Sustainability: Developing Research Questions

Some further points…

A good starting point for thinking about research questions is to first read through the Sustainability sections in the Developing the Proposal menu.

Good research questions:

  • Address significant problems, surmounting the hurdle of Why should we care?
  • Are answerable through analysis that tests one or more specific hypotheses
  • Are ones for which you will have adequate data and can apply relevant methods for an analysis that provides evidence in support of these hypotheses

Research questions are intimately bound with hypothesis testing, available data, and methods of analysis - each must correspond to the other elements.

Formulating research questions requires rigorous evaluation to determine which interesting, informative hypotheses can be examined with a set of available data or a type of modeling - which then informs revision of the research question for consistency.

  • Can this question be answered through your proposed analysis?
  • Will your analysis test the hypothesis in an unbiased manner, or provide evidence for different alternatives of the hypothesis?
  • Are your stated research goals addressed by this analysis, or will it address a related, but different goal instead?