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Nursing Research: Creating a Research Question

Choosing a Topic

Sometimes the most difficult part of the research process is choosing a topic.  Here are some tips for selecting a research question that you will enjoy learning about and will ultimately lead to a good grade.

  • Read through your assignment.  Professors design an assignment outline for a reason.  Make sure your topic can and will adhere to their requirements and guidelines.
  • Choose a topic you are interested in.  If you don't like what you're researching, chances are you won't learn a whole lot or enjoy the process.  And really, what's the point of that?  
  • Browse resources that relate to your course work.  Look through a newspaper, magazine, or database for current events or hot topics.  Browsing can spark a lot of great ideas and can help you refine your topic.
  • Ask for help!  There is nothing wrong with asking your professor or a librarian to help you brainstorm ideas.

Subject Terms to Consider

Below is a list of subjects that often relate to nursing issues.  Considering these subject terms can help you develop a topic or focus your search.

 

How to Formulate an Answerable Clinical Question

P opulation/patients

I ntervention/indicator

C omparator/control

O utcome

Developing your Research Question

Try asking yourself these questions to help develop a research question:

  • Who?
  • What?
  • Where?
  • Why?

EXAMPLES

Topic:  Obesity

Who? teenagers

What? consumption of high fat foods

Where? school cafeterias

Question:  How does the consumption of high fat foods in school cafeterias contribute to teenager obesity?

Topic: Smoke Exposure

Who?  children exposed to smoke

What?  developmental abilities

Question:  How does smoke exposure alter the developmental abilities of children?

Below is worksheet which will help illustrate how a research question develops from a broad topic to a focused question.  This could be a helpful resource for you during the process of creating your research question.

Choosing a Topic