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You need to choose a dissertation topic before moving on to the step of developing a dissertation research question. The development of the research question is significant because it will impact other sections in your dissertation. Besides, it is the basis for deciding on a more suitable theoretical framework to rely on in the project. The dissertation research question helps to articulate the research gap or research problem to be addressed. Important sections like the methodology and literature review extend from the research question. We can conclude that the dissertation committee will not accept your proposal if the dissertation research question is unclear. The reason is that it is the dissertation research question that can make or break you and, therefore, ensure it is a good one.
Developing a strong dissertation research question
By now, it is evident that a dissertation research question is essential. You can adopt several strategies for developing the dissertation research question. If possible, you can allow your interests to act as guidance in developing the dissertation research question.
Types of research questions
In the course of writing a dissertation, students will need to come up with different types of research questions. Keep in mind that the type of research question chosen in your dissertation defines the research methods and the type of research conducted.
These categories are often intertwined, and research questions may consist of a combination of two or more.
- Descriptive research question
- Comparative research question
- Defining research question
- Normative/evaluative research question
- Explanatory/explanatory research question
- Testing research question
- Advisory, problem-solving and framing research question
- Predictive testing research question
Some of the dos in writing a dissertation research question
- Conduct research
- Locate gaps in the literature obtained during research because the research question will be filling the research gap
- Look for methods used to study the research question because they will come in handy during the completion of your work.
- Share ideas with the dissertation consultant as this process will help you refine, give clarity and significance to the dissertation research question.
- Have a version of the research question that you are comfortable with
- Maintain vigilance, ask for advice and guidance from the dissertation consultant about the concepts used in the dissertation research question
- Refine the research question to make it strong and clear
Some of the don’ts on writing a dissertation research question
- Avoid dissertation topics that are not interesting. The reason is that you will find it challenging to write and complete the dissertation research question.
- Avoid writing a dissertation that you are not interested in because it can become extremely difficult or impossible to write.
Tips for writing a strong dissertation research question
The research question needs to be intriguing and maintain the interest of the reader throughout the project. In making the research question interesting, students can avoid two traps.
- Some research questions are fads which imply that a specific set of personal circumstances contribute to their creation. For instance, job application. A change of circumstances can lead to a loss of interest in the topic, and it becomes tedious.
- Some research questions are convenient. The statement implies some questions result from the creation by an author to fit into their units and so, they decide it will suffice.
In general, ensure that you have an interest in the topic, you can back it with academic evidence and explore it in detail. The choice of a topic based on your interest motivates you to keep working and produce a good dissertation.
Clear and simple
A complex research question may lead to a complicated research process due to hidden, unclear thoughts. This implies that a good research question is elaborate, well-thought-through, and clear. A research question that may hide contradictory or irrelevant concepts may contribute to difficulty in parts of your work. During the process of writing the research question, most people are tempted to begin with the literature review and data collection which only generates a broad and vague research question. When the research question is muddled, the result is also muddled data and muddled analysis.
On the other hand, a clear and simple research question may become complex as you begin to deliberate on the situation you are studying. Your research will be guided by one question with several sub-components, and this shows the significance of simplicity and clarity.
Consistent with the requirements of the dissertation
Before thinking of writing the research question, think of the course requirements. The scope of the research question must satisfy the learning outcomes for the course. For instance, one can choose to conduct a theoretical study without analysis of the empirical data, which will mean that they think carefully before making a choice. In such a case, they must give an account of the methodology and convince the reader that theoretical analysis helps to address the question comprehensively. Besides, it must be proved how theoretical models have been used to produce new insights into the subject.
Substantial and contains original dimensions
Your research question should avoid duplication of other research questions asked in the modules undertaken in your course. Coming up with a unique research question shows your imagination, the ability to construct and develop research issues. All of this is achievable when one has grasped the scope to develop a strong dissertation question.
The project and scope of the project must be realistic before embarking on it. Furthermore, the research question must be within your ability to tackle. For instance, ask questions like are the statistics available, are the people needed for the research accessible and are some of the documents necessary to collect the data within reach? In addition, the questions must cover concepts related to the research question. You must also ask yourself if the variables, indicators, phenomena, and observations are accessible? Is the data accessible within the limited time and resources? The following inquiry is important because the research question can appear feasible, but once the study has begun, it is otherwise. In such a situation, it is significant to write the problems honestly and reflect on the lessons throughout the research. If it is possible, develop a contingency plan with the supervisor to anticipate some of the issues to do with access.
The research question should be of intellectual and academic interest to the audience in the field of study. As such, your research question should arise from issues raised in the course of the study or practice. Establish a clear purpose when you have decided to start embarking on the research.
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