Exercise: developing your research question

Coming up with a good research question is a difficult thing. It must be broad enough to give you scope to explore, but narrow enough to be manageable.

In this animation with voiceover Emma illustrates, with practical examples, how you can approach narrowing down your focus if your theme is too broad or broadening out your focus if you have a clear idea of the topic but haven’t necessarily identified which subject(s) it relates to.


After having watched the animation, download a blank version of the template used and have a go at filling it in. Whether you are narrowing down or broadening your focus you should fill in all of the sections. Ultimately you will be using this information as a basis for your draft research proposal.

  • Subject

  • Theme

  • Context

  • Topic

  • Research questions

  • Working research question

Note: Don’t forget to reflect upon the process and capture your thoughts in your learning / research log.

How did you get on? did you need to narrow down or broaden out your focus?

Do share your experience in the comments below. Don’t forget to look at other learners’ comments. If you can relate to a comment someone else has made, why not ‘Like’ it or leave a reply?

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This video is from the free online course:

Developing Your Research Project

University of Southampton

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