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From Question to Problem to Claim
- Ask open ended questions that require complex answers. Who, what, when, or where are easily answered questions that relate factual information. A good research paper asks more nuanced questions like why and how.
- Evaluate your questions: Why is it worth asking? What can be gained by attaining greater understanding? What are the broader implications or consequences? Why is it significant?
- Does your question and its possible answer present an original contribution to existing scholarship? Remember research is not summary or reporting. Your goal as a researcher is to add something new or to further the conversation in some way through your own analysis.
- Think about what problem you hope to find a solution to through your research. This will help you identify why it deserves research and communicate why it is of value to your readers.
- As you begin to read books and articles you may notice inconsistencies, contraditions, unsubstantiated claims, unanswered questions, or the use of dubious evidence which can lead you to ask new questions or lead you to areas worthy of deeper exploration.
- Your claim, thesis statement, or argument is your proposed answer to the problem posed by your research question. Your research and analysis of sources provide the evidence which supports your claim.
- Your claim need not be absolute. Oftentimes your research may prove inconclusive, there may be a variety of valid alternatives, or it may be that not enough information is available.