Identifying a research question
1. Pick an area: Health economics
2. Within that area focus on particular topic: hospital markets, health insurance,
3. Focus in a bit: defining hospital market areas, competition between for-profit and non-
profit hospitals, agglomeration economies or diseconomies for the first; deductibles vs.
copays, managed care vs. indemnities, moral hazard, cream-skimming for the second.
4. identify approximately 20-25 fundamental articles related to the focused area. If you
can’t find 20 articles, the area is too new or uninteresting. If you can’t limit to 20-25
articles the area is probably too broad, fewer means it is too narrow. Read them for
background and to understand the issues.
5. From that reading, focus further, finding more specialized articles and issues. For
hospital markets, a) Problems defining LOFI-LIFO in urban areas; b) prospective
reimbursement and hospital investment, etc.
6. Read more, define a research question.
Notice – reading (i.e., the existing literature) drives the research question, not the other way