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 mass incarceration of African Americans on individuals, families, society?
WHY questions ask for an explanation of something--why it happened, why it did not happen, or why one thing is better than another. For instance, why are African Americans incarcerated at a higher rate than whites?
WHEN questions focus on timing or history: When did African American mass incarceration begin?
WHERE questions focus the topic on a location, either geographical or other. Does the rate of African American incarceration differ in other countries?
HOW questions focus aspects of the topic on a process or on the origin. How does implicit bias reduce impartiality? How can implicit bias be eliminated?
WOULD / COULD questions focus on possibilities. Could stop and frisk reforms lower mass incarceration?
SHOULD questions focus on the appropriateness of a particular action, policy, procedure, or decision. Should implicit bias training be provided to all those within the criminal justice system?
Source: Mike Palmquest. Bedford Researcher. Colorado State University.
A good research question will lead to your thesis statement.
For example, the question...
How does implicit bias training impact African American incarceration?
...might lead to the following thesis:
"Implicit bias training reduces racially triggered responses, instills a motivation to fairness and impartiality, and decreases the incarceration rate of African Americans."
Strong thesis statements
or "why should I care?" test
Source: Thesis Statements. George Mason University.
Image source: Powernowllc. CC0 1.0. Wikimedia Commons.