Practical exercise (17.2.2)

Formulating research questions

Practical exercise 17.2.2: Formulating research questions

Imagine that the following statements have been made by students about their dissertation topics. How could they be reformulated as research questions?

Remember that the aim of a dissertation is to present your research findings in a way that answers a question. Without this focus, there is a risk that you will be too descriptive in your approach. If you ask a question, you can make sure that your conclusion is effective by ensuring that it answers the question that you posed.

Statement 1

I want to look at the spread of CCTV and relate that to the right of privacy.

Suggested questions

  • Does the use of CCTV infringe an individual’s right to privacy?
  • Is the right of privacy eroded by the ever increasing use of CCTV?
  • Should the use of CCTV be limited in the interests of privacy?

Statement 2

I’m interested in the changes that were made in the law concerning the defendant’s right to silence and how this impacts on his right to a fair trial.

Suggested questions

  • Is the qualified right to silence incompatible with the right to a fair trial?
  • Is the right to silence an essential ingredient of a fair trial?
  • How has the modification of the right to silence impacted on the defendant’s right to a fair trial?

Statement 3

My dissertation is about sexual infidelity and the defence of loss of control that came in with the Coroners and Justice Act 2009.

Suggested questions

  • What was the rationale for the exclusion of sexual infidelity as a trigger for the defence of loss of control and is this situation justifiable?
  • How have the courts approached the issue of sexual infidelity when considering loss of control as a defence to murder?
  • Should those who kill as a result of sexual infidelity be denied a defence of loss of control?


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