Skip to Main Content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.
UCQ

Forming Research Questions

Resources and information on how to form clear, focused, and answerable questions for research

Narrow topics using 5Ws

undefined

Image Credit: Pixabay

Research questions focus on a specific part of a topic. To narrow a topic into a research question, start by identifying the main concepts. Your main concepts will likely be answers to the 5Ws - who, what, when, where and why.

 

The 5Ws will help you identify the specific details about your topic that are important and form a focused and clear research question.

  • Who - person or population of interest
  • What - what is happening to the person/population; what is the thing related to your population that you want to study?
  • Where - is there a particular place where your question occurs? (A country, city or organization, etc.).
  • When – is there a time period that is important to your question?
  • Why - has this question been answered before? Is it a question worth asking?

 

Example

Broad Topic  Main Concepts     Research Question
Surgery and anxiety Who – surgery patients  What – music
What –  anxiety
When – pre-operative 
Among patients undergoing surgery, does listening to music in the pre-operative period have an effect on reported anxiety?

References

Walker, J. C., & McNaughton, A. (2018). Does listening to music preoperatively reduce anxiety? An evidence-based practice process for novice researchers. British Journal of Nursing27(21), 1250–1254. https://doi-org.ezproxy.lib.ucalgary.ca/10.12968/bjon.2018.27.21.1250