Brandel Library

MUS 3010: Music History and Literature I

Research Questions

Good Research Starts with Good Questions

A good research question is:

  • Interesting to you. You will do better research and write a more engaging paper if you choose a topic that you find significant.
  • Supportable with research (not just personal opinion).
  • Precise. Defines the boundaries and direction of your research. 
  • Appropriately scoped for the length of the assignment (neither too broad nor too narrow).

Definitional and Interpretive Research Question

Definitional Research Questions Interpretive Research Questions
  • answerable with facts
  • focus on who, what, when, where
  • answerable by examining a topic through a particular frame/lens
  • focus on why, how 

The research/writing challenge:

  • Sift through a variety of sources to identify the most critical information for answering your question.
  • Synthesize those sources into a unified piece of writing.

The research/writing challenge:

  • Understand other scholars' interpretations of your research topic.
  • Fit your own interpretive voice into that conversation.

Picking Your Topic IS Research

Preliminary Research

Before you can formulate a good question, some preliminary research is essential to help you gain an initial understanding of a topic.

Good starting places: