Key questions to generate research ideas

It is important that you think through the following questions, not only to help you get your head around your idea, but also in terms of refining your research question. At the end of this process you should be able to name your research in either a concrete statement or question that can easily communicate to others the intention of your research.

Once you have gone through this process, it is also important to discuss your research topic with other people. This will help you further refine your topic and investigation in your mind, and may also lead you in the direction of other people or groups who can assist and support you and your research.

What is the Kaupapa?

The kaupapa in this sense could be defined as the aim or purpose of the research, and is basically an outline of the question you intend to ask and what you intend to do. The kaupapa includes the research question, and also forces you to think about how you go about finding the answer to your question. If your research question is a large one, then you may want to further articulate what aspects of the question you wish to and can cover, and what aspects need to be left out. Articulating the kaupapa allows you to refine your question for research, and is often an on-going process throughout the research. It may be useful to start by brainstorming or mind-mapping ideas you have.

Where are you going?

Do you have a hypothesis? A hypothesis is a proposed answer to your research question. It may be an assumption or a hunch that you have as to where the research may lead you, and what the outcome of the research will be. Thinking about a hypothesis for your research allows you to further conceptualise the process of how you may go about answering your question. It provides you with an endpoint or destination that you can navigate your research towards. You may not arrive at that particular point, and your hypothesis may be proven incorrect, but it does guide the research to ensure that the research does not become too large or misdirected.

Who am I to be doing this research?

When conducting Kaupapa Māori research, it is imperative that the researcher be fully aware of themselves (ie. multiple identities and insider/outsider status) within the context of the research. It is implied in the principles of Kaupapa Māori that the researcher understand Māori concepts and processes in order to conduct the research; subsequently it is also implied that the researcher understand their role and relationship with/within the communities with whom their research interfaces.

Who will this research benefit?

Part of the function of research is to increase our knowledge base about the world and the people around us. Therefore it is important that someone else will be interested in the results of your research. When doing Kaupapa Māori research, it is important to remember your responsibility as a researcher to the people involved in your research; thus when thinking about who will benefit from your research you should think not only about the findings but also the process. Who will be the key beneficiaries of your research, and what role do they play in your investigation?

How will your research be of benefit?

How does the research you intend to conduct impact on the people that you have thought about above? What impact does your research have on whanau, hapu, iwi, communites and other organisations? Does your research impact positively on these groups or negatively? Is there a transformative element in your research that may assist or give back to these groups?

You may also want to start thinking about how you intend to disseminate the research findings back to the communities that you believe it will benefit. See the knowledge exchange section for further information.

Has anyone else already answered this question?

Many people have great ideas and questions that need to be answered, however sometimes if you look around you may find that someone else has already answered the question that you are asking. It is important that you do some background checking on what research has already been conducted in the area of your own topic. This might involve reviewing the existing literature, whereby you look for other books, articles, and other pieces of information related to your topic.

It is also important to talk about your idea or question to other people. When you find relevant information, it is useful to read and take note of what there is for two reasons. Firstly it allows you to check and see if there is any overlap between your research and someone else’s. Secondly any material you find can be used at a later stage in your research, such as in your research proposal, literature review and in the final research report.