THE KEY QUESTIONS FOR RESEARCH WRITING
Before you start to write, you must answer the following questions. These questions are the key factor in deciding the completion and ultimately the success of your research article. Every time when you write an article, I want you to answer the following questions on paper. Just thinking of the answers is not enough. I want you to write those answers down and paste it somewhere, where you can look at it every day until your paper is finished.
THE KEY QUESTIONS:
THE FIRST QUESTION
The very first question that you need to ask yourself is “What are you doing?” It means that you need to know your research topic, your main subject, your research question, and your research design. As the great author Stephen Covey mentions in this masterpiece “the seven habits of highly effective people” that you need to begin with the end in mind. You need to have the clarity of your goal. You need to have a clear understanding where you are heading. You cannot go anywhere if you don’t know where you are going. For this reason, I want you to develop this habit for the rest of your lives, not just for research writing but for everything you do in your life.
The question of what you are doing will give you the focus and direction that you need to achieve your target. You don’t want to be that kind of person who embarks on a journey but doesn’t know where he is going or in the middle of journey he realizes that probably he is going nowhere.
THE SECOND QUESTION
The second question you need to ask to yourself is “why are you doing it”? Your why is the main reason of your motivation and it gives you the drive. The bigger the Why the bigger the results. Most scientists have a very small “why”. They write research papers to get promotions, salary raise, more job opportunities, residency slots, fellowship etc. This kind of why is a very small why; your why should be way bigger than that. May be bigger than the life. The goal should be to serve people , serve others with your knowledge, serve the humanity in general. Your why should be that with this article I will help others, I will make a difference in other people’s lives. I am a good human being and I want to help people rather than being selfish and write papers for my personal success.
We need to understand that success runs after us if we decide to serve others. Success runs away from us when we try to chase success. Instead we should run after service of others. The success is the result of service that we provide to others. The help we offer and provide to those in need makes us successful as a result. Many students think that one day when I will be success, then I will live for others and serve others. They don’t understand that the universe is not designed this way. Success is not the cause of service; it is the result of service. Success comes after service; as a result of service.
THE THIRD QUESTION
The third question you need to ask yourself is for whom am I writing this manuscript. This is a very important question. Just like a speaker needs to decide who is audience would be, a writer needs to decide who his readers will be. Decide if you are writing for children, women, men, patients, doctors, professors, layman, or engineers, historians, etc. Once you are clear about your reader, you will see a remarkable shift in your writing. You will notice that your style of writing would probably change. When you write for layman you tend to use non-technical words, but when you write for an expert you use technical words. Thus, always decide your readers.
Before you start to write ask yourself, “what are you doing”, “why are you doing it”, and the last question is “for whom are you doing it”, and Ask these three questions and you will see a remarkable improvement in the quality of your writing.
Dr. Hassaan Tohid