A dissertation question is the motivating force behind any report study—the as-yet unanswered question around which a research topic is built. Dissertation questions are the inquiries that lead to the development of dissertation studies and, in turn, dissertation results. A dissertation question is not necessarily a research question that is posed prior to a dissertation study, such as those that are commonly found in the first chapter of a college report. Research questions typically pose such queries as "Will there be a correlation between x and y?" Dissertation questions are larger, more encompassing inquiries that motivate the development of an entire project. Dissertation questions are big questions, such as "What is the missing link in this body of research?" or "How can we figure out how to apply the findings of Study A to the problems posed in Study B?" Dissertation questions are typically questions with many possible answers; the goal of the writer is to find one such answer.
A dissertation question is a point of interest to a student-scholar—a point of interest that he or she finds immensely compelling and important. Most significantly, a dissertation question is a point of interest that has yet to be explored, which is why it is an as-yet unanswered question. Often, a dissertation question emerges when a student has devoted him or herself to a particular sub-field of his or her field and, after learning an incredible amount about that sub-field and reading a variety of research, determines that there is something missing in that research—something that is needed in order to make theories connect or to advance a particular practice or experiment. It is this gap in the research that leads the student to wonder about how to make such connections or about why the research displays the phenomena it does. These wonderings often lead to the report question. These questions then lead to the development of topics.
Dissertation questions are turned into dissertation topics because dissertation questions are often very large and abstract ponderings. To transform the abstract question into something that can be concretely studied requires the report thinker to turn his question into a practical topic. In this way, large and abstract dissertation questions such as "What is the role of dreaming in our mental health?" becomes a topic that can be studied, such as "the effect of dreaming on serotonin and endorphin levels." The larger dissertation question cannot be answered in full without dozens of such studies, but the question serves to develop a topic that allows the writer to become one step closer to an answer.
When a student has to write a research paper as part of a course, the report will often center around one particular report question that the student has. There are many different types of report questions. For example, some questions are general. Other questions are very specific. A general question might be, "How did the Union win the Civil War?" A specific question might be, "How did the Union army use tunnels to win the Battle of the Crater and save the Capitol of Confederacy from being taken over by the Confederates?"
In some cases, learners will not start their research with a particular question in mind. Instead, they will start with a topic that a professor has assigned or that they have come up with on their own. Through their research, they will develop their own article questions that they can then attempt to answer. Regardless of how the student found a question or of the type of research paper question that a student begins with, the student needs to perform a suitable amount of research so that he or she understands the answer to the question.
There are several ways that students can go about researching the answers to their questions. For one, they can read books, magazines, and resource articles that help them to get a clear picture of the situation. They may also perform experiments, especially if they are trying to answer a research paper question that may have a quantitative answer, such as a scientific topic. They may also interview experts to get more information.
Whenever a student is attempting to answer a research paper question, the student should be aware that there are two types of resources that may be available to them. The first type is a primary resource, which is a first-hand account of a situation. For a example, a diary is a primary resource. The second is a secondary resource, which provides objective information. A secondary resource may be a newspaper article. Students should review both types of resources to get the best possible answer to their document questions.
A research paper question is different from the topic of a college report. Often, learners will have to write a college report based solely on the question—especially if a professor has assigned a question that students must answer. If not, then students should ask their own questions that they can answer. By asking questions, learners can create purpose and direction in their documents.