Developing and deriving a research question

Questions form the foundation of research.

They comprise of the ‘what’, ‘why’ and ‘how’ questions, which help tease out answers from our investigation and curiosity.

Research questions can be derived from reviewing the literature around your subject area or from following up on an investigation or event. Let’s have some understanding of the purpose of the different types of questions.

The what questions require a descriptive answer, and identify characteristics or patterns. For example, what is the emergency management structure in a country or what is the implication of improving evaluation criteria for emergency response exercises?

The why questions address the causes, rationale, characteristics or regularities in a particular phenomenon. For example, why do emergency communications fail or why are some tools more effective in communicating with the public?

The how questions are concerned with bringing about change. For example, how do you utilise an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) effectively in disaster response? How can a Water Sanitation and Hygiene (WaSH) programme improve the quality of life in a refugee camp?

Your task

What would your research question be?

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This article is from the free online course:

Researching Risk, Disasters and Emergencies

Coventry University