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Research Process: A Step-By-Step Guide: 1b. Develop Research Questions

This guide walks you through the steps of the research process.

Developing Research Questions

Wordle: research ??s

Once you have selected a topic, the next step is to develop research questions.

  • Write down what you already know or don't know about the topic.
  • Use that information to develop questions.
    • Use probing questions. (why? what if?)
    • Avoid "yes" and "no" questions. 

Example: Endangered Species Act

What do or don't I know about the Endangered Species Act (ESA)?

I know:

  • it's a law that protects animals and habitats that are in danger of extinction.
  • at one point bald eagles and grizzly bears were on the list.
  • there has been a lot of controversy about adding polar bears to the list.

I don't know:

  • what it takes for an animal to be removed from the list.
  • what the penalties are for violating this act.
  • if it protects only habitats within the U.S.

Research Questions

  • What was the ESA designed to protect -- animals only or ecosystems, too?
  • What animals/habitats outside of the United States are covered by the act?
  • What other countries have legislation to protect animals/habitats?
  • What animals are currently on the endangered species list?
  • How does an animal get added/removed from the list?
  • What penalities are imposed on those who violate the act?