Developing Questions

As you begin researching your topic it's important to keep in mind that all good research begins with well thought out questions.  

It's a good idea to begin by developing a "loose" essential question (which, when answered, will be your thesis statement) around your topic along with 5 to 10 subsidiary (supporting) questions which will drive your research.  

Essential Questions

When developing an Essential Question, keep in mind that they are open-ended, have no "right" or "wrong" answers, they require critical thinking and analysis, and that they inspire Subsidiary Questions.  Below are some examples of Essential Questions:

  • What effect does ____ have on ____? 
    What effect does violence in the media have on teen crime?
  • What is the relationship between ____ and ____? 
    What is the relationship between laboratory testing on animals and animal abuse, and what should be done to protect laboratory animals from undue suffering?
  • What are the major implications of ____, and what should be done to ensure that _____? 
    What are the major implications of genetic engineering and what should be done to ensure that this technology will not be misused?
  • What impact does ____ have on ____?
    What impact does global warming have on our environment and our health?

Subsidiary Questions

Subsidiary questions help answer essential questions by uncovering facts and details which support the topic.  Below are some examples of subsidiary questions supporting the essential question: "What impact does global warming have on our environment and our health?"

  •  What is global warming?
  •  Why is global warming a problem?
  •  What causes global warming?
  •  What are some statistics?
  •  How have the effects of global warming gotten better or worse over time?
  •  Where is global warming occurring?
  •  When did global warming begin, or first become apparent?
  •  Who / What is responsible for global warming?
  •  Who / What is affected by global warming?
  •  How can global warming be prevented?

You'll discover that some of the answers to some of your subsidiary (supporting) questions you uncover will inspire more questions. Record your questions and answers, along with the resources in which you find them. Use a graphic organizer to help you stay organized.