UMGC Library

Research Tutorial

Characteristics of Good and Bad Research Questions

The figure below gives some examples of good and "not-so-good" research questions.

Good and bad research questions

Good vs. Bad Research Questions

Good Research Questions

Bad Research Questions

Have no simple answer - are open-ended and consider cause/effect

Have simple or easy answers - can be answered with one word, a number, or a list

Are "researchable" - can be answered with accessible research, facts, and data

Cannot be answered -- there is no answer, or the information to answer the question is not accessible

Open the door for other areas of research and inquiry 

Can only be answered with an opinion

Often begin with - how, why, what, which?

Often begin with - who, when, where, how much, how many?

Pass the so what test - are interesting to others

Do not pass the so what test - no one really cares about the answer