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Developing a More Focused Research Question

Introduction

With your research question in hand, you begin the process of further in-depth review of the literature by reading more research on your question. Students often ask: “What am I supposed to be doing while I am reading these studies?” A common misconception is that students are looking for one study that will completely answer their research question rather than simply exploring the issues and types of research done on their topic. Many students are uncomfortable with the idea of exploring for exploration’s sake, and they have had little experience with this method through their previous school training.

Based on your new knowledge

Are there any themes, processes, issues, or variables that seem to be appearing across the studies and articles I have read so far in the literature? If so, what are they? As you continue to conduct your review of literature or talk to experts about your research question, you will begin to focus on a smaller set of issues, variables, or problems, and this may lead you to revise your research question based on your new knowledge. This refined question then leads to a more in-depth review of the literature by focusing attention on these specific areas and finding studies that examine them.

Conclusion

Although there is some variation between quantitative and qualitative researchers, one would next conduct an exhaustive search of the literature. Some students might also call this an exhausting search as well because it is timeconsuming and labor-intensive. Foremost, one begins to develop new knowledge on the topic, including what themes or issues recur, what settings or groups have been studied, and what the results of previous studies have been.

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