Research Questions

Sophomore Research Project
Research Questions
Topic vs. Question
Your topic is a noun or phrase
Marie Antoinette
the 100 Years’ War
Your question should be a complete
Too broad a topic means only covering
the surface of that person or issue
The Russian Revolution would be too big
to manage in a reasonable length paper
Focus on one issue within that topic
How did Tsar Nicholas’ policies
contribute to the Russian Revolution?
Types of Questions: Reference
Reference questions are typically
answered with known facts or
You will likely have to ask some
reference questions in your research.
Ex: "What percentage of drug-related
crime in 1999 was committed by dealers,
not users?"
Types of Questions: Report
Review or report questions are
typically answered with what is
generally known about a fairly narrow
Ex: “How did the original thirteen
colonies become the United States?”
Types of Questions: Research
Research questions are open-ended.
They require a variety of accumulated
information from different sources to
develop an answer, and the student is
required to draw his or her own
Ex: "How does Hawaii's location and
climate affect its economy?”
Some ways to begin a
research question:
What are the effects of…
What are the consequences of…
Contrast (then & now)
What was the influence of ___ on ___?
Thesis-Driven Paper
A thesis-driven paper makes an
arguable claim and defends it. Do not
confuse a research paper with a
report: you need to offer a thesis
about your topic and then present
evidence and analysis that provides
support and explanation.
Thesis Statements
The good, the bad, the ugly
The Bad
Too broad
The Renaissance sparked in European minds the
transformation of artists into individual achievers
and artwork into a form of expression.
The Black Death was an extremely influential part
of Europe’s history which negatively impacted the
economic, religious, and personal aspects of
Europe and its people.
The Bad
Too specific
The public’s demand for the destruction of
the Berlin Wall led to the eventual
reunification of Germany.
The pentathlon event was one of the original
events from the Ancient Olympics and
remains as a part of the Modern Olympics
representing, as it has changed over time,
the change in what society thinks is most
important in athletics.
The Bad
Too obvious
Leonardo’s masterpieces of art and science
contributed heavily to the success of the
Renaissance, and as well as becoming the base for
modern inventions, his contributions earned him the
title of a true Renaissance man.
The French Revolution was an epoch of
progression and downfall which is progressively
reflected in governmental aspects of France
throughout history.
The Ugly: Un-provable
The bombing of Pearl Harbor indirectly caused the
Cold War because it drew America into WWII,
creating two superpowers that split Europe between
two new factions.
The modifications made to the Olympics throughout
history fostered its purpose by establishing peaceful
relations among European nations, which
consequently improved their economy.
As the industrial revolution progressed, and with the
protection from governments in place recognizing
the plight of women, women in the workforce began
to feel empowered and their lives became more
The Good
Specific and provable
The injustice in Lenin’s life paralleled the
conditions in Russia, fueling Lenin to lead
the revolution that would change the face of
Russian politics.
The Continental System, in combination with
events of the Napoleonic Wars, proved to be
a key factor that would eventually help
Britain to lead the way in the Industrial
The Good
Dissent and large scale protests on the part of the
German people in response to the oppression and
injustice they experienced under communist rule, as
symbolized by the Berlin Wall, impacted
Gorbachev’s policies in a way that ultimately led to
the demise of the Soviet Union.
Oliver Cromwell’s religious upbringing and role in
the English Civil War led him to become a talented
military leader and an innovative yet effective ruler
for England during an age of absolute monarchs.
Things to avoid:
Topics very hard to argue
i.e. people’s attitudes changing,
hypotheticals, etc.
If you can plug in another topic into
your thesis and it still makes sense, it’s
too broad