Q: What is a good research problem?

1 Answer to this question

It is not clear if you are asking about writing a statement of the problem or formulating a research question. These are two different things. First, you devise a research question. Next, you formulate the statement.

How you develop your specific research question will depend a lot on your field of study. However, irrespective of the research area, a good research problem has specific objectives relevant to the current state of the art, backed up by a thorough review of the literature. The research question should be well-defined and address current knowledge gaps. To start, you could follow these steps:

  • Identify a broad area
  • Learn more about the problem
  • Narrow down the exact aspect that your research will address
  • Identify what is known and what remains to be unraveled
  • Weigh the significance of the problem and the short-term and long-term implications of the proposed findings.

When you begin to write the statement of the research question, remember that it should introduce the importance of the topic and the significance of the study and outline the research questions or hypotheses. The statement should place the problem into a particular context. Next, it should provide a framework for the proposed approach and how the findings might bridge the knowledge gaps/answer the research question. You could begin by asking the following:

  • What do we already know about XYZ?
  • What more do we need to know about XYZ?
  • Why do we need to know it?
  • What will I do to find out?
  • How might the answers be useful in a general and specific sense?

Here are some resources that might provide more details to support you in framing your research statement: