How to ask a good research question

“How does X factor change with respect to time?”

Questions focused on correlating and analyzing can be formulated as:

“What is the relationship between X parameter and Y response?”

“What role does X factor play in Y answer?”

While the causal questions can be written as:

“What is the effect of…?”

“What is the mechanism by which…?”.

“What are the causes of…?”

Practical examples

Once the characteristics of a good question have been taken into account, the research topic and the type of question that corresponds to the investigation have been identified, questions that incorporate these elements can be proposed. Here are some examples:

Research topic:

Ultrasound parameters that can detect neurological prognostic signs


What prenatal sonographic markers evaluated by ultrasound can improve the postnatal neurological prognosis?

Research topic:

Environmental contamination by particles smaller than 2.5 microns and incidence of pneumonia in the pediatric population in Latin America


What is the correlation between PM 2.5 pollution levels and the incidence of pneumonia in pediatric patients in Latin America?

Research topic:

Use of cell phones and the level of attention in school-age children


What is the impact of cell phone use for more than three hours on the attention level of children during activities carried out during school hours?

The research question is then structured by carrying out an initial investigation to define the topic, limiting it to the FINER criteria and defining the type of study and methodology to be carried out. Its appropriate approach allows establishing the title, objective and hypothesis in an investigation. Undoubtedly, the exercise of posing a research question promotes the critical thinking required as a fundamental skill in research.

Alex Musk
Author: Alex Musk

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