Research problem: A statement of intent

A research problem is a specific statement based on the area of research, a situation to be improved, a challenge to be overcome, or any question that needs elaborate investigation and validation. Devising a research problem is the first step of performing research. An appropriate research problem depends on a researcher’s in-depth knowledge, skills, and expertise in their particular subject field.

Purpose of stating a research problem:

  1. Knowledge of the significance of a specific study or research conducted.
  2. Sets a concise statement defining the intent.
  3. Defines set parameters for a research investigation.
  4. Framework of information for new findings reported.

Steps to formulate a research problem:

There are two essential steps to follow while selecting:

  • Identifying a research problem- Research problems are found in unexplored topics, controversies, or areas.
  • Selection of a broad research topic and narrowing it down to a precise statement- Filter out the known from the unknown to give a novel hypothesis.

Sources to derive a research problem:

  • Previous related research and theories and critical review of the available literature: Extensive search may reveal gaps and frame new research hypotheses while evaluating the articles, reports, and reviews related to the subject areas
  • Interdisciplinary areas: The rich experiences from the different interrelated fields provide relevant ideas for developing an apt research problem.
  • Personal experience: Observations from everyday experiences might help generate new ideas for formulating the research problem.
  • Expert advice: Formal discussions or interviewing experts may provide future directions which may help the researcher find the current problem related to the research.

What should be the nature of the research problem?

Several guidelines need to be followed while selecting a research problem. Your research problem needs to be:

  • A novel and unique one.
  • Feasible duration for research completion.
  •  Availability of financial resources.
  • Support from your affiliated institution and peers.
  • Follow ethical considerations.
  • Based on recent or current problems persistent in the field of study.


A well-framed and appropriate research problem presents the researcher’s view clearly and lucidly and helps readers understand the purpose of the research better. Did you find the content useful? If yes, please go to for more information. Mail us your queries and comments at

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