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Asking a Question
You should formulate your topic as a question before you get very far into your research.
  • Because a research paper that doesn't answer a question is little more than a summary
  • Because questions help to narrow the focus of your project and your research
  • Because research papers begin with a thesis that is addressed with evidence presented in the paper. If your research begins with a question that is answered by analyzing evidence, then the presentation will flow from the research itself
Advanced strategies
Organize your questions -
Organize your paper -
Once you have chosen a topic that is neither too narrow nor too broad, bombard your topic with questions. It is often useful to organize your questions into categories:
Categories for the topic "Censorship on the Internet"
...and questions
  Identify its parts and wholes:
How is censorship of the Internet associated with recent social trends?
  Trace its history and changes:
How is censoring of the Internet similar to the earlier censorship of books?
  Identify its categories and characeristics:
What types of information are of most concern to proponents of Internet censorship? Why?
  Determine its value:
What are the implications of thorough Internet censorship?
In The Craft of Research, (Booth, Wayne, Colomb, Gregory and Joseph Williams. University of Chicago Press, 1995, p.39-41) the authors suggest a process for turning a topic into a question. It is described on the right.