Research Questions: Types and Research Question Examples

The complete guide to research questions, including examples and sample research questions.

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What are research questions?

Research questions are defined as fundamental questions that facilitate a research project, a research study, or a review. It allows researchers to collect relevant information that helps them narrow down the purpose of the study.

Asking appropriate research questions is the most crucial step in market research projects. You can use the insights from your research questions to determine the path of the study. These insights also play an essential role in conducting a survey, analyzing obtained data, and reporting the analyzed information.

Choosing right research questions helps you decide if it's best to use qualitative and quantitative research methods. The main objective of your research and the research theme defines the type of questions you use. The target audience and kind of research you're conducting also play significant roles.

Research questions examples

Before you can start writing research questions for your academic study or marketing study, you need to understand what types of questions are available. Let's look at examples of good research questions and sample research questions in general.

1. Open-ended research question

Open-ended questions are widely used in qualitative research. This type of question forms the foundation of online qualitative research conducted using surveys and questionnaires. These types of questions capture open responses from a research audience and open the door for text based analysis on the data you receive.

Below is an example of open ended research question:

Open Ended research Question

2. Multiple choice research question

Multiple choice research questions are used to capture single or multiple responses from your research audience. These types of market research questions are typically used when conducting poll-based research, where the audience needs to select multiple responses to one problem. It can also be used with single-select answers to limit the number of answers a respondent can choose.

Below is an example of multiple-choice research question with single-select answer option:

Multiple choice research questions

3. Rank order scaling research question

This is a ranking type question which offers multiple answer options. The participant selects answers in order of preference. These research questions are usually used to understand a respondent's opinions on preferred brands or products. You can use data from rank order questions to determine which product a respondent prefers, even if they enjoy multiple products. For example, someone may like chocolates, cakes, and candy, but which do they like the most? Rank order scaling questions are the right research questions to determine which dessert is most loved by the respondent.

Below is a typical example of rank order: Rank Order scaling research question

4. Rating scale research question

Rating scale research questions are used to capture responses based on a continuous scale, rather than individual points on a scale. This is often used in medical research visual analog scales or a pain scale, where a patient needs to rate their level of pain. Another example would be a typical "experience" based rating scale, like the example below.

Rating Scale research Question

5. Net promoter score question

A Net Promoter Score question is typically used to evaluate customer loyalty and brand recommendations. This question type is prevalent in consumer research, where this single question can provide numeric insights into the customer experience. The data collected from Net Promoter Score questions allows you to see how many of your brand's followers are actively promoting your brand. You also get insight into how many are actively not recommending your products. For example, respondents answer this question on a scale of 0-10:

net promoter score survey research question

As per their rankings, respondents are classified under either of the three groups: Detractors (0-6), Passives (7-8), and Promoters (9-10).

6. Likert scale research question

The Likert scale question presents a psychometric scale with different answer options such as agree/disagree, very frequently/not very often, important/unimportant, and other questions of a similar polarizing nature. Generally divided into even and odd Likert scale questions, they are highly popular with researchers due to the accuracy of results that they offer.

Likert scale research question

7. Semantic differential scale research question

A semantic differential scale question quantifies the feelings and opinions of a respondent. This question type uses a multiple-point rating scale to better understand the feelings a respondent has on a particular service, brand, organization, or product. The scale features polarized opinions on either end, with a neutral option in the middle.

semantic research questions

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8. Stapel scale research question

This is a unipolar research question with a +5 to -5 rating scale for the respondents to rate a single factor. These questions often involve offering the respondent an adjective or trait in conjunction with a brand or product. The respondent uses the scale to determine whether the trait accurately or inaccurately describes the brand, product, or organization in question.

Stapel scale research question

9. Constant sum research question

A numeric answer question, this type allows a researcher to collect "ratio" data about the factors presented in the answer options. Respondents can assign a particular value to an entity, and the other entities can be comparatively rated.

constant sum research question

10. Demographic research question

Demographic questions are based on a person's age, gender, family income, race, ethnicity, education, and other defining factors. Research about whether a specific product will be effective with a particular age or gender group can be carried out using demographic research question.

demographic research question

11. Matrix table research question

This is a multiple choice, close ended question where multiple parameters are to be rated by considering the same set of column answer options. Matrix questions work similar to any other scale questions, but allow for more efficient use of space. Instead of using five questions to ask about the quality of different customer experiences, you can use just one question to capture the data.

Matrix Question research question

12. Side-by-side matrix research question

Side-by-side matrix research questions allow the respondent to rate multiple variables at once. Like a single matrix, these research questions give you the ability to compact your survey. However, you mustn't overload respondents with too many matrix questions, as they require more thought to answer. This can lead to high dropout rates.

Side-by-side Matrix research question

13. Static content question

This question is an option for the researchers to include descriptive text such as presentation text, heading, or subheading for various sections. Static content isn't technically a question, as it is used for display purposes only. Instead, your static content can provide participants with important information about a section or your survey.

Static Content Research Question

14. Miscellaneous question

Miscellaneous questions allow you to ask questions that don't fit into another category. Some types of demographic or categorizing questions are best used as miscellaneous questions.

miscellaneous research question

15. Visual analog scale question

A visual analog scale is used to analyze pain levels among patients and also generally used to evaluate characteristics across a constant range of values. It gives a picture or graphic that depicts a variety of feelings on a scale. The respondent uses the images to help determine where they fall on the scale.

Visual Analog Research Question

16. Image chooser type question

Images are perfect tools to enhance user experience and, in turn, increase response rates for research. Using select one, select many, or rate image matrix question options prompts several respondents to reply to the research survey. Image research questions help make your survey more visually appealing while decreasing the amount of time a respondent needs to answer a question.

image choose research questions

17. Data reference question

Reference data research questions are used to accumulate or approve zip code data against "standardized" data.

Data Reference research question

18. Upload data question

Respondents can upload images, digital signatures, or videos, along with their research responses. Upload data questions are right research questions for collecting signatures or accepting submissions.

Upload Image research question

19. Choice model question

Conjoint analysis and Maximum Difference questions fall under the category of choice model research questions. Conjoint analysis is used to understand respondent preferences about two or more entities. Maximum Difference is used to relatively rate up to 30 different factors such as features, interests, the scope of improvement, or the potential positioning of an upcoming product.

Choice Model Research Questions

20. Dichotomous research question

These question types have Yes/No/Maybe, True/False, and Agree/Disagree answer options. It is not advised to use them extensively in research due to the limited insights received.

dichotomous research question

21. Leading research question

Leading question is a type of market research question that pushes respondents to answer a particular question in a specific manner, based on the way they are framed. Leading questions often already contain information that the survey creator wants to confirm rather than try to get a correct and unbiased answer to that question.

22. Text slider research question

A text slider research question is a rating scale question type that uses an interactive slider in answer to select the most appropriate option. The scale is well-defined and increases at an equal rate. Rating scales are often used to measure the direction and intensity of attitudes. 4-Text-Slider-Rating-Scale-Question-1

23. Push to social research question

Push to social research questions allows respondents to share positive reviews or feedback on social media sites like Facebook and Twitter. This question is used to create a positive feeling about your brand on social media. Alternatively, this can be effectively used to collect and address negative feedback before it goes out on social media. 17-Push-to-social-1

24. Max diff research question

Max Diff is a question type where respondents are given a set of attributes and asked to indicate the best and worst. In this research question type, there is only one of each option in the final response. For example, if a bank would like to understand the preference of payment merchant, the question can be asked in the following format: 16-Max-diff-1

25. Van Westendorp-price sensitivity research Question

The Van Westendorp-Price Sensitivity is a technique for market researchers to gauge consumer perceptions of the value of products or services. This helps in understanding the need to tweak the price and offering. For example, if a software product manufacturer would like to know how to price a product, the following question could be asked: 21-Van-Westendorp-1

26. Date/time research question

Date/Time research question type allows collecting date/time information filled in by a respondent. For example, questions related to the date of birth can be answered with the use of the following question. 22-Date-and-time-question-1

27. CAPTCHA research question

This research question type is used to limit the number of phony responses in a survey or data collection by automated computer programs. 23-Captcha-1

28. Reference data research question

This research question can be used to validate zip codes against those of databases for a given country. 26-Reference-Data-1

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Importance of using the right research questions

When a research program is initiated, it requires a channel to collect data for the study accurately. Research questions form this channel and help a researcher to kick-start the research. As the research goes on, these questions keep getting molded according to the original insights, and this gives shape to a practical study. Your first research questions may not be the final step to the research process, but they are the first to build your research hypothesis.

The importance of research questions can be highly subjective. For some researchers, the formulation of research questions might be necessary because they provide insights about essential factors in a decision-making process. For example, a research question could give you necessary data about funding needs or how to find the right resources to reach business goals.

How to write a research question to capture accurate information

Specific research questions are much more useful than template questions. What are good research questions? Follow these six steps to learn how to write questions for research:

  1. Select a broad topic that interests the target audience: You must choose a topic that is intriguing to target respondents. Interesting topics encourage respondents to complete the survey on time. The problem should be vague enough that you can create plenty of good research questions. You don't want your topic to be so specific that you can't produce enough questions to gather the data you need.

  2. Conduct a rough research on your topic: Conduct primary research on your topic to analyze what kind of information is available and what can be explored. This way, you can decide which topic is most likely to achieve the best results based on what data is not currently available.

  3. Keep the target audience in mind: You must keep your target audience in mind and slowly narrow your research to a topic that caters to a particular set of people. This will help in gathering precise information for research that will make products and services customer-centric and boost your business.

  4. Frame appropriate questions: Draft a research questionnaire that includes both open-ended and closed-ended questions to help you get the information you need. You can use question framing to help you get the most information out of a respondent. For example, offer an open-ended and closed-ended question about one particular product next to one another in your survey.

  5. Analyze these research questions: Once the questions are framed and ready to be sent out, you must analyze the effectiveness of the questions. If there is room for improvement, these questions need to be revisited and reframed. Follow this checklist to help determine if a question is ready to be sent to respondents:

    • How clear is the message of the question? Will the respondents understand them?
    • Is the question in line with the research agenda?
    • Does the question need to be more specific?
    • Are questions too time-consuming? Will respondents back out of the survey halfway?
  6. Brainstorm the possible outcomes: After creating appropriate questions, you can map out the potential responses to your questions. What types of answers are you expecting? Will they support your current plan? If not, what are the changes you can make to better serve customers based on their responses? This step helps prepare everyone involved in the survey and data analysis of a potential plan of action based on the top possible outcomes of the study.

Three points to remember while writing research questions:

Ordering your questions is vital to give a sense of flow to the survey. Always rank your items from simple concepts to more complex ones.

  • Right research questions start with a problem that needs to be solved.
  • Research questions must be engaging enough for customers or employees to invest their time. At the same time, your questions need to provide data that can actually be used to better your brand or organization.
  • Your questions should be straightforward and easy to understand. This helps keep respondents engaged while also collecting the most accurate answers. If a respondent doesn’t understand a question, they may back out of the survey or choose an answer at random.

What are examples of good research questions?

  1. What are the specifications that you would like us to launch with our next mobile phone?

    Reason why is it a good research question: The question asks about a specific product. This will give respondents the room to explain what they expect from an upcoming product clearly.
  2. What are a few steps you suggest to tackle the current situation with world poverty?

    Reason why is it a good research question:This question is simply put in practical terms so that the respondents can reply honestly to this open-ended question.
  3. Among all our products, which one do you think is the most successful?

    Reason why is it a good research question: By asking respondents directly which product they think is most successful, you gain valuable insight into the perception of your various products.
  4. How can online users deal with trolls on social networking website?

    Reason why is it a good research question: This question is well-constructed, focused, and clearly understandable.
  5. As a customer, what are the qualities in an organization which appeal to you and what can be done to make you stay loyal?

    Reason why is it a good research question: This question is complicated, yet conveys the message in clear words.

Some factors to keep in mind to design a good research question:

  • While developing a research question, ensure it is definitive enough to communicate the problem in the best possible manner.
  • A generic question should form the sub-question and not the primary question.
  • Avoid restricting a question to a mere Yes/No question. Developing sharp research questions is a must to capture accurate information.
  • A question must consider the type of answers which will be received. If answers are likely to be complicated, you should consider scrapping the question or rewriting it for less complicated answers.
  • Questions must be free of any judgment from the involved researchers. In case of any bias, the results may be highly skewed.
  • Words are the most essential elements of a research question. Use a common term throughout your survey to avoid confusion. For example, if you have a mobile phone model known as XYZ 123, don't switch between XYZ and 123 when asking questions about the product.

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