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How to reformulate questions in academic writing

Generally, questions are not used in academic writing. However, sometimes it's a bit difficult to express ideas without them. When it happens, authors could use such a technique as reformulation. It is a correction technique that implies writing a new version of the sentence (text) with the same meaning but without attention to inappropriate details. Learn how to use this approach with questions in academic writing.

The advantages of reformulation

Reformulation improves not only academic papers but writing skills in general. It is used as an independent approach in language teaching. There are two forms on how the author could use reformulation with the most added value:

  • Review
  • Independent work

During the review, someone with more expended expertise finds stylistic and grammar errors, gives feedback, or corrects problem places. The revision results are used by original authors. During independent work, the author should become a reviewer for himself. This process stimulates the growth of editing skills, despite requiring enormous attention to the details. Read how to reformulate questions independently below!

To reformulate or not?

Academic writing style must be clear, informative, and supported by evidence. No doubt, most questions do not meet these requirements and should be reformulated into statements. However, on some occasions, the usage of them is warranted. See more at the table!

Permitted Not permitted
Questions in the quote Rhetorical questions
Research question as a general idea of the work Questions in the text as a part of the discussion or a kind of stylistic mark
✔️Permitted ❌Need reformulation
Hamlet asks: "To be or not to be?" To be or not to be? There is an answer.
The research question is what effect does coffee have on the attention span? Is it safe to drink coffee every day? Let's discuss!

Reformulation tips

There are three tips on how to reformulate inappropriate questions into statements.

Paraphrase

This stylistic mark implies formulating the idea in other words without sense loss. To rephrase the question, the author should determine the main idea and change the question structure in an informative manner: with facts, evidence, and details.

For example: What effect does television have on the human mind?
The main idea of the question: to attract the reader's attention to the problem of media's impact on the human mind.
The statement: The question of television's impact on the human mind is highly topical.
The informative statement: Due to the National sociological university research, the question of television's impact on teenagers' attention is highly topical.

To-do list:

  • ✔️ Determine the main idea
  • ✔️ Change the sentence structure (use the phrases "the question is", "the question of…")
  • ✔️ Add more details

Compensation

This tip is used to bring the primary emotion, not the sense. When it comes to academic writing, compensation is used to attract the reader's attention with non-trivial facts rather than questions.

For example: Is the problem of hunger actual enough to stop the conflicts?
The goal of the question: to attract reader's attention to the connection between hunger and wars.
The statement: Wars are a major reason for hunger.
The informative statement: Wars are a significant reason for hunger: 100 million children die because of depletion in countries affected by conflicts.

To-do list:

  • ✔️ Determine the goal of the sentence
  • ✔️ Find non-trivial and relevant facts
  • ✔️ Use the fact instead of questions

Consolidation

This tip is used to change the sentence structure by removing the excess. Some questions are too long and wordy, but the small part of them could be transformed into independent sentences.

For example: Why can't we consider the fact that economic, political, and social factors affect patterns of homelessness in San Francisco?
The statement: The economic, political and social factors affect patterns of homelessness in San Francisco.
We've just removed the first part of the question to reformulate it into a statement!

To-do list:

  • ✔️ Determine the extra part of the question
  • ✔️ Remove the excess

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