A friend of this page has a problem. It’s a common problem. An old history of Spanish East Florida has a tale that everyone accepts as fact. And so he poses a research question:
"How can we prove that the wife of Hezekiah Humperdinckle was a Native woman, the daughter of the Creek chief Mad Dog?"
We don’t have to read far into his question to see a problem: It's begging us to add two more words. It's screaming for those two words:
"How can we prove or disprove that the wife of Hezekiah Humperdinckle was a Native woman, the daughter of the Creek chief Mad Dog?"
This removes the obvious bias in our objective, but it leaves another problem. As framed, the research question actually involves two different issues:
- Did Humperdinckle marry a Native woman?
- If so, was she a daughter of Mad Dog?
That, of course, means we need to reframe our question—maybe this way:
"How might we prove or disprove two critical issues: Was Hezekiah married to a Native woman? If so, was she a daughter of Mad Dog?"
Okay. We’ve now removed the bias. We’ve now clearly defined the two questions that need to be answered. That leaves one other issue. Research guides tell us that an effective research objective needs to be narrowly defined. This is a two-parter. Would you settle for this or would you tinker with it some more?
IMAGE CREDIT: PresenterMedia (https://www.presentermedia.com : downloaded 26 November 2018), item 5865 "What a Great Idea"; used under license.
HOW TO CITE: Elizabeth Shown Mills, "Framing a Research Objective," blog post, QuickTips: The Blog @ Evidence Explained (https:www.evidenceexplained.com/quicktips/framing-research-objective : posted 26 November 2018).