UMGC Library

Research Tutorial

Improving Your Research Question

The figure below contains tips for improving a question that is too broad or too narrow for an academic-level research paper, or cannot be answered.

Improving your research question

Improving your Research Question

Problem

Example

Try Instead

The question is too broad.

What is the history of management?

Focus on a specific subtopic: What historic management practices have had the greatest influence on the current practice of self-managed teams in organizations?

How does a lack of communication in an organization affect the general workplace?

Focus on a specific subtopic: How do team-based organizations ensure that appropriate levels of communication take place among the management levels?

The question is too narrow.

How did the United Auto Workers affect the economy in Dayton, Ohio, in 1973?

 

Focus on the larger context of the issue or topic: What influence did automobile labor unions have on the US economy in the early 1970s?

Does Sweden have nationalized health care? (The answer is "yes." That doesn't make for much of a paper.)

Focus on the larger context of the issue or topic: How did health care professionals influence the political process that enabled Sweden to establish nationalized health care?

The question cannot be answered.

What decisions made in secret meetings caused Apple to develop the iPod? (You are unlikely to find information from secret meetings.)

Choose an issue or topic about which youcan obtain information: What factors influenced Apple to add the iPod to its product line?