You should know that a well-done academic text surely has a clear and logical structure. To build a structure, you need a skeleton. The best construction materials for the skeleton of your work are a research issue (a basis, which is set on the very beginning) and research questions (branches of the problem that help to cover it fully).
So, every part of your work should answer a certain question, relating to your main scientific problem. What will be that issue and questions? How to phrase them to outline the structure of your work? What are we talking about? Read below.
Scientific Problem: What Lies in the Basis of Your Work?
A scientific issue is a practical, concrete question, which leads to the necessity of your investigation. To make it easier for you, we offer you to just fill in the gaps:
- The topic of your research paper will be ___.
- This research is necessary to be carried out, because ___.
How to define the problem of a scientific paper? It should be phrased the way it includes the main purpose, and scientific targets.
- It should be one phrase. The more phrases – the vaguer is your problem and it will not work.
- It should have the purpose of your survey. It needs to be stated the way readers obviously see what is needed to be solved.
- Include the main phenomenon that interested you as a researcher the most: a certain practice, someone’s experience, means of determination of something limited by the views of a certain community, group, or subculture, etc.
- Set such targets as ‘research,’ ‘understand,’ ‘discover.’ A problem statement is like a call to action, and a trigger for the whole scientific paper.
- Mention the members of the survey (informants). A lot depends on what respondents you have selected. A certain issue may take place in a certain social surrounding and be completely irrelevant in others.
- Mention the place and time of the research carried out (local place, subculture, group, organization). Such limitation of the study is needed to clearly define where, when and in what way the scientific problem takes place.
Problematic Questions as a Must-Have for a Good Structure
Okay, your reader already knows what you will write about, but what in particular will you cover? A “global” issue may have too many aspects and you will not be able to cover all. With the help of the problematic questions, you set the borders for your study and secure yourself from telling “a bit about everything but nothing in particular.”
The central issue is quite surface. Additional questions (or sub-questions) divide the main question into more specific thematic questions. There should not be too many of them (2-3 are enough).
- Start with the words ‘how’ and ‘what.’
- Tell, what exactly you are going to discover, understand, identify, interpret, describe.
- Ask “what is happening” for the cases where you formulate questions and tasks to describe situations, practices of the every-day life of a certain society.
- Ask “what does this mean for people?” in the cases, when you phrase questions and tasks for understanding.
- Ask “what was happening with the flow of time?” and “how does it happen in other places?” to discover the changes and peculiarities of the processes.
To formulate why the investigation is needed at all, use verbs and nouns, which show the sense of not the process, but of a completed action and received results, for example: not ‘carrying out of analysis,’ but ‘discovering the role,’ ‘interpretation of the sense,’ ‘formation of typology,’ etc.
The elements above will help you to build the skeleton of your academic paper, so the further work on it will be much easier and better organized. Just follow our advice to clearly determine what you are going to do, and letting your reader know about this from the very beginning, step by step.