Thinking about Questions: Beyond Topical Research
A Feinberg Guide for Students
Better Questions Lead to Better Research!
“Which one” questions ask you to collect information and make informed decisions.
- Which city in the Mid-Atlantic region is the best place to live?
- Which serious disease most deserves research funding?
“How” questions ask you to understand problems, to weigh options from various points of view, and to propose solutions.
- How would I solve an environmental problem in my neighborhood?
- How did the scientific advances of the nineteenth century affect the outcome of the Civil War?
“What if” or hypothetical questions ask you to use your knowledge to pose a hypothesis and consider the options.
- What if the Declaration of Independence had abolished slavery?
- What if the Germans hadn’t sunk the Lusitania?
“Should” questions ask you make a moral or practical decision based on evidence.
- Should we clone humans?
- Should we initiate trade with Cuba?
“Why” questions ask you to understand the cause and effect, to understand relationships. “Why” can help you get to the essence of an issue.
- Why do people abuse children?
- Why is the mortality rate of one developing country higher than another?
Source: Joyce Kasman Valenza, Ph.D. (Learn more)
Valenza, J.K. (2003) Power Research Tools: Learning Activities & Posters. Chicago, IL. American Library Association.
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