Q: How to find an original research question?

Detailed Question -

How should I find a unique research question? The topic that I wish to work on has been covered extensively and I find it difficult to settle on an aspect that has not been worked on before.  

2 Answers to this question

Finding a unique and novel research question is the first step to successful publication. An original research question based on a problem that has not been addressed before increases your chances of publication as journals look for original and unique research work.

To find a unique problem in your research area, you will have to conduct an extensive literature search. You can read scientific articles, magazines, editorials, survey reports, etc. Reading a vast amount of literature will familiarize you with the different aspects of your topic and help you identify gaps in research that have remained unaddressed. This can eventually lead you to the unique question you are looking for.

That being said, it may not always be possible for researchers to pick a question that has never been touched upon. A vast amount of research literature is being published each year and a lot of research often overlaps. You should not lose hope if you find it difficult to find a problem that has not been explored before. You can in fact explore further the problems that have been researched already. You can also consider conducting a replication study if you find that interesting. However, note that replication studies may be difficult to publish.

Related reading:


It is alright for authors to ask the reviewers for clarifications regarding their comments. Sometimes reviewers’ comments may not be very clear or they may be difficult to address. In such a situation, authors may require more clarification to be able to make the required revisions.

Generally, peer review is single-blind or double-blind. In any case, authors do not have direct contact with the reviewers and their only point of contact is the journal editor. Therefore, in such instances, the editor should make sure messages are being communicated effectively in both directions. It is the duty of the editor to convey all the reviewers' comments to the author.

Likewise, the editor must also address the clarifications needed by authors: either by providing explanations himself/herself or by conveying the questions raised by the authors to the reviewers and communicating the reviewers' responses back to the author(s).

Related reading: