Research questions guide your research and analysis. These questions go beyond what can be answered by yes or no and surpass factual questions that can be easily answered with a statement of fact. Research questions should focus on how and why things happened. These questions will help you focus your research and develop your argument as you progress throughout your project.
From A Pocket Guide to Writing in History by Mary Lynn Rampolla:
- Avoid questions that elicit simple descriptions, such as "How did the railroads expand in the US in late 19th/early 20th century?" Better might be, "In what ways did the development of the US railroads in late 19th/early 20th century affect Mexican migration?"
- Avoid questions that are too broad, such as "What was the Mexican Revolution?" Being more specific will help, such as, "How did the Mexican Revolution change migration from Mexico to the US?"
- Avoid questions that are too narrow that won't take you very far, such as, "Did the 1917 Immigration Act affect the demand for Mexican labor?" (think how you could answer that). Instead try, "In what ways did immigration from other countries affect the demand for Mexican labor?"
- Avoid speculative questions, such as "What would have happened if the Mexican Revolution hadn't happened?"
This website also gives some really helpful ideas for writing research questions.