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.
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