Research Question Instructions
In Module/Week 3, you will submit your Research Question for approval along with a 150-200-word explanation of why you selected this question. Your research question should be complex in that it requires insights from two disciplines (these should be your two Areas of Study) and researchable in an interdisciplinary sense (authors from your two Areas of Study have written on the topic or at least on some aspect of it). In Module/Week 4 of this course, you will use your research question to build an annotated bibliography which will help decide with confidence if your problem is actually researchable. The Readings & Study from Module/Week 1-3 will provide you with some examples of research questions that relate directly to an interdisciplinary approach.
Interdisciplinary Research Question Examples
Example Question 1: What is the cause of teen apathy toward learning?
Example Question 2: Should the government mandate a limit on the size of sugary drinks?
Through these examples, the research questions are connecting two areas of study (or discipline). For Question 1, the researcher is merging the areas of study of Psychology and Education. For Question 2, the researcher is merging the areas of study of American Government and Public & Community Heath.
Tips for Developing a Quality Research Question
It is essential to develop a specific research question that holds your interest and is specific so you can focus your annotated bibliography. For example, researching a broad topic such as “Is coal a good fuel source” is difficult since there may be hundreds of sources on all aspects of this topic. On the other hand, a focused question such as “Should natural gas replace coal as a fuel source for electricity production” is easier to research and can be covered in more depth.
- Does the question address an interdisciplinary topic or issue that inspires my own thoughts and opinions?
- Is the question easily and fully researchable?
- What type of information do I need to answer the research question?
For example, the research question “What impact has federal deregulation had on commercial airline safety?” will obviously require certain types of information:
- statistics on airline crashes before and after
- statistics on other safety problems before and after
- information about maintenance practices before and after
- information about government safety requirements before and after
- Is the scope of this information reasonable? (e.g., can I really research 10 on-line writing programs developed over a span of 10 years?)
- Given the type and scope of the information that I need, is my question too broad or too narrow?
- What sources will have the type of information that I need to answer the research question (journals, books, internet resources, government documents, and people)?
- Given my answers to the above questions, do I have a quality research question that I actually will be able to answer by doing research?