In every study, researchers incorporate a research problem as a central issue in the researching process. Therefore, a researcher is incapable of conducting a study without the initial step of uncovering the research problem. When creating a research problem, the research should easily provide easily identifiable and eminent variables while accompanying formulating a hypothesis to accompany a research problem. Thus, after providing a clear definition of a research problem, the next stage involves translation of the specified problem into a research problem that unfolds how correlation between two of more population variables of study emerges. Initially, a researcher will proceed to explore the research problem, its significance, the research problem sources, contemplations, as well as the pertinent stages required when research problem formulation occurs.
According to a study conducted by Leedy and Ormrod (2005), a research problem incorporated in most studies serves as a basis. Therefore, proper formulation of research problems results in a smooth follow of the remaining sections of the research abide with and addresses the issues unfolded in the research problem. Leedy and Ormrod view research problem as a question or issue that requires a solution. However, the initial step in solving a problem involves understanding what constitutes this problem. Leedy and Ormrod compare a research problem with an illness whereby a doctor needs to understand initially whether a patient is ill, and a particular disease affecting a patient in order to proceed with a treatment process. Therefore, a research is a treatment that follows after uncovering the underlying problem emerging in a certain discipline. The main mart of this problem involves understanding the course of action required in an individual. Therefore, research problem formulation plays a significant role in determining the proceeding steps in the research study. Research formulation compares to an input into a research. In that case, the output is the quality in the issues uncovered in a research report.
Characteristics of a research problem
Tracy (2007) maintains that each problem in a research should consist of a researchable unit. A problem involves a consistent area of undertaking a large research. A researcher may research every problem as a distinct project with an aim of fulfilling the larger goal of the study. Thus, after combining the problem solutions, a researcher is at a position of providing resolution to the major problem in the study. At this point, Leedy and Ormrod (2005) insist on the significance of stating every problem in a clear and succinct manner. In most instances, a researcher states a problem in the form of a question. A question mainly draws the researcher attention towards the research problem than a mere statement declaration. Eventually, the inquisitive or probing approach consists of a standard mental state of each true researcher's intelligence and thinking.
In his study, Ellis and Levy (2008) explores the constituents of a reasonable theoretical framework that qualifies a research. Ellis and Levy view a theoretical framework as a two sided sword. From one perspective, a researcher can utilize well-known theories that relate with the research interests so as to establish a framework for the study. As a new researcher than is yet to familiarize with their individual investigation practicability, this approach guarantees favourable outcome. From another perspective, understanding the theoretical framework implication to a research quality is challenging. In most instances, Tracy (2007) insists that new researchers may doubt their ability to gather realistic framework that is supportive to a certain research. For instance, a researcher may be unable to understand the theories underpinning their selected topic of study. These issues require a through understand if a researcher has to promote a through and conclusive research. The consolidated theoretical framework has to provide the best support to the research problem.
Although some beginner researching individuals understand the theoretical framework from a general perspective, Leedy and Ormrod (2005) insists that others lack this knowledge and view this framework as a complete theory such as the Critical Theory, Theory of Relativity, or big Bang Theory. In order to gain a comprehensive insight of the theoretical framework and how it should support the research problem, Leedy and Ormrod explain that researchers should comprehend the term as utilized in a study field. Leedy and Ormrod further state that these researchers should familiarize with the theories in their areas of study. For this familiarization, it is important to comprehensively review literature.
In their theoretical framework, Ellis and Levy (2008) insist that a research problem is central in every research. It delimits the research hypothesis while addressing he pertinent research questions. It is by providing answers to these research questions that a researcher research to a final conclusion. Therefore, Ellis and Levy identify a research problem as a starting point for a research. This unifying string runs through all the constituents of a research undertaking. For research to qualify as viable, the research problem should uncover at the research introduction identifying the significance of that study. The paragraph below delineates a typical problem statement for a business research:
Small and medium enterprises (SMEs) play a significant role towards the economic growth and development (Okpara & Kabongo, 2009; Vrgovic, 2012). In South Africa, small scale businesses constitute 89 percent of private enterprises. This contributes to employment of 65 percent of the country’s population. This study established that 55 percent of the country’s output comes from the small and medium size enterprises (Seerat, Mujahid & Sheraz, 2011). Despite of this significant contribution, studies reveal that the years of success in this sector is reducing in South Africa. Studies project a possible extinction of this business category in the near future based on the existing adverse situations prevalent in this sector. Therefore, the underlying problem in this research is to uncover the key contributing factors to the increasing rate of failure by small and medium business enterprises in the bid to recommend appropriate measures of ameliorating this problem.
In the above statement, the researcher is clear on the thesis. He starts by providing a clear background of the study area. He proceeds to introduce the problems in such a way that it revisits the thesis. Statistics and facts are provided to support the argument developed in the research problem. A framework for addressing the problem follows. This is where the author proceeds to introduce the objectives of the study, and hypothesis. This research problem introduces a research that is not based on personal observations and interests. The exploration is through several literatures until finally reaching a conclusion that justifies the existence of a research problem.
Ellis, T. & Levy, Y. (2008). Framework of Problem-Based Research: A Guide for Novice Researchers on the Development of a Research-Worthy Problem. Informing Science: the International Journal of an Emerging Transdiscipline, 11 (1): 17-33.
Leedy, P. D., & Ormrod, J. E. (2005). Practical research: Planning and design (8th ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall.
Okpara, J. & Kabongo, J. (2009). An Empirical Evaluation of Barriers Hindering the Growth of Small and Medium Sized Enterprises (SMEs) in a Developing Economy. African Journal of Business & Economic Research, 4 (1): 7-21.
Seerat F., Mujahid A. & Sheraz A. (2011). Network Classification On The Basis Of Functions They Perform And Its Relationship With Internationalization Process Of SMEs In Developing Countries. Australian Journal of Business & Management Research, 1 (8): 35-53.
Tracy, S. J. (2007). Taking the plunge: A contextual approach to problem-based research. Communication Monographs, 74(1), 106-111.
Vrgovic, P. (2012). Open innovation for SMEs in developing countries - An intermediated communication network model for collaboration beyond obstacles, Innovation: Management, Policy & Practice, 14 (3): 290-302.