Identification of the research problem is the most essential step to start and proceed with the research work in the PhD research study. The research problem identification process is a function of determining a generic problem in the field of research study that can be investigated to understand and find a solution to it.
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A research problem specifies an issue in the field of the study that indicates a need for meaningful investigation about what are the sources of research problem. An adequate statement of your research problem plays an important role in the success of your academic paper and research study. A research problem is the heart of the research study since it derives the research questions and research methodologies and provides a framework for understanding the research findings.
What is a research problem?
A research problem is a clear and definite statement about an area of concern where an investigation has to be done for improvement or for innovation and is proved by evidence. It is a statement that addresses challenges or contradictions in your field. Researchers use research problems to identify and define the aim of their study and analysis.
Steps In Research Problem Identification
Identify The Area Of Interest
Choose A Topic for Research
Study The Topic and Narrow It
Find Out The Research Problem
Summarise The Purpose Of Your Research Study
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Importance Of Problem Identification In Research:
Research problem identification is a source for creating a research topic and helps in identifying key concepts and terms.
The research problem introduces the reader to the study topic and the significance of the research.
A comprehensible and practicable research problem is important to create a diligent and well-reasoned project.
A research problem decides whether your project is innovative and unique with an intentional purpose and justification.
It is the backbone for choosing the research methodology and identifying steps to proceed with the data-collection process.
The research problem is the first step towards planning your thesis and starting your research paper or research proposal.
Stronger research problems are greater reasons to succeed in publication, presentation, and application.
How to identify a Research Problem?
There are 7 factors by which you can easily identify the research problem,
A research problem should imply explanations not just be answered with yes or no.
It should clarify justifications regarding the true situation or observation is required.
A research problem must suggest a relationship between the variables of the study.
The research problem should be understandable in a simple and effective manner.
A researchable problem should imply the interpretation and analysis of data.
A research problem typically includes the variables that are the most relevant to the study.
The research problem should have a positive impact on the study field such as direct application of the results in the field.
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Characteristics of a research problem
Research problems have certain specific characteristics. It is essential to follow these aspects to get a strong research topic and content. A good research problem should have the following standards:
A good research problem should be the innovation of a new process or product or principle that is new and Original.
A good research problem should draw the attention of other people and it must be in the interest of the researcher.
A research problem should focus on the improvement in the current state of existing technology.
The aim of the research is to improve the quality of life. Therefore a research problem should bring usefulness and be beneficial to its target population.
A good research problem should provide good value for money, time, resources, and manpower while conducting the research study and should be economical.
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How To Select The Research Problem?
The research problem must reflect the issues that produce a void in conceptual knowledge in a particular field.
The research problem should be reasonable and can be analyzed through research methodology.
It can be practical and manageable for the researchers involved in data collection and analysis.
It should convey the possible sources of the research problem and should rely on the evidence and data about the research.
The research problem should be helpful for further research and should be specifically stated and easy to measure.
The data about the research problem should be accessible using correct statical techniques to get a precise result.
Types Of Research Problems
There are three kinds of research problems, they are
1. Theoretical research problems:
Theoretical research problems provide information about a specific area of study. These are observation-based and provide explanations of the problem's nature. It focuses on discovering the new concept of knowledge regardless of its practical application. Also provides solutions to problems, formulates new theories and generates new concepts by gathering information and focusing on unresolved questions.
2. Applied research problems:
Applied research problems provide suitable and practical solutions to problems. This includes the practical use of theoretical knowledge to gain information on the issue of the study. It usually includes an exploratory hypothesis and typically tests its accuracy. There are two types of applied research namely technological applied research and scientific applied research.
3. Action research problems:
Action research problems provide solutions to time-sensitive problems. The researchers develop and implement strategies to do effective research and provide solutions to problems. Usually, action research problems can be a part of a huge significant ongoing process which combines research, analysis and action. This type of problem requires wide research data to find solutions.
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There are 6 steps in the formulation of a research problem that will upgrade the scope of the research. They are
Identify the area of interest
Learn more about problem
Review the context of the information
Determine relationships between variables
Select and include important variables
Receive feedback and revise
Step 1: Identify the area of interest
Choosing an area of interest is the first step in the research process. The research must be in the field and subject that was keenly interesting to the researcher since it brings enthusiasm to the research work and avoids boredom. The most important ingredient in a successful research project is the passion of the researcher.
Step 2: Learn more about problem
To learn about the problems in the study field, reading is the best way to access knowledge and become familiar with your topic area. Reading other people's research makes you familiar with what is known in the field as well as where the gaps are. Learning about problems helps to identify different sources of research problem.
Step 3: Review the perspective of information
Reviewing the context of the research involves defining components of the research problem and testing the environmental variables in the project. This helps create a focus on the components of research problem. It may also help determine which variables are present in the research.
Step 4: Determine relationships between variables
After identifying the variables involved in the research, learn how they're related to one another and how these relationships may contribute to your research problem. There are different types of variables such as independent variables, dependent variables, control variables, confounding variables, latent variables and so on.
Step 5: Select and include important variables
Selecting the essential variables can help to understand the outlook of the research and the potential impact of the solution. A clear and reasonable research problem mostly includes the components that are the most applicable to the study. The researcher has to summarise considerations and influence these variables.
Step 6: Evaluation and Revise
Evaluation allows us to calculate the solution to the research problem and also verify the originality of the research concept and examine whether this research is already done or in an ongoing process. Revising your research problem can be a significant step in establishing effective and precise research.
Sources Of Research Problem Identification:
There are different sources of research problems from where the research idea begins. Some of them are,
Critical Appraisal of Literature
Performance Improvement Activities
Consultations With Experts
Exposure to field situations
Personal experience is the best source of knowledge for research problems. All other experiences come from it and are a first-hand description that comes from a trusted authority. All the other sources are intertwined in some way starting with personal experience.
Practical experience means performing scientific analytical tests in a laboratory setting using equipment, instruments etc. While doing tests researchers can find problems in obtaining correct results. It provides a source for research in a study field.
Critical Appraisal of Literature:
When we critically study books or articles or research reports relating to the subject of our interest, pertinent questions may arise in our minds. These may strike the reader's mind indirectly by stimulating questions like what additional research is needed.
Previous research provides substantial information for the research being done. Usually, at the end of a research, further research problems are suggested, which is a sound foundation for research findings. Based on the shortcomings of previous research the research problem arises.
Performance improvement activities:
Performance improvement activities are the processes that were done to improve the quality and outcomes to meet regulatory requirements. During this process, you may find several issues merged in it that require answers through the research. Thus it serves as an important source of research problems.
Research may also be a process of theory development and theory testing. If an existing theory is used in developing a researchable problem, a specific statement from the theory must be isolated and used as a good source for the research problem.
Consultations with experts:
Experts are believed to have sound experience in their respective fields, which may suggest a significant problem to be studied. In addition, experts may help in finding a current problem of discipline to be solved, which may serve as the basis for formulation of the research problem.
Brainstorming sessions are good techniques to find new questions and research problems. It is an intensified discussion among core field-interested people in the profession conducted to find more ideas to formulate a good research problem.
Typically intuitions are considered good sources of knowledge as well as sources to find new research problems. It is believed that the reflective mind is a good source of ideas, which may be used to formulate a good research problem and create solutions for problems.
Exposure to field situations:
During field exposure, researchers get a variety of experiences like helping to contextualize conflicts, that provide knowledge for further improvements in the field. These experiences may provide plenty of ideas to formulate research problems.
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