Sub- and search questions
For more complex problems, it is necessary to divide your main question into several sub-questions. These sub-questions relate to aspects of your main question. By zooming in on the sub-questions, it becomes easier to answer your main question. All sub-questions together provide a direct answer to your main question. Example: Influence of coffee when studying Situation:
You are studying for a test and notice that drinking coffee helps you to stay focused. You wonder what exactly causes this and are particularly curious about the possible influence of coffee on you and your fellow students’ study results.
‘What influence does the consumption of coffee have on the study success of students?’
- How much coffee is drunk by Dutch students?
- Which active ingredients are there in coffee?
- What is the influence of these components on your brain?
- To what extent do these ingredients influence the ability to concentrate?
- What is the effect of different types of coffee?
- What is study success?
- In what ways can you measure study success?
Sometimes you can further specify sub questions into search questions. For example, search questions for sub-question 1 could be:
- How many students are there in the Netherlands?
- What is the ratio of men to women?
- What differences in coffee consumption are there per semester?
The other sub questions can also be translated into search questions.
You can see that a simple looking question can lead to many sub questions and search questions. It can become more complex than you anticipated. That is also the case in this example. If you don’t have enough time or resources, try to narrow down your question even more or consider another subject.