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Reflecting on Research

Reflective Questions to Guide Student Research

These questions are taken from academic librarian and professor Michelle Reale’s book, Inquiry and Research: A Relational Approach in the Classroom.* They can be used as individual writing exercises, discussion prompts for pairs or small groups of students, or questions for librarians and instructors to use in conversation with individual students.


Beginning a research project

  • What seems hardest about this project?

  • What do you know about the topic already?

  • How do you know this?

  • What interests you?

  • What is it that you want to know?

  • What is it that you need to know?


During a research project

  • Describe your topic in two to three sentences.

  • Why does this topic resonate with you?

  • How are you grappling with the topic/issue you choose?

          (grapple: to wrestle or struggle with)


Toward the end of a research project/upon submission

  • How would you describe your research process?

  • Explain how your process influenced the writing/creation of your paper/final product.

  • What would you change if you wanted to publish or share your work with a wider audience?



”Beginning” questions are drawn from Reale, page 87; “During” questions, page 52; “Toward the end,” page 54.

Reale, Michelle. Inquiry and Research: A Relational Approach in the Classroom. 2019.