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Research Map: Research Question

The research question or statement you choose will focus the content of your research.

How to use the Research Map

1. Use your favorite words from the 5Ws to form one or more potential research questions or statements.

2. Consider which questions or statements:

  • Fit the assignment requirements
  • Are most interesting to you

Pro Tip: Research sneak peek

The answer to your research question or your research statement may become the thesis statement in your paper, but at this point, you may still change it as you learn more.

Doing a quick search in Discover or another potential database may be helpful at this step:

  • Are there enough resources on your topic?
  • Do you see an idea you like even better?

Research Map: Research Question or Statement



Focused Ideas: Research Question or Statement




Topic:          Hint:  General topic, doesn't need to be specific.

Who? Hint: Who is affected by this topic? (demographics)
What? Hint: Impact or aspects of the topic
When? Hint: The timeframe of interest. If “now” how far back will the info be accurate?
Where? Hint: This could be the United States, a particular area, or a comparison of one or more areas. (May or may not be important.)
Why? Hint: What is the significance or importance of this topic to you or the reader?

Focused Ideas: Research Question or Statement

Use combinations of words from your 5Ws to create possible focused research ideas.

Topic:       Cosmetic Surgery


teens, celebrities, Pamela Anderson, actors, cancer survivors

What? body image, role model, medical necessity, physical or psychological discomfort, pressure to be beautiful
When? Now (last 5 years?), since 2000, within 1 year

United States, worldwide, Instagram, Los Angeles


Necessity, cost/expense, bullying, expectations of beauty or youth, health risks, wanting to fit into clothes.

Focused Ideas: Research Question or Statement

  • What are some health risks of teens having cosmetic surgery? 
  • Should teens consider plastic surgery as a solution to a bad body image?
  • Teens should only have plastic surgery if medically necessary.
  • Teens should be discouraged from cosmetic surgery because the health risks are too great.

Pro Tip for later: Your Thesis Statement

Before you finalize your thesis statement, read all of your resources then try writing your main impressions from memory or telling someone what you've discovered in your research. You may find your main ideas become clearer in a low-pressure setting.