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Question Marks in Academic Writing

Published by at August 17th, 2021 , Revised On August 24, 2023

A question mark is a punctuation mark, or a symbol, signifying a question has ended. In the English language, a question mark is also known as interrogation points as they end sentences where a response is required.

A question mark is placed at the end of interrogative questions and sentences.

A question sentence starts with words like how, who, where, when, why, and what. However, questions in academic writing can start with other words as well.

Question Marks Examples

  • Can I buy a new iPhone 12?
  • Where did you put my glasses?
  • Did the change of HR policy in company X help to improve the productivity levels?
  • Do you like playing football with your friends?

Question Marks in Academic Writing

Question marks are frequently used in academic writing, considering the number of questions we try to address. Question marks are used to:

  • State research questions
  • Pose questions for readers to think about
  • Clarify an issue that requires further research

While it is recommended to avoid using question marks in any form of formal writing, including academic writing, occasionally, it is essential to use question marks to end interrogative sentences or questions.

How to Use Questions and Question Marks in Academic Writing

In some cases, you may not be sure whether to end a sentence with a question mark, particularly when you insert your question within a statement. Even if you are not asking a question but simply stating one, you should end the sentence with a question mark rather than a period.

For example,

  • The critical question is, does social media marketing increase brand awareness, marketing geeks.
  • The critical question is, does social media marketing increase brand awareness, marketing geeks?

It would be best if you did not use rhetorical questions.

If possible, avoid asking unnecessary questions, no matter how genuine or honest they may feel to you. Because the authors of academic papers do not have access to their readers, it is best to avoid asking even honest questions in formal writing. So why ask the question?

Essentially, most genuine questions (as with the one I have struck out) are posed by the writer to the writer himself so clarify the context before starting the subsequent sentence.

Frequently Asked Questions

A question mark “?” is a punctuation symbol used to end direct questions in writing. For example: “Are you coming to the party?” or “What is your favorite book?” It signals that the sentence is an inquiry, seeking information or clarification.

About Alvin Nicolas

Avatar for Alvin NicolasNicolas has a master's degree in literature and a PhD degree in statistics. He is a content manager at ResearchProspect. He loves to write, cook and run. Nicolas is passionate about helping students at all levels.