Here’s a good example of how to narrow your topic into a good research question:
- Too broad — Rural America
- Narrowed topic — Role of women in rural America?
- Research question — What is the central role of women in today’s farming communities?
If you’re asked to write a proposal before you begin your actual research, the proposal will contain a purpose statement that states in some detail what you want to learn about in your research project; it looks something like this:
- Ex.: “This study will examine the…”
Your purpose statement leads you to write a more refined thesis statement or hypothesis(es), an assertion that you can defend and support with evidence gathered in your literature review and research. Here are some examples:
- Ex.: “In the United States, government regulation plays an important role in the fight against air pollution.” Or, conversely,
- Ex.: “United States government regulation has little effect in the fight against air pollution.”
The type of design selected for your study depends on your research question(s), hypothesis(es), or problem.
You’ll use evidence you’ve gathered in your research to confirm — or reject — your hypothesis.