The word RESEARCH means "finding out" or "discovery", by use of systematic effort, information or answers to something you want to know. You RESEARCH by asking questions and by searching for answers to those questions which are satisfactory, methodological valid, and balanced. You cannot RESEARCH if you do not want to know anything, that is, you must have something you would like to know more about before you can do RESEARCH. You begin with a QUESTION or QUESTIONS. If you have none, you will find no answers or will not know when you have found one. Since you will be assigned to write a RESEARCH paper, a paper written without a question in mind will NOT be a RESEARCH paper.
The research question is one of the first methodological steps the investigator has to take when undertaking a research. The research question must be accurately and clearly defined. Choosing a research question is the central element of both quantitative and qualitative research and in some cases it may precede construction of the conceptual framework of study. In all cases, it makes the theoretical assumptions in the framework more explicit, most of all it indicates what the researcher wants to know most and first.
DEVELOPING RESEARCH QUESTION
It's absolutely essential to develop a research question that you're interested in or care about in order to focus your research and your paper (unless, of course, your instructor gives you a very specific assignment). For example, researching a broad topic such as "business management" is difficult since there may be hundreds of sources on all aspects of business management. On the other hand, a focused question such as "What are the pros and cons of Japanese management style?" is easier to research and can be covered more fully and in more depth.
How do you develop a usable research question? Choose an appropriate topic or issue for your research, one that actually can be researched.Then list all of the questions that you'd like answered yourself. Choose the best question, one that is neither too broad nor too narrow. Sometimes the number of sources you find will help you discover whether your research question is too broad, too narrow, or okay?If you know a lot about the topic, you can develop a research question based on your own knowledge. If you feel you don't know much about the topic, think again. For example, if you're assigned a research topic on an issue confronting the ancient Babylonian family, remember, by virtue of your own family life, you already know a great deal about family issues. Once you determine what you do know, then you're ready to do some general reading in a textbook or encyclopedia in order to develop a usable research question.
source : Empire State College, State University of New York http://www.esc.edu/esconline/across_esc