Defining the research problem: The How and the Why!

Research Question and Research Problem are often used as synonyms in reference to the problem that is desired to be investigated. From the mind-set that is followed in the research process, the problem that is desired to be solved is done by putting up a lot of questions so the research problem becomes the foundation of the study and all subsequent research activities are based on it.
When you design your research proposal, you try to convince a third party about your study and its relevance and importance. To be able to do that convincingly your research problem has to be strong enough and should consider the following points:

  1. Retain your interest: other than making sure that the topic is topical and holds relevance and interest of the academic world it is also important to note that it should sustain your interest because you would be working on it for a long time and if it does not interest or excite you then you may not be able to complete the study. The eagerness that have to go in studying about the topic will determine how soon and faster you complete your study.
  2. It should match your competencies: even if you have the enthusiasm to take up the study, you must not overestimate your skills and ability and go for a research problem that is over ambitious. Rather choose a topic that falls in the limits of your skill set.
  3. Give sufficient clarification: you must be aware of the basic step by step process for creating a research problem. All that your audience primarily wants is “who, what, when, where and how”. Make sure you answer each of these questions. By doing so, you would successfully put across the message to others and to yourself that the chosen topic of study has the viability and also, very important is that you are the right person to be doing it.
  4. Institute the feasibility of your study: put across the feasibility of your study so that you are aware of the parameters and at the same time the audience knows that you have evaluated and understood the possible challenges that might come in this study and are well prepared to handle them as and when they arrive.
  5. Justify its USP: this is more important when you are wanting to get awarded some monetary funding or resources for your study and more than one applicant is there for the same. Your research problem should convincingly put across why your study should be considered over others. Identify the USP of your study and place them well so that it doesn’t go unnoticed.

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