Step 4 – refine the question

In step 4 of the Research Cycle, you are encouraged to bring your knowledge of what is already known about your research issue to look afresh at the research question formed in step 1 of the Research Cycle. At this step in your research, you have defined an issue, built a research question then spent time reviewing what is already know about your research question. This will have moved your thinking forward and as such, it is a great point to stop and think about your original research question. With what you now know, is your question still the right question for you and your organisation or do you need to adapt it or completely change it?

Here are my top tips at step 4 of the Research Cycle as you think about reviewing your research question:

• Ensure the original research question is still relevant and will lead you to find out something new about your practice or the practice of others.
• Consider the end point of research and confirm that the research question will help you to this end.
• Ask again: is the research question relevant to your roles and responsibilities?
• Based on the new knowledge discovered at step 3, don’t be afraid to jump back to step 1 or step 2 of the Research Cycle to ensure the issue is clearly defined and the research question is purposeful for you and your organisation.

I explore these points in more detail in my book, Irresistible learning – embedding a culture of research in schools.

Back to the Research Cycle

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