Necessity of Defining a Research Problem

What is necessity of defining a research problem in research methodology ?One must always define a problem correctly. In fact, research problem formulation is much more important than its prospective solution. A properly defined problem doesn’t let an investigator wander from the research path which needs to be followed.  Hence, it is, concluded that only upon a detailed definition of the research problem, the researcher can progress with the design of research methodology.

What is the Necessity of Defining a Research Problem ?

The problem to be researched needs to be described unambiguously as that will help you to discriminate useful data from the unrelated ones. A proper formulation of research problem will allow the investigator to be on the track in contrast to an ill-defined problem may possibly create difficulties.

Questions like: What data are to be gathered? What attributes of data are appropriate and need to be analyzed? What relations should be investigated. What methods should be employed for the purpose? as well as other questions turn up in the head of the investigator who can well plan his strategy and find solutions to these kinds of questions only when the research problem has been well defined. Therefore, defining the problem accurately is a necessity for any research and is a step of the highest value.

In fact, formulation of a problem is often vital than its solution. It is only on thoroughly describing the problem that we can work out the research design and can efficiently proceed all the consequential steps needed while doing research.

Important Points to Keep in Mind while Defining the Research Problem

  1. The correct question needs to be addressed if research is to help decision makers. A right answer to the wrong question leads either to bad advice or to no advice.
  2. Usually in problem we have an inclination to rationalize and defend our actions once we have started upon a specific research plan. The perfect time to examine and think about alternative techniques is in the planning stage. If it is completed unnecessary expense of false start and redoing work may be prevented.
  3. An excellent beginning in problem definition is to ask what the decision maker want to know if the requested information can be gathered without error and without expense.
  4. Another excellent rule to follow is “Never settle on a specific strategy” without developing and taking into consideration at least one alternate option”.
  5. The problem definition stage of research is the determination and structuring of the decision maker’s question. It should be the decision maker’s question and not the researcher’s question.
  6. What decision do you face? Unless you have decision to make, there isn’t any research problem.
  7. What are the alternatives? In case there are no options to choose, once again there is absolutely no research problem.
  8. What are the factors for selecting the best alternative? Unless you have criteria for evaluation, again there’s no problem.
  9. The researcher should stay away from the acceptance of the superficial and the obvious.

Frequently we all hear that a problem clearly expressed is a problem half solved. This statement indicates the necessity of defining a research problem in research methodology. This actually also results in a smoother progress on all the following steps which are needed for finishing a research project.


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