Important Basic Questions to Ask When Writing a Research Paper

Developing a good research question is one of the first critical steps in the research process.  The research question, when appropriately written, will guide the research project and assist in the construction of a logical argument

The students who write A+ grade papers have devised a technique in which they write down the research paper questions to answer before and after the first draft. The following are some few examples of such questions.

The questions to ask BEFORE coming up with first draft:

  • What are the topics you have chosen and why have you chosen them?
  • Before getting in to in depth research. What do you know about the topic?
  • What do you intend to discover or find from your research work?
  • Do you know of any controversies surrounding this topic? If yes, what are they? What is your opinion or stand on that issue?
  • Is there coherence or disagreement among the various sources of information?
  • Do you find anything of surprise from the information you have gathered?
  • What aspect of the material do you find most interesting from what you have so far gathered?
  • After reviewing the sources or data, what do you find is the latest problem in topic or field?
  • What are the most important facts in your matter?
  • What is the new insight you can contribute to?
  • Putting in to consideration all the previous questions, how can you sum up the current attitude towards that topic in just one sentence or two?
  • What is the real question that your paper wants to answer?
  • What is your best answer or solution to this question?
  • Do you have information to support the conclusions or stand you take in the foregoing questions?
  • Do you still need to gather more information?

Questions to ask on a research paper AFTER first draft:

  • Are the conclusion, thesis and introduction logical and clear? Is the conclusion related to the introduction?
  • Are the paragraphs and ideas sufficiently and smoothly developed? Do you need to add examples or data to make them more logical and clearer?
  • Is there need of further explanation of the concepts or terms to the reader?
  • Are there some references or ideas which appear irrelevant?
  • Are there some sections where your paper makes some claims to some insufficient evidence?
  • Is there evidence which is unsound and illogical?
  • Have you explored the potential counterarguments and found support for them without bias?
  • Have you sufficiently integrated, explained and acknowledged the conflicting points of view?
  • Does the bibliographical reference contain sufficient range and number of resources?
  • Have you listed all the sources in the paper?
  • Have you captured every important source in your bibliography and references?