Governing Question

The Governing Question specifies what you need to investigate to make progress in your project. (It is not your thesis.) It should be expressed in a way that orients your work. For example:
  • “In what ways can approaches for effectively teaching empathy-based personal interaction be combined into a course for employees and managers?”
  • “What do I need to know to influence people who prescribe or seeks drugs for behavioral modification of children?”
  • “What teachers, theories, organizations, examples can provide models for me to experiment with and make my own so that...”

  • A clear Governing Question should keep your attention focused on what you need to find out that you do not already know or that you cannot yet demonstrate to someone else. The question should be grounded in what you need to know to get engaged in your specific circumstances, not what some generic person ought to know. Keeping the Governing Question in mind as you do research will help guide you through the complexity of possible considerations so that you more easily prioritise what you read, whom you speak to, and, in general, what you do in your project.

    Any gap between the Governing Question and the Paragraph Overview probably points to unresolved issues about your subject, purpose, and audience. You should not leave it for your advisor or other readers to point this out. To see the gap for yourself, put the Governing Question at the top of your first page of what you write—whether at your project's early stages, such as in an Annotated Bibliography, or later when you prepare a Drafts. Having the Governing Question as a banner helps remind you to check that what you are writing sticks to what you intended or claimed to be writing about. If the Governing Question and what you are writing do not match, something has to be re-envisioned.

    (see Phase A)