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Thursday, July 21, 2016 Turabian and Research

Sometimes it can be hard to know where to research, or even how to start researching. Sometimes the call of Netflix is just too loud, and sometimes you feel disappointed because you know absolutely nothing about the topic and, to be honest, you’re a little freaked out. Don’t stress. We’ve got you!

To get started, the Turabian manual suggests three types of questions for you to use to get oriented with your research:


Asking yourself these types of questions can help you write in a way where your readers can more easily understand the topic you are writing about. These are important because without the conceptual questions, your reader would not understand why the topic you’re writing about is so important. Asking yourself conceptual questions will help the reader understand why the topic should be important to them.

  • How did something get influenced?
  • Speculate on an idea.

For conceptual papers, the above questions are pretty typical. There isn’t one agreed upon answer to the question, which is why you speculate on it.


These types of questions let the reader know what to do about the problem you have presented. With the first question you asked yourself, you were able to make a case to your reader about why your topic is important. Now, you have to convince them that they can do something about it.

  • Discuss the instructions for making the two types of sandwiches.
  • What are three ways to fix a comma splice?

The above questions demonstrate a more objective paper where you would write about facts.


For papers that ask applied questions, it is already assumed that you know a problem needs to be solved, but that you don’t know much about the problem in the first place. In these instances, you are gathering all the information you need before you can solve a problem or suggest a solution.

  • How do I become a missionary in Africa?
  • How could America solve its debt crisis?

These questions already identify the solution to the problem (there should be missionaries in Africa, and America should solve its debt crisis), but more information needs to be gathered before the solution can be reached.

Before writing your paper, check out the prompt you’ve been assigned and see which question it aligns up to the most. This could help you form your argument, find an audience, and outline your paper. All information for this blog post was taken from the 8th edition of Kate L. Turabian’s Manual.

Posted by Kari Barton at 3:54 PM | Comments (0)
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