Define Your Questions

Defining your questions makes it easier to find what you need.

When you research, you have two types of questions. The essential question is about the big idea that you want to explore. To narrow ideas, use focus questions. The answers to focus questions shape the response to your essential question.

Essential Questions

  • Big idea questions that get you to think
  • Ask you to make a decision or choose among various plans, strategies, or courses of action
  • Relate to the why and what if of your topic
  • Example: "How does acid rain affect air quality and how can those effects be changed?"

Focus Questions

  • Supporting questions that help you explore your essential question
  • Relate to the who, what, where, and when about your topic.
  • Example: "What is acid rain?"

Asking an essential question that leads to original thought and ideas takes your research to a higher level.

Activity: Develop your own questions. To get started, explore the items in Resources box to the right. Which is the most useful for you?

Next => Now that you have done some defining, it is time to go to the next step of the OSLIS research process: Plan.