A problem statement is a collective entity in research papers. These statements are the focal points of research that aim at finding solutions to existing problems. Problem statements are usually the heart of comprehensive statements of the problem.
A research problem is a situation within the field of concern that is experiencing difficulties that need to be eliminated or improved. The issues within the study area lead to the formulation of research topics that need investigations. In most studies, the topics are in the form of statements or questions. These statements form the basis of a study intending to find solutions to the problem. In the case that the research problem has no little or no resolutions, then the research could be rendered pointless.
A Problem-Solution Paper
A problem-solution paper is a research paper that tackles the problems experienced by a particular group of people with the aims of finding solutions. The guide to a problem solution paper is usually the problem statement. A problem statement states the problem, which relays the need for conducting the study. The statement of the problem outlays the format of a problem solution paper in research.
Outline Of A Research Paper
A research paper has three main parts; the introductory part, the body, and the conclusion.
Introduction To The Study
- Statement of the Problem: provides information on the need of the study
- Definition of Terms: gives explanations to unique terminologies used in the paper
- Theoretical Framework: indicates the theoretic background of the study
- Methodology: states the methods used in conducting the study
- Thesis statement: highlights the research and is also the focal point of the paper
- Review of Existing Literature: gives information on previous literature concerning the topic of concern
- Scope and Limitations: the researcher explains the challenges faced while conducting the study
- Significance of the Study: Here, the researcher justifies the importance of the study
- Comprehensive details of the research work: the researcher gives details on the findings of the study
- Presentation and Analysis of Data
- Concluding statement; the researcher reinforces the thesis statement with concluding remarks
Statement Of The Problem
The guide to a problem solution research paper is usually the statement of the problem, which appears in the initial stages of the article. The statement of the problem tackles al the aspects of the existing problem. Below are the components of the statement of the problem:
The title of the research paper introduces the reader to the report. It usually acts as the hook of the article. A compelling research title or topic evokes the emotion of the reader gives them the urge to continue reading the paper.
The problem statement indicates the difficulties faced by a particular group of individuals and is usually the heart of the paper. Subsequently, the study revolves around the problem statement as the researcher aims to find solutions to the problem. This statement should be a paragraph containing two or three sentences.
The Statement Of Purpose
The statement of purpose declares the intent of the study. In the case of a problem solution paper, the statement of the purpose declares the desirable effects of conducting the study.
Research Questions Derived From The Problem
From the problem statement, the researcher can formulate research questions. The research questions direct one in finding answers to the study.
What is the problem statement in a research study?
A problem statement is a statement that relays information on the research problem. From these statements, a researcher can generate the questions he or she intends to answer through the study. The statements form the basis of research work. Below are the different types of problem statements in research papers.
What are the basic types of research problems?
Theoretical research problem
Theoretic research problems give theoretic elucidations of the issues at hand. The research problem needs no verification, and hence there is no need for the hypothesis. These research problems give the rudimentary meaning of the occurrence of the issues.
Applied research problem
Applied research problems use the practice of theoretical knowledge in giving explanations to the existing problem. These problems dictate the researcher to conduct a field study while investigating the issue. Applied research problems are practical and are performed based on the hypothesis that needs verification.
Action research problem
An action research problem is one that needs immediate action to find the solutions. The research problem aims at rendering essential required services in the community. Action research problems are usually sensitive as they need immediate action.
What are the key elements of a problem statement?
It is essential to come up with a relevant problem statement to conduct a study effectively. Problem statements are always the heart of the study. Below are five vital elements of the statement of the problem.
The topic of the research
The subject of the study draws the attention of the reader towards further reading. A compelling title evokes attitudinal and emotional responses from the reader.
The research problem
A research problem indicates the issue brought forward in the study. The research problem either be an evidence-based problem or a practical problem.
The relevance of the problem
The problem statement in research papers should justify the importance of conducting the study. Relevance indicates the need to do the investigations.
- The gap in knowledge
The statement of the problem should also indicate the deficiencies of the available knowledge concerning the topic. A gap in knowledge justifies the need for conducting further research in the given field.
- The audience targeted by the research
The statement should indicate the groups of people targeted by the study. The audience usually varies depending on the subject at hand.
What are the characteristics of a good problem statement?
A good problem statement in research papers should have the following characteristics:
- Should clearly state the problem
- Should generate research questions
- It should be based on an issue that has no previous solutions
- Should indicate the approaches employed in solving the problems
- The relevance of conducting the study
- Should be within a topic that can generate solutions to the problem
Importance of the problem statement in research papers
The primary role of the statement of purpose is to assist the researcher in formulating research questions that would guide the research study. By answering these questions, the researcher can produce a comprehensive research paper. Moreover, the statement also acts as the hook of the research paper.
Sources of the problem statement in research papers
The following are the sources of problem statements in research papers:
A research problem can arise from a thorough review of the present literature. The literature should inline with your intended area of study. Through these works of writing, the researcher aims at filling the gaps in the provided knowledge. The research could also be a continuation of previous works that needed further investigation. In addition to this, problems derived from existing literature give room for a comparison of methodologies employed in different studies that are related.
Our day to day life experiences could also pose a problem that needs investigations. A researcher may observe daily occurrences and come up with questions worth researching. The issues might revolve around close friends or general members of society. Through these observations, the researcher becomes helpful to community members by providing a solution to existing problems.
The problem could also arise from discussions with practitioners in the field of interest. Due to their comprehensive knowledge in the field of interest, they could provide suggestions on relevant study areas. Their expertise in the field gives them an upper hand in determining the understudied problems in the field.
Problem statements in research papers can also arise from disciplines outside the field of study. A thorough review of related subjects could be a source of underlying problems.
Deductions from Theory
Existing theory can also bring rise to research problems and questions. The use of approaches, such as empirical data, aids in generating hypotheses.
How to write a problem statement in research paper
It is essential to consider the 5 Ws when constructing relevant problem statements. The 5 Ws include who, what, where, when, and why questions.
By considering the question ‘who?’, a researcher indicates the target audience of the study. The occurrence of a problem usually affects individuals in one way or the other. Hence, the problem statement must include the affected group.
By answering the ‘what?’ question, the researcher indicates the specific problem faced by a group of people. The question highlights the main issue behind conducting the study. The ‘what?’ question gives rise to several other items such as:
- What is the problem?
- What are the impacts of the problem?
- What’s the outcome of fixing the issue?
- What happens if the problem is not solved?
Considering the ‘when?’ question enables the researcher to indicate the period at which the issue occurred. It also gives information on the time frame solving the matter.
By considering the ‘where?’ question, the researcher can give information on the locations of individuals affected by the issue.
Considering the question ‘why?’ gives room for justifying the need for conducting the study. The question answers the study would be of benefit to the groups affected.
Example of Problem Statement in Research Proposal
The examples below are problem statement templates used in problem solution papers.
Case study 1
Highbridge General Hospital is a busy hospital that operates around the clock. Therefore, patients at the hospital usually need attendance at any time of day or night. However, there have been no pulmonologists scheduled for the night shift. As a result, the emergency staff is likely to experience difficulties in attending to pulmonological during the night shift.
Most patients in the hospital have to wait for long hours for pulmonary diagnostic tests, a task that is performed better by a pulmonologist. Subsequently, there is inadequate care for patients with pulmonological problems.
The hospital should consider having a pulmonologist available at all times.
What? – the problem of fewer pulmonologists
Who? – the emergency department
Where? – High-bridge General Hospital
When? – night shift
Why? – poor pulmonological care
High-bridge General Hospital has been experiencing a shortage of pulmonologists. As a result of this, patients with pulmonological illnesses have to wait for long being attended. However, with an increase of pulmonologists, these patients can receive better care from the specialists.
Case study 2
Town A has been experiencing an epidemic of an airborne disease within the last four months. The efforts to counteract the spread of the outbreak have been unfruitful. There are still reports of new cases of infections.
A recent study shows that homeless people living in the streets have not received proper medication to treat existing cases.
Giving free medication to homeless people can reduce infection rates.
What? – the spread of an airborne disease
Who? – homeless people
Where? –town A
When? – the last four months
Why? – no medical care for the homeless people
Town A has been experiencing an epidemic of an airborne disease within the previous four months. As much as there are efforts to eradicate the disease, there are still new cases of infection. However, homeless people within the town have not been receiving proper medication. Treating the homeless people could reduce the rates of new evidence.
As seen in the two cases above, the problem statements answer all the 5 W questions to give comprehensive information on the issues.
Problem statement topics
Below is a list of possible topics used in generating problem statements.
- Discrimination in the workplaces: gender bias, nepotism, and racism
- Selling of abusive drugs in school premises
- The risk of drunk driving
- Drought and famine as the causes of global hunger
- Corruption as an enemy development
- Pollution as an environmental menace
- How can traffic jams be managed in an area of your choice
- Cyber bullying has been on the rise with the increased use of social media. How can cyber bullying be stopped?
- Youth unemployment and underemployment
- Effects of academic cheating
Problem statements guide research studies that aim at improving the state of some conditions. The fundamental goal of these types of research is to find solutions to existing issues. By doing so, the needs of the affected persons are taken care of.
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