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Dissertation Research Question:
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Dissertation Research Question

A dissertation research question is a question that the student poses within the text of the dissertation, and which shows the direction the student's research will take. Whatever a student is trying to learn from a dissertation research project, it is useful to define it through the use of one or more research questions.

A student may include as many dissertation research questions as he or she likes in the dissertation, as long as he or she intends to address all of them. Each research question should be related to the topic at hand. Often, the research project will be designed to answer all of the dissertation research questions at once.

The place where the student usually poses the dissertation research questions is toward the end of the literature review. Once the student has discussed the work that has (and has not) been done on the topic by discussing the literature, he or she can pose the questions which will be answered by his or her own research. If there are more than one dissertation research question, it is customary to number them so they can be referred to later, in the results and discussion sections. It is also customary to abbreviate the term "research question" to RQ. Thus, a student's dissertation research questions should adhere to the following format:

RQ #1: What will the effects of…?
RQ #2: How will the …?
RQ #3: For subjects in the second group, what will…?

Often, dissertation research questions will be followed shortly afterwards by proposed answers, stated as hypotheses. A Hypothesis is a guess regarding the outcome of the research based on the student's prior knowledge of the subject matter and the outcomes of previous research studies. Hypotheses are also numbered to correspond with their related dissertation research questions, as follows:

H #1: The effects will be…
H #2: The sample will be found to…
H #3: For subjects in the second group, the outcome will…

Dissertation research questions are an excellent way for students to organize the discussion within their dissertations. Students should study existing dissertations for further examples of how they are used.