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Library research skills

Crafting a researchable question

During your studies it is likely that you will be asked to create your own research question for an assignment. This page has some tips to help you develop an appropriate research question.

Getting started:

1. Identify a topic of interest. You want to make sure that you are researching something you are interested in. Your initial topic can be quite broad.

2. Do some preliminary searching. This will help you find any gaps in the literature and develop a better understanding of your topic and the terminology used.

3. Focus your topic into a research question. Ask how and why questions.

Your question should be:
Answerable Can you investigate or measure it? Is it an actual question and not just a statement?
Clear

Word your question carefully. Every word in your question has meaning and slight changes in wording can change meaning. Does your audience understand what you are researching?

Focused If your question is too broad you will have trouble answering it. If it is too narrow you won't have enough to explore. It can take time to get the balance right.
Relevant Are you interested in it? Is there an audience?

Adapted from Developing a research question, University of Melbourne, 2018.

Your research question should be written in an academic style. For help with writing academically refer to the resources below.

Understanding your assignment topic

If you are given a set topic or research question you need to analyse the question and make sure you understand it correctly. Understanding your assignment task is the first step and is really important to ensure you don't waste time looking into the wrong thing and to make sure you address all aspects of the assignment. Use the resources below to help unpack your assignment question.

Want to know more?

Check out the below resources for more tips on how to create a researchable question

Once you are happy with your research question it is time to start finding your references. To do this effectively break down your key topics and plan your search. Learn more about this on the next page of this guide.