Elements of a Research Problem

Elements of a Research ProblemA research problem refers to some difficulty either of a theoretical or practical character which an individual or organization is experiencing and wants to obtain a solution for the same. There are a number of elements (components) which a problem must have before it becomes a research problem ready for study.

What are the 5 Elements of a Research Problem ?

1. Objective or aim of the problem which is to be investigated. This answers the question “Why?” Why is there a need for investigation, inquiry or study?

2. The topic or theme which needs to be investigated. This answers the question “What?” What is to be researched or studied?” For example: What would a rival company do if we decrease our prices by 25%? What would sales be if prices were Rs. 89 ? Rs. 99 ? How would a rival firms action influence our sales and profits? The right question needs to be addressed if research is to help decision makers. The decision maker can’t acquire all the information, but it is often feasible to identify the factors that are critical to the existing problem. These factors are then included in the problem definition.

3. The time dimension of a decision problem is always the future. The period or time of the study when the data are to be gathered. This answers the question “When?” When is the research to be performed?” Managers frequently run the risk of making the correct decision at incorrect time. It is essential that the decision maker as well as the researcher determine the right time reference for-the decision.

4. The area or location in which the study is to be conducted. This answers the question “Where?” Where we need to conduct the study? The space coordinates give you the geographic boundaries within which the action is to be taken. In the problem definition, these lines are hardly ever neat political divisions or subdivisions. The universe of interest should be defined either conceptually or by enumeration.

5. Population or universe from whom the data needs to be gathered. This answers the question “Who?” or “from whom?” Who are the respondents? From who are the data to be collected?” They may include  persons, groups of persons, business establishments.

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Problem definition is the first step in research, a thorough knowledge of all its elements is crucial to make the correct decision. In real sense formulation of a problem is often a lot more crucial than its solution. It is only on careful detailing the research problem that we can work out research design and can smoothly carry on all the consequential steps involved while doing research. An appropriate definition of research problem allows the investigator to be on the right path, on the other hand, an ill defined research problem may create challenges. In fact, a problem clearly stated is a problem half solved.

If anything important is missing please post in the comments section. Related: Elements of Research DesignImportance of Research Design


  1. You made my day. I was searching for Research Problem Elements and did not find any useful article. But this article really helped me. Thanks

  2. If you can discuss the elements in more details it would be really nice.

  3. Hemachandra.E says

    Thank you so much sir ! i would love to see a bit more elaborated answer…!!!

  4. thank u so much sir

  5. thank you so much i’ve been looking for materials for my assignment and this one gonna be so useful, asante sana!

  6. Thank you so much for this information you make my life easier this time…:-)

  7. Elizabth John says

    Thank you for helping me out.

  8. manu emmanuel says

    Thanks for your assistance. Indeed it has helped me but try and discus them in more details

  9. Daniel Acheampong says

    Thank you so much. You helped me in my assignment, I will be starting my project work very soon and I will need to read more about it.

  10. Thank you sir you are really a life saver.

  11. michael jhon hugob says

    thank you so much for helping me sir

  12. Coreen Leann Elizalde says

    Ummm…its really helpfull and all but can you please add a research problem where all the components/elements of research are found?..it would be greatly appreciated…thank you!!maraming salamat!!?


  14. Prof. Mohamed Kassem says

    Yes, but …..
    I always have this difficulty with my students, which I did not see in these golden Ws.
    It is missing WHY?
    Why do we research this point? this question is closely related to another W, (Who) need it?
    Most of their research papers are frozen on the shelf because of this.
    I think you should ad this element to the article.

  15. Blessings Kamanga says

    Thanks lot’s, I have an Idea now of what research’s elements problems are

  16. Josiah G. Mwale says

    That’s very helpful

  17. Cynthia C. Honrales says

    What are the elements of Qualitative Research Questions and how do we write problem statement for qualitative research?

  18. yafet legese says

    it is very interesting topic to mine.and also it formulate or give solution in mine research.

  19. Thanks sir….
    But something I don’t understand,there some teachers says that components of research problem are
    1.should be individual or group which face difficult the same
    2.must be an objective
    3.must be alternatives
    4.must be doubt to the researchers mind
    So any one capable to relate these elements and that we study here help me pls

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