SOC 226: Women & Gender Issues: Find Articles

Professor Sakellarides, Fall 2015.

Formulate Questions

Once you have selected an initial topic and before you begin searching,  the next step is to develop research questions.  You'll do this by using probing questions, such as what, why, when, how, would/could, should.

Phrasing your topic in the form of a question or questions will help direct your research process.

WHAT questions focus on a particular aspect of the topic: What are the effects of inequal income as it relates to women and their families? What is the underlying cause of gender pay inequality?

WHY questions ask for an explanation of something--why something happened, why it did not happen, or why one thing is better than another. For instance, why are men paid more than women for the same job? 

WHEN questions focus on timing or history.  When did pay inequality begin?  When were attempts made to address gender pay inequality?

WHERE questions focus the topic on a location, either geographical or other.  Where, or in which countries, is gender pay inequality most prevalent?  Where is it least prevalent?

HOW questions focus aspects of the topic on a process or origins.  How did gender pay inequality begin? 

WOULD / COULD questions focus on possibilities.  Could paying women the same pay for the same job decrease poverty in America?   Would  pay equality draw more women into the work force? Would pay equality impact men?

SHOULD questions focus on the appropriateness of a particular action, policy, procedure, or decision.  For instance,  should gender pay equality be regulated by the federal government?

Source:  Mike Palmquest.   Bedford Researcher.   Colorado State University.


Before you begin searching for information, you must identify keywords related to your topic. Find keywords:



Image source:  Evan-Amos.  Public Domain.  Wikimedia Commons.


Be prepared to be flexible with your research question or thesis.

If you find too much information, your topic/thesis may be too broad.  You will need to narrow or focus it.

If you are finding very little information, your topic/thesis may be too specific, narrow, specialized or current.  It may be difficult to find enough information to write your paper.  In this case, you will need to broaden your topic or thesis.

Unsure of how to narrow or broaden your topic? Head here for some ideas.