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Story of the Research Question

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Have you ever felt “stuck” conceptualizing and fleshing out your thesis and related research question?

At any point in the writing process and academic calendar, but especially relevant during the semester-end stretch when final papers are due, you may find yourself interrogating the premises of or struggling to develop or refine the research question itself.

One way to mindfully deliberate on the research question and release the conceptual flow of writing is to PAUSE and REFLECT on the “story” of the research question itself. This can be done by writing a brief reflective memo, which may or may not be integrated into the paper itself, but will probably prove to be quite cathartic and clarifying.

Taking license to be free and unrestrained, write as if journaling to yourself, and reflect on any one or combination of the following prompts relative to your research question:

  • What is the (background) “story” of (behind) the research question?
  • What has been the developmental trajectory or building blocks of the research question?
  • How did I become interested in this question?
  • Why is this question significant to me?
  • What do I find most compelling about my question?
  • In what ways do I connect with this question? What are my points-of-reference for contextualizing the research question – in my own life, practice, field, and/or in the world?

For more strategies, come to Weingarten, collaborate with a learning instructor and get tailored feedback through an individual consultation. Also, consider registering for our Dissertation Bootcamp!

By Staff writer: Min Derry, Learning Fellow & Instructor

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