4 Regular vs. Research Questions

Most of us look for information to answer questions every day, and we often act on the answers to those questions. Are research questions any different from most of the questions for which we seek information? Yes.

See how they’re different by looking over the examples of both kinds below and answering questions about them in the next activity.

Examples: Regular vs. Research Questions

Regular Question: What time is my movie showing on Friday?

Research Question: How do “sleeper” films end up having outstanding attendance figures?


Regular Question: What can I do about my insomnia?

Research Question: How do flights more than 16 hours long affect the reflexes of commercial jet pilots?


Regular Question: How many children in the U.S. have allergies?

Research Question: How does their country of birth affect a child’s chances of developing asthma?


Regular Question: What year was metformin approved by Health Canada?

Research Question: Why are nanomedicines, such as doxorubicin, worth developing?


Regular Question: Can I use my library card as proof of ID to vote in Canadian federal elections?

Research Question: How do public libraries in Canada support democracy?


Regular Question: What is the Whorfian Hypothesis?

Research Question: Why have linguists cared about the Whorfian hypothesis?


Regular Question: Where is the Apple, Inc. home office?

Research Question: Why are Apple’s marketing efforts so successful?


Regular Question: What is MERS?

Research Question: How could decision making about whether to declare a pandemic be improved?


Regular Question: Does MLA style recommend the use of generic male pronouns to refer to both males and females?

Research Question: How do age, gender, IQ, and socioeconomic status affect whether students interpret generic male pronouns as referring to both males and females?

Activity: Which Kind of Question?

Instructions: Consider these examples of research questions and regular questions in order to answer the multiple choice questions below.
Examples of Regular Questions Examples of Research Questions
Which colours have House Beautiful designated as trends for Fall 2021? Is it possible to teach good taste?
What is the congruity principle used by designers of multimedia instruction? Are young children influenced to commit more violent acts after watching violent television shows and playing violent games?
What causes sepsis? How is a person’s health threatened by working the night shift?
What is plagiarism? How do university students’ understanding of plagiarism vary, depending on which countries they come from?
What are the most popular peer-reviewed journals for historians? How could journal reading be increased among undergraduate history majors?
How do I vote in a Canadian federal election? How does the Canadian electorate decide how to vote in federal elections?