Have a language expert improve your writing

Run a free plagiarism check in 10 minutes, generate accurate citations for free.

  • Knowledge Base
  • Starting the research process
  • Research Objectives | Definition & Examples

Research Objectives | Definition & Examples

Published on July 12, 2022 by Eoghan Ryan . Revised on November 20, 2023.

Research objectives describe what your research is trying to achieve and explain why you are pursuing it. They summarize the approach and purpose of your project and help to focus your research.

Your objectives should appear in the introduction of your research paper , at the end of your problem statement . They should:

  • Establish the scope and depth of your project
  • Contribute to your research design
  • Indicate how your project will contribute to existing knowledge

Table of contents

What is a research objective, why are research objectives important, how to write research aims and objectives, smart research objectives, other interesting articles, frequently asked questions about research objectives.

Research objectives describe what your research project intends to accomplish. They should guide every step of the research process , including how you collect data , build your argument , and develop your conclusions .

Your research objectives may evolve slightly as your research progresses, but they should always line up with the research carried out and the actual content of your paper.

Research aims

A distinction is often made between research objectives and research aims.

A research aim typically refers to a broad statement indicating the general purpose of your research project. It should appear at the end of your problem statement, before your research objectives.

Your research objectives are more specific than your research aim and indicate the particular focus and approach of your project. Though you will only have one research aim, you will likely have several research objectives.

Receive feedback on language, structure, and formatting

Professional editors proofread and edit your paper by focusing on:

  • Academic style
  • Vague sentences
  • Style consistency

See an example

research objectives vs statement of the problem

Research objectives are important because they:

  • Establish the scope and depth of your project: This helps you avoid unnecessary research. It also means that your research methods and conclusions can easily be evaluated .
  • Contribute to your research design: When you know what your objectives are, you have a clearer idea of what methods are most appropriate for your research.
  • Indicate how your project will contribute to extant research: They allow you to display your knowledge of up-to-date research, employ or build on current research methods, and attempt to contribute to recent debates.

Once you’ve established a research problem you want to address, you need to decide how you will address it. This is where your research aim and objectives come in.

Step 1: Decide on a general aim

Your research aim should reflect your research problem and should be relatively broad.

Step 2: Decide on specific objectives

Break down your aim into a limited number of steps that will help you resolve your research problem. What specific aspects of the problem do you want to examine or understand?

Step 3: Formulate your aims and objectives

Once you’ve established your research aim and objectives, you need to explain them clearly and concisely to the reader.

You’ll lay out your aims and objectives at the end of your problem statement, which appears in your introduction. Frame them as clear declarative statements, and use appropriate verbs to accurately characterize the work that you will carry out.

The acronym “SMART” is commonly used in relation to research objectives. It states that your objectives should be:

  • Specific: Make sure your objectives aren’t overly vague. Your research needs to be clearly defined in order to get useful results.
  • Measurable: Know how you’ll measure whether your objectives have been achieved.
  • Achievable: Your objectives may be challenging, but they should be feasible. Make sure that relevant groundwork has been done on your topic or that relevant primary or secondary sources exist. Also ensure that you have access to relevant research facilities (labs, library resources , research databases , etc.).
  • Relevant: Make sure that they directly address the research problem you want to work on and that they contribute to the current state of research in your field.
  • Time-based: Set clear deadlines for objectives to ensure that the project stays on track.

Prevent plagiarism. Run a free check.

If you want to know more about the research process , methodology , research bias , or statistics , make sure to check out some of our other articles with explanations and examples.

Methodology

  • Sampling methods
  • Simple random sampling
  • Stratified sampling
  • Cluster sampling
  • Likert scales
  • Reproducibility

 Statistics

  • Null hypothesis
  • Statistical power
  • Probability distribution
  • Effect size
  • Poisson distribution

Research bias

  • Optimism bias
  • Cognitive bias
  • Implicit bias
  • Hawthorne effect
  • Anchoring bias
  • Explicit bias

Research objectives describe what you intend your research project to accomplish.

They summarize the approach and purpose of the project and help to focus your research.

Your objectives should appear in the introduction of your research paper , at the end of your problem statement .

Your research objectives indicate how you’ll try to address your research problem and should be specific:

Once you’ve decided on your research objectives , you need to explain them in your paper, at the end of your problem statement .

Keep your research objectives clear and concise, and use appropriate verbs to accurately convey the work that you will carry out for each one.

I will compare …

A research aim is a broad statement indicating the general purpose of your research project. It should appear in your introduction at the end of your problem statement , before your research objectives.

Research objectives are more specific than your research aim. They indicate the specific ways you’ll address the overarching aim.

Scope of research is determined at the beginning of your research process , prior to the data collection stage. Sometimes called “scope of study,” your scope delineates what will and will not be covered in your project. It helps you focus your work and your time, ensuring that you’ll be able to achieve your goals and outcomes.

Defining a scope can be very useful in any research project, from a research proposal to a thesis or dissertation . A scope is needed for all types of research: quantitative , qualitative , and mixed methods .

To define your scope of research, consider the following:

  • Budget constraints or any specifics of grant funding
  • Your proposed timeline and duration
  • Specifics about your population of study, your proposed sample size , and the research methodology you’ll pursue
  • Any inclusion and exclusion criteria
  • Any anticipated control , extraneous , or confounding variables that could bias your research if not accounted for properly.

Cite this Scribbr article

If you want to cite this source, you can copy and paste the citation or click the “Cite this Scribbr article” button to automatically add the citation to our free Citation Generator.

Ryan, E. (2023, November 20). Research Objectives | Definition & Examples. Scribbr. Retrieved January 29, 2024, from https://www.scribbr.com/research-process/research-objectives/

Is this article helpful?

Eoghan Ryan

Eoghan Ryan

Other students also liked, writing strong research questions | criteria & examples, how to write a problem statement | guide & examples, what is your plagiarism score.

How to Write a Statement of the Problem for Your Research Proposal

Defining your research problem is essential when conducting an experiment. In this article, you will learn how to write a statement of the problem for your research proposal. Learn about the characteristics of a good statement of the problem and examples of research questions.

Updated on May 17, 2022

A researcher working on a problem statement for a new article

You are a great researcher. You are full of ideas and questions as to where to go next with your work. You would not be in this position if you were not good at coming up with interesting questions within your area.

One problem, though, is knowing where to spend your time, energy, and money. Which ideas, questions, and problems are worthwhile?

You need to be able to define a good research problem. A research problem addresses an existing gap in knowledge in your field and leads to further investigations by you and other researchers. Inspiring others with your research problem will lead to citations, enhancing your and your institution's impact.

In order to write a clear and useful problem statement, you need to describe a question and its consequences.

One key way to assess the ‘usefulness' of your research ideas is to learn how to express them as clear problems.

In this article, we will talk about how to write a statement of the problem for your next research proposal. This is important not just for assessing the ‘usefulness' of research ideas, but also for formulating a grant application or proposal. We'll talk about how to explain your research ideas to others in the form of a problem statement in your proposal.

What is a statement of the problem in research?

All research projects should start with a clear problem statement. A problem statement is a formulation of an issue which is usually a ‘gap' within your area. A research gap is an unanswered question, an issue, controversy, or untested hypothesis that has not yet been addressed.

The trick with research problems is working out whether they are actually worth investing the time, energy, and money to figure out. This comes with experience, or you could just read on!

Since a clear problem statement is going to form the basis of your next research project, the question is: How can I write one?

How is this done? The first step is to become familiar with the basic elements of a problem statement in effective research.

Characteristics of a problem statement

A research problem statement has two key attributes:

  • The problem must be challenging and original, but also potentially achievable by your team.
  • The problem must not be incremental. In other words, don't try to address a small change or advance on an existing study that leads to no new scientific insight. This could be damaging to your and your team's reputation, and will likely not lead to a meaningful publication.

Developing a ‘good' research problem statement, therefore, involves systematic planning and setting time-based, realistic objectives. Your problem has to be achievable.

You'll also need to apply feasible research methods based on an approach that best suits the research question. Your methods have to make sense. They must be usable. In other words, you must be able to acquire statistically sufficient and relevant data that is reproducible.

Finally, the problem you define means you'll need to train team members in this particular research area and methods.

Writing a statement of the problem

Stating a research problem is done by defining it within the general area of your research. This depends on your previous work and experience. It may be an area you want to move into or a topic related to what you have already worked on as a researcher. Examples could include a question in astrophysics within physics, robotics within engineering, nutrition within medicine, or marine biology within ocean and Earth science.

Once you've determined your overall area (and you'll know this already of course), it's time to drill down, decide, and define a research problem within that field.

First , your statement should identify a problem that needs to be addressed within your selected sub-area.

This will almost certainly require literature work, but the idea may arise from:

  • Discussions you've had with colleagues;
  • Discussions at a conference;
  • A paper you've read.

Second , your problem statement should be a “good research problem.” This will require further investigation and reading as you consider “what has been done?” and “what needs to be done?”

Third , search for more information, perhaps by:

  • Locating relevant books, papers and other materials;
  • Evaluating the quality and authority of the information collected;
  • Maintaining a regular literature review throughout the project;
  • Making regular notes on background material;
  • Deciding how this literature search will be carried out within the research group;
  • Deciding how information gained will be disseminated to the group (e.g., via each researcher carrying out a regular literature review in their sub-area and information disseminated at group meetings or via email at regular intervals).

This process may well change or modify how your research problem is stated or formulated.

Once your research problem has been identified, research questions within the problem need to be specified.

How long should your statement of the problem be?

Not too long. One page is more than enough for a clear and effective problem statement.

Research questions within your problem

The first stage of writing your research problem statement involves formulating your questions in a meaningful way. In the context of important questions, we are looking for things that many readers across different disciplines find to be interesting. But at the same time, set your question within your field.

Thus, once a research problem has been established, several questions can be written down. These questions should specify exactly what needs to be determined to address the problem.

These questions should also be specific enough that they can be answered using appropriate available research methods - or methods that could be made available to the research group (e.g. by buying or borrowing equipment).

These questions should require complex in-depth investigation, analysis, and argument. They should not be simple enough that they can be answered easily with well-established facts or yes/no answers.

All research questions should be focused, specific, appropriately complex, and relevant to the overall aims of the project.

Examples of questions and next steps

  • How do government regulations prevent companies from polluting water systems?
  • What factors have influenced population growth in the fastest growing countries?
  • How can a bespoke thermal desorption unit be designed and built for use in detection of trace particulate matter in a polluted environment (e.g., a busy city street)?
  • What methods and procedures can be used to understand, and hence control, fundamental chemical processes that occur in flames?
  • How can measurement protocols used in mass spectrometry in a university research laboratory be developed and standardized to enable direct comparison with related measurements in a government laboratory?

Once the problem and questions have been identified, the resources required to carry out the research will need to be assessed. This will involve:

  • Identifying the equipment needed. Find out what is available and what needs to be purchased.
  • Assessing which consumables (e.g., chemicals) are needed for the project, and determining if they can be obtained on a regular basis (i.e., in the right quantities at the appropriate times).
  • Identifying the software, data-analyses and other computer support needed. Assess what needs to be purchased.
  • Assessing what laboratory and office space is needed. And if more is required, discuss this with the relevant laboratory manager.
  • Identifying what support for travel is needed for the group, as well as what resources are required for the group to attend relevant conferences and training of group personnel.

Final thoughts

Defining and writing a clear statement of a problem as the basis of a project is the first - and most important - step in any research. The tips and ideas in this article will help you clearly identify the purpose of the research you are developing.

A clear research problem statement will likely form the skeleton of the Introduction of your final article. If you are able to clearly direct your reader (the most important person in the publishing process) to an important and interesting question, they will likely stay engaged, and use and cite your article in the future.

The AJE Team

The AJE Team

See our "Privacy Policy"

Elsevier QRcode Wechat

  • Research Process

What is a Problem Statement? [with examples]

  • 5 minute read
  • 778.8K views

Table of Contents

The statement of the problem is one of the first things that a colleague or potential client will read. With the vastness of the information available at one’s fingertips in the online9 world, your work may have just a few seconds to draw in a reader to take a deeper look at your proposal before moving on to the next option. It explains quickly to the reader, the problem at hand, the need for research, and how you intend to do it.

A strong, clear description of the problem that drew you to your research has to be straightforward, easy to read and, most important, relevant. Why do you care about this problem? How can solving this problem impact the world? The problem statement is your opportunity to explain why you care and what you propose to do in the way of researching the problem.

A problem statement is an explanation in research that describes the issue that is in need of study . What problem is the research attempting to address? Having a Problem Statement allows the reader to quickly understand the purpose and intent of the research. The importance of writing your research proposal cannot be stressed enough. Check for more information on Writing a Scientific Research Project Proposal .

It is expected to be brief and concise , and should not include the findings of the research or detailed data . The average length of a research statement is generally about one page . It is going to define the problem, which can be thought of as a gap in the information base. There may be several solutions to this gap or lack of information, but that is not the concern of the problem statement. Its purpose is to summarize the current information and where a lack of knowledge may be presenting a problem that needs to be investigated .

The purpose of the problem statement is to identify the issue that is a concern and focus it in a way that allows it to be studied in a systematic way . It defines the problem and proposes a way to research a solution, or demonstrates why further information is needed in order for a solution to become possible.

What is Included in a Problem Statement?

Besides identifying the gap of understanding or the weakness of necessary data, it is important to explain the significance of this lack.

-How will your research contribute to the existing knowledge base in your field of study?

-How is it significant?

-Why does it matter?

Not all problems have only one solution so demonstrating the need for additional research can also be included in your problem statement. Once you identify the problem and the need for a solution, or for further study, then you can show how you intend to collect the needed data and present it.

How to Write a Statement of Problem in Research Proposal

It is helpful to begin with your goal. What do you see as the achievable goal if the problem you outline is solved? How will the proposed research theoretically change anything? What are the potential outcomes?

Then you can discuss how the problem prevents the ability to reach your realistic and achievable solution. It is what stands in the way of changing an issue for the better. Talk about the present state of affairs and how the problem impacts a person’s life, for example.

It’s helpful at this point to generally layout the present knowledge and understanding of the subject at hand, before then describing the gaps of knowledge that are currently in need of study. Your problem statement is a proposed solution to address one of these gaps.

A good problem statement will also layout the repercussions of leaving the problem as it currently stands. What is the significance of not addressing this problem? What are the possible future outcomes?

Example of Problem Statement in Research Proposal

If, for example , you intended to research the effect of vitamin D supplementation on the immune system , you would begin with a review of the current knowledge of vitamin D’s known function in relation to the immune system and how a deficiency of it impacts a person’s defenses.

You would describe the ideal environment in the body when there is a sufficient level of vitamin D. Then, begin to identify the problems associated with vitamin D deficiency and the difficulty of raising the level through supplementation, along with the consequences of that deficiency. Here you are beginning to identify the problem of a common deficiency and the current difficulty of increasing the level of vitamin D in the blood.

At this stage, you may begin to identify the problem and narrow it down in a way that is practical to a research project. Perhaps you are proposing a novel way of introducing Vitamin D in a way that allows for better absorption by the gut, or in a combination with another product that increases its level in the blood.

Describe the way your research in this area will contribute to the knowledge base on how to increase levels of vitamin D in a specific group of subjects, perhaps menopausal women with breast cancer. The research proposal is then described in practical terms.

How to write a problem statement in research?

Problem statements differ depending on the type and topic of research and vary between a few sentences to a few paragraphs.

However, the problem statement should not drag on needlessly. Despite the absence of a fixed format, a good research problem statement usually consists of three main parts:

Context: This section explains the background for your research. It identifies the problem and describes an ideal scenario that could exist in the absence of the problem. It also includes any past attempts and shortcomings at solving the problem.

Significance: This section defines how the problem prevents the ideal scenario from being achieved, including its negative impacts on the society or field of research. It should include who will be the most affected by a solution to the problem, the relevance of the study that you are proposing, and how it can contribute to the existing body of research.

Solution: This section describes the aim and objectives of your research, and your solution to overcome the problem. Finally, it need not focus on the perfect solution, but rather on addressing a realistic goal to move closer to the ideal scenario.

Here is a cheat sheet to help you with formulating a good problem statement.

1. Begin with a clear indication that the problem statement is going to be discussed next. You can start with a generic sentence like, “The problem that this study addresses…” This will inform your readers of what to expect next.

2. Next, mention the consequences of not solving the problem . You can touch upon who is or will be affected if the problem continues, and how.

3. Conclude with indicating the type of research /information that is needed to solve the problem. Be sure to reference authors who may have suggested the necessity of such research.

This will then directly lead to your proposed research objective and workplan and how that is expected to solve the problem i.e., close the research gap.

Language Editing Plus

Elsevier Language Editing Plus service will provide you with a thorough language review of your thesis, article or presentation. It offers review of logic and flow, reference checks, document formatting, a customized cover letter and more.

What is and How to Write a Good Hypothesis in Research?

  • Manuscript Preparation

What is and How to Write a Good Hypothesis in Research?

How to Use Tables and Figures effectively in Research Papers

How to Use Tables and Figures effectively in Research Papers

You may also like.

what is a descriptive research design

Descriptive Research Design and Its Myriad Uses

Doctor doing a Biomedical Research Paper

Five Common Mistakes to Avoid When Writing a Biomedical Research Paper

research objectives vs statement of the problem

Making Technical Writing in Environmental Engineering Accessible

Risks of AI-assisted Academic Writing

To Err is Not Human: The Dangers of AI-assisted Academic Writing

Importance-of-Data-Collection

When Data Speak, Listen: Importance of Data Collection and Analysis Methods

choosing the Right Research Methodology

Choosing the Right Research Methodology: A Guide for Researchers

Why is data validation important in research

Why is data validation important in research?

Writing a good review article

Writing a good review article

Input your search keywords and press Enter.

  • USC Libraries
  • Research Guides

Organizing Your Social Sciences Research Paper

  • The Research Problem/Question
  • Purpose of Guide
  • Design Flaws to Avoid
  • Independent and Dependent Variables
  • Glossary of Research Terms
  • Reading Research Effectively
  • Narrowing a Topic Idea
  • Broadening a Topic Idea
  • Extending the Timeliness of a Topic Idea
  • Academic Writing Style
  • Choosing a Title
  • Making an Outline
  • Paragraph Development
  • Research Process Video Series
  • Executive Summary
  • The C.A.R.S. Model
  • Background Information
  • Theoretical Framework
  • Citation Tracking
  • Content Alert Services
  • Evaluating Sources
  • Primary Sources
  • Secondary Sources
  • Tiertiary Sources
  • Scholarly vs. Popular Publications
  • Qualitative Methods
  • Quantitative Methods
  • Insiderness
  • Using Non-Textual Elements
  • Limitations of the Study
  • Common Grammar Mistakes
  • Writing Concisely
  • Avoiding Plagiarism
  • Footnotes or Endnotes?
  • Further Readings
  • Generative AI and Writing
  • USC Libraries Tutorials and Other Guides
  • Bibliography

A research problem is a definite or clear expression [statement] about an area of concern, a condition to be improved upon, a difficulty to be eliminated, or a troubling question that exists in scholarly literature, in theory, or within existing practice that points to a need for meaningful understanding and deliberate investigation. A research problem does not state how to do something, offer a vague or broad proposition, or present a value question. In the social and behavioral sciences, studies are most often framed around examining a problem that needs to be understood and resolved in order to improve society and the human condition.

Bryman, Alan. “The Research Question in Social Research: What is its Role?” International Journal of Social Research Methodology 10 (2007): 5-20; Guba, Egon G., and Yvonna S. Lincoln. “Competing Paradigms in Qualitative Research.” In Handbook of Qualitative Research . Norman K. Denzin and Yvonna S. Lincoln, editors. (Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage, 1994), pp. 105-117; Pardede, Parlindungan. “Identifying and Formulating the Research Problem." Research in ELT: Module 4 (October 2018): 1-13; Li, Yanmei, and Sumei Zhang. "Identifying the Research Problem." In Applied Research Methods in Urban and Regional Planning . (Cham, Switzerland: Springer International Publishing, 2022), pp. 13-21.

Importance of...

The purpose of a problem statement is to:

  • Introduce the reader to the importance of the topic being studied . The reader is oriented to the significance of the study.
  • Anchors the research questions, hypotheses, or assumptions to follow . It offers a concise statement about the purpose of your paper.
  • Place the topic into a particular context that defines the parameters of what is to be investigated.
  • Provide the framework for reporting the results and indicates what is probably necessary to conduct the study and explain how the findings will present this information.

In the social sciences, the research problem establishes the means by which you must answer the "So What?" question. This declarative question refers to a research problem surviving the relevancy test [the quality of a measurement procedure that provides repeatability and accuracy]. Note that answering the "So What?" question requires a commitment on your part to not only show that you have reviewed the literature, but that you have thoroughly considered the significance of the research problem and its implications applied to creating new knowledge and understanding or informing practice.

To survive the "So What" question, problem statements should possess the following attributes:

  • Clarity and precision [a well-written statement does not make sweeping generalizations and irresponsible pronouncements; it also does include unspecific determinates like "very" or "giant"],
  • Demonstrate a researchable topic or issue [i.e., feasibility of conducting the study is based upon access to information that can be effectively acquired, gathered, interpreted, synthesized, and understood],
  • Identification of what would be studied, while avoiding the use of value-laden words and terms,
  • Identification of an overarching question or small set of questions accompanied by key factors or variables,
  • Identification of key concepts and terms,
  • Articulation of the study's conceptual boundaries or parameters or limitations,
  • Some generalizability in regards to applicability and bringing results into general use,
  • Conveyance of the study's importance, benefits, and justification [i.e., regardless of the type of research, it is important to demonstrate that the research is not trivial],
  • Does not have unnecessary jargon or overly complex sentence constructions; and,
  • Conveyance of more than the mere gathering of descriptive data providing only a snapshot of the issue or phenomenon under investigation.

Bryman, Alan. “The Research Question in Social Research: What is its Role?” International Journal of Social Research Methodology 10 (2007): 5-20; Brown, Perry J., Allen Dyer, and Ross S. Whaley. "Recreation Research—So What?" Journal of Leisure Research 5 (1973): 16-24; Castellanos, Susie. Critical Writing and Thinking. The Writing Center. Dean of the College. Brown University; Ellis, Timothy J. and Yair Levy Nova. "Framework of Problem-Based Research: A Guide for Novice Researchers on the Development of a Research-Worthy Problem." Informing Science: the International Journal of an Emerging Transdiscipline 11 (2008); Thesis and Purpose Statements. The Writer’s Handbook. Writing Center. University of Wisconsin, Madison; Thesis Statements. The Writing Center. University of North Carolina; Tips and Examples for Writing Thesis Statements. The Writing Lab and The OWL. Purdue University; Selwyn, Neil. "‘So What?’…A Question that Every Journal Article Needs to Answer." Learning, Media, and Technology 39 (2014): 1-5; Shoket, Mohd. "Research Problem: Identification and Formulation." International Journal of Research 1 (May 2014): 512-518.

Structure and Writing Style

I.  Types and Content

There are four general conceptualizations of a research problem in the social sciences:

  • Casuist Research Problem -- this type of problem relates to the determination of right and wrong in questions of conduct or conscience by analyzing moral dilemmas through the application of general rules and the careful distinction of special cases.
  • Difference Research Problem -- typically asks the question, “Is there a difference between two or more groups or treatments?” This type of problem statement is used when the researcher compares or contrasts two or more phenomena. This a common approach to defining a problem in the clinical social sciences or behavioral sciences.
  • Descriptive Research Problem -- typically asks the question, "what is...?" with the underlying purpose to describe the significance of a situation, state, or existence of a specific phenomenon. This problem is often associated with revealing hidden or understudied issues.
  • Relational Research Problem -- suggests a relationship of some sort between two or more variables to be investigated. The underlying purpose is to investigate specific qualities or characteristics that may be connected in some way.

A problem statement in the social sciences should contain :

  • A lead-in that helps ensure the reader will maintain interest over the study,
  • A declaration of originality [e.g., mentioning a knowledge void or a lack of clarity about a topic that will be revealed in the literature review of prior research],
  • An indication of the central focus of the study [establishing the boundaries of analysis], and
  • An explanation of the study's significance or the benefits to be derived from investigating the research problem.

NOTE :   A statement describing the research problem of your paper should not be viewed as a thesis statement that you may be familiar with from high school. Given the content listed above, a description of the research problem is usually a short paragraph in length.

II.  Sources of Problems for Investigation

The identification of a problem to study can be challenging, not because there's a lack of issues that could be investigated, but due to the challenge of formulating an academically relevant and researchable problem which is unique and does not simply duplicate the work of others. To facilitate how you might select a problem from which to build a research study, consider these sources of inspiration:

Deductions from Theory This relates to deductions made from social philosophy or generalizations embodied in life and in society that the researcher is familiar with. These deductions from human behavior are then placed within an empirical frame of reference through research. From a theory, the researcher can formulate a research problem or hypothesis stating the expected findings in certain empirical situations. The research asks the question: “What relationship between variables will be observed if theory aptly summarizes the state of affairs?” One can then design and carry out a systematic investigation to assess whether empirical data confirm or reject the hypothesis, and hence, the theory.

Interdisciplinary Perspectives Identifying a problem that forms the basis for a research study can come from academic movements and scholarship originating in disciplines outside of your primary area of study. This can be an intellectually stimulating exercise. A review of pertinent literature should include examining research from related disciplines that can reveal new avenues of exploration and analysis. An interdisciplinary approach to selecting a research problem offers an opportunity to construct a more comprehensive understanding of a very complex issue that any single discipline may be able to provide.

Interviewing Practitioners The identification of research problems about particular topics can arise from formal interviews or informal discussions with practitioners who provide insight into new directions for future research and how to make research findings more relevant to practice. Discussions with experts in the field, such as, teachers, social workers, health care providers, lawyers, business leaders, etc., offers the chance to identify practical, “real world” problems that may be understudied or ignored within academic circles. This approach also provides some practical knowledge which may help in the process of designing and conducting your study.

Personal Experience Don't undervalue your everyday experiences or encounters as worthwhile problems for investigation. Think critically about your own experiences and/or frustrations with an issue facing society or related to your community, your neighborhood, your family, or your personal life. This can be derived, for example, from deliberate observations of certain relationships for which there is no clear explanation or witnessing an event that appears harmful to a person or group or that is out of the ordinary.

Relevant Literature The selection of a research problem can be derived from a thorough review of pertinent research associated with your overall area of interest. This may reveal where gaps exist in understanding a topic or where an issue has been understudied. Research may be conducted to: 1) fill such gaps in knowledge; 2) evaluate if the methodologies employed in prior studies can be adapted to solve other problems; or, 3) determine if a similar study could be conducted in a different subject area or applied in a different context or to different study sample [i.e., different setting or different group of people]. Also, authors frequently conclude their studies by noting implications for further research; read the conclusion of pertinent studies because statements about further research can be a valuable source for identifying new problems to investigate. The fact that a researcher has identified a topic worthy of further exploration validates the fact it is worth pursuing.

III.  What Makes a Good Research Statement?

A good problem statement begins by introducing the broad area in which your research is centered, gradually leading the reader to the more specific issues you are investigating. The statement need not be lengthy, but a good research problem should incorporate the following features:

1.  Compelling Topic The problem chosen should be one that motivates you to address it but simple curiosity is not a good enough reason to pursue a research study because this does not indicate significance. The problem that you choose to explore must be important to you, but it must also be viewed as important by your readers and to a the larger academic and/or social community that could be impacted by the results of your study. 2.  Supports Multiple Perspectives The problem must be phrased in a way that avoids dichotomies and instead supports the generation and exploration of multiple perspectives. A general rule of thumb in the social sciences is that a good research problem is one that would generate a variety of viewpoints from a composite audience made up of reasonable people. 3.  Researchability This isn't a real word but it represents an important aspect of creating a good research statement. It seems a bit obvious, but you don't want to find yourself in the midst of investigating a complex research project and realize that you don't have enough prior research to draw from for your analysis. There's nothing inherently wrong with original research, but you must choose research problems that can be supported, in some way, by the resources available to you. If you are not sure if something is researchable, don't assume that it isn't if you don't find information right away--seek help from a librarian !

NOTE:   Do not confuse a research problem with a research topic. A topic is something to read and obtain information about, whereas a problem is something to be solved or framed as a question raised for inquiry, consideration, or solution, or explained as a source of perplexity, distress, or vexation. In short, a research topic is something to be understood; a research problem is something that needs to be investigated.

IV.  Asking Analytical Questions about the Research Problem

Research problems in the social and behavioral sciences are often analyzed around critical questions that must be investigated. These questions can be explicitly listed in the introduction [i.e., "This study addresses three research questions about women's psychological recovery from domestic abuse in multi-generational home settings..."], or, the questions are implied in the text as specific areas of study related to the research problem. Explicitly listing your research questions at the end of your introduction can help in designing a clear roadmap of what you plan to address in your study, whereas, implicitly integrating them into the text of the introduction allows you to create a more compelling narrative around the key issues under investigation. Either approach is appropriate.

The number of questions you attempt to address should be based on the complexity of the problem you are investigating and what areas of inquiry you find most critical to study. Practical considerations, such as, the length of the paper you are writing or the availability of resources to analyze the issue can also factor in how many questions to ask. In general, however, there should be no more than four research questions underpinning a single research problem.

Given this, well-developed analytical questions can focus on any of the following:

  • Highlights a genuine dilemma, area of ambiguity, or point of confusion about a topic open to interpretation by your readers;
  • Yields an answer that is unexpected and not obvious rather than inevitable and self-evident;
  • Provokes meaningful thought or discussion;
  • Raises the visibility of the key ideas or concepts that may be understudied or hidden;
  • Suggests the need for complex analysis or argument rather than a basic description or summary; and,
  • Offers a specific path of inquiry that avoids eliciting generalizations about the problem.

NOTE:   Questions of how and why concerning a research problem often require more analysis than questions about who, what, where, and when. You should still ask yourself these latter questions, however. Thinking introspectively about the who, what, where, and when of a research problem can help ensure that you have thoroughly considered all aspects of the problem under investigation and helps define the scope of the study in relation to the problem.

V.  Mistakes to Avoid

Beware of circular reasoning! Do not state the research problem as simply the absence of the thing you are suggesting. For example, if you propose the following, "The problem in this community is that there is no hospital," this only leads to a research problem where:

  • The need is for a hospital
  • The objective is to create a hospital
  • The method is to plan for building a hospital, and
  • The evaluation is to measure if there is a hospital or not.

This is an example of a research problem that fails the "So What?" test . In this example, the problem does not reveal the relevance of why you are investigating the fact there is no hospital in the community [e.g., perhaps there's a hospital in the community ten miles away]; it does not elucidate the significance of why one should study the fact there is no hospital in the community [e.g., that hospital in the community ten miles away has no emergency room]; the research problem does not offer an intellectual pathway towards adding new knowledge or clarifying prior knowledge [e.g., the county in which there is no hospital already conducted a study about the need for a hospital, but it was conducted ten years ago]; and, the problem does not offer meaningful outcomes that lead to recommendations that can be generalized for other situations or that could suggest areas for further research [e.g., the challenges of building a new hospital serves as a case study for other communities].

Alvesson, Mats and Jörgen Sandberg. “Generating Research Questions Through Problematization.” Academy of Management Review 36 (April 2011): 247-271 ; Choosing and Refining Topics. Writing@CSU. Colorado State University; D'Souza, Victor S. "Use of Induction and Deduction in Research in Social Sciences: An Illustration." Journal of the Indian Law Institute 24 (1982): 655-661; Ellis, Timothy J. and Yair Levy Nova. "Framework of Problem-Based Research: A Guide for Novice Researchers on the Development of a Research-Worthy Problem." Informing Science: the International Journal of an Emerging Transdiscipline 11 (2008); How to Write a Research Question. The Writing Center. George Mason University; Invention: Developing a Thesis Statement. The Reading/Writing Center. Hunter College; Problem Statements PowerPoint Presentation. The Writing Lab and The OWL. Purdue University; Procter, Margaret. Using Thesis Statements. University College Writing Centre. University of Toronto; Shoket, Mohd. "Research Problem: Identification and Formulation." International Journal of Research 1 (May 2014): 512-518; Trochim, William M.K. Problem Formulation. Research Methods Knowledge Base. 2006; Thesis and Purpose Statements. The Writer’s Handbook. Writing Center. University of Wisconsin, Madison; Thesis Statements. The Writing Center. University of North Carolina; Tips and Examples for Writing Thesis Statements. The Writing Lab and The OWL. Purdue University; Pardede, Parlindungan. “Identifying and Formulating the Research Problem." Research in ELT: Module 4 (October 2018): 1-13; Walk, Kerry. Asking an Analytical Question. [Class handout or worksheet]. Princeton University; White, Patrick. Developing Research Questions: A Guide for Social Scientists . New York: Palgrave McMillan, 2009; Li, Yanmei, and Sumei Zhang. "Identifying the Research Problem." In Applied Research Methods in Urban and Regional Planning . (Cham, Switzerland: Springer International Publishing, 2022), pp. 13-21.

  • << Previous: Background Information
  • Next: Theoretical Framework >>
  • Last Updated: Jan 30, 2024 12:50 PM
  • URL: https://libguides.usc.edu/writingguide

Enago Academy

Research Problem Statement — Find out how to write an impactful one!

' src=

Table of Contents

What Is a Research Problem Statement?

A research problem statement is a clear, concise, and specific statement that describes the issue or problem that the research project addresses. It should be written in a way that is easily understandable to both experts and non-experts in the field.

To write a research problem statement, you should:

  • Identify the general area of interest: Start by identifying the general area of research that interests you.
  • Define the specific problem: Narrow down the general area of interest to a specific problem or issue.
  • Explain the significance of the problem: Provide context for the problem by explaining why it is important to study and what gap in current knowledge or understanding it fills.
  • Provide a clear and concise statement: State the problem in a clear and concise manner, making sure to use language that is easily understood by your intended audience.
  • Use a scientific and objective tone: The problem statement should be written in a neutral and objective tone, avoiding any subjective language and personal bias .

An Example of a Research Problem Statement

“The increasing prevalence of obesity in children is a growing public health concern. Despite the availability of information on healthy eating and physical activity, many children are still not engaging in healthy lifestyle behaviors. The problem this study addresses is the lack of understanding of the barriers and facilitators to healthy lifestyle behaviors in children.”

When to Write a Problem Statement in Research?

A research problem statement should be written at the beginning of the research process, before any data collection or analysis takes place. This is because the statement sets the foundation for the entire research project by clearly defining the problem that the research is trying to address.

Writing a problem statement early in the research process helps to guide the research design and methodology , and ensures that the research is focused on addressing the specific problem at hand. It also helps to ensure that the research is relevant and addresses a gap in current knowledge or understanding.

In addition, a well-written problem statement effectively communicates the purpose and significance of the research to potential funders, collaborators, and other stakeholders. It also generates interest and support for the research project.

It’s also important to note that, during the research process, the statement can be refined or updated as new information is discovered or as the research progresses. This is normal and it’s a good idea to revise the statement as needed to ensure that it remains clear and concise and that it accurately reflects the current focus of the research project.

What Does a Research Problem Statement Include?

A research problem statement typically includes the following elements:

1. The research topic:

The general area of interest or field of study that the research project addresses.

2. The specific problem or issue:

A clear and concise statement of the problem or issue that the research project aims to address.

3. The significance of the problem:

A discussion of why the problem is important and what gap in current knowledge or understanding it fills.

4. The research questions:

A set of questions that the research project aims to answer, in order to address the problem or issue.

5. The research objectives:

A set of specific and measurable objectives that the research project aims to achieve.

6. The scope of the research:

A description of the specific population, setting, or context that the research project will focus on.

7. The theoretical framework:

A discussion of the theoretical concepts and principles that inform the research project.

8. The research design:

A description of the research methodologies that will be used to collect and analyze data in order to address the research questions and objectives.

It’s important to note that the problem statement is usually brief and concise, typically a few sentences or a short paragraph. But it should provide enough information to convey the main idea of the research project.

Important Features of Research Problem Statement

The problem statement should be clear and easy to understand. Write it in a way that is accessible to both experts and non-experts in the field.

2. Specificity

The statement should be specific and clearly define the problem or issue that the research project aims to address. It should be narrow enough to be manageable, but broad enough to be of interest to others in the field.

3. Significance

The statement should explain why the problem is important and what gap in current knowledge or understanding it fills. It should provide context for the research project and help to justify its importance.

4. Relevance

The statement should be relevant to the field of study and address an issue that is currently of concern to researchers.

5. Research questions

The statement should include a set of research questions that the research project aims to answer in order to address the problem or issue.

6. Research objectives

The statement should include a set of specific and measurable objectives that the research project aims to achieve.

The statement should define the specific population, setting, or context that the research project will focus on.

8. Theoretical framework

The statement should provide an overview of the theoretical concepts and principles that inform the research project.

9. Research design

The statement should provide an overview of the research methodologies. This will be useful collect and analyze data in order to address the research questions and objectives.

Difference Between a Thesis Statement and a Problem Statement

A thesis statement and a problem statement are related but distinct elements of a research project.

A thesis statement is a statement that summarizes the central argument or claim of a research paper or essay. It presents the main idea of the paper and sets the direction for the rest of the content. It’s usually located at the end of the introduction, and it’s often one sentence.

A problem statement, on the other hand, is a statement that describes a specific problem or issue that the research project aims to address. It sets the foundation for the entire research project by clearly defining the research problem. It is usually located at the beginning of a research paper or proposal, and is of one or a few paragraphs.

In summary, a thesis statement is a summary of the main point or key argument of the research paper. A problem statement describes the specific issue that the research project aims to address. A thesis statement is more focused on the final outcome of the research. While a problem statement is focused on the current state of knowledge and the gap in understanding that the research project aims to fill.

In Conclusion

A problem statement is a critical component of the research project, as it provides a clear and concise roadmap for the research, and helps to ensure that the research is well-designed and addresses a significant and relevant issue.

We hope this blog has clarified your doubts and confusion associated with research problem statement and helps you write an effective statement for your research project!

' src=

comprehensive contents. thanks!

Very good writing and easy to understand

WOW..its easy to understand…

This has opened up my mind, Systematically outlined steps.

Wow I’ve gained Alot from this!

WOW…This was much helpful.

Good and straightforward explanations with ease of understanding for all the students and teachers alike.

Rate this article Cancel Reply

Your email address will not be published.

research objectives vs statement of the problem

Enago Academy's Most Popular

Research recommendation

  • Reporting Research

Research Recommendations – Guiding policy-makers for evidence-based decision making

Research recommendations play a crucial role in guiding scholars and researchers toward fruitful avenues of…

Confounding Variables

Demystifying the Role of Confounding Variables in Research

In the realm of scientific research, the pursuit of knowledge often involves complex investigations, meticulous…

ESL Research and Publishing

  • Diversity and Inclusion
  • Language & Grammar

Language as a Bridge, Not a Barrier: ESL researchers’ path to successful research and publishing

The landscape of academic research has witnessed a remarkable shift in recent years with the…

Rationale in Research

  • Publishing Research

Setting Rationale in Research: Cracking the code for excelling at research

Knowledge and curiosity lays the foundation of scientific progress. The quest for knowledge has always…

research-questionnaire

How to Design Effective Research Questionnaires for Robust Findings

As a staple in data collection, questionnaires help uncover robust and reliable findings that can…

Language as a Bridge, Not a Barrier: ESL researchers’ path to successful…

research objectives vs statement of the problem

Sign-up to read more

Subscribe for free to get unrestricted access to all our resources on research writing and academic publishing including:

  • 2000+ blog articles
  • 50+ Webinars
  • 10+ Expert podcasts
  • 50+ Infographics
  • 10+ Checklists
  • Research Guides

We hate spam too. We promise to protect your privacy and never spam you.

I am looking for Editing/ Proofreading services for my manuscript Tentative date of next journal submission:

research objectives vs statement of the problem

According to you, how can one ensure ethical compliance in research and academia?

  • Affiliate Program

Wordvice

  • UNITED STATES
  • 台灣 (TAIWAN)
  • TÜRKIYE (TURKEY)
  • Academic Editing Services
  • - Research Paper
  • - Journal Manuscript
  • - Dissertation
  • - College & University Assignments
  • Admissions Editing Services
  • - Application Essay
  • - Personal Statement
  • - Recommendation Letter
  • - Cover Letter
  • - CV/Resume
  • Business Editing Services
  • - Business Documents
  • - Report & Brochure
  • - Website & Blog
  • Writer Editing Services
  • - Script & Screenplay
  • Our Editors
  • Client Reviews
  • Editing & Proofreading Prices
  • Wordvice Points
  • Partner Discount
  • Plagiarism Checker
  • APA Citation Generator
  • MLA Citation Generator
  • Chicago Citation Generator
  • Vancouver Citation Generator
  • - APA Style
  • - MLA Style
  • - Chicago Style
  • - Vancouver Style
  • Writing & Editing Guide
  • Academic Resources
  • Admissions Resources

How to Write a Problem Statement in Research

research objectives vs statement of the problem

What is a Research Problem Statement?

A research problem statement is a concise statement describing the problem or issue addressed by the research study. The research problem should be composed in a way that both experts and non-experts in the field can understand.

Every research paper describes the investigation of a problem: by adding knowledge to the existing literature, revisiting known observations, or finding concrete solutions. What contribution your publication makes to your field or the scientific community at large depends on whether your research is “basic” (i.e., mainly interested in providing further knowledge that researchers can later apply to specific problems) or “applied” (i.e., developing new techniques, processes, and products).

In any case, a research proposal or research paper must clearly identify and describe the “problem” that is being investigated, so that the reader understands where the research comes from, why the study is relevant, if the applied methods are appropriate, and if the presented results are valid and answer the stated questions. This is known as the “statement of the problem.”

Table of Contents:

  • What is a Research Problem?

How to Write a Problem Statement in a Research Paper

  • Statement of the Problem Example 
  • Where Does the Problem Statement Go in Your Paper?

Consider Using Professional Editing Services

Understanding how to write a research problem.

Your research problem defines the gap in existing knowledge you want to address (e.g., global warming causes), an issue with a certain process (e.g., voter registration) or practices (e.g., patient treatment) that is known and well documented and needs a solution, or some surprising phenomena or earlier findings that point to the need for further investigation. Your approach can be theoretical or practical, and the specific type of problem you choose to address depends on the type of research you want to do. 

In any case, your paper should not repeat what other studies have already said. It also should not ask a question that is too broad in scope to be answered within your study, nor should it be so vague that your reader cannot grasp your motivation or focus. To avoid such problems, you need to clearly define your research question, put it into context, and emphasize its significance for your field of research, the wider research community, or even the general public.

When including your statement of the research problem, several key factors must be considered in order to make a statement that is clear, concise, relevant, and convincing to readers. Think about the following elements not as “steps” to writing your problem statement, but as necessary conditions on which your statement can be firmly grounded and stand out.

Provide context for your study

Putting your research problem in context means providing the reader with the background information they need to understand why you want to study or solve this particular problem and why it is relevant. If there have been earlier attempts at solving the problem or solutions that are available but seem imperfect and need improvement, include that information here.

If you are doing applied research, this part of the problem statement (or “research statement”) should tell the reader where a certain problem arises and who is affected by it. In basic or theoretical research, you make a review of relevant literature on the topic that forms the basis for the current work and tells the reader where your study fits in and what gap in existing knowledge you are addressing.

Establish the relevance of this research

The problem statement also needs to clearly state why the current research matters, or why future work matters if you are writing a research proposal. Ask yourself (and tell your readers) what will happen if the problem continues and who will feel the consequences the most. If the solution you search for or propose in your study has wider relevance outside the context of the subjects you have studied, then this also needs to be included here. In basic research, the advancement of knowledge does not always have clear practical consequences—but you should clearly explain to the reader how the insights your study offers fit into the bigger picture, and what potential future research they could inspire.

Define specific aims and Objectives

Now that the reader knows the context of your research and why it matters, briefly introduce the design and the methods you used or are planning to use. While describing these, you should also formulate your precise aims more clearly, and thereby bring every element in your paper together so that the reader can judge for themselves if they (a) understand the rationale behind your study and (b) are convinced by your approach.

This last part could maybe be considered the actual “statement of the problem” of your study, but you need to prepare the reader by providing all the necessary details before you state it explicitly. If the background literature you cite is too broad and the problem you introduced earlier seems a bit vague, then the reader will have trouble understanding how you came up with the specific experiments you suddenly describe here. Make sure your readers can follow the logical structure of your presentation and that no important details are left out.   

Research Problem Statement Example

The following is a sample statement of the problem for a practical research study on the challenges of online learning. Note that your statement might be much longer (especially the context section where you need to explain the background of the study) and that you will need to provide sources for all the claims you make and the earlier literature you cite. You will also not include the headers “context”, “relevance” and “aims and objectives” but simply present these parts as different paragraphs. But if your problem statement follows this structure, you should have no problem convincing the reader of the significance of your work.

Providing context: Since the beginning of the Covid pandemic, most educational institutions around the world have transitioned to a fully online study model, at least during peak times of infections and social distancing measures. This transition has not been easy and even two years into the pandemic, problems with online teaching and studying persist (reference needed) . While the increasing gap between those with access to technology and equipment and those without access has been determined to be one of the main challenges (reference needed) , others claim that online learning offers more opportunities for many students by breaking down barriers of location and distance (reference needed) .  

Establishing relevance: Since teachers and students cannot wait for circumstances to go back to normal, the measures that schools and universities have implemented during the last two years, their advantages and disadvantages, and the impact of those measures on students’ progress, satisfaction, and well-being need to be understood so that improvements can be made and demographics that have been left behind can receive the support they need as soon as possible.

Defining aims and objectives: To identify what changes in the learning environment were considered the most challenging and how those changes relate to a variety of student outcome measures, we conducted surveys and interviews among teachers and students at ten institutions of higher education in four different major cities, two in the US (New York and Chicago), one in South Korea (Seoul), and one in the UK (London). Responses were analyzed with a focus on different student demographics and how they might have been affected differently by the current situation.

Where Does the Problem Statement Go in Your Paper? 

If you write a statement of the problem for a research proposal, then you could include it as a separate section at the very beginning of the main text (unless you are given a specific different structure or different headings, however, then you will have to adapt to that). If your problem statement is part of a research paper manuscript for publication in an academic journal, then it more or less constitutes your introduction section , with the context/background being the literature review that you need to provide here.

If you write the introduction section after the other parts of your paper, then make sure that the specific research question and approach you describe here are in line with the information provided in the research paper abstract , and that all questions you raise here are answered at the end of the discussion section —as always, consistency is key. Knowing where to put the research question can depend on several important contextual factors.

Receive instant editing with Wordvice.AI, our automated grammar checker . Then hand over your manuscript or paper to a professional English editing service for paper editing , thesis editing , or other academic editing services .

And if you need advice on how to write the other parts of your research paper , on how to make a research paper outline if you are struggling with putting everything you did together, or on how to come up with a good research question in case you are not even sure where to start, then head over to the Wordvice academic resources website where we have a lot more articles and videos for you.

Grad Coach

Research Aims, Objectives & Questions

The “Golden Thread” Explained Simply (+ Examples)

By: David Phair (PhD) and Alexandra Shaeffer (PhD) | June 2022

The research aims , objectives and research questions (collectively called the “golden thread”) are arguably the most important thing you need to get right when you’re crafting a research proposal , dissertation or thesis . We receive questions almost every day about this “holy trinity” of research and there’s certainly a lot of confusion out there, so we’ve crafted this post to help you navigate your way through the fog.

Overview: The Golden Thread

  • What is the golden thread
  • What are research aims ( examples )
  • What are research objectives ( examples )
  • What are research questions ( examples )
  • The importance of alignment in the golden thread

What is the “golden thread”?  

The golden thread simply refers to the collective research aims , research objectives , and research questions for any given project (i.e., a dissertation, thesis, or research paper). These three elements are bundled together because it’s extremely important that they align with each other, and that the entire research project aligns with them.

Importantly, the golden thread needs to weave its way through the entirety of any research project , from start to end. In other words, it needs to be very clearly defined right at the beginning of the project (the topic ideation and proposal stage) and it needs to inform almost every decision throughout the rest of the project. For example, your research design and methodology will be heavily influenced by the golden thread (we’ll explain this in more detail later), as well as your literature review.

The research aims, objectives and research questions (the golden thread) define the focus and scope ( the delimitations ) of your research project. In other words, they help ringfence your dissertation or thesis to a relatively narrow domain, so that you can “go deep” and really dig into a specific problem or opportunity. They also help keep you on track , as they act as a litmus test for relevance. In other words, if you’re ever unsure whether to include something in your document, simply ask yourself the question, “does this contribute toward my research aims, objectives or questions?”. If it doesn’t, chances are you can drop it.

Alright, enough of the fluffy, conceptual stuff. Let’s get down to business and look at what exactly the research aims, objectives and questions are and outline a few examples to bring these concepts to life.

Free Webinar: How To Find A Dissertation Research Topic

Research Aims: What are they?

Simply put, the research aim(s) is a statement that reflects the broad overarching goal (s) of the research project. Research aims are fairly high-level (low resolution) as they outline the general direction of the research and what it’s trying to achieve .

Research Aims: Examples  

True to the name, research aims usually start with the wording “this research aims to…”, “this research seeks to…”, and so on. For example:

“This research aims to explore employee experiences of digital transformation in retail HR.”   “This study sets out to assess the interaction between student support and self-care on well-being in engineering graduate students”  

As you can see, these research aims provide a high-level description of what the study is about and what it seeks to achieve. They’re not hyper-specific or action-oriented, but they’re clear about what the study’s focus is and what is being investigated.

Need a helping hand?

research objectives vs statement of the problem

Research Objectives: What are they?

The research objectives take the research aims and make them more practical and actionable . In other words, the research objectives showcase the steps that the researcher will take to achieve the research aims.

The research objectives need to be far more specific (higher resolution) and actionable than the research aims. In fact, it’s always a good idea to craft your research objectives using the “SMART” criteria. In other words, they should be specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound”.

Research Objectives: Examples  

Let’s look at two examples of research objectives. We’ll stick with the topic and research aims we mentioned previously.  

For the digital transformation topic:

To observe the retail HR employees throughout the digital transformation. To assess employee perceptions of digital transformation in retail HR. To identify the barriers and facilitators of digital transformation in retail HR.

And for the student wellness topic:

To determine whether student self-care predicts the well-being score of engineering graduate students. To determine whether student support predicts the well-being score of engineering students. To assess the interaction between student self-care and student support when predicting well-being in engineering graduate students.

  As you can see, these research objectives clearly align with the previously mentioned research aims and effectively translate the low-resolution aims into (comparatively) higher-resolution objectives and action points . They give the research project a clear focus and present something that resembles a research-based “to-do” list.

The research objectives detail the specific steps that you, as the researcher, will take to achieve the research aims you laid out.

Research Questions: What are they?

Finally, we arrive at the all-important research questions. The research questions are, as the name suggests, the key questions that your study will seek to answer . Simply put, they are the core purpose of your dissertation, thesis, or research project. You’ll present them at the beginning of your document (either in the introduction chapter or literature review chapter) and you’ll answer them at the end of your document (typically in the discussion and conclusion chapters).  

The research questions will be the driving force throughout the research process. For example, in the literature review chapter, you’ll assess the relevance of any given resource based on whether it helps you move towards answering your research questions. Similarly, your methodology and research design will be heavily influenced by the nature of your research questions. For instance, research questions that are exploratory in nature will usually make use of a qualitative approach, whereas questions that relate to measurement or relationship testing will make use of a quantitative approach.  

Let’s look at some examples of research questions to make this more tangible.

Research Questions: Examples  

Again, we’ll stick with the research aims and research objectives we mentioned previously.  

For the digital transformation topic (which would be qualitative in nature):

How do employees perceive digital transformation in retail HR? What are the barriers and facilitators of digital transformation in retail HR?  

And for the student wellness topic (which would be quantitative in nature):

Does student self-care predict the well-being scores of engineering graduate students? Does student support predict the well-being scores of engineering students? Do student self-care and student support interact when predicting well-being in engineering graduate students?  

You’ll probably notice that there’s quite a formulaic approach to this. In other words, the research questions are basically the research objectives “converted” into question format. While that is true most of the time, it’s not always the case. For example, the first research objective for the digital transformation topic was more or less a step on the path toward the other objectives, and as such, it didn’t warrant its own research question.  

So, don’t rush your research questions and sloppily reword your objectives as questions. Carefully think about what exactly you’re trying to achieve (i.e. your research aim) and the objectives you’ve set out, then craft a set of well-aligned research questions . Also, keep in mind that this can be a somewhat iterative process , where you go back and tweak research objectives and aims to ensure tight alignment throughout the golden thread.

The importance of strong alignment 

Alignment is the keyword here and we have to stress its importance . Simply put, you need to make sure that there is a very tight alignment between all three pieces of the golden thread. If your research aims and research questions don’t align, for example, your project will be pulling in different directions and will lack focus . This is a common problem students face and can cause many headaches (and tears), so be warned.

Take the time to carefully craft your research aims, objectives and research questions before you run off down the research path. Ideally, get your research supervisor/advisor to review and comment on your golden thread before you invest significant time into your project, and certainly before you start collecting data .  

Recap: The golden thread

In this post, we unpacked the golden thread of research, consisting of the research aims , research objectives and research questions . You can jump back to any section using the links below.

As always, feel free to leave a comment below – we always love to hear from you. Also, if you’re interested in 1-on-1 support, take a look at our private coaching service here.

research objectives vs statement of the problem

Psst… there’s more (for free)

This post is part of our dissertation mini-course, which covers everything you need to get started with your dissertation, thesis or research project. 

You Might Also Like:

Qualitative content analysis 101

32 Comments

Isaac Levi

Thank you very much for your great effort put. As an Undergraduate taking Demographic Research & Methodology, I’ve been trying so hard to understand clearly what is a Research Question, Research Aim and the Objectives in a research and the relationship between them etc. But as for now I’m thankful that you’ve solved my problem.

Hatimu Bah

Well appreciated. This has helped me greatly in doing my dissertation.

Dr. Abdallah Kheri

An so delighted with this wonderful information thank you a lot.

so impressive i have benefited a lot looking forward to learn more on research.

Ekwunife, Chukwunonso Onyeka Steve

I am very happy to have carefully gone through this well researched article.

Infact,I used to be phobia about anything research, because of my poor understanding of the concepts.

Now,I get to know that my research question is the same as my research objective(s) rephrased in question format.

I please I would need a follow up on the subject,as I intends to join the team of researchers. Thanks once again.

Tosin

Thanks so much. This was really helpful.

sylas

i found this document so useful towards my study in research methods. thanks so much.

Michael L. Andrion

This is my 2nd read topic in your course and I should commend the simplified explanations of each part. I’m beginning to understand and absorb the use of each part of a dissertation/thesis. I’ll keep on reading your free course and might be able to avail the training course! Kudos!

Scarlett

Thank you! Better put that my lecture and helped to easily understand the basics which I feel often get brushed over when beginning dissertation work.

Enoch Tindiwegi

This is quite helpful. I like how the Golden thread has been explained and the needed alignment.

Sora Dido Boru

This is quite helpful. I really appreciate!

Chulyork

The article made it simple for researcher students to differentiate between three concepts.

Afowosire Wasiu Adekunle

Very innovative and educational in approach to conducting research.

Sàlihu Abubakar Dayyabu

I am very impressed with all these terminology, as I am a fresh student for post graduate, I am highly guided and I promised to continue making consultation when the need arise. Thanks a lot.

Mohammed Shamsudeen

A very helpful piece. thanks, I really appreciate it .

Sonam Jyrwa

Very well explained, and it might be helpful to many people like me.

JB

Wish i had found this (and other) resource(s) at the beginning of my PhD journey… not in my writing up year… 😩 Anyways… just a quick question as i’m having some issues ordering my “golden thread”…. does it matter in what order you mention them? i.e., is it always first aims, then objectives, and finally the questions? or can you first mention the research questions and then the aims and objectives?

UN

Thank you for a very simple explanation that builds upon the concepts in a very logical manner. Just prior to this, I read the research hypothesis article, which was equally very good. This met my primary objective.

My secondary objective was to understand the difference between research questions and research hypothesis, and in which context to use which one. However, I am still not clear on this. Can you kindly please guide?

Derek Jansen

In research, a research question is a clear and specific inquiry that the researcher wants to answer, while a research hypothesis is a tentative statement or prediction about the relationship between variables or the expected outcome of the study. Research questions are broader and guide the overall study, while hypotheses are specific and testable statements used in quantitative research. Research questions identify the problem, while hypotheses provide a focus for testing in the study.

Saen Fanai

Exactly what I need in this research journey, I look forward to more of your coaching videos.

Abubakar Rofiat Opeyemi

This helped a lot. Thanks so much for the effort put into explaining it.

Lamin Tarawally

What data source in writing dissertation/Thesis requires?

What is data source covers when writing dessertation/thesis

Latifat Muhammed

This is quite useful thanks

Yetunde

I’m excited and thankful. I got so much value which will help me progress in my thesis.

Amer Al-Rashid

where are the locations of the reserch statement, research objective and research question in a reserach paper? Can you write an ouline that defines their places in the researh paper?

Webby

Very helpful and important tips on Aims, Objectives and Questions.

Refiloe Raselane

Thank you so much for making research aim, research objectives and research question so clear. This will be helpful to me as i continue with my thesis.

Annabelle Roda-Dafielmoto

Thanks much for this content. I learned a lot. And I am inspired to learn more. I am still struggling with my preparation for dissertation outline/proposal. But I consistently follow contents and tutorials and the new FB of GRAD Coach. Hope to really become confident in writing my dissertation and successfully defend it.

Joe

As a researcher and lecturer, I find splitting research goals into research aims, objectives, and questions is unnecessarily bureaucratic and confusing for students. For most biomedical research projects, including ‘real research’, 1-3 research questions will suffice (numbers may differ by discipline).

Abdella

Awesome! Very important resources and presented in an informative way to easily understand the golden thread. Indeed, thank you so much.

Submit a Comment Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Save my name, email, and website in this browser for the next time I comment.

research objectives vs statement of the problem

  • Print Friendly
  • Resources Home 🏠
  • Try SciSpace Copilot
  • Search research papers
  • Add Copilot Extension
  • Try AI Detector
  • Try Paraphraser
  • Try Citation Generator
  • April Papers
  • June Papers
  • July Papers

SciSpace Resources

How to Write a Statement of the Problem in Research

Madalsa

Table of Contents

The problem statement is a foundation of academic research writing , providing a precise representation of an existing gap or issue in a particular field of study.

Crafting a sharp and focused problem statement lays the groundwork for your research project.

  • It highlights the research's significance .
  • Emphasizes its potential to influence the broader academic community.
  • Represents the initial step for you to make a meaningful contribution to your discipline.

Therefore, in this article, we will discuss what is a statement of the problem in research and how to craft a compelling research problem statement.

What is a research problem statement?

A research problem statement is a concise, clear, and specific articulation of a gap in current knowledge that your research aims to bridge. It not only sets forth the scope and direction of your research but also establishes its relevance and significance.

Your problem statement in your research paper aims to:

  • Define the gap : Clearly identify and articulate a specific gap or issue in the existing knowledge.
  • Provide direction : Serve as a roadmap, guiding the course of your research and ensuring you remain focused.
  • Establish relevance : Highlight the importance and significance of the problem in the context of your field or the broader world.
  • Guide inquiry :  Formulate the research questions or hypotheses you'll explore.
  • Communicate intent : Succinctly convey the core purpose of your research to stakeholders, peers, and any audience.
  • Set boundaries : Clearly define the scope of your research to ensure it's focused and achievable.

When should you write a problem statement in research?

Initiate your research by crafting a clear problem statement. This should be done before any data collection or analysis, serving as a foundational anchor that clearly identifies the specific issue you aim to address.

By establishing this early on, you shape the direction of your research, ensuring it targets a genuine knowledge gap.

Furthermore, an effective and a concise statement of the problem in research attracts collaborators, funders, and supporters, resonating with its clarity and purpose. Remember, as your research unfolds, the statement might evolve, reflecting new insights and staying pertinent.

But how do you distinguish between a well-crafted problem statement and one that falls short?

Effective vs. ineffective research problem statements

Imagine a scenario where medical researchers aim to tackle a new strain of virus. Their effective problem statement wouldn't merely state the existence of the virus. Instead, it would delve into the specifics — the regions most affected, the demographics most vulnerable, and the current limitations in medical interventions.

Whereas an ineffective research problem statement is vague, overly broad, or ambiguous, failing to provide a clear direction for the research. It may not be rooted in existing literature, might lack clarity on its significance, or could be framed in a way that makes the research objectives unachievable or irrelevant.

To understand it better, let's consider the topic of “Remote work and employee productivity.”

Effective problem statement

“Over the past decade, there has been a 70% increase in organizations adopting remote work policies. While some studies suggest remote work enhances employee productivity, others indicate potential declines due to distractions at home.

However, there’s a lack of comprehensive research examining the specific factors in a remote environment that influence productivity. This study aims to identify and analyze these factors, providing organizations with actionable insights to optimize remote work policies.”

Why is this statement of a problem in research effective?

  • Specificity : The statement provides a clear percentage to highlight the rise in remote work.
  • Context : It acknowledges existing research and the conflicting findings.
  • Clear gap identification : It points out the lack of comprehensive research on specific factors affecting productivity in remote work.
  • Purpose : The statement concludes with a clear aim for the research.

Ineffective problem statement

"People are working from home a lot now, especially since there are so many internet tools. Some say it's good; others say it's not that great. This research will just look into the whole work-from-home thing and see what's up."

Why is this statement of a problem in research ineffective?

  • Informal language : Phrases like "what's up" and "the whole work-from-home thing" are not suitable for academic writing.
  • Vagueness : The statement doesn't provide any specific data or context about the rise of remote work.
  • Lack of clear focus : It's unclear what aspect of remote work the research will address.
  • Ambiguous purpose : The statement doesn't specify the research's objectives or expected outcomes.

After gaining an understanding of what an effective research problem statement looks like, let's dive deeper into how to write one.

How to write a problem statement in research?

Drafting your research problem statement at the onset of your research journey ensures that your research remains anchored. That means by defining and articulating the main issue or challenge you intend to address at the very beginning of your research process; you provide a clear focus and direction for the entire study.

Here's a detailed guide to how you can write an effective statement of the problem in research.

Identify the research area : Before addressing a specific problem, you need to know the broader domain or field of your study. This helps in contextualizing your research and ensuring it aligns with existing academic disciplines.

Example: If you're curious about the effects of digital technology on human behavior, your broader research area might be Digital Sociology or Media Studies.

Conduct preliminary literature review : Familiarize yourself with existing research related to your topic. This will help you understand what's already known and, more importantly, identify gaps or unresolved questions in the existing knowledge. This step also ensures you're advancing upon existing work rather than replicating it.

Example: Upon reviewing literature on digital technology and behavior, you find many studies on social media's impact on youth but fewer on its effects on the elderly.

Read how to conduct an effective literature review .

Define the specific problem : After thoroughly reviewing the literature, pinpoint a particular issue that your research will address. Ensure that this chosen issue is not only of substantial importance in its field but also realistically approachable given your resources and expertise. To define it precisely, you might consider:

  • Highlighting discrepancies or contradictions in existing literature.
  • Emphasizing the real-world implications of this gap.
  • Assessing the feasibility of exploring this issue within your means and timeframe.

Example: You decide to investigate how digital technology, especially social media, affects the mental well-being of the elderly, given the limited research in this area.

Articulate clearly and concisely : Your problem statement should be straightforward and devoid of jargon. It needs to convey the essence of your research issue in a manner that's understandable to both experts and non-experts.

Example: " The impact of social media on the mental well-being of elderly individuals remains underexplored, despite the growing adoption of digital technology in this age group. "

Highlight the significance : Explain why your chosen research problem matters. This could be due to its real-world implications, its potential to fill a knowledge gap or its relevance to current events or trends.

Example: As the elderly population grows and becomes more digitally connected, understanding the psychological effects of social media on this demographic could inform digital literacy programs and mental health interventions.

Ensure feasibility : Your research problem should be something you can realistically study, given your resources, timeframe, and expertise. It's essential to ensure that you can gather data, conduct experiments, or access necessary materials or participants.

Example: You plan to survey elderly individuals in local community centers about their social media usage and perceived mental well-being, ensuring you have the means to reach this demographic.

Seek feedback : Discuss your preliminary problem statement with peers, mentors, or experts in the field. They can provide insights, point out potential pitfalls, or suggest refinements.

Example: After discussing with a gerontologist, you decide to also consider the role of digital training in moderating the effects of social media on the elderly.

Refine and Revise : Based on feedback and further reflection, revise and improve your problem statement. This iterative process ensures clarity, relevance, and precision.

Example: Your refined statement reads: Despite the increasing digital connectivity of the elderly, the effects of social media on their mental well-being, especially in the context of digital training, remain underexplored.

By following these detailed steps, you can craft a research problem statement that is both compelling and academically rigorous.

Having explored the details of crafting a research problem statement, it's crucial to distinguish it from another fundamental element in academic research: the thesis statement.

Difference between a thesis statement and a problem statement

While both terms are central to research, a thesis statement presents your primary claim or argument, whereas a problem statement describes the specific issue your research aims to address.

Think of the thesis statement as the conclusion you're driving towards, while the problem statement identifies a specific gap in current knowledge.

For instance, a problem statement might highlight the rising mental health issues among teenagers, while the thesis statement could propose that increased screen time is a significant contributor.

Refer to the comparison table between what is a thesis and a problem statement in the research below:

Common mistakes to avoid in writing statement of the problem in research

Mistakes in the research problem statement can lead to a domino effect, causing misalignment in research objectives, wasted resources, and even inconclusive or irrelevant results.

Recognizing and avoiding these pitfalls not only strengthens the foundation of your research but also ensures that your efforts concede impactful insights.

Here's a detailed exploration of frequent subjective, qualitative, quantitative and measurable mistakes and how you can sidestep them.

Being too broad or too narrow

A problem statement that's too broad can lack focus, making it challenging to derive specific research questions or objectives. Conversely, a statement that's too narrow might limit the scope of your research or make it too trivial.

Example of mistake: "Studying the effects of diet on health" is too broad, while "Studying the effects of eating green apples at 3 pm on heart health" is overly narrow.

You can refine the scope based on preliminary research. The correct way to write this problem statement will be "Studying the effects of a high-fiber diet on heart health in adults over 50." This statement is neither too broad nor too narrow, and it provides a clear direction for the research.

Using unnecessary jargon or technical language

While academic writing often involves academic terms, overloading your problem statement with jargon can alienate readers and obscure the actual problem.

Example of Mistake: "Examining the diurnal variations in macronutrient ingestion vis-à-vis metabolic homeostasis."

To ensure it’s not complicated, you can simplify and clarify. "Examining how daily changes in nutrient intake affect metabolic balance" conveys the same idea more accessible.

Not emphasizing the "Why" of the problem

It's not enough to state a problem; you must also convey its significance. Why does this problem matter? What are the implications of not addressing it?

Example of Mistake: "Many students are not engaging with online learning platforms."

You can proceed with the approach of highlighting the significance here. "Many students are not engaging with online learning platforms, leading to decreased academic performance and widening educational disparities."

Circular reasoning and lack of relevance

Your problem statement should be grounded in existing research or observed phenomena. Avoid statements that assume what they set out to prove or lack a clear basis in current knowledge.

Example of Mistake: "We need to study X because not enough research has been done on X."

Instead, try grounding your statement based on already-known facts. "While several studies have explored Y, the specific impact of X remains unclear, necessitating further research."

Being overly ambitious

While it's commendable to aim high, your problem statement should reflect a challenge that's achievable within your means, timeframe, and resources.

Example of Mistake: "This research will solve world hunger."

Here, you need to be realistic and focused. "This research aims to develop sustainable agricultural techniques to increase crop yields in arid regions."

By being mindful of these common mistakes, you can craft a problem statement that is clear, relevant and sets a solid foundation for your research.

Over-reliance on outdated data

Using data that is no longer relevant can mislead the direction of your research. It's essential to ensure that the statistics or findings you reference are current and pertinent to the present scenario.

Example of Mistake: "According to a 1995 study, only 5% of the population uses the internet for daily tasks."

You always cross-check the dates and relevance of the data you're using. For a contemporary study on internet usage, you'd want to reference more recent statistics.

Not specifying the sample size or demographic

A problem statement should be clear about the population or sample size being studied, especially when making generalizations or claims.

Example of Mistake: "People prefer online shopping to in-store shopping."

Here, you would benefit from specifying the demographic or sample size when presenting data to avoid overgeneralization. " In a survey of 1,000 urban residents aged 18-35, 70% expressed a preference for online shopping over in-store shopping. "

Ignoring conflicting data

Cherry-picking data that supports your hypothesis while ignoring conflicting data can lead to a biased problem statement.

Example of Mistake: "Research shows that all students benefit from online learning."

You’ve to ensure a balanced view by considering all relevant data, even if it contradicts your hypothesis. " While many studies highlight the advantages of online learning for students, some research points to challenges such as decreased motivation and lack of face-to-face interaction. "

Making unsubstantiated predictions

Projecting future trends without solid data can weaken the credibility of your problem statement.

Example of Mistake: "The demand for electric cars will increase by 500% in the next year."

Base your predictions on current trends and reliable data sources, avoiding hyperbolic or unsupported claims. " With the current growth rate and recent advancements in battery technology, there's potential for a significant rise in the demand for electric cars. "

Wrapping Up

A well-crafted problem statement ensures that your research is focused, relevant, and contributes meaningfully to the broader academic community.

However, the consequences of an incorrect or poorly constructed problem statement can be severe. It can lead to misdirected research efforts, wasted resources, compromised credibility, and even ethical concerns. Such pitfalls underscore the importance of dedicating time and effort to craft a precise and impactful problem statement.

So, as you start your research journey , remember that a well-defined problem statement is not just a starting point; it guides your entire research journey, ensuring clarity, relevance, and meaningful contributions to your field.

Frequently Asked Questions

A problem statement is a clear, concise and specific articulation of a gap in current knowledge that your research aims to bridge.

The Problem Statement should highlight existing gaps in current knowledge and also the significance of the research. It should also include the research question and purpose of the research.

Clear articulation of the problem and establishing relevance; Working thesis (methods to solve the problem); Purpose and scope of study — are the 3 parts of the problem statement.

While the statement of the problem articulates and delineates a particular research problem, Objectives designates the aims, purpose and strategies to address the particular problem.

Here’s an example — “The study aims to identify and analyze the specific factors that impact employee productivity, providing organizations with actionable insights to optimize remote work policies.”

You might also like

Consensus GPT vs. SciSpace GPT: Choose the Best GPT for Research

Consensus GPT vs. SciSpace GPT: Choose the Best GPT for Research

Sumalatha G

Literature Review and Theoretical Framework: Understanding the Differences

Nikhil Seethi

Types of Essays in Academic Writing

  • Privacy Policy
  • SignUp/Login

Research Method

Home » Problem Statement – Writing Guide, Examples and Types

Problem Statement – Writing Guide, Examples and Types

Table of Contents

Problem Statement

Problem Statement

Definition:

Problem statement is a clear, concise, and well-defined statement that outlines the issue or challenge that needs to be addressed. It is a crucial element in any project or research as it provides a clear understanding of the problem, its context, and its potential impact.

Types of Problem Statements

There are various types of problem statements, and the type of problem statement used depends on the context and purpose of the project or research. Some common types of problem statements are:

Business Problem Statement

Business Problem Statement identifies a problem or challenge within an organization that needs to be solved. It typically includes the impact of the problem on the organization and its stakeholders, such as customers, employees, or shareholders.

Research Problem Statement

Research Problem Statement outlines the research question or problem that the study aims to address. It describes the research objectives, the significance of the research, and the potential impact of the research findings.

Design Problem Statement

Design Problem Statement defines the problem or challenge that a design project aims to solve. It includes the user’s needs, the design constraints, and the desired outcomes of the design project.

Social Problem Statement

Social Problem Statement describes a problem or challenge in society that needs to be addressed. It typically includes the social, economic, or political impact of the problem and its effect on individuals or communities.

Technical Problem Statement

Technical Problem Statement defines a problem or challenge related to technology or engineering. It includes the technical requirements, constraints, and potential solutions to the problem.

Components of Problem Statement

The components of a problem statement may vary depending on the context and purpose of the project or research, but some common components include:

  • Problem description : This component provides a clear and concise description of the problem, its context, and its impact. It should explain what the problem is, who is affected by it, and why it needs to be addressed.
  • Background information : This component provides context for the problem by describing the current state of knowledge or practice related to the problem. It may include a review of relevant literature, data, or other sources of information.
  • Objectives : This component outlines the specific objectives that the project or research aims to achieve. It should explain what the project or research team hopes to accomplish by addressing the problem.
  • Scope : This component defines the boundaries of the problem by specifying what is included and excluded from the problem statement. It should clarify the limits of the project or research and ensure that the team remains focused on the core problem.
  • Methodology : This component outlines the approach or methodology that the project or research team will use to address the problem. It may include details about data collection, analysis, or other methods used to achieve the objectives.
  • Expected outcomes : This component describes the potential impact or outcomes that the project or research aims to achieve. It should explain how the solution or findings will address the problem and benefit the stakeholders.

How to write Problem Statement

Here are some general steps to follow when writing a problem statement:

  • Identify the problem : Clearly identify the problem that needs to be addressed. Consider the context, stakeholders, and potential consequences of the problem.
  • Research the problem: Conduct research to gather data and information about the problem. This may involve reviewing literature, analyzing data, or consulting with experts.
  • Define the problem: Define the problem clearly and concisely, using specific language and avoiding vague or ambiguous terms. Be sure to include the impact of the problem and the context in which it occurs.
  • State the objectives : Clearly state the objectives that the project or research aims to achieve. This should be specific and measurable, with clear outcomes that can be evaluated.
  • Identify the scope: Identify the boundaries of the problem, including what is included and excluded from the problem statement. This helps to ensure that the team remains focused on the core problem.
  • Outline the methodology : Outline the approach or methodology that the project or research team will use to address the problem. This should be based on research and best practices, and should be feasible and realistic.
  • Describe the expected outcomes : Describe the potential impact or outcomes that the project or research aims to achieve. Be specific about how the solution or findings will address the problem and benefit the stakeholders.
  • Revise and refine : Review the problem statement and revise it as needed to ensure clarity, accuracy, and completeness.

Applications of Problem Statement

Here are some of the applications of problem statements:

  • Research : In academic research, problem statements are used to clearly define the research problem, identify the research question, and justify the need for the study. A well-crafted problem statement is essential for the success of any research project.
  • Project management: In project management, problem statements are used to identify the issues or challenges that a project team needs to address. Problem statements help project managers to define project scope, set project goals, and develop project plans.
  • Business strategy: In business strategy, problem statements are used to identify business challenges and opportunities. Problem statements help businesses to define their strategic objectives, develop action plans, and allocate resources.
  • Product development : In product development, problem statements are used to identify customer needs and develop new products that address those needs. Problem statements help product developers to define product requirements, develop product features, and test product prototypes.
  • Policy-making: In public policy-making, problem statements are used to identify social, economic, and environmental issues that require government intervention. Problem statements help policymakers to define policy objectives, develop policy options, and evaluate policy outcomes.

Examples of Problem Statements

Examples of Problem Statements are as follows:

  • High student-to-teacher ratios are leading to decreased individualized attention and lower academic achievement.
  • Limited funding for extracurricular activities is limiting opportunities for student development and engagement.
  • The lack of diversity and inclusion in curriculum is limiting cultural understanding and perpetuating inequalities.
  • The need for continuous professional development for teachers is crucial to improving teaching quality and student outcomes.
  • Unequal access to education due to socio-economic status, geographical location, or other factors is contributing to disparities in academic achievement.
  • The shortage of healthcare professionals is leading to increased patient wait times and decreased quality of care.
  • Limited access to mental health services is contributing to the high prevalence of mental health issues and suicides.
  • The over-prescription of opioids is contributing to the current opioid epidemic and increasing rates of addiction and overdose.
  • Limited access to affordable and nutritious food is leading to poor nutrition and increased rates of chronic diseases.
  • The lack of standardized electronic health record systems is limiting coordination of care and leading to medical errors.

Environmental Science

  • Pollution from industrial and agricultural practices is contributing to climate change and increased health risks.
  • The overexploitation of natural resources is leading to decreased biodiversity and ecological imbalance.
  • Limited access to clean water is leading to health issues and affecting agriculture and economic development.
  • The destruction of natural habitats is leading to the extinction of many species and disrupting ecosystems.
  • Climate change is leading to more frequent and severe natural disasters, causing significant damage to infrastructure and displacement of populations.

Engineering

  • The inadequate design and maintenance of bridges and roads is leading to increased accidents and fatalities.
  • The lack of reliable and sustainable energy sources is contributing to environmental degradation and limiting economic growth.
  • The lack of cybersecurity measures in critical infrastructure is making it vulnerable to cyber attacks and compromising public safety.
  • The lack of efficient waste management systems is contributing to pollution and environmental degradation.
  • The need for developing technologies that are environmentally friendly and sustainable is crucial to addressing climate change.

Social Work

  • The lack of resources for mental health and social services is contributing to homelessness and the need for emergency assistance.
  • The high prevalence of child abuse and neglect is leading to long-term physical and emotional harm to children.
  • The lack of affordable and accessible childcare is limiting the opportunities for working parents, especially mothers.
  • The stigmatization of mental health issues is limiting access to mental health services and perpetuating discrimination.
  • The limited access to education, employment, and housing opportunities is contributing to poverty and social inequality.
  • The increasing use of ad-blocking software is limiting the effectiveness of traditional digital advertising.
  • The lack of transparency in digital advertising is leading to ad fraud and decreased trust in online marketing.
  • The need to adapt marketing strategies to changing consumer behaviors and preferences is crucial to reaching target audiences effectively.
  • The high competition in the marketplace is making it challenging for small businesses to compete with larger corporations.
  • The need to balance marketing goals with ethical considerations is crucial to maintaining consumer trust and avoiding negative publicity.
  • The high prevalence of anxiety and depression is leading to decreased productivity and increased healthcare costs.
  • The limited access to mental health services in certain geographic areas is limiting access to care and contributing to disparities in mental health outcomes.
  • The need for effective prevention and intervention programs for substance abuse and addiction is crucial to reducing rates of addiction and overdose.
  • The lack of awareness and understanding of mental health issues is perpetuating stigma and limiting access to care.
  • The need for culturally sensitive mental health services that are tailored to the needs of diverse populations is crucial to improving mental health outcomes.

Purpose of Problem Statement

The purpose of a problem statement is to clearly and concisely describe a specific problem or issue that needs to be addressed. It serves as a clear and succinct explanation of the problem, its context, and its importance, providing the necessary information to understand why the problem is worth solving. A well-crafted problem statement also helps to define the scope of the problem, which in turn helps to guide the research or problem-solving process. In essence, a problem statement sets the stage for identifying potential solutions and determining the best approach to solve the problem.

Characteristics of Problem Statement

The characteristics of a good problem statement include:

  • Clear and concise : A problem statement should be written in clear and concise language, free of technical jargon, and easily understandable to the intended audience.
  • Specific : The statement should clearly define the problem and its scope. It should identify the who, what, where, when, and why of the problem.
  • Measurable : A problem statement should be measurable in some way, whether through quantitative or qualitative methods. This allows for objective assessment of progress towards solving the problem.
  • Relevant : The problem statement should be relevant to the context in which it is presented. It should relate to the needs and concerns of stakeholders and the broader community.
  • Feasible : The problem statement should be realistic and achievable, given the available resources and constraints.
  • Innovative: A good problem statement should inspire creative and innovative solutions.
  • Actionable : The problem statement should lead to actionable steps that can be taken to address the problem. It should provide a roadmap for moving forward.

Advantages of Problem Statement

Advantages of Problem Statement are as follows:

  • Focus : A problem statement helps to clearly define the problem at hand and provides focus to the problem-solving process. It helps to avoid wasting time and resources on issues that are not relevant.
  • Alignment : A well-written problem statement ensures that everyone involved in the problem-solving process is on the same page and understands the issue at hand. This alignment helps to ensure that efforts are focused in the right direction and that everyone is working towards the same goal.
  • Clarity : A problem statement provides clarity about the nature of the problem and its impact. This clarity helps to facilitate communication and decision-making, making it easier to develop effective solutions.
  • Innovation : A well-crafted problem statement can inspire creativity and encourage innovative thinking. By clearly defining the problem, it can help to identify new approaches and solutions that may not have been considered before.
  • Measurability : A problem statement that is clear and specific can be used to measure progress and success. It helps to ensure that efforts are focused on addressing the root cause of the problem and that progress towards a solution can be tracked and evaluated.

Limitations of Problem Statement

While problem statements have many advantages, they also have some limitations, such as:

  • Limited Scope: A problem statement is usually focused on a specific issue or challenge. As a result, it may not capture the full complexity of a larger problem, which can limit the effectiveness of the solutions developed.
  • Lack of Detail : In some cases, problem statements may be too broad or lack sufficient detail, which can make it difficult to develop effective solutions. It’s important to ensure that the problem statement is specific enough to guide the problem-solving process.
  • Bias : The way in which a problem statement is written can sometimes reflect the biases or assumptions of the person or group writing it. This can lead to a narrow or incomplete understanding of the problem and limit the effectiveness of the solutions developed.
  • Inflexibility : A problem statement may be too rigid or inflexible, which can limit the exploration of alternative solutions. It’s important to keep an open mind and be willing to adapt the problem statement as new information or perspectives emerge.

About the author

' src=

Muhammad Hassan

Researcher, Academic Writer, Web developer

You may also like

Research Paper Conclusion

Research Paper Conclusion – Writing Guide and...

Appendices

Appendices – Writing Guide, Types and Examples

Research Report

Research Report – Example, Writing Guide and...

Delimitations

Delimitations in Research – Types, Examples and...

Scope of the Research

Scope of the Research – Writing Guide and...

Research Contribution

Research Contribution – Thesis Guide

IMAGES

  1. RES 8 Problem statement/ Criteria of good problem statement/ writing

    research objectives vs statement of the problem

  2. Differences Between Research Problem and Problem Statement

    research objectives vs statement of the problem

  3. The Research Problem and objectives

    research objectives vs statement of the problem

  4. PPT

    research objectives vs statement of the problem

  5. Difference between Aim and Objectives of a Research Study

    research objectives vs statement of the problem

  6. The Research Problem and objectives

    research objectives vs statement of the problem

VIDEO

  1. Notes Of Research Objectives And It's Types, Needs, Characterstics in Hindi (Bsc Nursing)

  2. 4 HOW TO WRITE A RESEARCH PROBLEM STATEMENT

  3. Research Problem [Eng.]

  4. NATIONAL WEBINAR SERIES

  5. Statement of the Problem

  6. Action Research

COMMENTS

  1. How to Write a Problem Statement

    It should: Contextualize the problem. What do we already know? Describe the exact issue your research will address. What do we still need to know? Show the relevance of the problem. Why do we need to know more about this? Set the objectives of the research. What will you do to find out more? Table of contents

  2. Research Objectives

    Your objectives should appear in the introduction of your research paper, at the end of your problem statement. They should: Establish the scope and depth of your project Contribute to your research design Indicate how your project will contribute to existing knowledge Table of contents What is a research objective?

  3. What are the similarities between the statement of the problem and the

    Answer: Usually, people wish to know the differences between the two, as the two concepts have a similar aim: to distill the research problem. So, a question about the similarities between these concepts is a bit unusual, and possibly academic. :) Anyway, here goes…

  4. PDF Chapter 6 Problem Statement, Research Objectives, and Hypotheses

    6.3 Objective of the study. As stated in Chapter 1 the main objective of this study is to evaluate the importance of factors that effect decisions made by South African sport sponsors. Initially these factors were summarised as follows: The range of sport sponsorship objectives;

  5. PDF FROM PROBLEM STATEMENT TO RESEARCH QUESTIONS

    FROM PROBLEM STATEMENT TO RESEARCH QUESTIONS Objectives Understand and develop all of the Chapter 1: Introduction sections. Develop and articulate research questions that are related to the purpose of the study. Chapter 1: Introduction Statement of the Problem

  6. How to Write a Statement of the Problem for Your Research Proposal

    Developing a 'good' research problem statement, therefore, involves systematic planning and setting time-based, realistic objectives. Your problem has to be achievable. You'll also need to apply feasible research methods based on an approach that best suits the research question. Your methods have to make sense.

  7. What is a Problem Statement? [with examples]

    The purpose of the problem statement is to identify the issue that is a concern and focus it in a way that allows it to be studied in a systematic way. It defines the problem and proposes a way to research a solution, or demonstrates why further information is needed in order for a solution to become possible.

  8. The Research Problem/Question

    A research problem is a definite or clear expression [statement] about an area of concern, a condition to be improved upon, a difficulty to be eliminated, or a troubling question that exists in scholarly literature, in theory, or within existing practice that points to a need for meaningful understanding and deliberate investigation.

  9. How to Write a Research Problem Statement

    A research problem statement typically includes the following elements: 1. The research topic: The general area of interest or field of study that the research project addresses. 2. The specific problem or issue: A clear and concise statement of the problem or issue that the research project aims to address. 3.

  10. Research questions and hypothesis are dependent on the objectives of

    Answer: A research problem is a broad issue that you would like to address through your research. It identifies a difficulty, doubt, or an area of concern, in theory or in practice, that requires thought and investigation. Research objectives are clear statements of what you aim to achieve through your research.

  11. PDF Identifying a Research Problem and Question, and Searching Relevant

    tive types of descriptive research, your research question often directly leads to your hypothesis. Therefore, it is good practice to ensure that your research topic or problem statement, research question, and hypothesis use consistent language regarding vari-ables and any anticipated outcomes. Certainly, you would write a hypothesis for each

  12. How to write the research problem, research question, and ...

    Provide a background of the problem you wish to study. Explain why you have undertaken the study. Describes your research problem. Summarizes the existing knowledge related to your topic. Highlights the contribution that your research will make to your field. States your research question clearly. You can look up these resources to have a clear ...

  13. How to Write a Problem Statement in Research

    A research problem statement is a concise statement describing the problem or issue addressed by the research study. The research problem should be composed in a way that both experts and non-experts in the field can understand.

  14. The Research Problem & Problem Statement

    Step 4 - Craft your problem statement. Once you've selected your research problem, the final step is to craft a problem statement. Remember, your problem statement needs to be a concise outline of what the core issue is and how your study will address it. Aim to fit this within one paragraph - don't waffle on.

  15. Research Questions, Objectives & Aims (+ Examples)

    The research aims, objectives and research questions (the golden thread) define the focus and scope (the delimitations) of your research project. In other words, they help ringfence your dissertation or thesis to a relatively narrow domain, so that you can "go deep" and really dig into a specific problem or opportunity.

  16. How to Write a Statement of the Problem in Research

    A research problem statement is a concise, clear, and specific articulation of a gap in current knowledge that your research aims to bridge. It not only sets forth the scope and direction of your research but also establishes its relevance and significance. Your problem statement in your research paper aims to:

  17. Problem Statement, Conceptual Framework, and Research Questi ...

    The introduction builds a logical case and context for the problem statement. The problem statement is clear and well articulated. The conceptual (theoretical) framework is explicit and justified. The research question (research hypothesis where applicable) is clear, concise, and complete. The variables being investigated are clearly identified ...

  18. The basics of writing a statement of the problem for your research

    The ultimate goal of a statement of the problem is to transform a generalized problem (something that bothers you; a perceived lack) into a targeted, well-defined problem; one that can be resolved through focused research and careful decision-making. Writing a statement of the problem should help you clearly identify the purpose of the research ...

  19. What are the differences between a research problem and a problem

    Cite Popular replies (1) Gaurav H Tandon A research problem is a specific issue, difficulty, contradiction, or gap in knowledge that you will aim to address in your research. You might look...

  20. What is a Problem Statement in Research? How to Write It with Examples

    A research problem statement should ideally be clear, precise, and tangible enough to assist you in developing a framework for establishing the objectives, techniques, and analysis of the research project. Hence, any research project, if it is to be completed successfully, must start with a well-defined research problem.

  21. Difference between Objectives and Statement of the Problem

    Difference between Objectives and Statement of the Problem Academic Help I'm currently doing the introduction to our Practical Research and I'm confused about the difference between the objectives and statement of the problem since our teacher mentioned to only put the objectives in the intro.

  22. Problem Statement

    Here are some general steps to follow when writing a problem statement: Identify the problem: Clearly identify the problem that needs to be addressed. Consider the context, stakeholders, and potential consequences of the problem. Research the problem: Conduct research to gather data and information about the problem.