Skip to Main Content

Research 101: Develop Research Questions

A guide to help you develop good research skills!



Developing Research Questions

After selecting an initial topic, the next step is to develop research questions. 
To begin:

  • First, write down, what you:
    • already know, and 
    • don't know about the topic.
  • Next, use this information to develop questions you'd like to answer.
  • Then, use probing questions,
    such as:
    • Why?
    • How?
    • What if? 
    • Should?
  • Finally, avoid questions that can be answered with yes or no. 

Video edited and posted with permission of Northern Kentucky University's Steely Library.

Examples of Research Questions

The Endangered Species Act (ESA): What do and don't you know?
I know: 

  • it's a law that protects animals and their habitats, which are in danger of extinction,
  • there was a lot of controversy about adding polar bears to the list, and
  • at one point bald eagles and grizzly bears were on the list. 

I believe:

  • animals can be removed from the list,
  • the law only protects habitats that are within the U.S. boundaries.

I don't know:

  • what it takes for an animal to be removed from the list, and
  • what the penalties are for violating this act.


Possible Research Questions

  • Was the Endangered Species Act (ESA) designed only to protect animals, or
    does it protect ecosystems, as well?
  • What animals or habitats outside of the United States are covered by the act?
  • What countries have legislation to protect animals and habitats?
  • What animals are currently on the endangered species list?
  • How does an animal get added to or removed from the list?
  • What penalties are imposed on those who violate the act?


Contact Us!

Circulation Desk: (601) 925-3232 
     Call with questions about fines, holds
     borrowing, renewing, & library access.

     Reference Desk: (601) 925-3916 
     Call the reference desk with your
     research questions.

Text Message
Text us @ (601) 326-2031 

     We'll respond as soon as possible. Save
     us in your contacts and text us your
     questions when you're on the go
     (standard message rates apply).

Have questions? Send us an email!

In Person
Stop by the library for personal assistance
     at the Reference Desk on the 2nd floor.
     You can also request an appointment
     through our email service.

Self Help