English Language Learners Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for speakers of other languages learning English. It's 100% free, no registration required.

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

Research can start with a specific question. What is the name of that specific question? Is it "the fundamental question", or is there another name for it that's used as standard?

share|improve this question
The hypothesis? But that is the assumed answer to the underlying question. However, if I am not mistaken, research is done to test an hypothesis. – oerkelens Feb 4 '14 at 12:21
What's the name for this in your native language? And did you try to do a translation? What did you find? (Otherwise, perhaps this should be migrated to Academia.) – J.R. Feb 4 '14 at 13:59
In Persian it is پرسش آغازی which can be translated to the initiative question or the question at start. Actually I have already been there and they said it is off-topic to them. I think the word research question would be good. – Juya Feb 4 '14 at 14:20
According to this wiki page : en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Research_question research question is the right term. – Zzyrk Feb 4 '14 at 14:26
@Zzyrk - "research question" is entirely correct, at least in American English. Write an answer! – hairboat Feb 4 '14 at 14:49
up vote 4 down vote accepted

The correct term for the point of departure of a research document is the research question. For more details, read this wiki page : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Research_question

share|improve this answer
That is one correct term. As Jay points out, it is not the only option. – nxx Feb 5 '14 at 1:34

I've always heard the starting point of a thesis or research paper to be a statement rather than a question, which is then called the "thesis statement" in academia, or in science the "theory" or "hypothesis".

That is, when I was in college, we didn't start a paper by saying, "I set out to investigate the question, 'Is there life on other planets?'" Rather, we begin, "My thesis is: There is life on other planets." And then the rest of the paper explains how we came to that conclusion. Or in a scientific paper: "My theory is that there is life on other planets." Etc. (These wordings are just examples. I'm not saying that there's a rigid wording.)

I don't doubt that this is a matter of style and that other schools, departments, etc might phrase it as a question rather than a statement.

share|improve this answer

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.