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DANCE 314: Contemporary Dance History

Formulating a Research Question

Your assignment for Dance 314 gets you started with a topic (a specific choreographer) and some broad questions. One of your first steps is to formulate a more specific research question to pursue in your reading and searching. A good research question is:

  • of the right scope : your question should be specific and focused enough that it can be answered in a short paper. For this class, that's likely to mean focusing on one choreographic work and it's relationship to one aspect of the choreographer's life or background. However, it should not be so specific that there is little to no evidence or source material to draw on.
  • complex : it shouldn't have a yes or no answer. Your question should require research to answer, and you should be able to imagine multiple possible answers. It should also be complex enough that answering will require some interpretation of the facts and/or the choreography on your part. 
  • open-ended: you shouldn't already know the answer, and your question shouldn't include assumptions or biases about the topic. It should also be something that will remain somewhat open to debate after you answer it, so that someone could make a different argument. If the question can be tied up neatly, it probably doesn't require a whole paper to answer. 

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