Academic Inquiry Papers

An academic inquiry is a formal paper that asks questions, but does not provide clear answers. An example of an inquiry paper might be a research proposal: questions are asked and background provided to explain why further study is necessary.

Rhetoric and Inquiry

  • Shared inquiry discussion
    • Participants are interested in an issue
    • Shared questions
    • Open-ended exploration of quest
    • Two or more possible answers
    • Reasons for each plausible answer
    • Information available
    • Interaction to test competing answers
  • Inquiry Questions
    • “Questions at issue”
      • Two or more possible, supportable answers
      • An interest in answers within a community
    • Begin with facts
      • Who, what, when, where, why
    • Exploratory Questions
      • Question of facts: What happened?, etc
      • Question of definition: What is it?
      • Question of interpretation: What does it mean?
      • Question of causation: Why did it happen? Results…
      • Question of evaluation: Is it ‘good’, etc
      • Question of policy: What should be done?
  • Reading as Inquiry
    • Ask questions as you read
      • “Reading for questions”
      • Predictive questions
      • Clarifying questions
  • Writing an Inquiry Paper
    • Identify the question
    • Plan – At least two possible answers
    • Organize – Outline
    • Draft – Introduction, a paragraph per question/answer, conclusion
    • Revise – Edit for clarity
    • Format and print/publish
  • Editing
    • Know your common errors and make lists
    • Use reference books
      • Pocket grammar guides
      • Dictionary and Thesaurus
      • Encyclopedia and other factual materials
    • Markup a printed copy



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Writer: C. S. Wyatt
Updated: 08-Mar-2017
Editor: S. D. Schnelbach