Answered By: Lydia Dawe
Last Updated: Jun 29, 2022     Views: 6

In postgraduate study or beyond, a research question guides the investigation you are embarking on. The research question usually contains a main topic which is connected to variables such as population, geographic area, context, time period, medical condition, social issue, or study type. Research questions can be qualitative (measuring non-numerical data points such as experiences,  themes or concepts), or quantitative (measuring numerical data points such as statistics, scores, or health data). Here are some examples of different types of research questions and what they are attempting to measure. See the videos below for more information. 

Type of question Example
Effectiveness of an intervention What is the effect of nonsmoking policies on the incidence of sick days of hospital employees due to upper respiratory infections?
Harm Does working in a lithium mine lead to increased incidence of asthma or upper respiratory infections?
Causation In students who are the first in their family to study, what are the risk factors for not completing an undergraduate degree?
Screening/diagnosis Which method of diagnosis is best for Alzheimer’s disease?
Prevention What are the most effective methods for preventing bullying incidents in single-sex high schools?
Participant experience What are the hospital experiences of patients who have had a traumatic birth?
Service delivery Does providing online pelvic-floor training programs result in improved function?
Cost effectiveness What are the most cost-effective ways to reduce paper waste in small to medium businesses?

Adapted from: Schiavo, J.H., & Foster, M.J. (2017). Planning the review. In M.J. Foster & S.T. Jewell, (Eds.), Assembling the pieces of a systematic review  A guide for librarians, Rowman & Littlefield.