Tables and figures in dissertation
List of Figures and Tables in Dissertation
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Writing Problem Statement in Dissertation
How to Write Statement of a Problem in Research
September 12, 2019

What is Research Problem in Dissertation?

what is dissertation problem

Once you have chosen a topic for the research, subsequently 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 in the research. Here we explore what is research problem in dissertation 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 are focused on both theoretical and practical problems and some are focused on only one. Problem statement in dissertation should be clearly stated, and is intended to expand information, knowledge, and contribution to change.

This article will assist to identify and elaborate a research problem if you are unsure about how to define your research problem. The most critical and initial phase in the research process is to formulate and identify a research problem. It is necessary to formulate a problem statement and research questions while finalizing research proposal or introduction for your dissertation or thesis.

Why is Research Problem Critical in Dissertation

An interesting research topic and a lot of related literature are simply not sufficient for academic research. Actual research starts with the preparation of a well-rounded research problem. A well-formulated research problem helps to understand research procedure, without it your research will appear to be unforeseeable and awkward.

Research is a procedure that is based on a sequence, and a research problem aids to follow and complete the research in a sequence. Repetition of already discussed literature is something that should be avoided in research. Therefore research problem in dissertation needs to be well thought out, and presented with a clear purpose so your research work contributes more value to existing knowledge. You need to be well aware of the problem with relevant understandings that you have to perform to complete the research.

Formulation of a research problem is the initial step of conducting research, even though you are planning to start a research paper, dissertation or research proposal.

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Step 1: Identifying Problem Area – What is Research Problem

The most significant step in any research; you have to search and select unexplored broad area, topics, and controversies. Your aim is to find gaps that your own 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 discipline. You might search for:

  • Problems with performance or competence in an organization
  • Institutional practices that could be enhanced
  • Practitioners of relevant field 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 address certain issues faced by the firm the job or internship pertains to.


List of Figures and Tables in Dissertation(Opens in a new browser tab)

Examples of Practical Research Problems

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

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 cut for some of its programmes.

Theoretical Research Problems

Theoretical research relates to predicting, explaining and understanding the various phenomenon. It also expands and challenges existing information and knowledge. Identification of research problem in theoretical research is achieved by the analysis of theories and fresh research literature relating to 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 your 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 on cardiac patients are not well researched.

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

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

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Step 2: Understanding the Research Problem 

In this step, the researcher has to search more about the knowledge and information relating to a research problem already established in order 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?
  • Any aspects of research that you may not be able to deal with?
  • What will be the concerns if the problem remains unresolved?
  • Who are the benefices of the problem resolution (e.g. future researcher or organization’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 is research problem and how to define research problem then you might be interested in our dissertation services which are aimed to providing academic writing support regardless of which aspect of your dissertation paper you need help with. You may also want to take a look at our online research library to improve your knowledge about dissertation and essay writing.

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