clear focus. Comparatively, a bad research question will be general and vague which can often make it harder for the researcher to properly examine their area of interest (Ezzy 2010, p. 65).
    Similarly, a good research question will include the key concepts of the research. This includes any theories or words that will assist the researcher in answering their question. While bad research questions will not have any key concepts that are associated with the area of study. Ultimately making it difficult to investigate their area of interest.
    It is vital that a researcher question is clear and concise. It will allow the research to be focus and ensure that the researcher does not detract from their investigation. In addition, the inclusion of any key concepts in the question will help the researcher better understand their topic of interest.
    Reference list
    Ezzy, D 2010, ‘The Research Process’, in M Walter (ed.), Social Research Methods, 2nd edition, Oxford University Press, Victoria, pp. 61-86

  23. What makes a good and bad research question?

    The quality of the question being asked will directly inform and determine the quality of the response, therefore influencing the outcome of the research process (Walter, 2013). Clear, precise and succinct research questions are, therefore, imperative to successful research which can thus inform, challenge or transform the way individuals perceptively view the world.
    A clear research question will build upon the researcher’s interests, while also having connections into existing debates of interest to other sociologists (Firebaugh, 2008). This enables the researcher to discuss results and the process of social research in relation to other works available, thereby informing their own research. The question should allow these ‘other works’ to both support and challenge the sociologists research in order to gain insight into differing points of view.
    Furthermore, a good research question must be answerable. Firebaugh stresses that many research interests are inadequately answerable simple due to a lack of resources, information or data (Firebaugh, 2008). While a strong research question might challenge something and encourage new research, the question must remain within the limitations of what can and cannot be answered. On the other end, a bad research question may be too easy to answer and therefore, the results of the research too broad and generalised (Walter, 2013). In order to overcome both problems, the sociologist must continually return to their question during the research process and reassess the questions validity and editing it to adequately inform and determine the quality of the response.

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  24. To understand what makes a good research question, I asked myself why we undertake social research in the first place, and why it is significant.
    Walter (2013, p.8) notes that we do social research because knowledge is important. To understand the world around us and its functions is imperative to social understanding. Social research could be considered fundamental to civil society, political society, and the economy.

    Week 1s lecture describes research as formalised curiosity. More specifically, “poking and prying with a purpose” (Patulny 2017).

    To achieve a good research question, theory and empirical research work hand in hand to combine both theory and data. This is because data without theory is regurgitation just as theory without data.
    Key concepts and key ideas are crucial for a good research question (Walters 2010, p.13) along with the 7 steps of the theory and research process in the lecture slides as a tool for making a good research question. Making assumptions about ontology, epistemology and axiology is inevitable when generating and testing theory so keeping this in mind is important not only when generating a question, but when carrying out the research too.

    Social research as Walters (2013, p.23) states is wide field of understanding. According to Alvesson (2011, p.250), the increased acknowledgement that going head to head with pre-existing social ‘norms’ existing in literature makes a theory interesting.

    Bad research questions would be those that have been looked at on multiple occasions. Using the same methods to form the same data already investigated. Being interested as well as capturing interest of others is key!

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  25. As other students have stated, research questions often direct the overall outcome of the research itself as they entail how effective one is in collecting information that is useful and informative (Walter 2013). It is clear that having good questions within a research project is therefore paramount to the research process.

    In order to understand what makes a good question in research versus a bad one it is important to look at different aspects which go into formulating questions. The question drives the research, which means a good question promotes effective methods, analysis, and concepts (Walter 2013).

    Having a clear aim, interest and a base of knowledge within the question helps to set up the research with creativity as well as organisation and learning. For example, Natalier (2013) explores how a good question looks beyond and branches off known knowledge bases to create new understanding. Bad questions within research lack this creativity by not asking anything new (Natalier 2013).

    Aspects such as scope and ethics are also significant elements to consider. Ezzy (2010) identifies that a project cannot research everything and therefore, the questions in the research cannot address all components of the project. This limitation means that questions should be answerable in the sense that they are not too complex but rather clear and specific. An example of bad questions includes those that are too long or vague.
    Ethics is also important to include within a good question as questions which involve elements of harm go against the principles of good research.

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    Reference List

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

    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, pp. 3-24

    Ezzy, D (2010) ”The Research Process” in Walter, Maggie (ed.) (2010) Social Research Methods, Oxford University Press, pp. 61-86.

  26. All good research should begin with a good research question as it will provide guidance to a clear and focused research process. Whilst bad research questions may result in issues with development in the research process.

    A good research question should firstly be limited in scope but not to narrow, this is to ensure the question can be answered in a timely process but still hold worthy purpose of researching. Secondly, a good research question should be answerable with an explanation through studying observable things (Natalier, 2010). This will allow for useful answers to be found that can contribute to solving social issues.

    Bad research questions are often either too limited that they can be answered with a simple yes or no, or too broad to be manageable. Other times the question is not suitable to examine such as ‘do aliens exist?’ (Natalier, 2010).

    One of the key concerns in developing a research question is the asking of the ‘real’ questions, meaning the genuine questions asked in the beginning of the research process. Often when deciding on a research question people skip over the specific issue and make more general statements about the topic which can result in the research being unable to solve or explain the original questions asked (Wadsworth, 1997).

    To ensure a research question can be answerd to explain the social issue of concern, researches must continue to consider those initial questions asked in the beginning of the research design when writing their research question.

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  27. Investigation into the social world is key to our understanding of who we are and permeates all areas of our social lives (Walter, 2013). Thus, social research is vital and its primary aim is to investigate and explore meanings and patterns underlying our social framework (Walter, 2013).

    But how do we investigate an area so vast? The implementation of social research requires the crucial element of research questions. In order to undertake social research you need a trajectory, key concepts and ideas that your research will endeavour to answer. This is the role of the research question. A good research question gives direction and guide to your research (Natalier, 2008).

    A good research question should state the aim of the research in the form of the question. It should guide the researcher/audience on the direction you are going to take.
    It should be clear, concise and limited in scope as it is difficult to address every aspect of a broad topic well (Natalier, 2008). If a research question is too complex and long it won’t be articulated well which has the potential to cause confusion and misunderstanding (Natalier, 2008).

    Of course, one of the most crucial aspect of social research is that the questions we pose must be answerable. A good research question will study and investigate empirical data and evidence to answer the question. Questions based on morality or spirituality are very difficult to answer and do not fulfil the criteria of a good research question (Bouma and Ling (2004) cited in Natalier, (2008)).

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  28. As the purpose of social research is to find new information which can contribute to theories and collective understanding of society (Walter, 2013), the construction of effective and ethical research questions is imperative in maintaining equity and focus.
    A good research question contains a clear focus. In order to achieve this, the methodology must be specifically chosen and designed to cater to the aim. However, in order to gain a deeper understanding of the subconscious influences the conductor and participants may be under, both the theoretical perspective informing the chose of methodology, such as symbolic interactionism or positivism, and the epistemology, such as an objectivist or subjectivist theory of knowledge, need to be considered (Crotty, 1998).
    By questioning the assumed knowledge and perception of what is common sense, the research question can reach a deeper understanding of the social issue being explored. An example of unchallenged assumptions affecting the effectiveness of research is the traditional approach to studying adolescents, with an understanding of the group as homogenous (Shucksmith & Hendry, 1998) and a misguided focus on transitory events such as graduation or marriage (Arnett, 1997). By constructing questions which hone in too directly on the concept of transistors events, results will center around this, perpetuating misconceptions and hindering progress with social issues related to this.
    In contrast, a question which is too vague can lead to confusion and irrelevant or invalid answers (Walter, 2013).
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  29. ‘What makes a good and bad research question?”

    Understanding our society can be a complex and tedious task, it may require a lot of attention and preparation in order to successfully construct a plausible theory which explains social phenomena. However, this largely relies on the fabrication of a credible research question which directly correlates with the research method and data collected.

    A research question constructs the framework of a theory and the reliability of information. Its sets up and designs the manner in which you will construct your research. It is imperative to have a good research question that underpins key words and references which accurately identifies and relates to the aim of the research.

    As a result of a well-produced research question, will “determine the best way to approach the topic, the most appropriate data collection method, and the most effective analysis techniques” (Natalier, 2008, p25). Therefore, methodology of the research is directly impacted by the standard of the research question presented.

    On the other hand, a bad research question can set the researcher up for unnecessary errors in the aim and method of data collection. Natalier. K discussing that ‘without a clearly articulated research question, data is more or less relevant and likely to result in an incoherent social analysis’ (Natalier, 2008).

    In conclusion, a clear and precise research question is vital to the success and reliability of research in social theory.

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  30. 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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  31. What makes a good and bad research question?

    A good research question is clear and well researched. Good research questions come from extensive reading and research so that they are warranted and not useless. A bad research question on the other hand, is not clear and does not have a clear purpose or agenda in that it doesn’t seek to yield a useful answer. A good research question will be worded strategically in a way which will achieve the best results for the researcher while a bad research question will confuse the participant or not give the participant to provide information which is useful to the study.

    A good research question will not be ambiguous; terms should not be confusing for the participant or need further explanation from the researcher. A good research question should result in information which is measurable and applicable to the study. A bad research question will result in information which will not be beneficial for the study. A good research question does not simply require a yes/no answer, it will be designed to ascertain the why/how/how much/what. A bad research question does not take into account research which already exists while a good research question will try to seek out new answers or answers which will create more inquiry into perhaps an area which has not received as much attention. A good research question will not stray from the main aim of the research while a bad research question may be convoluted and not get to the crux of what’s needed.

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