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Boatwright Memorial Library

SOC 401: Capstone (Richards)

Research Guide for Sociology Capstone

Choosing & Narrowing Your Topic

A Research Question will be neither too broad or too narrow

General Topics/Areas of Interest

  • Student Loan Debt
  • Gun Policy
  • Social Media

Too Broad

  • Who owns guns in America?
  • Does social media help you in college?

Too Narrow

  • What would it take to make American's value caregiving?
  • Do millennials have a lot of student debt?

Narrow(er) Research Question/Guide of Inquiry

  • Do children sent to Head Start enter kindergarten with more highly developed language skills?
  • Does your peer exposure on social media widen the STEM gender gap?

Creating a Research Question

Creating a Research Question

What is your general topic?





What is you research question?

Research Questions

Ask the following 8 questions to evaluate the quality of your research question and the ease with which you should be able to answer it:

  1. Does the question deal with a topic or issue that interests me enough to spark my own thoughts and opinions? 
  2. Is the question easily and fully researchable? 
  3. What type of information do I need to answer the research question? E.g., The research question, "What impact has deregulation had on commercial airline safety?," will obviously require certain types of information: 
    1. statistics on airline crashes before and after 
    2. statistics on other safety problems before and after 
    3. information about maintenance practices before and after 
    4. information about government safety requirements before and after 
  4. Is the scope of this information reasonable (e.g., can I really research 30 online writing programs developed over a span of 10 years?) 
  5. Given the type and scope of the information that I need, is my question too broad, too narrow, or okay? 
  6. What sources will have the type of information that I need to answer the research question (journals, books, Internet resources, government documents, people)? 
  7. Can I access these sources? 
  8. Given my answers to the above questions, do I have a good quality research question that I actually will be able to answer by doing research?

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