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COE 265 | Sexuality & Desire

Professor Amy Hoffman

Formulate Questions

Once you have selected an initial topic, the next step is to develop research questions.  Do this by using probing questions. 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 discrimination towards sexual orientation 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.

  • Why is sexual discrimination higher in the military?

WHEN questions focus on timing or history. 

  • When did higher rates of sexual orientation discrimination among LGBTQ military personnel peak?  

WHERE questions focus the topic on a location, either geographical or other.

  • Does the rate of sexual discrimination towards military personnel differ in other countries?

HOW questions focus aspects of the topic on a process or on the origin. 

  • How can sexual discrimination in the military be eliminated?

WOULD / COULD questions focus on possibilities.  

  • Could legislation decrease sexual discrimination in the military?

SHOULD questions focus on the appropriateness of a particular action, policy, procedure, or decision. 

  • Should the military provide training for more awareness, understanding and empathy towards sexual orientation?

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


A good research question will lead to your thesis statement.

For example, the question...

How do the actions of military leaders increase or decrease sexual discrimination among LGBTQ military personnel?

...might lead to the following thesis:

"Training and other forms of support for LGBTQ military personnel provided by leaders in the military decreases sexual discrimination."

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.