Posted on: 23rd Mar 2020 2446 Views

Defining Research Problem

The research problem can be referred to as the problem of a gap in knowledge, difficulty, or issue that you intend to identify by performing an investigation on a specific topic. You should identify practical issues that can bring change. Research can also be performed on theoretical issues, as it will help you in increasing knowledge.

Researching specific issues will help you in expanding your knowledge and would assist you in bringing change. You must make the selection of the problem on which investigation is to be performed based on the interest and type of investigation you intend to execute.

Defining Research Problems

The problem statement is a part of the research proposal. You can also define issues in the introduction section of the research paper. The research problem is an initial step that helps you in developing knowledge about what you need to do and the reason for the same.

Why is the research problem important?

In a research article, defining the research problem is critical because:

  • It serves as a foundation for a research article.
  • It’s a well-defined problem statement that makes it easier for researchers to focus on and manage a study endeavour.


  1. It is always advisable to identify such research problems which result in the emergence of new concepts and relevant sources.
  2. While writing a research paper, you need to first define the research problem. It is the research problem that will help you should provide information about things which you are going to include in the research paper and the reason for the same.

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Different types of research problems & their examples

There are three sorts of research problems: descriptive (research questions that focus on the relationship between two or more factors), relational (research questions that focus on the relationship between two or more factors), and causal research (problems that look at cause and effect).

Problems with descriptive research

Descriptive research problems are those that ask, “What is…..?” to describe the situation, state, or presence of a given phenomenon. They are attempting to depict what is already there in a group or population. Surveys and opinion polls are the greatest tools for such research since they need systematic observation of social concerns.

For instance, “what are the most important aspects influencing consumers’ purchasing decisions?” Cross-sectional research and longitudinal studies are used to acquire data for these issues. Cross-sectional studies provide you with a snapshot of data at a particular point in time. Longitudinal studies, on the other hand, use a fixed and stable sample that is measured across time.

Problems with causal research

The goal of causal research is to determine the size and nature of cause-and-effect relationships. These types of research questions aid in determining the influence of certain modifications on existing norms and practices. As a result, they may spot patterns in the interactions between various parts.

For instance, ‘how does online education affect a student’s ability to learn?’ Experiments are the most common method of gathering primary data in these situations. The hypothesis is usually directed in this case, i.e., it explains how one thing influences the behaviour of another.

The challenge of relational research

According to this research challenge, a link between two variables must be studied. The goal is to look at qualities or characteristics that are linked together in some way.

For example, ‘how does a teacher’s experience influence his or her teaching style?’ As a result, this type of study problem necessitates the use of multiple variables to characterize the link between them.

How do you pick the correct research problem?

The following considerations should be made while selecting a research problem type.

  1. Identifying the concepts and terminology that make up the issue is the first step in choosing the proper problem type. This entails determining the study’s variables. It’s a descriptive research problem, for example, if there’s only one variable. It’s most likely a relational or causal study if there are two variables.
  2. The second stage is to go over the literature to fine-tune how you’re going to look at the topic and how you’re going to evaluate it. How much research has already been done on this topic, for example? What were the prior researchers’ techniques and data? What did their research leave out? What factors did they employ? The answers to these questions will assist you in determining the best method for conducting your study.
  3. The third phase is to seek out information that can help you expand, adapt, and enhance your first ideas. A more in-depth examination of the research will provide answers to important questions such as whether a relational strategy is preferable to an investigative approach. What effect will removing a few factors have on the research’s outcome?

How to define Research Problem?

Below is a step by step procedure that you need to perform for defining your research problem-

Step 1:  Identification of a broad field of issue

It is a step where you need to identify the knowledge gap in the existing literature. After identification of the knowledge gap, you should determine the way types of investigation you are going to perform that will help in filling that gap.

There are 2 broad fields of issues these are practical and theoretical research issues.

A.) Practical research issues

If in case you intend to perform research on practical issues, you can review existing literature and read reports for identifying the problem. You can also address the problem by communicating with people working with you or having a discussion with people working in similar fields.

Some of the practices researches are:

  • Issues related to work performance and operational efficiency.
  • Low productivity demands changes in business procedures.
  • Specific problems in working faced by employees in an organization.

“Practical research problem Examples:

 Example 1: There has been a continuous decrease in the number of voters in a particular location as compared to other regions in the nation.

Example 2: Marketing department in an organization has a high employee turnover rate which has a significant influence on productivity and profitability of firm”

B.) Theoretical research issues

Theoretical research mainly emphasizes increasing knowledge and understanding of a particular problem. A review of theories and debates related to the topic of investigation can be done. It is the strategy that will help you in addressing the knowledge gap. You need to search for:

  • An issue that has not been studied earlier by the researcher
  • An argument between two or more perceptive
  • You can investigate the situation which is not understood by other authors earlier.
  • A research question that has not been resolved.

Many researchers still think that in many circumstances theoretical issues have practical consequences. Theoretical researches are not effective in finding a solution for immediate problems. You can utilize the case study approach for performing such types of investigation.

Theoretical Research Issues Examples:

  • The researcher has failed to understand the influence of deficiency of vitamin D on the heart.
  • An investigation needs to be executed for identifying the link between income, race and gender inequality, in relation to the millennial economy.
  • There has been disagreement among historian related to the contribution made by the British in developing national identity of Scotland “

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Step 2: Develop an understanding of the problem

It is the step where you need to perform a preliminary investigation for gathering more detailed information about the problem. After that, you should clearly define a different aspect of the specific issue which you will address in your research paper. While defining the problem you must include the following two things these are:

A.) Researcher Perspective and background information

  • Do you need to define the target population whom the problem might affect?
  • Does an existing investigation been done on a specific problem?
  • Is any researcher able to find a solution to the problem?
  • What are the arguments about the issue?

B.) Relevance and specificity

  • What specific region, people, or time do you concentrate on?
  • Which aspects of the issue do you think cannot be handled?
  • What could be a result if a specific issue is not resolved?
  • Who will get benefits if a particular problem is resolved?

Specific Research Problem Example

A Multinational company is concentrating on increasing the customer base. But the marketing team in an organization does not have knowledge about marketing techniques that they can apply for attracting customers.

Marketing team in a firm needs to conducts investigation as it will help them in identifying the best promotional strategies.

After narrow downing the issue, you need to write a problem statement and research questions which we will learn in later articles.

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