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History 9B: Develop a Guiding Question

Research Project Guide for History 9B

Why do I need a research question?

Your research and writing will be guided by a central research question.  The sooner you can develop one the better, but this also can't be rushed.

This is not a needless hoop for you to jump through.  The more you can own your question, the more you can pose one you are eager to answer, the better you'll be able to conduct your research.  You'll read faster (skipping past things that aren't relevant) and will have  clear purpose when you organize your ideas and write.  In short, this is a key step!

How to:

Your research question: What did ----your topic----- demonstrate about Japan’s worldview before/during/after World War II?

EX: What did “Japanese women’s contributions in wartime” demonstrate about Japan’s worldview during World War II?

The question is intentionally broad so you can focus the question to fit your research. It is okay for the focus of your question to differ slightly from that of your group members. 


Guidelines for developing your question

*Pay attention to your curiosity as you begin your background reading.  Jot down your questions as you go.  "Why" and "how" tend to work better than "who" and "when" questions.

*Follow leads.  Encounter an interesting person or odd occurrence?  Find a bit of irony or a strange cause and effect relationship?  Pay attention to these and pursue them, doing a bit of research to fill in some details.

*Go narrow and deep.  Broad topics make research difficult and dull. Choose a narrow topic where you can take on real questions.

*Following a trail can lead you to a narrow your topic and hone a more interesting question.

Be prepared!

*Your teacher will ask you to articulate this guiding question.  Your response should not require checking your notes.  Own this question -- internalize it; let it motivate your work -- and you will research and write with greater purpose and focus.  Your eventual thesis will answer the question, and the paper will seek to prove your answer.