Techniques of Defining a Research Problem

Problem definition demands the task of setting up boundaries within which an investigator should study the problem with a pre-determined goal in mind. The best way to define the problem is unquestionably a tough job. Having said that, it is a task that needs to be handled smartly in order to prevent the perplexity experienced in a research procedure.

What are the Techniques of Defining a Research Problem in Research Methodology?

The technique involved in defining research problem has following steps:

  • Statement of the problem in a general way: The research problem needs to deal with either a particular practical operational issue or some scientific discovery. It may also be related to satisfaction or widening of a certain intellectual curiosity. No matter what the subject of research, the problem definition should in general be at a logical level. For this reason, the investigator should involve himself thoroughly in the topic relating to which he wants to pose a problem. In the case of social research, it is considered a good idea to do some field observation and as such the investigator may take on some type of preliminary survey or what is known as pilot survey. The problem mentioned in a broad general way could have numerous ambiguities that need to be fixed by cool thinking and rethinking about the issue. While doing so the feasibility of a specific alternative must be considered and the same should be kept in view while stating the problem.
  • Understand the nature of the problem: The next step in defining the problem is that the investigator should be aware of the cause and character of the problem in clear terms via discussions and study of the environment within which problem is to be solved.
  • Literature Survey: All accessible literature in connection with the issue at hand must necessarily be surveyed and examined before a definition of the research problem is provided. It helps a professional to take a look at current dimensions in that specific area and results in enhancement of knowledge. The researcher will have to dedicate adequate time in examining of research previously carried out on relevant problems. It is performed to discover what data and other materials, if any, are readily available for operational purposes. Being aware of what data can be obtained often acts to narrow the problem itself in addition to the technique that may be employed.

Techniques of Defining a Research Problem

Figure 1 – Key Steps

  • Experiential Advice: Discussion related to a difficulty usually produces valuable information. People who have understanding or have rich experience in the area of research have turned out to be excellent sounding board for an investigator. Their suggestions and comment on research proposal help a researcher to get greater clarity and focus on his research topic. Chats with such people should not just be limited to the formulation of the particular problem at hand, but should also be related to the overall approach to the specific issue, techniques that could be used, feasible solutions, etc.
  • Rephrase the research problem: Quite often, a problem redefinition takes place when the steps mentioned above are carried out. Researcher often redefines the problem in a fashion that is more practical and logical for the conduct of the research in hand. This effort will also help with defining hypothesis.

Read Also: Necessity of Defining a Research Problem

In addition to what has been stated above about the techniques of defining a research problem. The following points should also be observed in the procedure of defining the problem:

(a) The researcher must clearly define the Technical terms, words, phrases, etc.
(b) Basic assumptions concerning the research problem must be clearly mentioned.
(c) The criteria for the selection of the problem needs to be clearly specified.
(d) The researcher should also consider suitability of the time-period and the sources of data available.
(e) The scope of the study or the boundaries within which the problem is to be studied needs to be stated clearly.


  1. Olowu, ThankGod C says

    Research is an update technique for revitalization of new product or re-branding of old product to new product

  2. afework Ethiopia says

    thanks you I found several knowledge from your experience.

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