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MUS 160: Humanities Learning Community

Guidance for completing your annotated bibliography and research paper

What is a good research question?

A good research question is clear, focused, and complex. There is a difference between a research topic (like music and healing) and a research question, which seeks to find out the whether, how, or why of something specific. 

The following worksheet is very helpful for turning a topic into a question.

Start by writing out your topic as a question. Ask yourself:

Is My Question Clear?

Your research question needs to be as clear as possible to effectively direct your research.

Too Unclear: Why are social networking sites harmful?

Better: How are online users experiencing or addressing privacy issues on such social networking sites as MySpace and Facebook?

Is My Question Focused?

Your research question must have a specific focus so that you can cover the topic well in the length allowed for your project.

Too Unfocused: What effect does global warming have on the environment?

Better: How is glacial melting affecting penguins in the Arctic Circle?

Is My Question Complex?

Your research question should not be answerable with easily-found facts. Your question should require research and analysis.

Too Simple: How are doctors addressing diabetes in the U.S.?

Better: What are common traits of those suffering from diabetes in America, and how can these commonalities be used to aid the medical community in prevention of the disease?