what is dissertation problem
What is a Research Problem?
September 11, 2019
Example of Problem Statement in Research
Problem Statement Example in Research
September 12, 2019
Writing Problem Statement in Dissertation

Research is a systematic investigation to find new techniques, products, or processes to solve the problems and provide comfort. It’s what comes before the development.

The most important step to perform any research is to identify the problem to be solved. Therefore, it is necessary to define a research problem before starting the actual research. Once a research problem has been identified, the next step is to write a statement of a problem in research.

Once Philosopher Kaoru Ishikawa said: “You will have a problem half-solved by defining it correctly on the first day”.

This quote perfectly reflects the importance of a problem statement in research. Before writing a problem statement, it is essential to prepare your thoughts about a specific problem, difficulty and the research gaps relating to the specific issue.

The type of research strategy used in research determines whether you will be analysing theoretical problems to add value to existing knowledge, discussing practical issues to become an agent of change for an organization or industry, or looking at both these aspects in relation to any given problem.

However, generally, your research will focus on one or the other.

Here is all you need to know about how to write a statement of the problem in research.

Why You Need a Statement of the Problem?

To transform a generalized problem into a well-defined, brief, and a targeted statement to perform research and use it in the decision-making process. The problem statement helps the researcher to identify the purpose of the ongoing research.

Problem statement in the dissertation is the pillar of the introduction section through which the reader can understand the research question and scope of the project.

If you do not define the problem statement properly then the end results will be unmanageable. The statement of the problem is the foundation of your research proposal and the introduction chapter of the dissertation.

Writing Problem Statement for a Business or Organisation

In the business world, problem statements provide the basis of enhancement and refinement projects. Without identifying and understanding the problem, it will be hard to find and implement solutions in an effective manner.

A standard alone document that solely provides an in-depth and detailed problem statement is usually the answer for organisations and businesses when it becomes imperative to find the solution to a problem.

Writing Problem Statement for Academic Research

On, the other hand, the use of problem statements in academic research is slightly different. Problem statement helps researchers to understand and realise the significance of a research problem. Depending on your academic level, the problem statement can be limited to just a few sentences or expanded to several paragraphs.

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Problem Statement – How to Write it

The questions like; What is the problem statement in research? or How to Write Statement of a Problem in Research? can be answered by looking at the five aspects every problem has;

  • What is wrong?
  • Where did it happen?
  • When it occurred?
  • To what extent (How much)?
  • I know that because

"What" always defines the defect of the problem at hand and explains why it matters? "Where" define the geological location of the problem. "When" define the history and the pattern of the problem. It clearly and precisely defines the goal of the stated problem and the scope of the project.

"How much" define the trend of the problem as how many objects are facing the same defect and to what extent. How do I know will help the researcher to identify the standard(s) that he has to meet?

Step 1: Understanding the Problem

The problem statement should provide a clear and concise background to the research problem you are investigating. Before starting your research, review the literature about the specific problem and find a gap that you can fill with your own research.

Practical Research Problem Statement

If you are doing experimental research then you can identify problems by talking to people working in a relevant field, studying research reports and reviewing previous researches. Here are some examples of practical research problems;

  • A problem which hinders the efficiency of a company
  • An institutional process which needs interventions
  • An area of concern in your field of interest
  • Members of a society facing a specific difficulty

The problem statement should focus on the details related to the problem;

  • When and where the problem was observed?
  • Who are the affectees of the problem?
  • What research has been conducted and what practical steps have been taken to resolve the problem?

Example of Practical Research Problem Statement

The production of a company is low for the months of July and August every year. Initial research has been conducted by the company which revealed that poor production in the months of July and August is due to the unavailability of local raw material. The company has made some effective attempts at engaging the local suppliers to ensure an uninterrupted supply of the raw material but these efforts are yet to have any significant impact on the production levels.

Theoretical Research Problem Statement

According to USC Libraries, “A theoretical framework consists of concepts and, together with their definitions and reference to relevant scholarly literature, existing theory that is used for your particular study. The theoretical framework must demonstrate an understanding of theories and concepts that are relevant to the topic of your research paper and that relate to the broader areas of knowledge being considered.”

The theoretical research indirectly contributes to the change by identifying the problem to expand knowledge and improve understanding. The researcher can search for the specific problem by debating on the topic and reviewing already published theories and researches. When writing a problem statement based on a theoretical research problem, it is important to recognise the historical, geographical, social and scientific background. Here are the elements of the theoretical problem statement framework that are to be considered.

  • What are the established facts about the problem?
  • Does the problem relate to a certain geographical area or time period?
  • How is the problem discussed and explained in the existing literature?

Example of Theoretical Research Problem

The labour market has seen an unprecedented shift towards the “gig economy” in the last decade. With full-time jobs hard to find, more and more fresh graduates are now engaging in zero hour, contract-based and freelance work assignments.

While the existing research explores the reasons and aftermath of this shift, there is a clear gap in research in terms of investigating fresh graduates’ subjective experiences of the gig economy. Step 2: Learn More About the Problem

Step 2 - Show Why It’s Important and Relevant

By showing the importance of the problem under investigation, you are showcasing the relevance of your research. However, this does not mean that you will end up discovering something unimaginable or extraordinary.

The objective here is to clearly state how and why your research problem is a relevant issue in your chosen area of study and why it requires further research.

Practical Research Problem Statement

As indicated previously, practical research deals with a problem that is effecting a society, social group, firm or organisation on a broader scale. To elaborate on why it is important to solve this problem and why your research is significant, you could consider the following questions;

  • What will be consequences if the problem remains unsolved?
  • Who these consequences have the most implications for?
  • What is the wider relevance of the problem being investigated?

Example of Practical Research Problem Statement

Low production in the month of July and August is having a negative effect on the marketing capital of the company, thereby becoming an area of deep concern for the directors and stakeholders.

Marketing budget cut in the months of July and August is hindering the company’s ability to uninterruptedly promote its products. Addressing this problem will have practical benefits for the company and also help to establish the reasons for disruption in the supply of raw material.

Theoretical Research Problem Statement

The relevance of all theoretical issues may not be too obvious, even though the majority of theoretical problems do have practical implications. Here are some questions for you to ponder to establish the importance of your research problem;

  • Will your research help to advance understanding of the topic under investigation?
  • Are there any benefits of you resolving the problem for other researchers who wish to explore this topic further in the future?
  • What are the direct or indirect implications of the problem you are solving?

Example of Theoretical Research Problem Statement

The new forms of employment such as freelance, contract-based work, and zero-hour work arrangements are recognised as either a manipulative last option or a flexible active choice. It is necessary to conduct comprehensive qualitative research to uncover the reasons for fresh graduates taking up these types of employment in the gig economy.

There is a need to advance more vigorous concepts relating to instability and flexibility in modern forms of employment from employees’ perspective which will also help to shape up the future policies.

Also see: How to Write the Abstract for Dissertation

Step 3: Establishing Aim and Objectives

The last step in writing a problem statement is to provide a framework for how you will solve the problem. A good problem statement does not provide the exact solution to any problem, it rather focuses more on how to effectively understand or tackle a problem by establishing the possible causes of the problem.

The aim of a research study is its end goal or overall purposes. Here are some examples of how to present your research aim’

  • This research study aims to investigate…
  • This paper is aimed at exploring….
  • The aim of this research is to identify…..

Objectives, on the other hand, are the smaller steps that a researcher must take to address the aim of the research…

Practical Research Aim and Objectives

This project aims to identify the causes of disturbed supply of raw material in the region which resulted in low production for the company in the months of July and August. This will be achieved by conducting interviews and surveys with the suppliers to understand why the supply is unpredictable in those two months and what can be done to ensure orderliness. Practical experiments will also be conducted to observe the effectiveness of proposed solutions.

Theoretical Research Aim and Objectives

The aim of this study is to understand and unearth the experiences of fresh graduates in the modern economy. The sample population will participate in this study through qualitative research methods which are expected to provide a deeper insight into the perceptions and motives of these fresh graduates working as freelances and contract-based employees. The data collected from this exercise together with the existing literature on the topic will be analysed in statistical analysis software.

TIP: Search the common themes of the problem statement in your field of research before writing a problem statement.

Also see: Argumentative Essay Writing Service

How to Write Statement of a Problem in Research – Conclusion

Problem statement in research is the description of the issue currently existing and need to be addressed. The statement of the problem is a focal point of any research and a bridge between the literature review and the research methodology.

Problem statement often has three elements; the problem itself, the method of solving the problem and the purpose. There are five aspects of every problem which are; What, Where, When, to what extent, and what are the defects you know about the topic. Here is an example of a problem statement in a research proposal for in-depth understanding.

If you wish to know more about how to start your research process then you might want to take a look at our "Starting the Research Process" page which has several articles relating to a research problem, problem statement, aim and objectives, and research proposal.

Research Prospect is a UK registered business that offers academic support and assistance to students across the globe. Our writers can help you with individual chapters of your dissertation or the full dissertation paper no matter how urgent or complex your requirements might be.

Jamie Isabelle

Isabelle has a masters' degree and a PhD degree. She started to work as a professional writer and editor in 2015. During his time with Research Prospect, she has helped hundreds of students to learn about the basics of essay writing.

Jamie Isabelle
Jamie Isabelle
Isabelle has a masters' degree and a PhD degree. She started to work as a professional writer and editor in 2015. During his time with Research Prospect, she has helped hundreds of students to learn about the basics of essay writing.
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