3 Developing research questions
Once you have a clear idea about the work problem or change that you wish to address in your project, the next step is to think about the questions you need to formulate in order to deal with your identified problem. Will they be ‘what’, ‘how’ or ‘why’ type questions? An important point to bear in mind is that the wording of a question can be central in defining the scope and direction of the study, including the methodology.
Your research question(s) do not necessarily have to be expressed as question(s); they can be statements of purpose. The research question is so called because it is a problem or issue that needs to be solved or addressed.
Here are some examples of research questions that focus on different function areas within an organisational context. They are expressed as questions, but they can easily be changed to research statements if you prefer to present them in that way.
How do the personal experiences and stories of career development processes among HR professionals in the UK and in Romania differ?
As a research statement, it becomes: The differences of HR professionals in the UK and Romania in terms of their personal experiences and stories of career development processes.
To what extent do NHS managers engage with age diversity?
As a research statement, it becomes: An investigation of the extent to which NHS managers engage with age diversity.
How does user-generated content affect consumer behaviour?
As a research statement, it becomes: The influences of user-generated content on consumer behaviour.
How do consumers respond to digital marketing and social media campaigns?
As a research statement, it becomes: The consumers’ response to digital marketing and social media campaigns.
To what extent do wage increases affect employees’ productivity?
As a research statement, it becomes: An exploration of how wage increases affect employees’ productivity.
These research questions are very different to each other, but they also have common elements. In the next section you will be invited to think about research questions, both those in the examples above and your own, which may still be very tentative.