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Developing Your Research Question. Your research question provides a starting point for investigating a conversation. What is a research question and how does it shape my research writing project? What is the difference between a research question and a thesis statement?

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Your research question provides a starting point for investigating a conversation l.jpg
Your research question provides a starting point for investigating a conversation

  • What is a research question and how does it shape my research writing project?

  • What is the difference between a research question and a thesis statement?

  • How can I draft my research question?


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What is a research question…? investigating a conversation

  • A research question is a brief question that directs your efforts to collect, critically read, and evaluate your sources.


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What is the difference between a research question and a thesis statement?

  • Research questions are a way to mark your current understanding of your conversation and direct your research efforts.

  • Your research question can help you decide how to use the information you’ve found.

  • A thesis statement answers your research question.


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An example: thesis statement?

  • Research Question: Why did comics become darker and more violent in the 1980s?

  • Thesis Statement: In Batman: The Dark Knight Returns Frank Miller re-imagines Batman as a psychologically tormented figure who is driven by his anguish over the death of his parents to become a vigilant figure who is more concerned about revenge than he is the law. This shift corresponds to an increasing focus on violence and vigilantism in American culture during the Reagan years.


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Selecting a Working Research Question conversation you have decided to join.

  • Early research questions typically suffer from a lack of focus.

  • You can narrow the scope of your research question by looking for vague words and phrases and replacing them with more specific words or phrases.


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Example: conversation you have decided to join.

  • Original Question: Why did comics become darker and more violent in the 1980s?

  • Refined Question: How are the differences in American values from the 1940s to the 1980s reflected in The Dark Knight Returns?

  • Further Refined:What accounts for the vigilantism of Batman in Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns?


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  • Frank Miller’s conversation you have decided to join.Batman: The Dark Knight Returns has been called the most important superhero comic since the first issue of Superman. Miller’s comic is certainly one of the most important comics of the mid-1980s deconstruction of the superhero. Bradford Wright claims, “creators won critical acclaim and commercial fortune by exploring their characters’ disturbing psychological motivations and cultural implications.… Once confident symbols of hope, superheroes now spoke to the paranoia and psychosis lurking behind the rosy veneer of Reagan’s America” (266). Consider the ways that The Dark Knight Returns serves as an example of the type of comic Wright claims dominated this period. How does Miller imagine the character of Batman? How is the relationship between Batman and his two archetypal foes, Two-Face and The joker, re-imagined in Miller’s comic? What are the significances of this reconsideration of these relationships? What is the significance of Batman’s age in this comic? How does Miller’s comic reflect the cultural values of America in the 1980s?


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