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Research Process: Research Problem

What is the research process? This will cover: Creating a problem statement, creating research question(s), conducting a literature review, selecting research methods, and quantifying & presenting results.

Quick Overview

Basically, the research problem defines and guides your entire research process.

1. Pick something you are actually interested in.

2. Your problem statement should be clear and concise.

3.  The problem should be important.

4. The problem should increase or advance knowledge in the field (or for the company). It should demonstrate a gap between what is known and what is unknown, or a gap between what is wanted and what is observed.  The problem statement should indicate an area of conflict, concern, or controversy.

5.  The problem should be something that is feasible (time, money, resources) for you to tackle.

6. You should be able to gather information and/or data to help solve the problem. (i.e., you can research the problem)

Full Overview of the Research Problem

Above is a link to a short book chapter that covers what a research problem is and how to create it.  The chapter discusses different types of research problems and different approaches to a research problem.  It also provides some examples. 

Video on Research Problem

The video below is geared towards a specific type of research in health sciences.  Focus on the discussions of the research problem.

Examples of Problem Statements

Problem Statement #1:

Overfill has been a serious problem facing our city waste facilities for the last decade. By some estimations, our city dumps are, on average, 30% above capacity—an unsanitary, unsafe, and unwise position for our city to be in.

Several methods have been proposed in order to combat this. Perhaps the most popular of these is the simplest: building two new landfills on the county outskirts. Others have proposed stronger recycling campaigns and larger per-bag waste disposal costs as a way to lessen the potential damage of our trash situation.

Bluffington is close to drowning in trash. Action is needed if our city is to remain the clean, safe place to live it has always been.

Problem Statement #2:

We want all of our software releases to go to production seamlessly, without defects, where everyone is aware and informed of the outcomes and status.

Today we have too many release failures that result in too many rollback failures. If we ignore this problem; resources will need to increase to handle the cascading problems, and we may miss critical customer deadlines which could result in lost revenue, SLA penalties, lost business, and further damage to our quality reputation.

We will use our Kaizen Blitz methodology in evaluating the last release to help us improve our processes.