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Which of the following is an example of a good sociological research question?

a. Will I make an A in this class?

b. Can mass shootings be stopped?

c. How does sports participation affect students' grades?

d. Is American capitalism the best type of economic system?

Expert Answers

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Sociology is a social science which studies social and societal organization and behavior. Since sociology is a science, a good research question is one that can be reasonably tested. Out of the questions you have listed, the question "How does sports participation affect students' grades?" is the best sociological research question, because it includes two variables (sports participation and students' grades), and the relationship between the two can be tested. You could research the answer to this question by collecting a sample of students and tracking data about whether or not each student participates in sports, and what type of grades they earn. From this data, you could draw conclusions and attempt to answer your question.

"Will I make an A in this class?" is not a good sociological research question because it is about an individual student and their grade and not about larger patterns in society or groups of people. "Can mass shootings be stopped?" might be a sociological question, but to be a good research question it would have to be more specific and testable, for example: "Do anti-bullying programs reduce the likelihood of school shootings?" The question "Is American capitalism the best type of economic system?" is not a testable research question, partly because what it means for an economic system to be "the best" is not defined. A better sociological research question could be something like, "How do levels of employment and well-being of people living under American capitalism compare to those of people living in other economic systems?"

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