Coming up with a good research question is critical to the success of your entire project. Coming up with a good one requires research, and you need to know the approaches to take to create one. There are some methods that will help you come up with better ideas.

Connect with Professors to Gain Ideas

It’s a good idea to tap into your network to talk about topics you are interested in. Connecting with professors or colleagues lets you share ideas and resources you have come across. You might be able to gain ideas on potential contacts as well, and you may receive advice on potential topics. They can also help you come up with possible questions to further explore.

You might consider furthering your education if you don’t have a higher degree already.

Furthering your education can give you access to a broader network of professors and colleagues. Getting your degree can help you professionally in more ways than one. If you are thinking about getting your degree, you can get scholarships for college to pay the partial or entire cost of the degree. Talk about topics with your peers or colleagues. You might be able to come up with good ideas together. More people are often better than just one. You may also consider hosting debates and discussions on topics that are interesting to you, or you could attend conferences and talks and connect with others through social media.

Review the Existing Literature

You will only be able to find pertinent topics when you know what the existing literature has already explored. One of the benefits of writing essays is that you get to soak in plenty of information in essay form that has come before you. Take some time to review landmark literature on topics of interest to you. You can use Google Scholar to find authors’ h-indexes, which helps you determine how productive a researcher is.  When the h-index is higher, the author’s work is more likely to be relevant to others as well. Finding all the work by an author also allows you to determine which pieces of literature are being talked about the most. Index sites also allow you to see where their work has been cited so you can explore those pieces as well.

Stay Abreast of Recent Review Papers and Surveys

It’s a good idea to stay in tune with recent findings in your industry by reading reports, papers, rebuttals, and responses. Reading this content can help you understand the context, and it can help you come up with ideas for your question. In fields like literature and science, there are plenty of differing views on data interpretation and theory. You can find both topics and potential talking points in review papers. Scholars often write review papers to summarize their findings or viewpoints on a certain field. It might be about a certain way of thinking, a theory’s current state, or even a methodology used in this field of thinking.

Look for Gaps in Current Knowledge

When you understand what the existing knowledge looks like, it is time to find gaps in this understanding. That can help you come up with a topic of interest to others. There are a few different kinds of gaps. Explanatory gaps usually occur in work based on theory, and they can be found in both basic and applied research. If the current knowledge around a theory does not take phenomena into account, there is an explanatory gap. Empirical gaps happen if there have not been any experiments done to test hypotheses and predictions. If there have not been any experiments done, only observations can support the theory.

Develop a Theory

Creating a theory is one of the most important activities in research. While it is important to collect observations and facts from experiments, it couldn’t happen if there was not a theory to guide this collection of information. An academic survey relies on an existing theory, and the information gathered from the survey is designed to support or disprove that theory. Developing a strong theory is important in nearly every field, and in the past, this type of work has led to the development of social movements and academic disciplines. Creating theories can come in many shapes and forms, making it an excellent starting point for coming up with research questions. Use Applied Research

Applied research is trying to explain how or why things work based on current knowledge. It combines both experiences and research to create additional knowledge. Generally, it is used to create services or physical goods. The type of work medical researchers, engineers, and designers do is often classified as applied research. This work can make people’s lives better.

Follow in the Footsteps of Other Researchers

Not everyone can create unique products or make groundbreaking observations and predictions. However, even revolutionary scientists have started somewhere. This usually starts with a network of others who share similar interests and want to investigate theories. Research relies heavily on the community of like-minded individuals, and the most successful have built on cumulative knowledge shared with a broader audience. Take some time to dig around online to learn about findings related to your topic of interest or use resources at your organization’s library. Learn what current researchers understand about the topic and ask questions that will help you gain relevant information.

What Makes a Good Research Question?

After going through these steps, you will likely have at least a few ideas on what you wish to learn more about. It’s important to understand what makes a question one you should pursue further. Ask yourself who it is relevant. It should be relevant to your target audience. Most of the time, your target audience will be members of the community, policymakers, or key stakeholders in the industry. The interests of your target audience can determine how relevant your question is. Making a question specific can make it more relevant to this key group of people. The question should be specific in the way it is constructed and formed. This allows you to better determine things like precedence, causation, and correlation. It also helps you better define concepts, and it makes it easier for you to set aside your work from existing work.