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Problem Formulation


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Key aspects of formulating a research problem. Need of understanding the research problem. What, Why, and How in research. Characteristics of a good research problem.

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Problem Formulation

  1. 1. CS3962 Research and Report Writing Dilum Bandara, PhD Formulating a Research Problem
  2. 2. 2
  3. 3. Research Problem ▪ A clear statement of what challenge/problem you are trying to address ▪ Better if it addresses a felt need –Can do just for a fun of doing research ▪ If you clearly understand the problem, half the problem is solved 3
  4. 4. Problem Formulation Identify • Felt Need • Experiences • Literature • Forums Define • What? • Why? • How? • Scope Discuss • Supervisor • Friends • Meetings, conferences 4
  5. 5. Characteristics of a Good Problem ▪ Interesting –Keep researcher interested in it throughout the research process –Will it lead to generation of new knowledge, understanding, or tools? –What others think about it? ▪ Relevant –Is the problem significant enough in today’s context? ▪ Clear (unambiguous) –Has well defined boundaries & assumptions 5
  6. 6. Characteristics (Cont.) ▪ Researchable –Can be accomplished using a scientific method ▪ Right balance between Research & Development –At BSc level R can be small & D can large –Manageable/feasible/practical –Fits the level of researcher’s skill set –Time, resources, tools ▪ Low Risk Low Gain vs. High Risk High Gain –Is it free of unknown hazards/dangers? ▪ Ethical 6
  7. 7. 10 Commandments for Picking a Research Project – Susan Furth, MD/PhD 1. Anticipate results before doing the study 2. Pick an area on the basis of interest of the outcome 3. Look for an under occupied niche that has potential 4. Go to talks & read papers outside your area of interest 5. Build on a theme 7
  8. 8. 10 Commandments (Cont.) 6. Find a balance between low-risk & high-risk projects 7. Be prepared to pursue a project to any depth necessary 8. Differentiate yourself from your mentor 9. Don’t assume that empirical research is easier than fundamental research 10.Focus, focus, focus 8
  9. 9. Problem Statement ▪ Address following 3 questions in a suitable order – What are you planning to do? – Why is it important? – How are you planning to do it? ▪ Write a single paragraph ▪ Refine it as you understand the problem better 9
  10. 10. Problem Statement – Examples ▪ To develop a peer-assisted software patch distribution system to share patches or updates in P2P style without being exposed to potential attackers. ▪ Auto-scale computing resources in a PaaS cloud environment based on current workload and resource usage, while predicting the workload to reduce cost and to meet desired QoS and SLA goals. ▪ Given a set of drivers D and jobs J, how to automatically schedule drivers while maximizing customer satisfaction, efficiency, profit, and driver satisfaction? ▪ To describe the types of incentives provides by IT companies to their employees. ▪ To find out the opinion of the employees about the fitness & health facilities provided by local IT industry. ▪ To ascertain the impact of training on employee retention. ▪ To compare the effectiveness of different loyalty programs on repeat clientele. 10
  11. 11. Pitching Research Problem ▪ Elevator Pitch –Short speech or conversation –Make listener want to hear more –Secure an invitation for a longer conversation –See resources on LMS ▪ Why at BSc? –Enable you to formulate a clear research problem –Should be understood by a listener with a basic background in related areas –Pitch your next business idea 11
  12. 12. Resources ▪ Starting your research – ▪ Elevator Pitch – – – 12