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Lowther Hall Nora Collisson Centre (Library): A FACT: Step 1: Ask

The Research Process - Step 1 - ASK

What question is being ASKED? What do you need to know?

The first thing you must do before your research even begins is to have a question to answer.

This is the stage when you need to understand exactly what the question is asking you.

Sometimes your teacher will ASK you to research and sometimes you will be ASKING a research question.


There are two areas you should focus on within this stage:

1. Background Information

2. Developing an Inquiry & Research Questions

What do I know? What do I think I know? What do I need to know?

Background Knowledge

1 Start by completing a KWL chat to map what you KNOW; what you WANT TO KNOW; what you want to LEARN. Here is an example:



2 Next, brainstorm your ideas. 

Asking Good (Research) Questions


Why do you need to ask good questions? 

Qualities of a good research question:

1. You cannot simply Google the answer.

2. It does not repeat what is already known

3. It adds to existing knowledge

4. It expands on existing knowledge or frames it in a new context

5. It is narrow and specific

Developing a Research Question - How to shift from good questions to better questions

How to develop a question for your inquiry

Monash University's guide to developing a good research question and writing assignments

Duration: 4:33

How to develop and narrow a topic by creating a good research question by Laurier Library.

Duration: 6:23 min


Quick Links

When my teacher gives me a project

ASK yourself:

  1. What am I being asked to find out?

  2. Where will I find the information I need?

  3. How will I make sure that the sources I use are reliable?

  4. What am I being asked to create? What will my finished product look like?

  5. What further questions do I need to ask to be clear about what I have to do?


If you are undertaking your own research

ASK yourself:

1. What interests me about this topic?

2. What do I already know, or think I know, about the topic?

3. What background information would help me get an overview of the topic?

4. What questions do I need to answer?

5. How will I find the information I need?

By the end of this stage, you should have a focused research question you can ASK.  The focus of your research will be to provide an answer to the question. 

Background Information - Years 7 - 8 Brainstorming

This video discusses how to brainstorm research topic ideas.

Duration: 2:12

Research is a Dynamic Process