How to Write Your Problem Statement


How to Write Your Problem Statement

The problem statement states a specific condition (issue) that needs urgent attention and a possible solution. As a researcher, show your readers how your investigation will fill or narrow the gap in existing literature. An excellent problem statement is just a line or two. The rest of the paragraph(s) is its elaboration, discussing a possible solution and most importantly, why it is a problem that needs urgent attention (cite scholarly references). The problem must generate questions for the researcher to answer.


A PhD thesis problem statement must seek to answer the following questions:

  1. What is the problem?
  2. Where is the problem?
  3. How can the problembe solved?
  4. Why do you want to solve the problem?
  5. Is the problema current issue?
  6. Will the problempersist if it is not solved?
  7. Who are affected adversely by the problem?
  8. Will this problemproveor disprove existing knowledge?

In short, the problem statement describes an existing issue which is so grave that it must be addressed. Generate questions about your problem statement and try to answer those questions to prove or disprove your research problem. Hence, the research problem is the main part of any scientific enquiry. (Jacobs & Ronald, 2013).


Importance of The Problem Statement

  1. It highlights the importance of your thesis topic.
  2. It creates interest among researchers.
  3. It adds new knowledge.
  4. It identifies a gap in the literature.
  5. It indicates a need for future research.
  6. It stimulates thinking about what else is required to solve future related problems.


Some Don’ts When Writing a Problem Statement

  1. Is it researchable? If your problemis so difficult or complex that it is beyond the ability of the researcher, then it will lead to a wastage of time and resources.
  2. Do you have relevant scholarly documents? If nothing has been written about your research problem, perhaps the problem is not worthy of investigation.
  3. Are you a suitable person to do this research? Are you qualified? Do you have the necessary skills to carry out this study? If your answer is no, then time and resources will go to waste if you proceed.
  4. Will solving the problembring practical benefits? Do you think this research contributes to society? Will it bridge the knowledge gap? Is your research challengeable?  Which category of society will benefit from this research?


Important Considerations for the Selection of a Research Problem

  1. Interest: Pose a problemthat you find it fascinating so that you will be motivated to investigate it further.
  2. Knowledge: Do a background study of your research problemso that you can discuss it with conviction and authority.
  3. Conceptual frame work: Your research problemmust be theoretically and conceptually sound.
  4. Data availability: Investigate a problemthat you can find materials and sources to support your investigation

© Dr. Qais Faryadi


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