Skip to Main Content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.

HIST 17B: Developing a Research Question

Developing a Reserarch Question

Steely Library NKU (4:33)

Course Topics

This is a survey course of American history from Reconstruction period to the current day. Topics include:

  • The State of the Nation 1865-1877
  • The American Economic Miracle
  • Transforming the West
  • The Trans-Mississippi West 
  • The Spanish-American War
  • The Economy after World War I
  • Nativism and Isolationism
  • President Franklin Delano Roosevelt and "The New Deal"
  • The Cold War: confrontation between the Superpowers
  • Vietnam
  • "Watergate" and American Politics
  • American Society, Ideals, and Goals and Indifference

Reagan's domestic economic policies and foreign policies

Developing Your Research Question Takes Research

Topic: Spanish American War

By doing some background reading in history reference materials, textbooks, or even from a Google search, you can narrow a broad topic down to a specific research question. This question will be the one you will be answering in the course of your paper. It serves as your guide. Keep in mind, you may have to answer some other questions to help you answer your major question.

Question: What were the root causes of the Spanish American War?

You will have to develop questions about how they differed by doing a little more reading. For example, you could ask yourself:

The reasons for war were many, but there were two immediate ones: America's support the ongoing struggle by Cubans and Filipinos against Spanish rule, and the mysterious explosion of the battleship U.S.S. Maine in Havana Harbor.

  • Who else was involved in the Spanish American War?
  • Who stood to gain economically?
  • What happened when the U.S.S. Maine sunk?

When you start researching you may find that your topic expands or narrows depending on both your interest and your depth of research.


Keeping your research question in mind, if you can answer TRUE to the statements below, your research question is probably workable.

  1. It cannot simply be answered with a yes/no. 
  2. It has social significance/a problem associated with it.
  3. There is reliable evidence available to address it.
  4. It has appropriate scope.