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Exercise Science

Library resources for exercise science.

Formulate Questions

Once you have selected an initial topic, 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 questions helps direct the research process.


WHAT questions focus on a particular aspect of the topic: What are the effects of athletic or kinesio tape on shoulder injuries?

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 does kinesio taping aid shoulder injuries?

WHEN questions focus on timing or history.  When did athletic taping begin?  

WHERE questions focus the topic on a location, either geographical or other.  Is athletic taping used differently in Europe as compared to the U.S.?


HOW questions focus aspects of the topic, on a process, or on the origin.  How could athletic taping negatively impact an injury?

WOULD / COULD questions focus on possibilities.   Could athletic taping be used for the prevention of shoulder injuries?

SHOULD questions focus on the appropriateness of a particular action, policy, procedure, or decision.  Should athletic taping be used for shoulder injuries?

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




A good research question will lead to your thesis statement.

For example, the question...

What are the effects of athletic or kinesio tape on shoulder injuries?

...might lead to the following thesis:

"Shoulder injuries taped with elastic taping (Kinesio taping, KT)  showed faster improvement, improved proprioception and  joint stability, and increased shoulder muscle strength and range of motion."

Strong  thesis statements

  • Answer a question
  • Are engaging 
  • Can be challenged or opposed, thus also defended
  • Pass the 

or "why should I care?" test

  • Are supported by your paper
  • Are neither too broad nor too vague

Source:  Thesis Statements.  George Mason University.