A useful way to think about your project is to describe it in a three-step sentence that states your TOPIC + QUESTION + SIGNIFICANCE (or TQS):
|TOPIC||I am working on the topic of||____________|
|QUESTION||because I want to find out||____________|
|SIGNIFICANCE||so that I can help others understand||____________|
Don’t worry if at first you can’t think of something to put as the significance in the third step. As you develop your answer, you’ll find ways to explain why your question is worth asking!
TQS sentence example:
I am working on the topic of the Apollo mission to the moon, because I want to find out why it was deemed so important in the 1960s, so that I can help my classmates understand the role of symbolic events in shaping national identity.
Note: The TQS formula is meant to prime your thinking. Use it to plan and test your question, but don’t expect to put it in your paper in exactly this form.
Adapted from Kate L. Turabian, Student’s Guide to Writing College Papers, 5th ed. (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2019), pp. 14–15.
Start researching your topic more broadly to help you narrow your topic.
Background information can help with these questions before you dive in to more focused research.
Now use your narrowed topic to develop a research question!
|Research Goals||Possible Ways to Frame a Question|
|Describing and exploring||
|Explaining and testing||
|Evaluating and acting||
Your research question should be:
Adapted from Shona McCombes, "Developing strong research questions." Scribbr, March 2021.
Why is social media harmful?
What is the effect on the environment from climate change?
How are online users experiencing privacy issues on TikTok?
How is glacial melting affecting penguins in Antarctica?
Adapted from: George Mason University Writing Center. (2008). How to write a research question. Retrieved from http://writingcenter.gmu.edu/?p=307.