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Prof. Becker - English 101: Research Question

Welcome! This guide was created to help students in Professor Sarah Becker's ENG101 class.

Develop a Research Question

The Research Question should be clear and focused enough to allow you to develop an argument. You shouldn't be able to answer your research question with a simple Yes or No, but discuss it from different angles. You may start out having one opinion of the topic but change your mind after conducting your research.

If you are not sure what to write about start with a broad topic and narrow it down by thinking of some of the issues associated with it. Then turn your broad topic and issue into a research question.

e.g. Education:

Levels of education: Pre-K, Kindergarten, K-6, K-12, higher education, etc.

Narrow by Population (PEOPLE): teachers, administrators, students, boys/girls; people with disabilities; children in private vs. public school; speakers of other languages/native speakers . . . and so on.

Narrow by Issue: IT/Tech (video games and learning); Social Issues (geographic inequality); Psychology (trauma and its effects on learning); Health and Nutrition (exercise benefits for learning)
 

Level of Education + Population + Issue = Research Question

Potential research questions:

Can video games be effective tools for learning for boys and girls in grades K-6? 

Should community colleges in the United States offer dual languages courses for non-native speakers?

What techniques can teachers adopt to address life and family trauma among young adults in the high school classroom?

Should pre-K be a formalized part of the public education curriculum? 
 

Go to the SEARCH STRATEGY tab to see how to break your topic down into keywords to create the most effective searches.

Types of Sources

Each of these sources has its own strengths and weaknesses.

Newspapers:  Written for general readers on a wide variety of topics. 
Example: Newspaper article reporting local pollution event, including interviews with residents.
Magazines: Also for current topics, written for general readers with no background in the subject. Example: Longer, in depth article about a pollutant or pollution event for a general audience. 
Academic Journals: Longer research reports by specialists, written for other specialists. Can be quite technical. (Also called Scholarly / Peer Reviewed / Professional Journals). Example: Research article examining the detrimental health effects of overexposure to lead.
Books: Much longer and in-depth than articles from newspapers, journals and magazines.Can be written for the non-specialist or specialist. Due to publishing time, will probably not cover recent events. Some may be collections of individual articles. Example: Book on importance of access to clean drinking water.
Regulations: Regulations, legislation, rules, standards and advisories from health or other government organizations will give you an idea of what are currently considered acceptable levels of exposure, limits on discharge, handling and disposal requirements, projected goals and other regulatory policies. Example: Recommended thresholds for exposure to lead by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Statistics: Data of how much, how many, how often provided in clear charts. Often produced by government organizations. When you find a number quoted in an article, see if you can find the original source. Example: U.S. greenhouse emissions by gas (1990-2105) from the EPA.