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Student life has not even started properly; one scientific term already chases the next. We have collected all the unknown expressions on the subject of studies for you and provide you with the appropriate explanation at the same time. Here: What is a research question?

"To research first of all means to behave in a questioning manner" (Ernst Bloch).

A research question therefore describes any questions that serve research. However, depending on the progress of the research process, a distinction is made between different forms of research question.

In science, the goal is to gain knowledge by answering research questions and to provide an explanation for certain phenomena / circumstances / situations etc. In the search for the right answer you have to free yourself from the thought of finding the right answer - because there is often no such thing in science. The decisive factor is the angle from which you look at something. Because the perspective has a great influence on the result of an investigation.

A research question is part of every scientific work. The aim of the work is to answer the question asked comprehensively and as precisely as possible. A research question should neither be too narrow nor too broad. It must be chosen in such a way that it can be answered within the specified scope of the work without going beyond the scope or falling below it.

The goal of a research question should be to formulate the entire research work into a single question!

Good and bad questions

Good questions are formulated as W-questions (how, why, what, why ...) and are differentiated from other work that has already been written by the formulation.

Bad questions are contradicting themselves, represent a mere assertion, are based on false assumptions, contain ambiguities, have an influencing effect.

In addition to the research question, it is also possible to formulate sub-questions. This is particularly useful in larger research projects such as a diploma thesis. The sub-questions relate to individual chapters in the research paper and should in turn aim to answer the research question.

Types of research questions

The various question types are explained below with examples. We used the Carinthian place-name sign conflict as a thematic example.

1. Explanation: Why is something the way it is?
  • Example question: Why is the setting up of bilingual place-name signs a conflict between the two Carinthian ethnic groups?
2. Description: What does the respective situation look like?
  • Sample question: How has the Carinthian place-name sign conflict developed since it was discovered on December 13, 2001?
3. Forecast: How will something develop?
  • Example question: How will the Carinthian town sign conflict develop after the next state election?
4. Assessment: How is what is described / explained to be assessed?
  • Sample question: What are the measures taken by the Austrian federal government to resolve the conflict with local signs?
5. Design: What needs to be done to achieve a goal?
  • Example question: What can be done to solve the Carinthian place-name sign conflict?

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