2-1 practice activity: identifying research questions


In this assignment, you will review a research scenario and identify the possible research question the study was based on.


One of the attributes of a skilled researcher is their ability to identify the research questions being asked. In this activity, you will be given a variety of research study scenarios, and you will attempt to determine the research question that was asked. You will then provide a brief explanation of why you think it was the research question that was originally asked.

To complete this assignment, craft the research question you think we asked for each of the scenarios given.

  • Note: You can copy and paste all the scenarios below into a new document and write your response directly below each scenario.

Scenario One:
You are a social worker in an outpatient clinical setting. You receive referrals from juvenile court counselors (also known as probation officers) to provide clinical assessments and therapy for juveniles aged 12 to 17 suspected of having a mental illness such as depression and/or a substance abuse issue. In your work over the last several years, you noticed that when a youth has been in treatment for several months, they tend to have fewer arrests for crimes. You are interested in conducting a research study about what is at the core of this outcome.

  • What is your research question?
  • Why do you think this is the research question being asked?

Scenario Two:
You are a caseworker responsible for investigating child abuse and neglect reports in your city. After team meeting discussions with fellow caseworkers, you noticed that when the report caseloads are high (over 50 cases per worker), there tend to be more substantiated cases of abuse before the caseworker can get involved in the initial case management after adjudication. It often takes one to two weeks before a caseworker can actually get involved in the case: This can be due to higher priorities among other cases, other caseworkers being out sick or on vacation, or the amount and type of paperwork involved. You are interested in knowing what can be improved to reduce the numbers of substantiated abuse cases and the time frame between report and actual involvement, which would minimize the likelihood of this abuse occurring.

  • What is your research question?
  • Why do you think this is the research question being asked?

Scenario Three:
You are a health educator for your county’s public health department. You work with a team of nurses, social workers, a dietician, and other health educators to help reduce the rate of type 2 diabetes among adults who come to the clinic. You have often noticed that the children of parents who have recently been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes tend to be overweight. You are interested in how eating habits in the family may change after a parent with diabetes is educated on proper diet to reduce weight.

  • What is your research question?
  • Why do you think this is the research question being asked?

Scenario Four:
You are a county commissioner for your county: You are responsible for keeping your county safe from crime and serving as an ambassador for its citizens. While meeting with the mayor and your sheriff’s department and deputies, you were told that there has been an increase in human trafficking reports and arrests since the new interstate opened about six months ago. You want to know if there has been an increase of human trafficking happening among residents in your county, or if the increase is due to people travelling on the interstate and being caught while stopping in your county.

  • What is your research question?
  • Why do you think this is the research question being asked?

Scenario Five:
You work for your state’s Department of Health and Human Services and have been involved in ensuring that one state psychiatric hospital’s patients are safely moved to the newly built state hospital, including its emergency room services. The old hospital will close once all patients are moved in the next month; the new hospital is two hours away.

  • What is your research question?
  • Why do you think this is the research question being asked?

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