When researching, you'll start with a broad topic (sustainable coffee production, food insecurity in Cuba, street food in Mexico City, etc.).
Narrowing your topic into a research question can help you focus your research and be more efficient--you'll be able to sift through your sources and quickly identify which ones address the exact thing you want to learn.
Research questions are not all the same. Here are some tips for developing strong research questions.
Good research questions are:
- Open-ended: Instead of forming a question that can be answered with a simple yes or no, ask How? Why? Who? What was the cause? What was the impact?
- Answered with research, but not simple research. A question that can be answered with a quick Google search is not going to make for interesting research. Avoid overly subjective questions. Your research should be based on facts and ideas, not opinions.
- Focused: A good research question is specific and examines one slice of a larger topic.
- About something that matters (to you and/or society): Why would someone care about the answer to your question? If you can easily answer that, it is probably a meaningful question.
- Flexible: You may need to adjust or change your question as you research, depending on the evidence you find (or don't find).