Designing the research
How to decide your research question and define key terms
Once you have decided on your research topic, the group needs to agree a specific research question. You could repeat the activity described in the previous section to help them to generate ideas and then agree the final research question.
One note of caution: it is common to want to choose a very broad research question. Help your team to resist this temptation by refining any broad question into a series of smaller, manageable ones. You may find it helpful to discuss these questions with the young researchers:
What is the key thing you want to find out?
Can you answer the question within the time and resources available?
Will you be able to collect the data needed to answer the question? Can you access the people you need to collect data from? Will people be willing to talk to you about your chosen research topic (for example, if it is controversial or sensitive)?
Are there any ethical issues?
Has the question already been answered by other researchers? Reading around the literature will help you to find this out.
Will the answer to the question be genuinely useful? Does it have the potential to have an impact and effect change?
It is also worth thinking about what the answers to the question might be – will they be useful and have an impact or could there be negative consequences to investigating a particular issue?
It is best to define any key terms in your research project or question upfront, so that everyone has a shared understanding. You will be able to find ideas for definitions by reading around the topic. You can find helpful literature on almost any subject imaginable by consulting a library catalogue or internet searching (for example on Google Scholar).