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Organizing Your Social Sciences Research Paper

  • The Research Problem/Question
  • Purpose of Guide
  • Design Flaws to Avoid
  • Independent and Dependent Variables
  • Glossary of Research Terms
  • Reading Research Effectively
  • Narrowing a Topic Idea
  • Broadening a Topic Idea
  • Extending the Timeliness of a Topic Idea
  • Academic Writing Style
  • Choosing a Title
  • Making an Outline
  • Paragraph Development
  • Research Process Video Series
  • Executive Summary
  • The C.A.R.S. Model
  • Background Information
  • Theoretical Framework
  • Citation Tracking
  • Content Alert Services
  • Evaluating Sources
  • Primary Sources
  • Secondary Sources
  • Tiertiary Sources
  • Scholarly vs. Popular Publications
  • Qualitative Methods
  • Quantitative Methods
  • Insiderness
  • Using Non-Textual Elements
  • Limitations of the Study
  • Common Grammar Mistakes
  • Writing Concisely
  • Avoiding Plagiarism
  • Footnotes or Endnotes?
  • Further Readings
  • Generative AI and Writing
  • USC Libraries Tutorials and Other Guides
  • Bibliography

A research problem is a definite or clear expression [statement] about an area of concern, a condition to be improved upon, a difficulty to be eliminated, or a troubling question that exists in scholarly literature, in theory, or within existing practice that points to a need for meaningful understanding and deliberate investigation. A research problem does not state how to do something, offer a vague or broad proposition, or present a value question. In the social and behavioral sciences, studies are most often framed around examining a problem that needs to be understood and resolved in order to improve society and the human condition.

Bryman, Alan. “The Research Question in Social Research: What is its Role?” International Journal of Social Research Methodology 10 (2007): 5-20; Guba, Egon G., and Yvonna S. Lincoln. “Competing Paradigms in Qualitative Research.” In Handbook of Qualitative Research . Norman K. Denzin and Yvonna S. Lincoln, editors. (Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage, 1994), pp. 105-117; Pardede, Parlindungan. “Identifying and Formulating the Research Problem." Research in ELT: Module 4 (October 2018): 1-13; Li, Yanmei, and Sumei Zhang. "Identifying the Research Problem." In Applied Research Methods in Urban and Regional Planning . (Cham, Switzerland: Springer International Publishing, 2022), pp. 13-21.

Importance of...

The purpose of a problem statement is to:

  • Introduce the reader to the importance of the topic being studied . The reader is oriented to the significance of the study.
  • Anchors the research questions, hypotheses, or assumptions to follow . It offers a concise statement about the purpose of your paper.
  • Place the topic into a particular context that defines the parameters of what is to be investigated.
  • Provide the framework for reporting the results and indicates what is probably necessary to conduct the study and explain how the findings will present this information.

In the social sciences, the research problem establishes the means by which you must answer the "So What?" question. This declarative question refers to a research problem surviving the relevancy test [the quality of a measurement procedure that provides repeatability and accuracy]. Note that answering the "So What?" question requires a commitment on your part to not only show that you have reviewed the literature, but that you have thoroughly considered the significance of the research problem and its implications applied to creating new knowledge and understanding or informing practice.

To survive the "So What" question, problem statements should possess the following attributes:

  • Clarity and precision [a well-written statement does not make sweeping generalizations and irresponsible pronouncements; it also does include unspecific determinates like "very" or "giant"],
  • Demonstrate a researchable topic or issue [i.e., feasibility of conducting the study is based upon access to information that can be effectively acquired, gathered, interpreted, synthesized, and understood],
  • Identification of what would be studied, while avoiding the use of value-laden words and terms,
  • Identification of an overarching question or small set of questions accompanied by key factors or variables,
  • Identification of key concepts and terms,
  • Articulation of the study's conceptual boundaries or parameters or limitations,
  • Some generalizability in regards to applicability and bringing results into general use,
  • Conveyance of the study's importance, benefits, and justification [i.e., regardless of the type of research, it is important to demonstrate that the research is not trivial],
  • Does not have unnecessary jargon or overly complex sentence constructions; and,
  • Conveyance of more than the mere gathering of descriptive data providing only a snapshot of the issue or phenomenon under investigation.

Bryman, Alan. “The Research Question in Social Research: What is its Role?” International Journal of Social Research Methodology 10 (2007): 5-20; Brown, Perry J., Allen Dyer, and Ross S. Whaley. "Recreation Research—So What?" Journal of Leisure Research 5 (1973): 16-24; Castellanos, Susie. Critical Writing and Thinking. The Writing Center. Dean of the College. Brown University; Ellis, Timothy J. and Yair Levy Nova. "Framework of Problem-Based Research: A Guide for Novice Researchers on the Development of a Research-Worthy Problem." Informing Science: the International Journal of an Emerging Transdiscipline 11 (2008); Thesis and Purpose Statements. The Writer’s Handbook. Writing Center. University of Wisconsin, Madison; Thesis Statements. The Writing Center. University of North Carolina; Tips and Examples for Writing Thesis Statements. The Writing Lab and The OWL. Purdue University; Selwyn, Neil. "‘So What?’…A Question that Every Journal Article Needs to Answer." Learning, Media, and Technology 39 (2014): 1-5; Shoket, Mohd. "Research Problem: Identification and Formulation." International Journal of Research 1 (May 2014): 512-518.

Structure and Writing Style

I.  Types and Content

There are four general conceptualizations of a research problem in the social sciences:

  • Casuist Research Problem -- this type of problem relates to the determination of right and wrong in questions of conduct or conscience by analyzing moral dilemmas through the application of general rules and the careful distinction of special cases.
  • Difference Research Problem -- typically asks the question, “Is there a difference between two or more groups or treatments?” This type of problem statement is used when the researcher compares or contrasts two or more phenomena. This a common approach to defining a problem in the clinical social sciences or behavioral sciences.
  • Descriptive Research Problem -- typically asks the question, "what is...?" with the underlying purpose to describe the significance of a situation, state, or existence of a specific phenomenon. This problem is often associated with revealing hidden or understudied issues.
  • Relational Research Problem -- suggests a relationship of some sort between two or more variables to be investigated. The underlying purpose is to investigate specific qualities or characteristics that may be connected in some way.

A problem statement in the social sciences should contain :

  • A lead-in that helps ensure the reader will maintain interest over the study,
  • A declaration of originality [e.g., mentioning a knowledge void or a lack of clarity about a topic that will be revealed in the literature review of prior research],
  • An indication of the central focus of the study [establishing the boundaries of analysis], and
  • An explanation of the study's significance or the benefits to be derived from investigating the research problem.

NOTE :   A statement describing the research problem of your paper should not be viewed as a thesis statement that you may be familiar with from high school. Given the content listed above, a description of the research problem is usually a short paragraph in length.

II.  Sources of Problems for Investigation

The identification of a problem to study can be challenging, not because there's a lack of issues that could be investigated, but due to the challenge of formulating an academically relevant and researchable problem which is unique and does not simply duplicate the work of others. To facilitate how you might select a problem from which to build a research study, consider these sources of inspiration:

Deductions from Theory This relates to deductions made from social philosophy or generalizations embodied in life and in society that the researcher is familiar with. These deductions from human behavior are then placed within an empirical frame of reference through research. From a theory, the researcher can formulate a research problem or hypothesis stating the expected findings in certain empirical situations. The research asks the question: “What relationship between variables will be observed if theory aptly summarizes the state of affairs?” One can then design and carry out a systematic investigation to assess whether empirical data confirm or reject the hypothesis, and hence, the theory.

Interdisciplinary Perspectives Identifying a problem that forms the basis for a research study can come from academic movements and scholarship originating in disciplines outside of your primary area of study. This can be an intellectually stimulating exercise. A review of pertinent literature should include examining research from related disciplines that can reveal new avenues of exploration and analysis. An interdisciplinary approach to selecting a research problem offers an opportunity to construct a more comprehensive understanding of a very complex issue that any single discipline may be able to provide.

Interviewing Practitioners The identification of research problems about particular topics can arise from formal interviews or informal discussions with practitioners who provide insight into new directions for future research and how to make research findings more relevant to practice. Discussions with experts in the field, such as, teachers, social workers, health care providers, lawyers, business leaders, etc., offers the chance to identify practical, “real world” problems that may be understudied or ignored within academic circles. This approach also provides some practical knowledge which may help in the process of designing and conducting your study.

Personal Experience Don't undervalue your everyday experiences or encounters as worthwhile problems for investigation. Think critically about your own experiences and/or frustrations with an issue facing society or related to your community, your neighborhood, your family, or your personal life. This can be derived, for example, from deliberate observations of certain relationships for which there is no clear explanation or witnessing an event that appears harmful to a person or group or that is out of the ordinary.

Relevant Literature The selection of a research problem can be derived from a thorough review of pertinent research associated with your overall area of interest. This may reveal where gaps exist in understanding a topic or where an issue has been understudied. Research may be conducted to: 1) fill such gaps in knowledge; 2) evaluate if the methodologies employed in prior studies can be adapted to solve other problems; or, 3) determine if a similar study could be conducted in a different subject area or applied in a different context or to different study sample [i.e., different setting or different group of people]. Also, authors frequently conclude their studies by noting implications for further research; read the conclusion of pertinent studies because statements about further research can be a valuable source for identifying new problems to investigate. The fact that a researcher has identified a topic worthy of further exploration validates the fact it is worth pursuing.

III.  What Makes a Good Research Statement?

A good problem statement begins by introducing the broad area in which your research is centered, gradually leading the reader to the more specific issues you are investigating. The statement need not be lengthy, but a good research problem should incorporate the following features:

1.  Compelling Topic The problem chosen should be one that motivates you to address it but simple curiosity is not a good enough reason to pursue a research study because this does not indicate significance. The problem that you choose to explore must be important to you, but it must also be viewed as important by your readers and to a the larger academic and/or social community that could be impacted by the results of your study. 2.  Supports Multiple Perspectives The problem must be phrased in a way that avoids dichotomies and instead supports the generation and exploration of multiple perspectives. A general rule of thumb in the social sciences is that a good research problem is one that would generate a variety of viewpoints from a composite audience made up of reasonable people. 3.  Researchability This isn't a real word but it represents an important aspect of creating a good research statement. It seems a bit obvious, but you don't want to find yourself in the midst of investigating a complex research project and realize that you don't have enough prior research to draw from for your analysis. There's nothing inherently wrong with original research, but you must choose research problems that can be supported, in some way, by the resources available to you. If you are not sure if something is researchable, don't assume that it isn't if you don't find information right away--seek help from a librarian !

NOTE:   Do not confuse a research problem with a research topic. A topic is something to read and obtain information about, whereas a problem is something to be solved or framed as a question raised for inquiry, consideration, or solution, or explained as a source of perplexity, distress, or vexation. In short, a research topic is something to be understood; a research problem is something that needs to be investigated.

IV.  Asking Analytical Questions about the Research Problem

Research problems in the social and behavioral sciences are often analyzed around critical questions that must be investigated. These questions can be explicitly listed in the introduction [i.e., "This study addresses three research questions about women's psychological recovery from domestic abuse in multi-generational home settings..."], or, the questions are implied in the text as specific areas of study related to the research problem. Explicitly listing your research questions at the end of your introduction can help in designing a clear roadmap of what you plan to address in your study, whereas, implicitly integrating them into the text of the introduction allows you to create a more compelling narrative around the key issues under investigation. Either approach is appropriate.

The number of questions you attempt to address should be based on the complexity of the problem you are investigating and what areas of inquiry you find most critical to study. Practical considerations, such as, the length of the paper you are writing or the availability of resources to analyze the issue can also factor in how many questions to ask. In general, however, there should be no more than four research questions underpinning a single research problem.

Given this, well-developed analytical questions can focus on any of the following:

  • Highlights a genuine dilemma, area of ambiguity, or point of confusion about a topic open to interpretation by your readers;
  • Yields an answer that is unexpected and not obvious rather than inevitable and self-evident;
  • Provokes meaningful thought or discussion;
  • Raises the visibility of the key ideas or concepts that may be understudied or hidden;
  • Suggests the need for complex analysis or argument rather than a basic description or summary; and,
  • Offers a specific path of inquiry that avoids eliciting generalizations about the problem.

NOTE:   Questions of how and why concerning a research problem often require more analysis than questions about who, what, where, and when. You should still ask yourself these latter questions, however. Thinking introspectively about the who, what, where, and when of a research problem can help ensure that you have thoroughly considered all aspects of the problem under investigation and helps define the scope of the study in relation to the problem.

V.  Mistakes to Avoid

Beware of circular reasoning! Do not state the research problem as simply the absence of the thing you are suggesting. For example, if you propose the following, "The problem in this community is that there is no hospital," this only leads to a research problem where:

  • The need is for a hospital
  • The objective is to create a hospital
  • The method is to plan for building a hospital, and
  • The evaluation is to measure if there is a hospital or not.

This is an example of a research problem that fails the "So What?" test . In this example, the problem does not reveal the relevance of why you are investigating the fact there is no hospital in the community [e.g., perhaps there's a hospital in the community ten miles away]; it does not elucidate the significance of why one should study the fact there is no hospital in the community [e.g., that hospital in the community ten miles away has no emergency room]; the research problem does not offer an intellectual pathway towards adding new knowledge or clarifying prior knowledge [e.g., the county in which there is no hospital already conducted a study about the need for a hospital, but it was conducted ten years ago]; and, the problem does not offer meaningful outcomes that lead to recommendations that can be generalized for other situations or that could suggest areas for further research [e.g., the challenges of building a new hospital serves as a case study for other communities].

Alvesson, Mats and Jörgen Sandberg. “Generating Research Questions Through Problematization.” Academy of Management Review 36 (April 2011): 247-271 ; Choosing and Refining Topics. Writing@CSU. Colorado State University; D'Souza, Victor S. "Use of Induction and Deduction in Research in Social Sciences: An Illustration." Journal of the Indian Law Institute 24 (1982): 655-661; Ellis, Timothy J. and Yair Levy Nova. "Framework of Problem-Based Research: A Guide for Novice Researchers on the Development of a Research-Worthy Problem." Informing Science: the International Journal of an Emerging Transdiscipline 11 (2008); How to Write a Research Question. The Writing Center. George Mason University; Invention: Developing a Thesis Statement. The Reading/Writing Center. Hunter College; Problem Statements PowerPoint Presentation. The Writing Lab and The OWL. Purdue University; Procter, Margaret. Using Thesis Statements. University College Writing Centre. University of Toronto; Shoket, Mohd. "Research Problem: Identification and Formulation." International Journal of Research 1 (May 2014): 512-518; Trochim, William M.K. Problem Formulation. Research Methods Knowledge Base. 2006; Thesis and Purpose Statements. The Writer’s Handbook. Writing Center. University of Wisconsin, Madison; Thesis Statements. The Writing Center. University of North Carolina; Tips and Examples for Writing Thesis Statements. The Writing Lab and The OWL. Purdue University; Pardede, Parlindungan. “Identifying and Formulating the Research Problem." Research in ELT: Module 4 (October 2018): 1-13; Walk, Kerry. Asking an Analytical Question. [Class handout or worksheet]. Princeton University; White, Patrick. Developing Research Questions: A Guide for Social Scientists . New York: Palgrave McMillan, 2009; Li, Yanmei, and Sumei Zhang. "Identifying the Research Problem." In Applied Research Methods in Urban and Regional Planning . (Cham, Switzerland: Springer International Publishing, 2022), pp. 13-21.

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  • How to Define a Research Problem | Ideas & Examples

How to Define a Research Problem | Ideas & Examples

Published on November 2, 2022 by Shona McCombes and Tegan George. Revised on May 31, 2023.

A research problem is a specific issue or gap in existing knowledge that you aim to address in your research. You may choose to look for practical problems aimed at contributing to change, or theoretical problems aimed at expanding knowledge.

Some research will do both of these things, but usually the research problem focuses on one or the other. The type of research problem you choose depends on your broad topic of interest and the type of research you think will fit best.

This article helps you identify and refine a research problem. When writing your research proposal or introduction , formulate it as a problem statement and/or research questions .

Table of contents

Why is the research problem important, step 1: identify a broad problem area, step 2: learn more about the problem, other interesting articles, frequently asked questions about research problems.

Having an interesting topic isn’t a strong enough basis for academic research. Without a well-defined research problem, you are likely to end up with an unfocused and unmanageable project.

You might end up repeating what other people have already said, trying to say too much, or doing research without a clear purpose and justification. You need a clear problem in order to do research that contributes new and relevant insights.

Whether you’re planning your thesis , starting a research paper , or writing a research proposal , the research problem is the first step towards knowing exactly what you’ll do and why.

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a research problem is selected from the standpoint of

As you read about your topic, look for under-explored aspects or areas of concern, conflict, or controversy. Your goal is to find a gap that your research project can fill.

Practical research problems

If you are doing practical research, you can identify a problem by reading reports, following up on previous research, or talking to people who work in the relevant field or organization. You might look for:

  • Issues with performance or efficiency
  • Processes that could be improved
  • Areas of concern among practitioners
  • Difficulties faced by specific groups of people

Examples of practical research problems

Voter turnout in New England has been decreasing, in contrast to the rest of the country.

The HR department of a local chain of restaurants has a high staff turnover rate.

A non-profit organization faces a funding gap that means some of its programs will have to be cut.

Theoretical research problems

If you are doing theoretical research, you can identify a research problem by reading existing research, theory, and debates on your topic to find a gap in what is currently known about it. You might look for:

  • A phenomenon or context that has not been closely studied
  • A contradiction between two or more perspectives
  • A situation or relationship that is not well understood
  • A troubling question that has yet to be resolved

Examples of theoretical research problems

The effects of long-term Vitamin D deficiency on cardiovascular health are not well understood.

The relationship between gender, race, and income inequality has yet to be closely studied in the context of the millennial gig economy.

Historians of Scottish nationalism disagree about the role of the British Empire in the development of Scotland’s national identity.

Next, you have to find out what is already known about the problem, and pinpoint the exact aspect that your research will address.

Context and background

  • Who does the problem affect?
  • Is it a newly-discovered problem, or a well-established one?
  • What research has already been done?
  • What, if any, solutions have been proposed?
  • What are the current debates about the problem? What is missing from these debates?

Specificity and relevance

  • What particular place, time, and/or group of people will you focus on?
  • What aspects will you not be able to tackle?
  • What will the consequences be if the problem is not resolved?

Example of a specific research problem

A local non-profit organization focused on alleviating food insecurity has always fundraised from its existing support base. It lacks understanding of how best to target potential new donors. To be able to continue its work, the organization requires research into more effective fundraising strategies.

Once you have narrowed down your research problem, the next step is to formulate a problem statement , as well as your research questions or hypotheses .

If you want to know more about the research process , methodology , research bias , or statistics , make sure to check out some of our other articles with explanations and examples.

Methodology

  • Sampling methods
  • Simple random sampling
  • Stratified sampling
  • Cluster sampling
  • Likert scales
  • Reproducibility

 Statistics

  • Null hypothesis
  • Statistical power
  • Probability distribution
  • Effect size
  • Poisson distribution

Research bias

  • Optimism bias
  • Cognitive bias
  • Implicit bias
  • Hawthorne effect
  • Anchoring bias
  • Explicit bias

All research questions should be:

  • Focused on a single problem or issue
  • Researchable using primary and/or secondary sources
  • Feasible to answer within the timeframe and practical constraints
  • Specific enough to answer thoroughly
  • Complex enough to develop the answer over the space of a paper or thesis
  • Relevant to your field of study and/or society more broadly

Writing Strong Research Questions

Research questions anchor your whole project, so it’s important to spend some time refining them.

In general, they should be:

  • Focused and researchable
  • Answerable using credible sources
  • Complex and arguable
  • Feasible and specific
  • Relevant and original

Your research objectives indicate how you’ll try to address your research problem and should be specific:

A research aim is a broad statement indicating the general purpose of your research project. It should appear in your introduction at the end of your problem statement , before your research objectives.

Research objectives are more specific than your research aim. They indicate the specific ways you’ll address the overarching aim.

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Research Problem – Definition, Steps & Tips

Published by Jamie Walker at August 12th, 2021 , Revised On October 3, 2023

Once you have chosen a research topic, the next stage is to explain the research problem: the detailed issue, ambiguity of the research, gap analysis, or gaps in knowledge and findings that you will discuss.

Here, in this article, we explore a research problem in a dissertation or an essay with some research problem examples to help you better understand how and when you should write a research problem.

“A research problem is a specific statement relating to an area of concern and is contingent on the type of research. Some research studies focus on theoretical and practical problems, while some focus on only one.”

The problem statement in the dissertation, essay, research paper, and other academic papers should be clearly stated and intended to expand information, knowledge, and contribution to change.

This article will assist in identifying and elaborating a research problem if you are unsure how to define your research problem. The most notable challenge in the research process is to formulate and identify a research problem. Formulating a problem statement and research questions while finalizing the research proposal or introduction for your dissertation or thesis is necessary.

Why is Research Problem Critical?

An interesting research topic is only the first step. The real challenge of the research process is to develop a well-rounded research problem.

A well-formulated research problem helps understand the research procedure; without it, your research will appear unforeseeable and awkward.

Research is a procedure based on a sequence and a research problem aids in following and completing the research in a sequence. Repetition of existing literature is something that should be avoided in research.

Therefore research problem in a dissertation or an essay needs to be well thought out and presented with a clear purpose. Hence, your research work contributes more value to existing knowledge. You need to be well aware of the problem so you can present logical solutions.

Formulating a research problem is the first step of conducting research, whether you are writing an essay, research paper,   dissertation , or  research proposal .

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What is a Research Problem

Step 1: Identifying Problem Area – What is Research Problem

The most significant step in any research is to look for  unexplored areas, topics, and controversies . You aim to find gaps that your work will fill. Here are some research problem examples for you to better understand the concept.

Practical Research Problems

To conduct practical research, you will need practical research problems that are typically identified by analysing reports, previous research studies, and interactions with the experienced personals of pertinent disciplines. You might search for:

  • Problems with performance or competence in an organization
  • Institutional practices that could be enhanced
  • Practitioners of relevant fields and their areas of concern
  • Problems confronted by specific groups of people within your area of study

If your research work relates to an internship or a job, then it will be critical for you to identify a research problem that addresses certain issues faced by the firm the job or internship pertains to.

Examples of Practical Research Problems

Decreased voter participation in county A, as compared to the rest of the country.

The high employee turnover rate of department X of company Y influenced efficiency and team performance.

A charity institution, Y, suffers a lack of funding resulting in budget cuts for its programmes.

Theoretical Research Problems

Theoretical research relates to predicting, explaining, and understanding various phenomena. It also expands and challenges existing information and knowledge.

Identification of a research problem in theoretical research is achieved by analysing theories and fresh research literature relating to a broad area of research. This practice helps to find gaps in the research done by others and endorse the argument of your topic.

Here are some questions that you should bear in mind.

  • A case or framework that has not been deeply analysed
  • An ambiguity between more than one viewpoints
  • An unstudied condition or relationships
  • A problematic issue that needs to be addressed

Theoretical issues often contain practical implications, but immediate issues are often not resolved by these results. If that is the case, you might want to adopt a different research approach  to achieve the desired outcomes.

Examples of Theoretical Research Problems

Long-term Vitamin D deficiency affects cardiac patients are not well researched.

The relationship between races, sex, and income imbalances needs to be studied with reference to the economy of a specific country or region.

The disagreement among historians of Scottish nationalism regarding the contributions of Imperial Britain in the creation of the national identity for Scotland.

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Step 2: Understanding the Research Problem

The researcher further investigates the selected area of research to find knowledge and information relating to the research problem to address the findings in the research.

Background and Rationale

  • Population influenced by the problem?
  • Is it a persistent problem, or is it recently revealed?
  • Research that has already been conducted on this problem?
  • Any proposed solution to the problem?
  • Recent arguments concerning the problem, what are the gaps in the problem?

How to Write a First Class Dissertation Proposal or Research Proposal

Particularity and Suitability

  • What specific place, time, and/or people will be focused on?
  • Any aspects of research that you may not be able to deal with?
  • What will be the concerns if the problem remains unresolved?
  • What are the benefices of the problem resolution (e.g. future researcher or organisation’s management)?

Example of a Specific Research Problem

A non-profit institution X has been examined on their existing support base retention, but the existing research does not incorporate an understanding of how to effectively target new donors. To continue their work, the institution needs more research and find strategies for effective fundraising.

Once the problem is narrowed down, the next stage is to propose a problem statement and hypothesis or research questions.

If you are unsure about what a research problem is and how to define the research problem, then you might want to take advantage of our dissertation proposal writing service. You may also want to take a look at our essay writing service if you need help with identifying a research problem for your essay.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is research problem with example.

A research problem is a specific challenge that requires investigation. Example: “What is the impact of social media on mental health among adolescents?” This problem drives research to analyse the relationship between social media use and mental well-being in young people.

How many types of research problems do we have?

  • Descriptive: Describing phenomena as they exist.
  • Explanatory: Understanding causes and effects.
  • Exploratory: Investigating little-understood phenomena.
  • Predictive: Forecasting future outcomes.
  • Prescriptive: Recommending actions.
  • Normative: Describing what ought to be.

What are the principles of the research problem?

  • Relevance: Addresses a significant issue.
  • Re searchability: Amenable to empirical investigation.
  • Clarity: Clearly defined without ambiguity.
  • Specificity: Narrowly framed, avoiding vagueness.
  • Feasibility: Realistic to conduct with available resources.
  • Novelty: Offers new insights or challenges existing knowledge.
  • Ethical considerations: Respect rights, dignity, and safety.

Why is research problem important?

A research problem is crucial because it identifies knowledge gaps, directs the inquiry’s focus, and forms the foundation for generating hypotheses or questions. It drives the methodology and determination of study relevance, ensuring that research contributes meaningfully to academic discourse and potentially addresses real-world challenges.

How do you write a research problem?

To write a research problem, identify a knowledge gap or an unresolved issue in your field. Start with a broad topic, then narrow it down. Clearly articulate the problem in a concise statement, ensuring it’s researchable, significant, and relevant. Ground it in the existing literature to highlight its importance and context.

How can we solve research problem?

To solve a research problem, start by conducting a thorough literature review. Formulate hypotheses or research questions. Choose an appropriate research methodology. Collect and analyse data systematically. Interpret findings in the context of existing knowledge. Ensure validity and reliability, and discuss implications, limitations, and potential future research directions.

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This article is a step-by-step guide to how to write statement of a problem in research. The research problem will be half-solved by defining it correctly.

How to write a hypothesis for dissertation,? A hypothesis is a statement that can be tested with the help of experimental or theoretical research.

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The Research Problem & Statement

What they are & how to write them (with examples)

By: Derek Jansen (MBA) | Expert Reviewed By: Eunice Rautenbach (DTech) | March 2023

If you’re new to academic research, you’re bound to encounter the concept of a “ research problem ” or “ problem statement ” fairly early in your learning journey. Having a good research problem is essential, as it provides a foundation for developing high-quality research, from relatively small research papers to a full-length PhD dissertations and theses.

In this post, we’ll unpack what a research problem is and how it’s related to a problem statement . We’ll also share some examples and provide a step-by-step process you can follow to identify and evaluate study-worthy research problems for your own project.

Overview: Research Problem 101

What is a research problem.

  • What is a problem statement?

Where do research problems come from?

  • How to find a suitable research problem
  • Key takeaways

A research problem is, at the simplest level, the core issue that a study will try to solve or (at least) examine. In other words, it’s an explicit declaration about the problem that your dissertation, thesis or research paper will address. More technically, it identifies the research gap that the study will attempt to fill (more on that later).

Let’s look at an example to make the research problem a little more tangible.

To justify a hypothetical study, you might argue that there’s currently a lack of research regarding the challenges experienced by first-generation college students when writing their dissertations [ PROBLEM ] . As a result, these students struggle to successfully complete their dissertations, leading to higher-than-average dropout rates [ CONSEQUENCE ]. Therefore, your study will aim to address this lack of research – i.e., this research problem [ SOLUTION ].

A research problem can be theoretical in nature, focusing on an area of academic research that is lacking in some way. Alternatively, a research problem can be more applied in nature, focused on finding a practical solution to an established problem within an industry or an organisation. In other words, theoretical research problems are motivated by the desire to grow the overall body of knowledge , while applied research problems are motivated by the need to find practical solutions to current real-world problems (such as the one in the example above).

As you can probably see, the research problem acts as the driving force behind any study , as it directly shapes the research aims, objectives and research questions , as well as the research approach. Therefore, it’s really important to develop a very clearly articulated research problem before you even start your research proposal . A vague research problem will lead to unfocused, potentially conflicting research aims, objectives and research questions .

Free Webinar: How To Find A Dissertation Research Topic

What is a research problem statement?

As the name suggests, a problem statement (within a research context, at least) is an explicit statement that clearly and concisely articulates the specific research problem your study will address. While your research problem can span over multiple paragraphs, your problem statement should be brief , ideally no longer than one paragraph . Importantly, it must clearly state what the problem is (whether theoretical or practical in nature) and how the study will address it.

Here’s an example of a statement of the problem in a research context:

Rural communities across Ghana lack access to clean water, leading to high rates of waterborne illnesses and infant mortality. Despite this, there is little research investigating the effectiveness of community-led water supply projects within the Ghanaian context. Therefore, this study aims to investigate the effectiveness of such projects in improving access to clean water and reducing rates of waterborne illnesses in these communities.

As you can see, this problem statement clearly and concisely identifies the issue that needs to be addressed (i.e., a lack of research regarding the effectiveness of community-led water supply projects) and the research question that the study aims to answer (i.e., are community-led water supply projects effective in reducing waterborne illnesses?), all within one short paragraph.

Need a helping hand?

a research problem is selected from the standpoint of

Wherever there is a lack of well-established and agreed-upon academic literature , there is an opportunity for research problems to arise, since there is a paucity of (credible) knowledge. In other words, research problems are derived from research gaps . These gaps can arise from various sources, including the emergence of new frontiers or new contexts, as well as disagreements within the existing research.

Let’s look at each of these scenarios:

New frontiers – new technologies, discoveries or breakthroughs can open up entirely new frontiers where there is very little existing research, thereby creating fresh research gaps. For example, as generative AI technology became accessible to the general public in 2023, the full implications and knock-on effects of this were (or perhaps, still are) largely unknown and therefore present multiple avenues for researchers to explore.

New contexts – very often, existing research tends to be concentrated on specific contexts and geographies. Therefore, even within well-studied fields, there is often a lack of research within niche contexts. For example, just because a study finds certain results within a western context doesn’t mean that it would necessarily find the same within an eastern context. If there’s reason to believe that results may vary across these geographies, a potential research gap emerges.

Disagreements – within many areas of existing research, there are (quite naturally) conflicting views between researchers, where each side presents strong points that pull in opposing directions. In such cases, it’s still somewhat uncertain as to which viewpoint (if any) is more accurate. As a result, there is room for further research in an attempt to “settle” the debate.

Of course, many other potential scenarios can give rise to research gaps, and consequently, research problems, but these common ones are a useful starting point. If you’re interested in research gaps, you can learn more here .

How to find a research problem

Given that research problems flow from research gaps , finding a strong research problem for your research project means that you’ll need to first identify a clear research gap. Below, we’ll present a four-step process to help you find and evaluate potential research problems.

If you’ve read our other articles about finding a research topic , you’ll find the process below very familiar as the research problem is the foundation of any study . In other words, finding a research problem is much the same as finding a research topic.

Step 1 – Identify your area of interest

Naturally, the starting point is to first identify a general area of interest . Chances are you already have something in mind, but if not, have a look at past dissertations and theses within your institution to get some inspiration. These present a goldmine of information as they’ll not only give you ideas for your own research, but they’ll also help you see exactly what the norms and expectations are for these types of projects.

At this stage, you don’t need to get super specific. The objective is simply to identify a couple of potential research areas that interest you. For example, if you’re undertaking research as part of a business degree, you may be interested in social media marketing strategies for small businesses, leadership strategies for multinational companies, etc.

Depending on the type of project you’re undertaking, there may also be restrictions or requirements regarding what topic areas you’re allowed to investigate, what type of methodology you can utilise, etc. So, be sure to first familiarise yourself with your institution’s specific requirements and keep these front of mind as you explore potential research ideas.

Step 2 – Review the literature and develop a shortlist

Once you’ve decided on an area that interests you, it’s time to sink your teeth into the literature . In other words, you’ll need to familiarise yourself with the existing research regarding your interest area. Google Scholar is a good starting point for this, as you can simply enter a few keywords and quickly get a feel for what’s out there. Keep an eye out for recent literature reviews and systematic review-type journal articles, as these will provide a good overview of the current state of research.

At this stage, you don’t need to read every journal article from start to finish . A good strategy is to pay attention to the abstract, intro and conclusion , as together these provide a snapshot of the key takeaways. As you work your way through the literature, keep an eye out for what’s missing – in other words, what questions does the current research not answer adequately (or at all)? Importantly, pay attention to the section titled “ further research is needed ”, typically found towards the very end of each journal article. This section will specifically outline potential research gaps that you can explore, based on the current state of knowledge (provided the article you’re looking at is recent).

Take the time to engage with the literature and develop a big-picture understanding of the current state of knowledge. Reviewing the literature takes time and is an iterative process , but it’s an essential part of the research process, so don’t cut corners at this stage.

As you work through the review process, take note of any potential research gaps that are of interest to you. From there, develop a shortlist of potential research gaps (and resultant research problems) – ideally 3 – 5 options that interest you.

The relationship between the research problem and research gap

Step 3 – Evaluate your potential options

Once you’ve developed your shortlist, you’ll need to evaluate your options to identify a winner. There are many potential evaluation criteria that you can use, but we’ll outline three common ones here: value, practicality and personal appeal.

Value – a good research problem needs to create value when successfully addressed. Ask yourself:

  • Who will this study benefit (e.g., practitioners, researchers, academia)?
  • How will it benefit them specifically?
  • How much will it benefit them?

Practicality – a good research problem needs to be manageable in light of your resources. Ask yourself:

  • What data will I need access to?
  • What knowledge and skills will I need to undertake the analysis?
  • What equipment or software will I need to process and/or analyse the data?
  • How much time will I need?
  • What costs might I incur?

Personal appeal – a research project is a commitment, so the research problem that you choose needs to be genuinely attractive and interesting to you. Ask yourself:

  • How appealing is the prospect of solving this research problem (on a scale of 1 – 10)?
  • Why, specifically, is it attractive (or unattractive) to me?
  • Does the research align with my longer-term goals (e.g., career goals, educational path, etc)?

Depending on how many potential options you have, you may want to consider creating a spreadsheet where you numerically rate each of the options in terms of these criteria. Remember to also include any criteria specified by your institution . From there, tally up the numbers and pick a winner.

Step 4 – Craft your problem statement

Once you’ve selected your research problem, the final step is to craft a problem statement. Remember, your problem statement needs to be a concise outline of what the core issue is and how your study will address it. Aim to fit this within one paragraph – don’t waffle on. Have a look at the problem statement example we mentioned earlier if you need some inspiration.

Key Takeaways

We’ve covered a lot of ground. Let’s do a quick recap of the key takeaways:

  • A research problem is an explanation of the issue that your study will try to solve. This explanation needs to highlight the problem , the consequence and the solution or response.
  • A problem statement is a clear and concise summary of the research problem , typically contained within one paragraph.
  • Research problems emerge from research gaps , which themselves can emerge from multiple potential sources, including new frontiers, new contexts or disagreements within the existing literature.
  • To find a research problem, you need to first identify your area of interest , then review the literature and develop a shortlist, after which you’ll evaluate your options, select a winner and craft a problem statement .

a research problem is selected from the standpoint of

Psst… there’s more (for free)

This post is part of our dissertation mini-course, which covers everything you need to get started with your dissertation, thesis or research project. 

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Organizing Your Social Sciences Research Paper: Choosing a Research Problem

  • Purpose of Guide
  • Writing a Research Proposal
  • Design Flaws to Avoid
  • Independent and Dependent Variables
  • Narrowing a Topic Idea
  • Broadening a Topic Idea
  • The Research Problem/Question
  • Academic Writing Style
  • Choosing a Title
  • Making an Outline
  • Paragraph Development
  • The C.A.R.S. Model
  • Background Information
  • Theoretical Framework
  • Citation Tracking
  • Evaluating Sources
  • Reading Research Effectively
  • Primary Sources
  • Secondary Sources
  • What Is Scholarly vs. Popular?
  • Is it Peer-Reviewed?
  • Qualitative Methods
  • Quantitative Methods
  • Common Grammar Mistakes
  • Writing Concisely
  • Avoiding Plagiarism [linked guide]
  • Annotated Bibliography
  • Grading Someone Else's Paper

A research problem is the main organizing principle guiding the analysis of your paper. The problem under investigation offers us an occasion for writing and a focus that governs what we want to say. It represents the core subject matter of scholarly communication, and the means by which we arrive at other topics of conversations and the discovery of new knowledge and understanding.

Choosing a Research Problem

Do not assume that choosing a research problem to study will be a quick or easy task! You should be thinking about it at the start of the course. There are generally three ways you are asked to write about a research problem : 1) your professor provides you with a general topic from which you study a particular aspect; 2) your professor provides you with a list of possible topics to study and you choose a topic from that list; or, 3) your professor leaves it up to you to choose a topic and you only have to obtain permission to write about it before beginning your investigation. Here are some strategies for getting started for each scenario.

Alvesson, Mats and Jörgen Sandberg. Constructing Research Questions: Doing Interesting Research . London: Sage, 2013; Chapter 1: Research and the Research Problem. Nicholas Walliman . Your Research Project: Designing and Planning Your Work . 3rd edition. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications, 2011.

I. How To Begin: You are given the topic to write about

Step 1 : Identify concepts and terms that make up the topic statement . For example, your professor wants the class to focus on the following research problem: “Is the European Union a credible security actor with the capacity to contribute to confronting global terrorism?" The main concepts is this problem are: European Union, global terrorism, credibility [ hint : focus on identifying proper nouns, nouns or noun phrases, and action verbs in the assignment description]. Step 2 : Review related literature to help refine how you will approach examining the topic and finding a way to analyze it . You can begin by doing any or all of the following: reading through background information from materials listed in your course syllabus; searching the University Libraries Catalog to find a recent book on the topic and, if appropriate, more specialized works about the topic; conducting a preliminary review of the research literature using multidisciplinary library databases such as Start Your Research or subject-specific databases from the " Databases By Subject " page.

Choose the advanced search option feature and enter into each search box the main concept terms you developed in Step 1. Also consider using their synonyms to retrieve relevant articles. This will help you refine and frame the scope of the research problem. You will likely need to do this several times before you can finalize how to approach writing about the topic. NOTE : Always review the references from your most relevant research results cited by the authors in footnotes, endnotes, or a bibliography to locate related research on your topic. This is a good strategy for identifying important prior research about the topic because titles that are repeatedly cited indicate their significance in laying a foundation for understanding the problem. However, if you’re having trouble at this point locating relevant research literature, ask a librarian for help!

ANOTHER NOTE :  If you find an article from a journal that's particularly helpful, put quotes around the title of the article and paste it into Google Scholar . If the article record appears, look for a "cited by" reference followed by a number. This link indicates how many times other researchers have subsequently cited that article since it was first published. This is an excellent strategy for identifying more current, related research on your topic. Finding additional cited by references from your original list of cited by references helps you navigate through the literature and, by so doing, understand the evolution of thought around a particular research problem. Step 3 : Since social science research papers are generally designed to get you to develop your own ideas and arguments, look for sources that can help broaden, modify, or strengthen your initial thoughts and arguments. For example, if you decide to argue that the European Union is ill prepared to take on responsibilities for broader global security because of the debt crisis in many EU countries, then focus on identifying sources that support as well as refute this position. From the advanced search option in Start Your Research , a sample search would use "European Union" in one search box, "global security" in the second search box, and adding a third search box to include "debt crisis."

There are least four appropriate roles your related literature plays in helping you formulate how to begin your analysis :

  • Sources of criticism -- frequently, you'll find yourself reading materials that are relevant to your chosen topic, but you disagree with the author's position. Therefore, one way that you can use a source is to describe the counter-argument, provide evidence from your review of the literature as to why the prevailing argument is unsatisfactory, and to discuss how your own view is more appropriate based upon your interpretation of the evidence.
  • Sources of new ideas -- while a general goal in writing college research papers in the social sciences is to approach a research problem with some basic idea of what position you'd like to take and what grounds you'd like to stand upon, it is certainly acceptable [and often encouraged] to read the literature and extend, modify, and refine your own position in light of the ideas proposed by others. Just make sure that you cite the sources !
  • Sources for historical context -- another role your related literature plays in helping you formulate how to begin your analysis is to place issues and events in proper historical context. This can help to demonstrate familiarity with developments in relevant scholarship about your topic, provide a means of comparing historical versus contemporary issues and events, and identifying key people, places, and events that had an important role related to the research problem.
  • Sources of interdisciplinary insight -- an advantage of using databases like Start Your Research to begin exploring your topic is that it covers publications from a variety of different disciplines. Another way to formulate how to study the topic is to look at it from different disciplinary perspectives. If the topic concerns immigration reform, for example, ask yourself, how do studies from sociological journals found by searching Start Your Research vary in their analysis from those in law journals. A goal in reviewing related literature is to provide a means of approaching a topic from multiple perspectives rather than the perspective offered from just one discipline.

NOTE : Remember to keep careful notes at every stage or utilize a citation management system like Endnote. You may think you'll remember what you have searched and where you found things, but it’s easy to forget or get confused. Most databases have a search history feature that allows you to go back and see what searches you conducted previously as long as you haven't closed your session. If you start over, that history could be deleted.

Step 4 : Assuming you've done an effective job of synthesizing and thinking about the results of your initial search for related literature, you're ready to prepare a detailed outline for your paper that lays the foundation for a more in-depth and focused review of relevant research literature [after consulting with a librarian, if needed!]. How will you know you haven't done an effective job of synthesizing and thinking about the results of our initial search for related literature? A good indication is that you start composing your paper outline and gaps appear in how you want to approach the study. This indicates the need to gather further background information and analysis about your research problem.

II. How To Begin: Your professor leaves it up to you to choose a topic

Step 1 : Under this scenario, the key process is turning an idea or general thought into a topic that can be configured into a research problem. When given an assignment where you choose the research topic, don't begin by thinking about what to write about, but rather, ask yourself the question, "What do I want to know?" Treat an open-ended assignment as an opportunity to learn about something that's new or exciting to you.

Step 2 : If you lack ideas, or wish to gain focus, try any or all of the following strategies:

  • Review your course readings, particularly the suggested readings, for topic ideas. Don't just review what you've already read but jump ahead in the syllabus to readings that have not been covered yet.
  • Search the University Libraries Catalog for a good, recently published book and, if appropriate, more specialized works related to the discipline area of the course [e.g., for the course SOCI 335, search for books on population and society].
  • Browse through some current journals in your subject discipline. Even if most of the articles are not relevant, you can skim through the contents quickly. You only need one to be the spark that begins the process of wanting to learn more about a topic. Consult with a librarian and/or your professor about the core journals within your subject discipline.
  • Think about essays you have written for past classes, other courses you have taken, or academic lectures and programs you have attended. Thinking back, what interested you the most? What would you like to know more about? Place this in the context of the current course assignment.
  • Search online media sources, such as CNN , the Los Angeles Times , Huffington Post , Fox News , or Newsweek , to see if your idea has been covered by the media. Use this coverage to refine your idea into something that you'd like to investigate further, but in a more deliberate, scholarly way based on a particular problem that needs to be researched.

Step 3 : To build upon your initial idea, use the suggestions under this tab to help narrow , broaden , or increase the timeliness of your idea so you can write it out as a research problem.

Once you are comfortable with having turned your idea into a research problem, follow Steps 1 - 4 listed in Part I above to further develop it into a research paper.

Alderman, Jim. " Choosing a Research Topic ." Beginning Library and Information Systems Strategies. Paper 17. Jacksonville, FL: University of North Florida Digital Commons, 2014; Alvesson, Mats and Jörgen Sandberg. Constructing Research Questions: Doing Interesting Research . London: Sage, 2013; Chapter 2: Choosing a Research Topic. Adrian R. Eley. Becoming a Successful Early Career Researcher . New York: Routledge, 2012; Answering the Question . Academic Skills Centre. University of Canberra; Brainstorming . Department of English Writing Guide. George Mason University; Brainstorming . The Writing Center. University of North Carolina; Chapter 1: Research and the Research Problem. Nicholas Walliman . Your Research Project: Designing and Planning Your Work . 3rd edition. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications, 2011; Choosing a Topic . The Writing Lab and The OWL. Purdue University;  Coming Up With Your Topic . Institute for Writing Rhetoric. Dartmouth College; How To Write a Thesis Statement . Writing Tutorial Services, Center for Innovative Teaching and Learning. Indiana University; Identify Your Question . Start Your Research. University Library, University of California, Santa Cruz; The Process of Writing a Research Paper . Department of History. Trent University; Trochim, William M.K. Problem Formulation . Research Methods Knowledge Base. 2006.

III. How To Begin: You are provided a list of possible topics to choose from

I.  How To Begin:  You are provided a list of possible topics to choose from Step 1 : I know what you’re thinking--which topic from this list my professor has given me will be the easiest to find the most information on? An effective instructor should never include a topic that is so obscure or complex that no research is available to examine and from which to begin to design a study. Instead of searching for the path of least resistance choose a topic that you find interesting in some way, or that is controversial and that you have a strong opinion about, or has some personal meaning for you. You're going to be working on your topic for quite some time, so choose one that you find interesting and engaging or that motivates you to take a position. Embrace the opportunity to learn something new! Once you’ve settled on a topic of interest from the list, follow Steps 1 - 4 listed above to further develop it into a research paper.

NOTE : It’s ok to review related literature to help refine how you will approach analyzing a topic, and then discover that the topic isn’t all that interesting to you. In that case, you can choose another from the list. Just don’t wait too long to make a switch and, of course, be sure to inform your professor that you are changing your topic.

Resources for Identifying a Topic

Resources for identifying a research problem.

If you are having difficulty identifying a topic to study or need basic background information, the following web resources and databases can be useful:

  • CQ Researcher This link opens in a new window Reports with overviews, background and timeline of a topic; an assessment of the current situation; tables and maps; pro/con statements from opposing positions. Topics include health, social trends, criminal justice, international affairs, education, the environment, technology, economy, and global affairs. 1923 to present.
  • New York Times Topics Each topic page collects news, reference and archival information, photos, graphics, audio and video files published on a variety of topics. Content is available without charge on articles going back to 1981.

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Writing Tip

Don't be a Martyr!

In thinking about a research topic to study, don't adopt the mindset of pursuing an esoteric or incredibly complicated topic just to impress your professor but that, in reality, does not have any real interest to you. As best as you can, choose a topic that has at least some interest to you or that you care about. Obviously, this is easier for courses within your major, but even for those nasty prerequisite classes that you must take in order to graduate [and that provide an additional revenue stream to the university], try to apply issues associated with your major to the general topic given to you. For example, if you are an IR major taking a philosophy class where the assignment asks you to apply the question of "what is truth" to some aspect of life, you could choose to study how government leaders attempt to shape truth through the use of propaganda.

Another Writing Tip

Not Finding Anything on Your Topic? Ask a Librarian!

Librarians are experts in locating information and providing strategies for analyzing existing knowledge in new ways. Don't assume or jump to the conclusion that your topic is too narrowly defined or obscure just because you haven’t found any information about it. Always consult a librarian before you consider giving up on finding information about the topic you want to investigate. If there isn't a lot of information about your topic, a librarian can often help you identify a closely related topic that you can study. Follow this link to contact a librarian.

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  • URL: https://guides.library.txstate.edu/socialscienceresearch

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Organizing Academic Research Papers: The Research Problem/Question

  • Purpose of Guide
  • Design Flaws to Avoid
  • Glossary of Research Terms
  • Narrowing a Topic Idea
  • Broadening a Topic Idea
  • Extending the Timeliness of a Topic Idea
  • Academic Writing Style
  • Choosing a Title
  • Making an Outline
  • Paragraph Development
  • Executive Summary
  • Background Information
  • The Research Problem/Question
  • Theoretical Framework
  • Citation Tracking
  • Content Alert Services
  • Evaluating Sources
  • Primary Sources
  • Secondary Sources
  • Tertiary Sources
  • What Is Scholarly vs. Popular?
  • Qualitative Methods
  • Quantitative Methods
  • Using Non-Textual Elements
  • Limitations of the Study
  • Common Grammar Mistakes
  • Avoiding Plagiarism
  • Footnotes or Endnotes?
  • Further Readings
  • Annotated Bibliography
  • Dealing with Nervousness
  • Using Visual Aids
  • Grading Someone Else's Paper
  • How to Manage Group Projects
  • Multiple Book Review Essay
  • Reviewing Collected Essays
  • About Informed Consent
  • Writing Field Notes
  • Writing a Policy Memo
  • Writing a Research Proposal
  • Acknowledgements

A research problem is a statement about an area of concern, a condition to be improved, a difficulty to be eliminated, or a troubling question that exists in scholarly literature, in theory, or in practice that points to the need for meaningful understanding and deliberate investigation. In some social science disciplines the research problem is typically posed in the form of a question. A research problem does not state how to do something, offer a vague or broad proposition, or present a value question.

Importance of...

The purpose of a problem statement is to:

  • Introduce the reader to the importance of the topic being studied . The reader is oriented to the significance of the study and the research questions or hypotheses to follow.
  • Places the problem into a particular context that defines the parameters of what is to be investigated.
  • Provides the framework for reporting the results and indicates what is probably necessary to conduct the study and explain how the findings will present this information.

In the social sciences, the research problem establishes the means by which you must answer the "So What?" question. The "So What?" question refers to a research problem surviving the relevancy test [the quality of a measurement procedure that provides repeatability and accuracy]. Note that answering the "So What" question requires a commitment on your part to not only show that you have researched the material, but that you have thought about its significance.

To survive the "So What" question, problem statements should possess the following attributes:

  • Clarity and precision [a well-written statement does not make sweeping generalizations and irresponsible statements],
  • Identification of what would be studied, while avoiding the use of value-laden words and terms,
  • Identification of an overarching question and key factors or variables,
  • Identification of key concepts and terms,
  • Articulation of the study's boundaries or parameters,
  • Some generalizability in regards to applicability and bringing results into general use,
  • Conveyance of the study's importance, benefits, and justification [regardless of the type of research, it is important to address the “so what” question by demonstrating that the research is not trivial],
  • Does not have unnecessary jargon; and,
  • Conveyance of more than the mere gathering of descriptive data providing only a snapshot of the issue or phenomenon under investigation.

Castellanos, Susie. Critical Writing and Thinking . The Writing Center. Dean of the College. Brown University; Ellis, Timothy J. and Yair Levy Nova Framework of Problem-Based Research: A Guide for Novice Researchers on the Development of a Research-Worthy Problem. Informing Science: the International Journal of an Emerging Transdiscipline 11 (2008); Thesis and Purpose Statements . The Writer’s Handbook. Writing Center. University of Wisconsin, Madison; Thesis Statements . The Writing Center. University of North Carolina; Tips and Examples for Writing Thesis Statements . The Writing Lab and The OWL. Purdue University.  

Structure and Writing Style

I.  Types and Content

There are four general conceptualizations of a research problem in the social sciences:

  • Casuist Research Problem -- this type of problem relates to the determination of right and wrong in questions of conduct or conscience by analyzing moral dilemmas through the application of general rules and the careful distinction of special cases.
  • Difference Research Problem -- typically asks the question, “Is there a difference between two or more groups or treatments?” This type of problem statement is used when the researcher compares or contrasts two or more phenomena.
  • Descriptive Research Problem -- typically asks the question, "what is...?" with the underlying purpose to describe a situation, state, or existence of a specific phenomenon.
  • Relational Research Problem -- suggests a relationship of some sort between two or more variables to be investigated. The underlying purpose is to investigate qualities/characteristics that are connected in some way.

A problem statement in the social sciences should contain :

  • A lead-in that helps ensure the reader will maintain interest over the study
  • A declaration of originality [e.g., mentioning a knowledge void, which would be supported by the literature review]
  • An indication of the central focus of the study, and
  • An explanation of the study's significance or the benefits to be derived from an investigating the problem.

II.  Sources of Problems for Investigation

Identifying a problem to study can be challenging, not because there is a lack of issues that could be investigated, but due to pursuing a goal of formulating a socially relevant and researchable problem statement that is unique and does not simply duplicate the work of others. To facilitate how you might select a problem from which to build a research study, consider these three broad sources of inspiration:

Deductions from Theory This relates to deductions made from social philosophy or generalizations embodied in life in society that the researcher is familiar with. These deductions from human behavior are then fitted within an empirical frame of reference through research. From a theory, the research can formulate a research problem or hypothesis stating the expected findings in certain empirical situations. The research asks the question: “What relationship between variables will be observed if theory aptly summarizes the state of affairs?” One can then design and carry out a systematic investigation to assess whether empirical data confirm or reject the hypothesis and hence the theory.

Interdisciplinary Perspectives Identifying a problem that forms the basis for a research study can come from academic movements and scholarship originating in disciplines outside of your primary area of study. A review of pertinent literature should include examining research from related disciplines, which can expose you to new avenues of exploration and analysis. An interdisciplinary approach to selecting a research problem offers an opportunity to construct a more comprehensive understanding of a very complex issue than any single discipline might provide.

Interviewing Practitioners The identification of research problems about particular topics can arise from formal or informal discussions with practitioners who provide insight into new directions for future research and how to make research findings increasingly relevant to practice. Discussions with experts in the field, such as, teachers, social workers, health care providers, etc., offers the chance to identify practical, “real worl” problems that may be understudied or ignored within academic circles. This approach also provides some practical knowledge which may help in the process of designing and conducting your study.

Personal Experience Your everyday experiences can give rise to worthwhile problems for investigation. Think critically about your own experiences and/or frustrations with an issue facing society, your community, or in your neighborhood. This can be derived, for example, from deliberate observations of certain relationships for which there is no clear explanation or witnessing an event that appears harmful to a person or group or that is out of the ordinary.

Relevant Literature The selection of a research problem can often be derived from an extensive and thorough review of pertinent research associated with your overall area of interest. This may reveal where gaps remain in our understanding of a topic. Research may be conducted to: 1) fill such gaps in knowledge; 2) evaluate if the methodologies employed in prior studies can be adapted to solve other problems; or, 3) determine if a similar study could be conducted in a different subject area or applied to different study sample [i.e., different groups of people]. Also, authors frequently conclude their studies by noting implications for further research; this can also be a valuable source of problems to investigate.

III.  What Makes a Good Research Statement?

A good problem statement begins by introducing the broad area in which your research is centered and then gradually leads the reader to the more narrow questions you are posing. The statement need not be lengthy but a good research problem should incorporate the following features:

Compelling topic Simple curiosity is not a good enough reason to pursue a research study. The problem that you choose to explore must be important to you and to a larger community you share. The problem chosen must be one that motivates you to address it. Supports multiple perspectives The problem most be phrased in a way that avoids dichotomies and instead supports the generation and exploration of multiple perspectives. A general rule of thumb is that a good research problem is one that would generate a variety of viewpoints from a composite audience made up of reasonable people. Researchable It seems a bit obvious, but you don't want to find yourself in the midst of investigating a complex  research project and realize that you don't have much to draw on for your research. Choose research problems that can be supported by the resources available to you. Not sure? Seek out help  from a librarian!

NOTE:   Do not confuse a research problem with a research topic. A topic is something to read and obtain information about whereas a problem is something to solve or framed as a question that must be answered.

IV.  Mistakes to Avoid

Beware of circular reasoning . Don’t state that the research problem as simply the absence of the thing you are suggesting. For example, if you propose, "The problem in this community is that it has no hospital."

This only leads to a research problem where:

  • The need is for a hospital
  • The objective is to create a hospital
  • The method is to plan for building a hospital, and
  • The evaluation is to measure if there is a hospital or not.

This is an example of a research problem that fails the "so what?" test because it does not reveal the relevance of why you are investigating the problem of having no hospital in the community [e.g., there's a hospital in the community ten miles away] and because the research problem does not elucidate the significance of why one should study the fact that no hospital exists in the community [e.g., that hospital in the community ten miles away has no emergency room].

Choosing and Refining Topics . Writing@CSU. Colorado State University; Ellis, Timothy J. and Yair Levy Nova Framework of Problem-Based Research: A Guide for Novice Researchers on the Development of a Research-Worthy Problem. Informing Science: the International Journal of an Emerging Transdiscipline 11 (2008); How to Write a Research Question . The Writing Center. George Mason University; Invention: Developing a Thesis Statement . The Reading/Writing Center. Hunter College; Problem Statements PowerPoint Presentation . The Writing Lab and The OWL. Purdue University; Procter, Margaret. Using Thesis Statements . University College Writing Centre. University of Toronto; Trochim, William M.K. Problem Formulation . Research Methods Knowledge Base. 2006; Thesis and Purpose Statements . The Writer’s Handbook. Writing Center. University of Wisconsin, Madison; Thesis Statements . The Writing Center. University of North Carolina; Tips and Examples for Writing Thesis Statements . The Writing Lab and The OWL. Purdue University.

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5 Sources of a Research Problem: The Complete Guide

Author Image

by  Antony W

February 20, 2022

sources of a research problem

In this guide, you will learn about the best sources of a research problem for your next project. 

The term research problem refers to a clear expression of an area of concern that requires a clear understanding and deliberate investigation. While it offers a broad proposition and a valuable question, a research problem doesn’t demonstrate how to do something.

It’s worth looking at a research problem for a number of reasons. It introduces a reader to the topic under investigation and orients to the importance of the study.

Besides allowing you to define the most important parameter to investigate in your paper, a research problem offers you a concise guide to come up with research questions , make relevant assumptions, and formulate a proposition .

More importantly, a research problem gives you a more comprehensive framework to conduct extensive studies and explain your findings.

Need help with your research paper, dissertation, or thesis but you have no idea where to start? Hire Help for Assessment for Assistance.

Type of Research Problems

types of research problems

There are four types of research problems that you need to know before we look at the sources of a research problem.

These are casuist, difference, descriptive and relational research problems.

1. Relational Research Problem

A relational research problem suggests the need to investigate the correlation between two or more variables.

It’s the researcher’s responsibility to investigate a number of precise characteristics and identify the relationship between them.

2. Casuist Research Problem

Casuist research problem has something to do with the determination of what’s right and what’s wrong.

It questions human conduct by looking closely at the moral dilemmas by means of careful differentiation of cases as well as the application of general rules.

3. Descriptive Research Problem

In this case, a researcher looks forward to investigating a “what is” kind of issue.

The goal of examining a descriptive research problem is to determine the underlying significance of an event or the existence of a situation.

It’s with the descriptive research problem that a researcher can discover understudied or hidden issues.

5. Difference Research Problem

A difference research problem focuses on the distinction between two or more groups.  More often than not, researchers use this type of problem to compare and contrast more than one phenomenon.

What are the Sources of Research Problems?

Now that you know the types of possible research problems that you can focus on in a term paper , let’s look at the sources that you can use to identify research problems.

From a research perspective, the kind of research problem that you wish to investigate should meet two conditions.

First, the problem has to be unique and not something other researchers have already looked into exhaustively. Second, the problem has to be concise enough to raise specific issues that you can address in a research paper .

With that said, below are five sources of a research problem:

1. Interviews

interviews

Interviews sessions can be significant sources of research problems. The method gives you an opportunity to have formal discussions and informal interactions with individuals who can provide useful insights into research and make findings more relevant to future research. 

Consider having discussions with experts in the field you wish to investigate. These professionals mat be healthcare service providers, business leaders, teachers, social workers, attorneys, and accountants to mention but a few examples.

By interacting with these experts, you’re able to identify real-world problems that researchers have either ignored or understudied in the academic space.

Moreover, interview sessions give you the opportunity to get some practical knowledge that can help you to design and conduct your studies.

2. Personal Experiences

Your everyday experiences are a good source of research problem.

You have to think critically about your personal experiences with an issue that affects your family, your personal life, or your community.

A research problem derived from personal experience can spring from any issue and from anywhere.

For example, you can construct a research problem from events that appear to be out of the ordinary or from community relationships that don’t have clear explanations.

3. Deductions from Theory

deduction from theory

A deduction from theory refers to inferences a researcher makes from the generalizations of life in a society that a researcher knows very well.

A researcher takes the deduction, places them in an empirical frame, and then, based on a theory, they come up with a research problem and a hypothesis that suggests some findings based on given empirical results.

The research accounts for the relationship to observe if a theory summarizes the state of an affair.

A systematic investigation, which evaluates if the empirical information affirms or rejects the hypothesis , comes next.

4. Interdisciplinary Perspective

If you consider interdisciplinary perspective to identify a problem for a research study, you’ll have to look at scholarship and academic movements from outside your main area of investigation.

It’s an intellectually involving process, one that requires reviewing pertinent literature to discover unique avenues of exploration an analysis.

The benefit of using this approach to identify a research problem for your research paper assignment is that it presents an opportunity for you to understand complex issues with ease.

5. Relevant Literature

Relevant Literature

To generate a research problem from relevant literature, you first have to review research related to your area of interest.

Doing so allows you to find gaps on the topic, making it easy for you to understand just how much understudied your area of interest is.

Data collected from relevant literature is relevant because it helps to:

  • Fill existing gaps in knowledge based on a specific research
  • Determine if current studies can have implications on further research on the same issue
  • See if it’s possible to conduct a similar study in a different area or apply the same in a different context
  • Determine if the methods used in previous studies can be effective in solving future problems

We can’t stress enough on the value of existing literature. The results should point you towards an outstanding issue, give suggestion for future gaps, and make it possible to delineate gaps in existing knowledge.

Research Paper Writing Help

Finding a research problem is just one part of the research paper assignment. You have to develop a research question, formulate a hypothesis, write a thesis statement,  and then write your research paper. It can be a lot of work, which demands a lot of attention and time.

If you need help to brainstorm, research, and write your research paper, click the button below to place your order. 

About the author 

Antony W is a professional writer and coach at Help for Assessment. He spends countless hours every day researching and writing great content filled with expert advice on how to write engaging essays, research papers, and assignments.

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How to identify and resolve research problems

Updated July 12, 2023

In this article, we’re going to take you through one of the most pertinent parts of conducting research: a research problem (also known as a research problem statement).

When trying to formulate a good research statement, and understand how to solve it for complex projects, it can be difficult to know where to start.

Not only are there multiple perspectives (from stakeholders to project marketers who want answers), you have to consider the particular context of the research topic: is it timely, is it relevant and most importantly of all, is it valuable?

In other words: are you looking at a research worthy problem?

The fact is, a well-defined, precise, and goal-centric research problem will keep your researchers, stakeholders, and business-focused and your results actionable.

And when it works well, it's a powerful tool to identify practical solutions that can drive change and secure buy-in from your workforce.

Free eBook: The ultimate guide to market research

What is a research problem?

In social research methodology and behavioral sciences , a research problem establishes the direction of research, often relating to a specific topic or opportunity for discussion.

For example: climate change and sustainability, analyzing moral dilemmas or wage disparity amongst classes could all be areas that the research problem focuses on.

As well as outlining the topic and/or opportunity, a research problem will explain:

  • why the area/issue needs to be addressed,
  • why the area/issue is of importance,
  • the parameters of the research study
  • the research objective
  • the reporting framework for the results and
  • what the overall benefit of doing so will provide (whether to society as a whole or other researchers and projects).

Having identified the main topic or opportunity for discussion, you can then narrow it down into one or several specific questions that can be scrutinized and answered through the research process.

What are research questions?

Generating research questions underpinning your study usually starts with problems that require further research and understanding while fulfilling the objectives of the study.

A good problem statement begins by asking deeper questions to gain insights about a specific topic.

For example, using the problems above, our questions could be:

"How will climate change policies influence sustainability standards across specific geographies?"

"What measures can be taken to address wage disparity without increasing inflation?"

Developing a research worthy problem is the first step - and one of the most important - in any kind of research.

It’s also a task that will come up again and again because any business research process is cyclical. New questions arise as you iterate and progress through discovering, refining, and improving your products and processes. A research question can also be referred to as a "problem statement".

Note: good research supports multiple perspectives through empirical data. It’s focused on key concepts rather than a broad area, providing readily actionable insight and areas for further research.

Research question or research problem?

As we've highlighted, the terms “research question” and “research problem” are often used interchangeably, becoming a vague or broad proposition for many.

The term "problem statement" is far more representative, but finds little use among academics.

Instead, some researchers think in terms of a single research problem and several research questions that arise from it.

As mentioned above, the questions are lines of inquiry to explore in trying to solve the overarching research problem.

Ultimately, this provides a more meaningful understanding of a topic area.

It may be useful to think of questions and problems as coming out of your business data – that’s the O-data (otherwise known as operational data) like sales figures and website metrics.

What's an example of a research problem?

Your overall research problem could be: "How do we improve sales across EMEA and reduce lost deals?"

This research problem then has a subset of questions, such as:

"Why do sales peak at certain times of the day?"

"Why are customers abandoning their online carts at the point of sale?"

As well as helping you to solve business problems, research problems (and associated questions) help you to think critically about topics and/or issues (business or otherwise). You can also use your old research to aid future research -- a good example is laying the foundation for comparative trend reports or a complex research project.

(Also, if you want to see the bigger picture when it comes to research problems, why not check out our ultimate guide to market research? In it you'll find out: what effective market research looks like, the use cases for market research, carrying out a research study, and how to examine and action research findings).

The research process: why are research problems important?

A research problem has two essential roles in setting your research project on a course for success.

1. They set the scope

The research problem defines what problem or opportunity you’re looking at and what your research goals are. It stops you from getting side-tracked or allowing the scope of research to creep off-course .

Without a strong research problem or problem statement, your team could end up spending resources unnecessarily, or coming up with results that aren’t actionable - or worse, harmful to your business - because the field of study is too broad.

2. They tie your work to business goals and actions

To formulate a research problem in terms of business decisions means you always have clarity on what’s needed to make those decisions. You can show the effects of what you’ve studied using real outcomes.

Then, by focusing your research problem statement on a series of questions tied to business objectives, you can reduce the risk of the research being unactionable or inaccurate.

It's also worth examining research or other scholarly literature (you’ll find plenty of similar, pertinent research online) to see how others have explored specific topics and noting implications that could have for your research.

Four steps to defining your research problem

Defining a research problem

Image credit: http://myfreeschooltanzania.blogspot.com/2014/11/defining-research-problem.html

1. Observe and identify

Businesses today have so much data that it can be difficult to know which problems to address first. Researchers also have business stakeholders who come to them with problems they would like to have explored. A researcher’s job is to sift through these inputs and discover exactly what higher-level trends and key concepts are worth investing in.

This often means asking questions and doing some initial investigation to decide which avenues to pursue. This could mean gathering interdisciplinary perspectives identifying additional expertise and contextual information.

Sometimes, a small-scale preliminary study might be worth doing to help get a more comprehensive understanding of the business context and needs, and to make sure your research problem addresses the most critical questions.

This could take the form of qualitative research using a few in-depth interviews , an environmental scan, or reviewing relevant literature.

The sales manager of a sportswear company has a problem: sales of trail running shoes are down year-on-year and she isn’t sure why. She approaches the company’s research team for input and they begin asking questions within the company and reviewing their knowledge of the wider market.

2. Review the key factors involved

As a marketing researcher, you must work closely with your team of researchers to define and test the influencing factors and the wider context involved in your study. These might include demographic and economic trends or the business environment affecting the question at hand. This is referred to as a relational research problem.

To do this, you have to identify the factors that will affect the research and begin formulating different methods to control them.

You also need to consider the relationships between factors and the degree of control you have over them. For example, you may be able to control the loading speed of your website but you can’t control the fluctuations of the stock market.

Doing this will help you determine whether the findings of your project will produce enough information to be worth the cost.

You need to determine:

  • which factors affect the solution to the research proposal.
  • which ones can be controlled and used for the purposes of the company, and to what extent.
  • the functional relationships between the factors.
  • which ones are critical to the solution of the research study.

The research team at the running shoe company is hard at work. They explore the factors involved and the context of why YoY sales are down for trail shoes, including things like what the company’s competitors are doing, what the weather has been like – affecting outdoor exercise – and the relative spend on marketing for the brand from year to year.

The final factor is within the company’s control, although the first two are not. They check the figures and determine marketing spend has a significant impact on the company.

3. Prioritize

Once you and your research team have a few observations, prioritize them based on their business impact and importance. It may be that you can answer more than one question with a single study, but don’t do it at the risk of losing focus on your overarching research problem.

Questions to ask:

  • Who? Who are the people with the problem? Are they end-users, stakeholders, teams within your business? Have you validated the information to see what the scale of the problem is?
  • What? What is its nature and what is the supporting evidence?
  • Why? What is the business case for solving the problem? How will it help?
  • Where? How does the problem manifest and where is it observed?

To help you understand all dimensions, you might want to consider focus groups or preliminary interviews with external (including consumers and existing customers) and internal (salespeople, managers, and other stakeholders) parties to provide what is sometimes much-needed insight into a particular set of questions or problems.

After observing and investigating, the running shoe researchers come up with a few candidate questions, including:

  • What is the relationship between US average temperatures and sales of our products year on year?
  • At present, how does our customer base rank Competitor X and Competitor Y’s trail running shoe compared to our brand?
  • What is the relationship between marketing spend and trail shoe product sales over the last 12 months?

They opt for the final question, because the variables involved are fully within the company’s control, and based on their initial research and stakeholder input, seem the most likely cause of the dive in sales. The research question is specific enough to keep the work on course towards an actionable result, but it allows for a few different avenues to be explored, such as the different budget allocations of offline and online marketing and the kinds of messaging used.

Get feedback from the key teams within your business to make sure everyone is aligned and has the same understanding of the research problem and questions, and the actions you hope to take based on the results. Now is also a good time to demonstrate the ROI of your research and lay out its potential benefits to your stakeholders.

Different groups may have different goals and perspectives on the issue. This step is vital for getting the necessary buy-in and pushing the project forward.

The running shoe company researchers now have everything they need to begin. They call a meeting with the sales manager and consult with the product team, marketing team, and C-suite to make sure everyone is aligned and has bought into the direction of the research topic. They identify and agree that the likely course of action will be a rethink of how marketing resources are allocated, and potentially testing out some new channels and messaging strategies .

Can you explore a broad area and is it practical to do so?

A broader research problem or report can be a great way to bring attention to prevalent issues, societal or otherwise, but are often undertaken by those with the resources to do so.

Take a typical government cybersecurity breach survey, for example. Most of these reports raise awareness of cybercrime, from the day-to-day threats businesses face to what security measures some organizations are taking. What these reports don't do, however, is provide actionable advice - mostly because every organization is different.

The point here is that while some researchers will explore a very complex issue in detail, others will provide only a snapshot to maintain interest and encourage further investigation. The "value" of the data is wholly determined by the recipients of it - and what information you choose to include.

To summarize, it can be practical to undertake a broader research problem, certainly, but it may not be possible to cover everything or provide the detail your audience needs. Likewise, a more systematic investigation of an issue or topic will be more valuable, but you may also find that you cover far less ground.

It's important to think about your research objectives and expected findings before going ahead.

Ensuring your research project is a success

A complex research project can be made significantly easier with clear research objectives, a descriptive research problem, and a central focus. All of which we've outlined in this article.

If you have previous research, even better. Use it as a benchmark

Remember: what separates a good research paper from an average one is actually very simple: valuable, empirical data that explores a prevalent societal or business issue and provides actionable insights.

And we can help.

Sophisticated research made simple with Qualtrics

Trusted by the world's best brands, our platform enables researchers from academic to corporate to tackle the hardest challenges and deliver the results that matter.

Our CoreXM platform supports the methods that define superior research and delivers insights in real-time. It's easy to use (thanks to drag-and-drop functionality) and requires no coding, meaning you'll be capturing data and gleaning insights in no time.

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It also excels in flexibility; you can track consumer behavior across segments , benchmark your company versus competitors , carry out complex academic research, and do much more, all from one system.

It's one platform with endless applications, so no matter your research problem, we've got the tools to help you solve it. And if you don't have a team of research experts in-house, our market research team has the practical knowledge and tools to help design the surveys and find the respondents you need.

Of course, you may want to know where to begin with your own market research . If you're struggling, make sure to download our ultimate guide using the link below.

It's got everything you need and there’s always information in our research methods knowledge base.

Scott Smith

Scott Smith, Ph.D. is a contributor to the Qualtrics blog.

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Research Method

Home » Research Problem – Examples, Types and Guide

Research Problem – Examples, Types and Guide

Table of Contents

Research Problem

Research Problem

Definition:

Research problem is a specific and well-defined issue or question that a researcher seeks to investigate through research. It is the starting point of any research project, as it sets the direction, scope, and purpose of the study.

Types of Research Problems

Types of Research Problems are as follows:

Descriptive problems

These problems involve describing or documenting a particular phenomenon, event, or situation. For example, a researcher might investigate the demographics of a particular population, such as their age, gender, income, and education.

Exploratory problems

These problems are designed to explore a particular topic or issue in depth, often with the goal of generating new ideas or hypotheses. For example, a researcher might explore the factors that contribute to job satisfaction among employees in a particular industry.

Explanatory Problems

These problems seek to explain why a particular phenomenon or event occurs, and they typically involve testing hypotheses or theories. For example, a researcher might investigate the relationship between exercise and mental health, with the goal of determining whether exercise has a causal effect on mental health.

Predictive Problems

These problems involve making predictions or forecasts about future events or trends. For example, a researcher might investigate the factors that predict future success in a particular field or industry.

Evaluative Problems

These problems involve assessing the effectiveness of a particular intervention, program, or policy. For example, a researcher might evaluate the impact of a new teaching method on student learning outcomes.

How to Define a Research Problem

Defining a research problem involves identifying a specific question or issue that a researcher seeks to address through a research study. Here are the steps to follow when defining a research problem:

  • Identify a broad research topic : Start by identifying a broad topic that you are interested in researching. This could be based on your personal interests, observations, or gaps in the existing literature.
  • Conduct a literature review : Once you have identified a broad topic, conduct a thorough literature review to identify the current state of knowledge in the field. This will help you identify gaps or inconsistencies in the existing research that can be addressed through your study.
  • Refine the research question: Based on the gaps or inconsistencies identified in the literature review, refine your research question to a specific, clear, and well-defined problem statement. Your research question should be feasible, relevant, and important to the field of study.
  • Develop a hypothesis: Based on the research question, develop a hypothesis that states the expected relationship between variables.
  • Define the scope and limitations: Clearly define the scope and limitations of your research problem. This will help you focus your study and ensure that your research objectives are achievable.
  • Get feedback: Get feedback from your advisor or colleagues to ensure that your research problem is clear, feasible, and relevant to the field of study.

Components of a Research Problem

The components of a research problem typically include the following:

  • Topic : The general subject or area of interest that the research will explore.
  • Research Question : A clear and specific question that the research seeks to answer or investigate.
  • Objective : A statement that describes the purpose of the research, what it aims to achieve, and the expected outcomes.
  • Hypothesis : An educated guess or prediction about the relationship between variables, which is tested during the research.
  • Variables : The factors or elements that are being studied, measured, or manipulated in the research.
  • Methodology : The overall approach and methods that will be used to conduct the research.
  • Scope and Limitations : A description of the boundaries and parameters of the research, including what will be included and excluded, and any potential constraints or limitations.
  • Significance: A statement that explains the potential value or impact of the research, its contribution to the field of study, and how it will add to the existing knowledge.

Research Problem Examples

Following are some Research Problem Examples:

Research Problem Examples in Psychology are as follows:

  • Exploring the impact of social media on adolescent mental health.
  • Investigating the effectiveness of cognitive-behavioral therapy for treating anxiety disorders.
  • Studying the impact of prenatal stress on child development outcomes.
  • Analyzing the factors that contribute to addiction and relapse in substance abuse treatment.
  • Examining the impact of personality traits on romantic relationships.

Research Problem Examples in Sociology are as follows:

  • Investigating the relationship between social support and mental health outcomes in marginalized communities.
  • Studying the impact of globalization on labor markets and employment opportunities.
  • Analyzing the causes and consequences of gentrification in urban neighborhoods.
  • Investigating the impact of family structure on social mobility and economic outcomes.
  • Examining the effects of social capital on community development and resilience.

Research Problem Examples in Economics are as follows:

  • Studying the effects of trade policies on economic growth and development.
  • Analyzing the impact of automation and artificial intelligence on labor markets and employment opportunities.
  • Investigating the factors that contribute to economic inequality and poverty.
  • Examining the impact of fiscal and monetary policies on inflation and economic stability.
  • Studying the relationship between education and economic outcomes, such as income and employment.

Political Science

Research Problem Examples in Political Science are as follows:

  • Analyzing the causes and consequences of political polarization and partisan behavior.
  • Investigating the impact of social movements on political change and policymaking.
  • Studying the role of media and communication in shaping public opinion and political discourse.
  • Examining the effectiveness of electoral systems in promoting democratic governance and representation.
  • Investigating the impact of international organizations and agreements on global governance and security.

Environmental Science

Research Problem Examples in Environmental Science are as follows:

  • Studying the impact of air pollution on human health and well-being.
  • Investigating the effects of deforestation on climate change and biodiversity loss.
  • Analyzing the impact of ocean acidification on marine ecosystems and food webs.
  • Studying the relationship between urban development and ecological resilience.
  • Examining the effectiveness of environmental policies and regulations in promoting sustainability and conservation.

Research Problem Examples in Education are as follows:

  • Investigating the impact of teacher training and professional development on student learning outcomes.
  • Studying the effectiveness of technology-enhanced learning in promoting student engagement and achievement.
  • Analyzing the factors that contribute to achievement gaps and educational inequality.
  • Examining the impact of parental involvement on student motivation and achievement.
  • Studying the effectiveness of alternative educational models, such as homeschooling and online learning.

Research Problem Examples in History are as follows:

  • Analyzing the social and economic factors that contributed to the rise and fall of ancient civilizations.
  • Investigating the impact of colonialism on indigenous societies and cultures.
  • Studying the role of religion in shaping political and social movements throughout history.
  • Analyzing the impact of the Industrial Revolution on economic and social structures.
  • Examining the causes and consequences of global conflicts, such as World War I and II.

Research Problem Examples in Business are as follows:

  • Studying the impact of corporate social responsibility on brand reputation and consumer behavior.
  • Investigating the effectiveness of leadership development programs in improving organizational performance and employee satisfaction.
  • Analyzing the factors that contribute to successful entrepreneurship and small business development.
  • Examining the impact of mergers and acquisitions on market competition and consumer welfare.
  • Studying the effectiveness of marketing strategies and advertising campaigns in promoting brand awareness and sales.

Research Problem Example for Students

An Example of a Research Problem for Students could be:

“How does social media usage affect the academic performance of high school students?”

This research problem is specific, measurable, and relevant. It is specific because it focuses on a particular area of interest, which is the impact of social media on academic performance. It is measurable because the researcher can collect data on social media usage and academic performance to evaluate the relationship between the two variables. It is relevant because it addresses a current and important issue that affects high school students.

To conduct research on this problem, the researcher could use various methods, such as surveys, interviews, and statistical analysis of academic records. The results of the study could provide insights into the relationship between social media usage and academic performance, which could help educators and parents develop effective strategies for managing social media use among students.

Another example of a research problem for students:

“Does participation in extracurricular activities impact the academic performance of middle school students?”

This research problem is also specific, measurable, and relevant. It is specific because it focuses on a particular type of activity, extracurricular activities, and its impact on academic performance. It is measurable because the researcher can collect data on students’ participation in extracurricular activities and their academic performance to evaluate the relationship between the two variables. It is relevant because extracurricular activities are an essential part of the middle school experience, and their impact on academic performance is a topic of interest to educators and parents.

To conduct research on this problem, the researcher could use surveys, interviews, and academic records analysis. The results of the study could provide insights into the relationship between extracurricular activities and academic performance, which could help educators and parents make informed decisions about the types of activities that are most beneficial for middle school students.

Applications of Research Problem

Applications of Research Problem are as follows:

  • Academic research: Research problems are used to guide academic research in various fields, including social sciences, natural sciences, humanities, and engineering. Researchers use research problems to identify gaps in knowledge, address theoretical or practical problems, and explore new areas of study.
  • Business research : Research problems are used to guide business research, including market research, consumer behavior research, and organizational research. Researchers use research problems to identify business challenges, explore opportunities, and develop strategies for business growth and success.
  • Healthcare research : Research problems are used to guide healthcare research, including medical research, clinical research, and health services research. Researchers use research problems to identify healthcare challenges, develop new treatments and interventions, and improve healthcare delivery and outcomes.
  • Public policy research : Research problems are used to guide public policy research, including policy analysis, program evaluation, and policy development. Researchers use research problems to identify social issues, assess the effectiveness of existing policies and programs, and develop new policies and programs to address societal challenges.
  • Environmental research : Research problems are used to guide environmental research, including environmental science, ecology, and environmental management. Researchers use research problems to identify environmental challenges, assess the impact of human activities on the environment, and develop sustainable solutions to protect the environment.

Purpose of Research Problems

The purpose of research problems is to identify an area of study that requires further investigation and to formulate a clear, concise and specific research question. A research problem defines the specific issue or problem that needs to be addressed and serves as the foundation for the research project.

Identifying a research problem is important because it helps to establish the direction of the research and sets the stage for the research design, methods, and analysis. It also ensures that the research is relevant and contributes to the existing body of knowledge in the field.

A well-formulated research problem should:

  • Clearly define the specific issue or problem that needs to be investigated
  • Be specific and narrow enough to be manageable in terms of time, resources, and scope
  • Be relevant to the field of study and contribute to the existing body of knowledge
  • Be feasible and realistic in terms of available data, resources, and research methods
  • Be interesting and intellectually stimulating for the researcher and potential readers or audiences.

Characteristics of Research Problem

The characteristics of a research problem refer to the specific features that a problem must possess to qualify as a suitable research topic. Some of the key characteristics of a research problem are:

  • Clarity : A research problem should be clearly defined and stated in a way that it is easily understood by the researcher and other readers. The problem should be specific, unambiguous, and easy to comprehend.
  • Relevance : A research problem should be relevant to the field of study, and it should contribute to the existing body of knowledge. The problem should address a gap in knowledge, a theoretical or practical problem, or a real-world issue that requires further investigation.
  • Feasibility : A research problem should be feasible in terms of the availability of data, resources, and research methods. It should be realistic and practical to conduct the study within the available time, budget, and resources.
  • Novelty : A research problem should be novel or original in some way. It should represent a new or innovative perspective on an existing problem, or it should explore a new area of study or apply an existing theory to a new context.
  • Importance : A research problem should be important or significant in terms of its potential impact on the field or society. It should have the potential to produce new knowledge, advance existing theories, or address a pressing societal issue.
  • Manageability : A research problem should be manageable in terms of its scope and complexity. It should be specific enough to be investigated within the available time and resources, and it should be broad enough to provide meaningful results.

Advantages of Research Problem

The advantages of a well-defined research problem are as follows:

  • Focus : A research problem provides a clear and focused direction for the research study. It ensures that the study stays on track and does not deviate from the research question.
  • Clarity : A research problem provides clarity and specificity to the research question. It ensures that the research is not too broad or too narrow and that the research objectives are clearly defined.
  • Relevance : A research problem ensures that the research study is relevant to the field of study and contributes to the existing body of knowledge. It addresses gaps in knowledge, theoretical or practical problems, or real-world issues that require further investigation.
  • Feasibility : A research problem ensures that the research study is feasible in terms of the availability of data, resources, and research methods. It ensures that the research is realistic and practical to conduct within the available time, budget, and resources.
  • Novelty : A research problem ensures that the research study is original and innovative. It represents a new or unique perspective on an existing problem, explores a new area of study, or applies an existing theory to a new context.
  • Importance : A research problem ensures that the research study is important and significant in terms of its potential impact on the field or society. It has the potential to produce new knowledge, advance existing theories, or address a pressing societal issue.
  • Rigor : A research problem ensures that the research study is rigorous and follows established research methods and practices. It ensures that the research is conducted in a systematic, objective, and unbiased manner.

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How to Select a Research Problem

This guide was designed to help students select a proper research problem in five steps.

The research problem can be defined as the central idea of the paper, and it affects how the author will analyze and organize the information to be presented. This problem can represent a concern of the author, a situation that needs improvement, or a question requiring additional exploration. It is vital for students to choose topics that they find interesting because the thorough research necessary to develop a proper paper can be exhausting. Research demands focus and an understanding of various aspects that affect the issue in question.

Three Components of a Good Research Problem Statement

Figure 1 presents three crucial elements that a student should consider when choosing a research topic. Some professors will present a list of issues that can guide students and make a choice easier. While this makes the process of preparation more manageable, the three components in Figure 1 should not be ignored. First, the paper’s required scope of investigation should fascinate the student, who will have to sort through large volumes of information as part of proper preparation for writing a paper. It is much easier to focus on the task when exploring a question that is exciting and has practical application in real life. Second, it is essential to choose a perspective that finds support in papers and articles from peer-reviewed journals or credible sources. Scholars who do not explore their topic properly run the risk of writing papers that present only the author’s viewpoint, one that is not supported by the evidence. Finally, the writer must choose a critical issue relevant to current events.

Working with a specific topic

  • Step 1. Brainstorm the ideas and concepts to be discussed in the paper based on the information provided by the instructor. Example of the topic “The importance of student research in developing analytical skills” The main factors to consider then include student research and analytical capabilities.
  • Step 2. Read background information to understand the general aspects of the issue in question. From the previous example, it can be concluded that data on student research along with its benefits and challenges, as well as connection to cognitive skills, can help in understanding the matter in question. For this step, any credible information source is suitable, including the university library, Google Scholar, or another database.
  • Step 3. It is important to cite sources that can support the claims of the research topic. However, to ensure that the problem and the context of the work are well-written, it is crucial to locate additional sources that present arguments against the position the author is trying to convey. In this case, articles and studies that indicate an adverse effect of student research on analytical skills can help strengthen the paper. By discussing points that contradict the original idea, a student will be able to broaden the scope of discussion.
  • Step 4. Synthesize the ideas from the resources and form a personalized view on the topic, which will be reflected in the paper. For example, the explored articles may provide sufficient evidence suggesting that the efficacy of student research is valid. Thus, the research paper will include specific benefits that individuals gain by engaging in the activity.

Choosing topic from a list

  • Step 1. Carefully read all the issues and highlight the most interesting. As previously mentioned, it is crucial to choose an aspect that will be motivating to study, which may be difficult to do when only one research topic is given. In comparison, this option offers a student more freedom for expressing thoughts and ideas.
  • Step 2. Choose an idea that represents personal views, opinions, and personal relevance. This step represents the approach illustrated in Figure 1 as it is crucial to engage in the writing process.
  • Step 3. Carry out preliminary research as described in Step 2 and Step 3 of the previous section to gather materials and form an opinion on the subject. Use hints from Step 4 to create a general understanding of what should be discussed in the paper.

Choosing your own topic

  • Step 1. Dedicate time to look through course materials and write down possible options. This does not have to represent actual research topics; simply mentioning aspects that would be interesting to explore can help in making a proper choice in the future. As previously mentioned, the task of choosing an appropriate research topic requires thorough consideration. Thus, a student should ensure that sufficient time is spent on sorting through ideas and refining concepts that can be used in a future paper. While it may seem like a ten-minute job, it is much better to schedule time depending on the scope of the paper; logically, a two-page essay will require less work than a ten-page paper or a dissertation.
  • Step 2. Ensure that the options you choose represent aspects you find exciting. With this approach, the assignment will present a valuable opportunity to explore topics of interest. Therefore, out of the list of prospective ideas, choose only those that are particularly interesting.
  • Step 3. Think about previous assignments and tasks from other classes to gain an idea of what you will be exploring. This step is helpful for students who find it difficult to develop a research topic. Additionally, looking through news websites dedicated to a specific subject can help in choosing a relevant question.
  • Step 4. Narrow the scope of the question by identifying particular aspects that should be explored. For example, consider the topic “Student research conducted by using various online resources is more effective for enhancing analytical skills.” Adding specific factors helps the student to better understand the issue in question and illuminates unnecessary general information that might obstruct the main idea. That said, it is crucial to ensure that enough information can be found to support the research idea.

Overall, while students may encounter different approaches to conducting research, depending on the professor, the information described above presents a general guide that can help in developing a topic. It is vital to ensure that the student will find the information to be investigated engaging. Additionally, it is critical to present multiple viewpoints on the subject. Thus, an issue that other scholars have discussed should be chosen to ensure that relevant information can be found.

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Largest ever global study of COVID vaccines finds small but real link to neurological, blood, heart-related conditions

vaccines

Vaccines that protect against severe illness, death and lingering  long Covid  symptoms from a coronavirus infection were linked to small increases in neurological, blood, and heart-related conditions in the largest global  vaccine safety  study to date.

The rare events — identified early in the pandemic — included a higher risk of heart-related  inflammation  from  mRNA  shots made by Pfizer Inc., BioNTech SE, and Moderna Inc., and an increased risk of a type of blood clot in the brain after immunization with  viral-vector vaccines  such as the one developed by the University of Oxford and made by AstraZeneca Plc. 

The viral-vector jabs were also tied to an increased risk of  Guillain-Barre syndrome , a neurological disorder in which the immune system mistakenly attacks the peripheral nervous system.

More than 13.5 billion doses of Covid vaccines have been administered globally over the past three years,  saving  over 1 million lives in Europe alone. Still, a small proportion of people immunized were injured by the shots, stoking debate about their benefits versus harms.

The new research, by the Global Vaccine Data Network, was published in the journal Vaccine last week, with the data made available via interactive  dashboards  to show methodology and specific findings. 

The research looked for 13 medical conditions that the group considered “adverse events of special interest” among 99 million vaccinated individuals in eight countries, aiming to identify higher-than-expected cases after a Covid shot. The use of aggregated data increased the possibility of identifying rare safety signals that might have been missed when looking only at smaller populations.

Myocarditis , or inflammation of the heart muscle, was consistently identified following a first, second and third dose of mRNA vaccines, the study found. The highest increase in the observed-to-expected ratio was seen after a second jab with the Moderna shot. A first and fourth dose of the same vaccine was also tied to an increase in pericarditis, or inflammation of the thin sac covering the heart. 

Safety Signals

Researchers found a statistically significant increase in cases of  Guillain-Barre syndrome  within 42 days of an initial Oxford-developed ChAdOx1 or “Vaxzevria” shot that wasn’t observed with mRNA vaccines. Based on the background incidence of the condition, 66 cases were expected — but 190 events were observed. 

ChAdOx1 was linked to a threefold increase in cerebral venous sinus thrombosis, a type of blood clot in the brain, identified in 69 events, compared with an expected 21. The small risk led to the vaccine’s withdrawal or restriction in  Denmark  and multiple other countries. Myocarditis was also linked to a third dose of ChAdOx1 in some, but not all, populations studied.

Possible safety signals for  transverse myelitis  — spinal cord inflammation — after viral-vector vaccines were identified in the study. So was  acute disseminated encephalomyelitis  — inflammation and swelling in the brain and spinal cord — after both viral-vector and mRNA vaccines. 

Seven cases of acute disseminated encephalomyelitis after vaccination with the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine were observed, versus an expectation of two.  

The adverse events of special interest were selected based on pre-established associations with immunization, what was already known about immune-related conditions and pre-clinical research. The study didn’t monitor for  postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome , or POTS, that some research has  linked  with Covid vaccines.

Exercise intolerance, excessive fatigue, numbness and “brain fog” were among common symptoms identified in more than 240 adults experiencing chronic  post-vaccination  syndrome in a separate  study  conducted by the Yale School of Medicine. The cause of the syndrome isn’t yet known, and it has no diagnostic tests or proven remedies.

The Yale research aims to understand the condition to relieve the suffering of those affected and improve the safety of vaccines, said Harlan Krumholz, a principal investigator of the study, and director of the Yale New Haven Hospital Center for Outcomes Research and Evaluation. 

“Both things can be true,” Krumholz said in an interview. “They can save millions of lives, and there can be a small number of people who’ve been adversely affected.” 

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  • How to Define a Research Problem | Ideas & Examples

How to Define a Research Problem | Ideas & Examples

Published on 8 November 2022 by Shona McCombes and Tegan George.

A research problem is a specific issue or gap in existing knowledge that you aim to address in your research. You may choose to look for practical problems aimed at contributing to change, or theoretical problems aimed at expanding knowledge.

Some research will do both of these things, but usually the research problem focuses on one or the other. The type of research problem you choose depends on your broad topic of interest and the type of research you think will fit best.

This article helps you identify and refine a research problem. When writing your research proposal or introduction , formulate it as a problem statement and/or research questions .

Table of contents

Why is the research problem important, step 1: identify a broad problem area, step 2: learn more about the problem, frequently asked questions about research problems.

Having an interesting topic isn’t a strong enough basis for academic research. Without a well-defined research problem, you are likely to end up with an unfocused and unmanageable project.

You might end up repeating what other people have already said, trying to say too much, or doing research without a clear purpose and justification. You need a clear problem in order to do research that contributes new and relevant insights.

Whether you’re planning your thesis , starting a research paper , or writing a research proposal , the research problem is the first step towards knowing exactly what you’ll do and why.

Prevent plagiarism, run a free check.

As you read about your topic, look for under-explored aspects or areas of concern, conflict, or controversy. Your goal is to find a gap that your research project can fill.

Practical research problems

If you are doing practical research, you can identify a problem by reading reports, following up on previous research, or talking to people who work in the relevant field or organisation. You might look for:

  • Issues with performance or efficiency
  • Processes that could be improved
  • Areas of concern among practitioners
  • Difficulties faced by specific groups of people

Examples of practical research problems

Voter turnout in New England has been decreasing, in contrast to the rest of the country.

The HR department of a local chain of restaurants has a high staff turnover rate.

A non-profit organisation faces a funding gap that means some of its programs will have to be cut.

Theoretical research problems

If you are doing theoretical research, you can identify a research problem by reading existing research, theory, and debates on your topic to find a gap in what is currently known about it. You might look for:

  • A phenomenon or context that has not been closely studied
  • A contradiction between two or more perspectives
  • A situation or relationship that is not well understood
  • A troubling question that has yet to be resolved

Examples of theoretical research problems

The effects of long-term Vitamin D deficiency on cardiovascular health are not well understood.

The relationship between gender, race, and income inequality has yet to be closely studied in the context of the millennial gig economy.

Historians of Scottish nationalism disagree about the role of the British Empire in the development of Scotland’s national identity.

Next, you have to find out what is already known about the problem, and pinpoint the exact aspect that your research will address.

Context and background

  • Who does the problem affect?
  • Is it a newly-discovered problem, or a well-established one?
  • What research has already been done?
  • What, if any, solutions have been proposed?
  • What are the current debates about the problem? What is missing from these debates?

Specificity and relevance

  • What particular place, time, and/or group of people will you focus on?
  • What aspects will you not be able to tackle?
  • What will the consequences be if the problem is not resolved?

Example of a specific research problem

A local non-profit organisation focused on alleviating food insecurity has always fundraised from its existing support base. It lacks understanding of how best to target potential new donors. To be able to continue its work, the organisation requires research into more effective fundraising strategies.

Once you have narrowed down your research problem, the next step is to formulate a problem statement , as well as your research questions or hypotheses .

Once you’ve decided on your research objectives , you need to explain them in your paper, at the end of your problem statement.

Keep your research objectives clear and concise, and use appropriate verbs to accurately convey the work that you will carry out for each one.

I will compare …

The way you present your research problem in your introduction varies depending on the nature of your research paper . A research paper that presents a sustained argument will usually encapsulate this argument in a thesis statement .

A research paper designed to present the results of empirical research tends to present a research question that it seeks to answer. It may also include a hypothesis – a prediction that will be confirmed or disproved by your research.

Research objectives describe what you intend your research project to accomplish.

They summarise the approach and purpose of the project and help to focus your research.

Your objectives should appear in the introduction of your research paper , at the end of your problem statement .

Cite this Scribbr article

If you want to cite this source, you can copy and paste the citation or click the ‘Cite this Scribbr article’ button to automatically add the citation to our free Reference Generator.

McCombes, S. & George, T. (2022, November 08). How to Define a Research Problem | Ideas & Examples. Scribbr. Retrieved 22 February 2024, from https://www.scribbr.co.uk/the-research-process/define-research-problem/

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COMMENTS

  1. The Research Problem/Question

    A research problem is a definite or clear expression [statement] about an area of concern, a condition to be improved upon, a difficulty to be eliminated, or a troubling question that exists in scholarly literature, in theory, or within existing practice that points to a need for meaningful understanding and deliberate investigation.

  2. How to Define a Research Problem

    Step 1: Identify a broad problem area As you read about your topic, look for under-explored aspects or areas of concern, conflict, or controversy. Your goal is to find a gap that your research project can fill. Practical research problems

  3. What is a Research Problem? Characteristics, Types, and Examples

    A research problem is a gap in existing knowledge, a contradiction in an established theory, or a real-world challenge that a researcher aims to address in their research. It is at the heart of any scientific inquiry, directing the trajectory of an investigation.

  4. Research Problem

    Step 1: Identifying Problem Area - What is Research Problem The most significant step in any research is to look for unexplored areas, topics, and controversies. You aim to find gaps that your work will fill. Here are some research problem examples for you to better understand the concept. Practical Research Problems

  5. The Research Problem/Question

    A research problem is a definite or clear expression [statement] about an area of concern, a condition to be improved upon, a difficulty to be eliminated, or a troubling question that exists in scholarly literature, in theory, or within existing practice that points to a need for meaningful understanding and deliberate investigation.

  6. The Research Problem & Problem Statement

    Step 4 - Craft your problem statement. Once you've selected your research problem, the final step is to craft a problem statement. Remember, your problem statement needs to be a concise outline of what the core issue is and how your study will address it. Aim to fit this within one paragraph - don't waffle on.

  7. Choosing a Research Problem

    Step 1: Identify concepts and terms that make up the topic statement. For example, your professor wants the class to focus on the following research problem: "Is the European Union a credible security actor with the capacity to contribute to confronting global terrorism?"

  8. The Research Problem/Question

    A research problem is a statement about an area of concern, a condition to be improved, a difficulty to be eliminated, or a troubling question that exists in scholarly literature, in theory, or in practice that points to the need for meaningful understanding and deliberate investigation. In some social science disciplines the research problem is typically posed in the form of a question.

  9. 5 Sources of a Research Problem: The Complete Guide

    2. Personal Experiences. Your everyday experiences are a good source of research problem. You have to think critically about your personal experiences with an issue that affects your family, your personal life, or your community. A research problem derived from personal experience can spring from any issue and from anywhere.

  10. Research Problems: How to Identify & Resolve

    A research problem has two essential roles in setting your research project on a course for success. 1. They set the scope. The research problem defines what problem or opportunity you're looking at and what your research goals are. It stops you from getting side-tracked or allowing the scope of research to creep off-course.

  11. Research Problem

    Applications of Research Problem. Applications of Research Problem are as follows: Academic research: Research problems are used to guide academic research in various fields, including social sciences, natural sciences, humanities, and engineering. Researchers use research problems to identify gaps in knowledge, address theoretical or practical problems, and explore new areas of study.

  12. How to Select a Research Problem [Step-by-Step Guide]

    Citation Style Guides The research problem can be defined as the central idea of the paper, and it affects how the author will analyze and organize the information to be presented. This problem can represent a concern of the author, a situation that needs improvement, or a question requiring additional exploration.

  13. PDF SELECTING AND DEFINING A RESEARCH PROBLEM By

    research problem quite a challenging and time-consuming task. Many versions of formalised research problem presentations exist. Synopses are, for instance, statements of well formulated research problems which are submitted by students working towards research degrees. Also the academic part of project proposals represents another form of well ...

  14. Research Methodology MCQ

    37) Research problem is selected from the standpoint of. Answer: b) Observation. 41) What are those conditions where a research problem is not viable? a. It is new and adds something to knowledge b. It can be researched c. It has utility and relevance d. It contains dependent and independent variables. Answer: d) It contains dependent and ...

  15. Research Methodology MCQ (Multiple Choice Questions)

    37) Research problem is selected from the standpoint of. a. Social relevance b. Financial support c. Researcher's interest d. Availability of relevant literature Hide Answer Workspace. Answer: a) Social relevance Explanation: No explanation. 38) The F-test: a. Is essentially a two-tailed test. b. Is essentially a one-tailed test. c.

  16. Research Methodology MCQ (Multiple Choice Questions)

    a) Research refers to a series of systematic activity or activities undertaken to find out the solution to a problem. b) It is a systematic, logical and unbiased process wherein verification of hypotheses, data analysis, interpretation and formation of principles can be done. c) It is an intellectual inquiry or quest towards truth,

  17. Answered: Research problem is selected from the…

    Research problem is selected from the standpoint of a. Financial support b. Researcher's interest c. Availability of relevant literature d. Researcher's Experiences Expert Solution Trending now This is a popular solution! Step by step Solved in 3 steps SEE SOLUTION Check out a sample Q&A here Knowledge Booster Learn more about Project Roles

  18. How dangerous are COVID vaccines? Global study

    The new research, by the Global Vaccine Data Network, was published in the journal Vaccine last week, with the data made available via interactive dashboards to show methodology and specific findings.

  19. SOLVED: 8. What should a good statement of the problem show ...

    10. Initial research ideas are stated as questions, so the answer is D. Step 4/16 11. A research problem is feasible only when it has utility and relevance, is new and adds something to knowledge, and is researchable, so the answer is D. Step 5/16 12. A research problem is selected from the standpoint of social relevance, so the answer is D.

  20. How to Define a Research Problem

    Step 1: Identify a broad problem area Step 2: Learn more about the problem Next steps Frequently asked questions about research problems Why is the research problem important? Having an interesting topic isn't a strong enough basis for academic research.

  21. Day 2

    A process of trying to identify specific areas where additional information is needed about the marketing environment. Steps of the research process. 1. determine the research problem. 2. select the appropriate research design. 3. execute the research design. 4. communicate the results.

  22. Research problem is selected from the stand point of?

    Which of the following is a problem assciated with survey research. Research refers to the search for-: The objective of research should be: Census method of research is which type of method? A research hypothesis can take either. Media Research is related to. Market research is done to target: The most immediate step of market research is.

  23. The research problem is selected from the standpoint of

    A research problem is recognized as a specific issue difficulty contradiction or gap in knowledge that is aimed to address in research The type of research problem ...