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Monmouth College Hewes Library

1c. Develop Research Questions

Developing Research Questions

Once you have selected an initial topic, the next step is to develop research questions. To begin:

  • Write down what you already know or don't know about the topic.
  • Using the information you wrote down, develop questions you'd like to answer when doing your research.
    • Use probing questions such as why? how? what if? should?
    • Avoid questions that can be answered with yes or no. 

An example is provided below.

Download a worksheet to help you work through the development process

Example: Endangered Species Act

What DO or DON'T I know about the Endangered Species Act (ESA)?

I know it's a law that protects animals, and their habitats, that are in danger of extinction. I believe the law only protects habitats that are within the U.S. boundaries.  The gray wolf population, since being protected, has grown substantially in Wisconsin and now Illinois. A farmer in my hometown lost several calves to wolves and lawmakers are considering lifting the endangered status so wolf populations could be controlled with hunting. I don't know what it takes for an animal to be removed from the list and I don't know what the penalties are for violating this act.


Research Questions

  • What was the Endangered Species Act (ESA) designed to protect?

  • What animals are currently on the endangered species list?

  • What penalties are imposed on those who violate the act?

  • How does an animal get added/removed from the list?

  • What other countries have legislation to protect animals/habitats?

  • How does government balance the good of one species with the potential impact (financial or otherwise) to humans?

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