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Library Research 101: How to Get Started

Research Questions

What is a research question?

  • A question you ask yourself about your research topic


Why do I need a research question?

  • It can help you focus your research, and your writing


How do I write a research question?

  • Choose a topic of interest to you
  • Think about the many things related to your topic
  • Now list several possible questions
  • Choose one to pursue
  • Make this one question more, but not too, specific
    • Think focused, clear and complex; again, a concept map can be helpful





(Concept map made using


Here's an example:


  • Topic - climate change and its effect on birds


  • Related things - Weather, Habitat, Food, Raising Young, Migration


  • Possible questions -
    • How is climate change affecting existing habitat for birds?
    • Is climate change a factor in the dwindling population of some bird species?


  • Pick one question that interests you -
    • How is climate change affecting existing habitat for birds?


  • Focus the question to be more complex (i.e. for this topic add geography or species). Make sure your words are clear and precise -
    • How is climate change affecting existing habitat for birds in New England?

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