How To Structure Research Questions For Descriptive Quantitative Research?

Formulation of research questions for quantitative studies is one of the easiest tasks. Identification of a good topic of interest and selection of problems to be solved via research are two main things that determine the quality as well as the structure of questions to be addressed throughout the research.  Additionally, you must decide which type of question among descriptive, comparative, and relationship-based questions will best suit your research.   Each type will help you explore a situation from different aspects. This article will primarily focus on the structuring guidelines of research questions for descriptive quantitative research.

How do Descriptive Quantitative Questions Differ From Comparative And Relationship-Based Questions?

Descriptive research questions differ from comparative as well as relationship-based questions as they only describe the variables involved in a study. It simply means that descriptive questions must contain words such as how much, what percentage, and what proportion to give the opportunity to researchers to measure variables quantitatively. However, the comparative questions aim to explore the relationship between variables categorized into different groups.  These questions often start with ‘what is the difference…’. Simply, the comparison between variables is the main purpose of quantitative comparative questions. Lastly, the relationship-based questions aim to investigate the trends, causality, associations, and interactions among variables. Thus, if you are planning to perform your research through descriptive quantitative questions, you must follow the following guidelines to achieve the aim. 

Formulation and structuring guidelines of descriptive quantitative research questions:        

Formulation and structuring guidelines of descriptive quantitative research questions may vary from discipline to discipline. For example, research in nursing often use frameworks like PICO, SPIDER, and PICOS to formulate focused and clear questions, however, social sciences students can easily create questions without the aid of any sophisticated framework. Still, the following are some general steps that will not only help in structuring research questions but also will be very useful in taking the right start.  However, if you want to discuss a particular PhD research case with experts to make good questions you can seek PhD dissertation help.

Three steps to writing quantitative descriptive research:

Basically, a good formulation of questions will automatically help you in structuring questions in a few simple steps.  Thus, you must review the following three steps to stay on the right path:

  1. Identify the variables that need to be described quantitatively
  2. Identify the types of variables that you can manipulate in research
  3. Write sentences that address your research problem in light of identified variables

After completing these three steps, you will be able to play with ideas to decide the best structure for your questions. 

Five steps to structure the quantitative descriptive research questions:

  1. Choose the right starting phrases:

Good starting phrases are extremely helpful for readers to judge the type of your research questions. For depicting the descriptive nature of questions you must choose any words from the following list:

  • How many?
  • What percentage?
  • To what extent?
  • What are?
  • How frequently?
  • How often?
  • What proportion?

For example, your research question may be like this:

  • How many calories a Canadian child should consume per day?
  • What proportion of Asian students looks forward to Australia for higher education?
  1. Keep the names of independent and dependent variables at your fingertips:

By definition, the independent variables are those that stand alone without being influenced by other factors. However, the term dependent variable is used for the factors that remain under the influence of independent or other correlated factors. At this step, you must decide the factors affecting your quantitative research and a possible connection between the dependent or independent variables. 

  1. Select the arrangement of independent and dependent variables in a question statement.

Select how you will order the dependent or independent variables to explicit their clear meaning. Moreover, the correct arrangement of words in questions depends on the phenomenon that you want to explore through research. 

Additionally, another way to solve the mystery is to use the hit-and-trial method. In this method, you must first play with the dependent variables. Make three statements by altering the positions of dependent variables (place in the start, middle, or end). Likewise, you can also do this little exercise with the independent variables. In this way, you will get six statements stating the same problems to be asked in questions. Decide one that best explains your meaning or that seems more logical as a research question.     

  1. Choose powerful and influential words in the questions:

Descriptive questions are easy to formulate as you can make them in a variety of ways. It allows you to play with ideas. Thus, to make it more informative and expressive you must search and use powerful and influential words so readers can easily understand why you planned a study. Moreover, powerful words do not mean that you can use slang or clichés in question. Here, the term powerful words reflect that the terms chosen for defining variables (both dependent and independent) must best explain their context in a particular discipline. Good research and the most recent literature can help you achieve the aims. 

  1. Write down the statement under the headline ‘Research Questions:

Yes, the last step must be to create a clear headline like ‘Questions to be addressed in the research in your dissertation and write all descriptive questions under it. You can write a rough statement and revise it as many times as you want. Actually, it will be your word selection in the questions that help another researcher in judging your conceptual understanding of the key point under discussion. 


Final thoughts:

All in all, writing research questions is not at all a difficult process you can even write them with a little knowledge about your area. However, by following the structuring guidelines you must be clearer about it. Before ending the discussion, you must know one more thing you must not be worried about writing questions for your research as you can amend and even replace them at any stage of research.