2. The Research Question (RQ), Research Proposal, & the Annotated Bib

On this page...

  • advice and suggestions for creating a great Research Question (RQ)

  • suggestions for Note Taking

  • information about Annotated Bibliographies

  • information about Literature Reviews

Upcoming deadlines

Class of 2023

Super Tips

  • the RQ does not need to be perfect for some time; it evolves as your research progresses

  • avoid mindlessly picking the starter, 'To what extent...' as your RQ

  • your RQ must be a question - be sure to use a question mark

What next?

  • Get ready for your first official meeting; have ideas to share, questions to ask, notes to show.

  • Get ready to write a short reflection after that meeting; keep updating your RRS on a regular basis

Feasibility & Worthiness Check

It is suggested that you carry out a feasibility and worthiness check on your ideas before you get too far into the process. The doc below is not required but will help you through this process.

Is your EE idea worthy of investigation

To be an EE superstar remember these three things...

Remember to regularly add reflections to your RRS

Remember the IB has ethical guidelines for you to follow

Remember each IB subject will have unique requirements. Check out the Subject Guides (step 1) for more insight

Developing YOUR Research Question

From the IB EE Guide

Developing a RQ.pdf
Initial Wonderings: First steps

Developing Questions

Research Question Writing Template

Five steps to developing a research question

Choose a subject and topic that is of interest.

Deciding on a subject and topic that is of interest and in which the student is personally invested is important if their motivation is to be sustained throughout the process. The student should be able to identify, in a broad sense, what it is that they are interested in and why.


Carry out preliminary reading.

After deciding on a topic of interest students should undertake some general reading around the issue. Questions they must consider at this stage are:

  • What has already been written about this topic?

  • Was it easy to find sources of information?

  • Is there a range of different sources available?

  • Is there a range of views or perspectives on the topic?

  • What interesting questions have started to emerge from this reading?


Consider the emerging questions.

The student should now begin posing open-ended questions about their general topic. These questions will usually be framed using the terms “how”, “why” or “to what extent”.


Evaluate the question.

Once possible research questions have been posed they should be evaluated. This evaluation should be based on whether the research question is clear, focused, and arguable.

Clear: Will the reader understand the nature of my research? Will it direct the research being undertaken?

Focused: Will the research question be specific enough to allow for exploration within the scope of the task (that is, the number of words and time available)?

Arguable: Does the research question allow for analysis, evaluation and the development of a reasoned argument?


Consider research outcomes.

Once a provisional research question has been decided upon students should start thinking about the direction their research might take. This could be in terms of:

  • suggesting possible outcomes of the research

  • outlining the kind of argument they might make and how the research might support this

  • considering options if the research available is not sufficient to support a sustained argument.

More Help Developing an EE Question

Did you know...?

Moving towards a good RQ
How to phrase your research question?

Further Support for Developing High Quality Research Questions

FAQs about the RQ

UCLA Library