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The Research Question in the Sciences

This guide will help you formulate a quality research question when dealing with topics in the sciences.

Too broad

A research question is too broad when it attempts to cover too much information or answer too many questions.  You can tell your topic is too broad if:

  • Your preliminary search for information on the topic produces thousands, or tens of thousands of resources on that topic.
  • You can not cover all the components of the topic in detail within the scope of the project.
  • All you can provide is general information because there are too many details to cover with any real depth.

What to do?

  • identify one aspect of your topic and focus on that. i.e. study the change in mass in one reactant in a chemical reaction and not the entire family of reactants.
  • Concentrate on one specific type of organism, substance, or energy rather than the entire "family"  i.e. monarch butterfly migration  vs. butterfly migration (implying all butterflies)
  • Limit your topic geographically  i.e. Bats of Missouri vs. Bats of North America
  • Limit your topic chronologically  i.e.  the 1906 San Francisco Earthquake vs. all earthquakes along the San Andreas fault line.