Research Questions: Examples and Sample Research Questions

Complete guide to research questions including examples and sample research questions. Learn what are the various research question and answer types.

Research Questions: Definition

A research question is defined as a fundamental question that facilitates a research project, study or a review. It also helps researchers collect relevant information that will help them focus on study and the related methodology. Asking appropriate research questions is the initial and most imperative step in a scholarly natural or social research projects using which insights about the matter in question can be obtained. These insights can be used to decide the immediate plan of action and can play an integral role in conducting a survey, analyzing obtained data and reporting the analyzed information

Appropriate selection of research questions forms the core element of qualitative and quantitative research methods. Questions for research are formulated depending on the type of target audience and kind of research along with the main objective of the research.

Research Questions: Examples with Sample

In this article, we will discuss some good research question types with examples.

1. Open-Ended Research Question

Open-ended questions are widely used in qualitative research. This time of question form the foundation of online qualitative research conducted using surveys and questionnaires. The importance of this question lies in its ability to capture open responses from research audience and opens room for text based analysis to be performed on the gathered data.

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. This type of question is typically used when conduct survey or poll based research where the audience needs to select one or more than one response option.

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 which are to be ranked in order of preference by the respondents. Usually used to understand respondent opinions in comparison to others options, rank order questions provide accurate information on the basis of "preference". For example, someone may like chocolates and cakes, but which one do they prefer more? When this choice extends to multiple such options, the rank order question is best suited for such a scenario.

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 on the basis of a continues scale, rather than points on a scale. This is particularly used in medical research visual analog scales or pain scale, where a patient needs to rate their level of pain. Another example would be a typical "experience" based rating scale.

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 research question type is very popular in consumer research where this single question can provide numeric insights into customer experience. Respondents have to 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 3 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 opposite answer options such as agree/disagree, very frequently/not very frequently, important/unimportant with other answer options connecting these polar options. 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 inferential meaning of the concerned event, product or idea. This question is used to know what the respondents opine about a particular organization, product or service on a multiple point rating scale having grammatically polar options at the two ends of the scale.

semantic research questions

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8. Stapel Scale Research Question

This is a unipolar (only one adjective) research question with +5 to -5 rating scale for the respondents to rate that single adjective to know their opinion about that entity.

Stapel scale research question

9. Constant Sum Research Question

A numeric answer option question, that 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 such 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, closed-ended question where multiple parameters are to be rated by considering the same set of column answer options.

Matrix Question research question

12. Side-by-Side Matrix Research Question

A side-by-side matrix research question allows respondent to rate multiple variables parallelly such as - assessment, periodicity, measures and comparison.

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 Research Question

14. Miscellaneous Question

This question is an option for the researchers to include descriptive text such as presentation text, heading or subheading for various sections.

miscellaneous research question

15. Visual Analog Scale Question

Visual analog scale, a psychometric scale, is used to analyze pain levels among patients and also generally used to evaluate characteristics across a constant range of values.

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 for image chooser question, prompts a number of respondents to reply to the research survey.

image choose research questions

17. Data Reference Question

The reference data research question type is used to accumulate or approve zip codes 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 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 and Maximum Difference is used to relatively rate up to 30 different factors such as features, interests, the scope of improvement, the potential positioning of an upcoming product.

Choice Model Research Questions

20. Dichotomous Research Question

These question types have Yes/No/Maybe, True/False, Agree/Disagree etc. answer options. Even if these questions garner precise respondent thoughts, it is advised to not extensively use them in research due to the limited insights received using questions such as these.

dichotomous research question

21. Leading Research Question

Leading question is a type of reaerch question that pushes respondents to answer a certain question in a specific manner, based on the way they are framed. Many-a-times, leading questions already contain information that survey creator wants to confirm rather than try to get a true and an 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 the answer to select the most appropriate answer in a question. The scale is well-defined and on an equal continuum. Rating scales are often used to measure the direction and intensity of attitudes. The example mentioned above can also be depicted by a text slider where either end of the option has an anchor. 4-Text-Slider-Rating-Scale-Question-1

23. Push to Social Research Question

Push to social research question type allows to share positive reviews or feedback to social media sites like Facebook, Twitter and Google +. This question is used to create a positive vibe 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. This question is effectively used in customer satisfaction. 17-Push-to-social-1

24. Max Diff Research Question

Max Diff research questions is a question type where respondents are given a set of attributes and asked to indicate the best and the worst attributes. In this research question type there could only be 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 research question is a technique for market researchers to gauge consumer perceptions of the value of products or services. This helps in understanding the scope 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 to collect date/time information filled in by a respondent . For example, questions related to 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 database for a given country. 26-Reference-Data-1

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Importance of Research Questions

When a research program is initiated, it requires a proper channel to be effective. Research questions form this channel and help a researcher to kick-start the research in an impactful manner. As the research goes on, these questions keep getting molded according to the obtained insights and this gives shape to an effective research. These questions might not be elemental in deciding where the research concludes but they are definitely elemental in deciding the path that the research will take.

The importance of research questions is highly subjective and iterative. For some researchers, they might be important because they get them insights about funding and the others consider it important for hiring the right resources or implementing the right, market-approved features in products.

How to Write Good Research Questions

Specific research questions are much more effective than if a research question is vaguely created. To create such specific questions, it is important to follow a few steps.

6 steps on how to write a research question:

  1. Select an interesting comprehensive topic that interest the target audience: Every organization looks forward to understanding topics in details. Extensive information about a topic can be obtained from either customers or employees. For this, a topic must be broad enough to provide ample scope for researchers to ask apt questions to the target respondents and obtain required insights. This topic should be generic and interesting for the researchers as well as respondents. For instance, if a researcher seeks to understand the latest features in mobile phones of 2018, he/she should select a topic such as “evolution of mobile technology” or “progress of mobile features in the past 5 years”. These topics will help a researcher in asking a lot of questions to gain desired insights.

  2. Conduct a rough research on this generic topic: To further narrow down the research area, the organization can conduct a basic research to analyze what kind of information on the subject is available and what can be explored. This way, a researcher can decide which topic can garner better results according to what is not already available. Questions on the basis of the primary analysis can also be decided.

  3. Keep the target audience in mind: While deciding a generic topic and also during the filtering process, one must keep their target audiences in mind and decide a topic that caters to a particular set of people. This will help in gathering precise information for research that will, in turn, make products and services customer-centric and increase business.

  4. Frame appropriate questions: Create questions by considering the above-mentioned points. Start by putting open-ended questions such as “How” or “What” on paper and then included closed-ended questions which have options that will help the process of analysis. For instance, open-ended question such as “What are your thoughts about the latest feature X in product Y?”

  5. Analyze these research questions: Once the questions are framed and ready to be sent out, a researcher must analyze the effectiveness of these questions. If there is room for improvement, these questions need to be revisited and reframed. Here are some questions that are to asked before research questions are sent out to respondents:

    • How clear is the message of the question? Will the respondents understand?
    • Are they in line with the research agenda and do complete justice to it?
    • Do they require more specificity?
    • Are they time consuming? Will the respondents quit answering them mid-way?
  6. Brainstorm the consequences: After creating appropriate questions, the researcher must jot down the direction of research once the answers come in. What are the type of answers that must be expected out of those research questions? Will they support the researcher’s current plan? If not, what are the changes the researcher is willing to do? This step is to prepare all those involved for taking impactful actions on the basis of the results of a research.

3 Points to remember while curating research questions:

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

  • Research questions should always start with a problem that needs to be solved. This problem will be something that needs insights about or a situation that can be improved with proper research or reducing execution troubles.
  • This obstacle should be the core of a research question. Research questions must be engaging enough for customers or employees to invest their time and in turn must contribute to the betterment of an organization.
  • Good research questions should be straightforward, notable, plausible and realistic.

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 clearly explain what they expect from an upcoming product.
  2. How to tackle the current situation with world poverty?

    Reason why is it a good research question: Simply put in effective 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 market-driven and successful?

    Reason why is it a good research question: To understand what works well with an audience, establish a comparison between the desired entities.
  4. How can online users deal with trolls on social networking website?

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

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

  • The question should be 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.
  • A question must consider the type of answers which will be received. If a concise answer will not be obtained for a particular question, it must be averted.
  • This question 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 important elements of a research question. Use a common term to express a particular entity. Conflict in terms to express the same entity might lead to displeasure among respondents.

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