How to write a problem statement?

Research is a systematic process that aims to investigate all the existing aspects of the specific topic in order to analyze the current knowledge. Usually, it is divided into two main types: 

  • Applied research. This research attempts to use scientific expertise in order to develop new products, processes, and techniques.
  • Basic research. This research aims at enlarging scientific expertise;

The first and most important step in conducting research is to define the research problem. The research problem clearly states what the researcher is trying to solve and what questions they are going to answer. A research problem can be defined as a concern that requires further analysis. Actually, it shows the gap that is existing within the scope of the specific topic. Although many problems have various solutions, in some cases, these solutions are not obvious or are not available immediately. In such a way, conducting thorough research is the most appropriate option. A problem statement in research work outlines the problem suggested by the study. Basically, the problem statement should briefly address the question “What the problem is the researcher going to address?”


What is the purpose of the problem statement?

The essential purpose of the problem statement is to transform a general problem (something that is bothering you) into a well-defined problem that can be solved with the help of thorough research and proper decision-making.

Writing a good statement of the problem should allow the researcher to clearly identify the main goal of the project, as well as its key objectives. Very often, the statement of the problem serves as the basis for an introduction helping the reader quickly grasp what the researcher is talking about. Knowing the problem statement of your research, your reader will understand if it is worth their attention or not. Given the importance of this part of your research project, you need to be very careful when writing it. It should not include irrelevant details or information that is inappropriate. Pay attention that this section should not be too long or detailed. Only a single page is enough to outline your problem statement.

As soon as the research problem for your research is identified, you need to write the statement of your problem. A well-written problem statement is always clear and concise. In particular, it needs to:

  1. Outline the context of your problem (explain what is already known);
  2. Describe the clear issue that the research will address (what do you want to know?);
  3. Emphasize the relevance of your problem (why your problem is worth investigation?);
  4. State the clear objectives of your project (what you are going to do to reach your goals?)
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Get ready for writing your problem statement

Below, you will find a few tips for writing an impressive problem statement. Even if you are an inexperienced writer, these suggestions will help you write a great piece that will allow you to reach your goals:

  • Tip 1. Write your own vision. Pay attention that you are the author of your project. Thus, it is particularly important to develop your own vision that does not depend on the vision of your supervisor or colleagues. Of course, you may ask them for advice but they should not directly interfere in your decision-making process. Yes, it will take a considerable amount of time but the result will exceed your expectations;
  • Tip 2. Create your own issue statement. Write down a statement that will tell more about your problem and explain why it is significant. It will take only one-two meaningful sentences but they will clearly define the direction you should take to reach your goals;
  • Tip 3. Choose the appropriate methods. Understanding how you are going to solve your problem is also particularly important. Knowing your methods, you will be able to indicate the steps that should be taken in order to solve your problem;
  • Tip 4. Think about the “Ws” questions. Remember your high-school teachers, who explained to you the rule of four Ws – who (what), where, when, and why? All these questions usually need to be answered when writing an essay. This rule can also be applied when writing your problem statement as by answering them, you will understand what areas should be covered in order to solve the problem.

How to write a problem statement?

Step 1. Understand your problem. 

In order to write a lengthy project discussing the specific problem, as well as the ways for its solving, you should clearly understand it. As such, your problem statement should provide a maximally clear background of the problem you are investigating. Before you do it, you need to conduct a preliminary review and understand what gap you are going to address;

Practical problem statement

If you are conducting experimental research, you may identify your research problem by talking to the experts working in the relevel field, as well as by studying the findings of other researchers. Find out the examples of practical problems:

  1. A problem that reduces the company`s efficiency;
  2. A political problem that requires international intervention;
  3. A problem of vulnerable people facing some difficulties.

When outlining the problem, you should clearly understand who is affected by this problem, where and when this problem can be observed, as well as what steps have already been taken in order to solve this problem.

Theoretical problem statement

A theoretical framework includes the concepts, their definitions, and references to scholarly literature, as well as existing theories that are used for your particular study. This framework should showcase your knowledge about the concepts and theories that are relevant to the topic of your research paper and that relate to the similar areas of knowledge. The researcher can look for a theoretical problem by reviewing the already existing theories or participating in debates. Below, you will see what elements of the theoretical framework should be considered:

  1. Does the problem relate to the specific period or geographic area?
  2. How is the problem discussed in the existing literature?

Step 2. Explain why your problem is relevant and important

By showing the relevance of your problem, you prove that your research has value. However, it does not mean that you will discover something intriguing or extraordinary. Pay attention that your primary goal is to prove that your idea is relevant and it requires further investigation.

Practical research problem statement

As it was already noticed, practical research tells about the problem affecting society on a broader scale. To explain why it is significant, you need to give answers to the following questions:

  1. What will be the main consequences if the research problem remains unaddressed?
  2. Who will be affected by these consequences?
  3. What is the wider relevance of the research problem being investigated?

Theoretical research problem statement

Indeed, the relevance of the theoretical issues may not be obvious for an average researcher, even despite the fact that the major part of theoretical problems has practical implications. Below, you will find some questions that will help you understand the importance of your research problem:

  1. Will your research project help facilitate investigation of the topic?
  2. Are there any benefits of your problem resolving? Name them. Why other researchers would want to explore this problem in the future?
  3. What are the direct implications of the problem you are going to resolve?

Step 3. Understand your goals and objectives

The final step in the writing process is to provide the framework explaining how you are going to solve it. Actually, a good problem statement does not give the right solution to the research problem. Instead, it focuses on how to understand and tackle the problem effectively by understanding its causes. Below, you will find a few examples of how you can present your research aim:

  1. This study is going to investigate…
  2. The aim of this study is to identify…;
  3. This paper will explore…

Practical research aim example

This research project will examine the main causes of the poor supply of raw materials which resulted in low production in September and October. This goal will be achieved by conducting surveys and interviews with the suppliers in order to find out why the supply is low in those two months and what measures should be taken to ensure timely supply. Also, some practical experiments will be conducted to evaluate the effectiveness of suggested solutions.

Theoretical research aim example

This research project will examine the experiences of graduate students in the modern economy. The sample population will take part in this study through qualitative methods that are expected to provide a deeper insight into the motives and perceptions of the graduates working as contract-based employees. The data collected from this exercise will be analyzed through statistical analysis software.

See also: "How to write a topic sentence: Excel owing to our suggested tricks"

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How to write a problem statement?

In conclusion, it should be said that a statement of the problem in research is no more than just a detailed description of the issue that requires further investigation. Speaking figuratively, this chapter is a bridge between the literature review chapter and the methodology chapter.

Usually, the problem statement has three main elements: the problem, the purpose, and the method of solving the problem. In order to state the problem clearly, the author should be able to answer the who, why, when, and where questions. These answers will demonstrate that he or she knows the topic clearly. All in all, if you find it difficult to understand how to write a problem statement, make sure to check the example written by a skilled writer. 

See also: "How to write a hypothesis chapter to interest readers in the subject"

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