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How to Write a Problem Statement for Research

How to Write a Problem Statement for Research 1

The goal of research is to generate new knowledge. The beginning of a research paper is the recognition of the fact that the current situation or situation in a certain field differs from the desired one. A clear and correct statement of the research problem largely determines the final result of the scientist’s activity.

What is a problem?

New knowledge emerges when there is a need for it. It happens in the following cases:

– there is a gap in theory that needs to be filled;

– Traditional knowledge cannot explain the new facts;

– old methods cannot solve the contradiction that has arisen.

The search for a problem is the identification of needs and contradictions. Based on existing knowledge or practical experience, there is an understanding that there is a discrepancy between the necessary and the current state of affairs, or there is an unfavorable situation in a branch and this issue needs to be resolved. To resolve a contradiction means to bring the system into a state of equilibrium. If you are having trouble finding and identifying a problem, you can find instructions and help on on how to identify a research paper problem.

For example, let us study the level of unemployment in a region:

– the real situation – a large percentage of the population is unemployed;

– the necessary/desirable situation – high employment;

– the problem – what to do to reduce unemployment.

Basic criteria of a scientific problem

It is customary to distinguish a scientific problem by the following criteria:

1) Relevance. The need for study at the current moment in time;

2) Scientificity. The ability to define the problem in scientific terms;

3) Significance. The solution of the inquiry will be a significant contribution to the theory or improvement of applied aspects or will be of practical importance for the economy of the country;

4) Objectivity. Objectivity exists regardless of the personality of the applicant.

Stages of formulation of the research problem

Formulation of the problem is the first stage, the basis, the basis of scientific work. Without such a foundation, the rest of the work turns into a meaningless, haphazard set of concepts, calculations, and experiments. The systematic approach in analytical work consists in creating continuity, when on the basis of the accumulated information the problem is solved and the groundwork for the future is created for continuation of researches.

A prerequisite can be the study of the work of predecessors. Practical experience in a particular area is also useful. Often observation helps to see the bottlenecks. If the applicant works in a research team, a specific inquiry can be identified within the general problem the team is working on.

A problem statement is a description of the current unresolved contradictions in the field of study. It is important to formulate the request in the form of a problem. It is possible to divide a procedure into a number of consecutive stages.

1. Preliminary. Realization of insufficiency of knowledge of the phenomenon or situation. The need is voiced in general terms.

2. Analysis which includes: 

– Examination of known theories for the existence of solutions;

– confirmation of the reality of the request;

– Precise formulation of goals;

– Assigning a framework (temporal, geographical and other);

– designation of the structure – breakdown into subtopics.

3. Evaluation. At this stage the questions “How significant will be the expected results?”, “Is it realistic to solve the problem with the available means? The request is identified by the urgency of the solution, applicative orientation, belonging.

4. Project Proposal. Final step in which organizational and administrative moments are solved. The problem is presented to the scientific community for discussion. At this point adjustments are possible, taking into account colleagues’ opinions, and alternatives are considered. In the case of a positive result, the editorial board is approved.

In formulating the problem it is necessary to designate the object and subject of the study. Under the object understand the phenomenon or process, generating a conflict situation and selected for the study. The subject is a specific angle, which will be studied directly in the work. The subject establishes the boundaries of the scientific search.

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