A research problem is a question that researcher
wants to answer or a problem that a researcher
wants to solve
Identification & formulation of a research problem is
the first step of the research process.
Selection of research problem depends on several
factors such as researcher’s knowledge, skills,
interest, expertise, motivation & creativity with
respect to the subject of inquiry.
It is like the identification of a destination before
under taking a journey
Without a problem , research cannot proceed
because there is nothing to proceed to ward.
“If one wants to solve a problem , one must generally
know what the problem is . It can be said that a large
part of the problem lies in knowing what one is trying
Research problem may take a number of forms ,
from the very simple to the very complex
The broad general area expected to investigate. It is a
broad idea or concept from which many problems may be
A situation or circumstance that requires a solution to be
described, explained, or predicted. It is an unsatisfactory
According to Kerlinger, ‘A problem is an
interrogative sentence or statement that asks what
relation exists between two or more variable. The
answer to question will provide what is having
sought in the research.
R.S. Woodworth defines problem as ‘a situation for
which we have no ready & successful response by
instinct or by previous acquired habit. We must find
out what to do’, i.e. the solution can be found out
only after an investigation.
In other words, ‘a research problem is an area of
concern where there is a gap in the knowledge
base needed for professional practices.
SELECTION OF RESEARCH
Any research problem does exist if the following condition
are in existence:-
1.There must be an individual or a group or an
organization having different types of environment.
2.There must be atlest two course of action is defined by
one or more values of the controlled variable.
3. There must be atlest two possible outcomes .Out of
these two a researcher wants an objective.
4. The courses of action available must provide some
chance of obtaining the objective but they cannot
provide the same chance as they have unequal
efficiencies for the desired result.
R.L.ACKOFF has discussed the five components of a
research problem as under:-
1. Research consumer:
-individuals or group which have some difficulty or
problem. they may be researcher or other.
2. Research – consumer’s objective:-
- there must be some objective to be attained as
the research consumer must have something to get
it. If one wants noting one cannot have a problem.
3.Alternative means to meet the objective:
-this means that there must be at least two means(courses
of action) available to a researcher or if has no choice of
means, he/she cannot have a problem.
4. Doubt in regard to selection of alternatives:
-the existence of alternative courses of action is not enough
to experience a problem
-The researcher must have some doubt as to which
alternative to select.
-without such a doubt there can be no problem
5. There must be one or more environments:
- there must be some environment to which the difficulty or
- A researcher may have doubts as to which will be most
efficient means in one environment.
- -some problems are specific to any one environment while
others are quite general.
The following points should be kept in mind by a researcher in
selecting a research problem:
1.The subject on which research work has been overdue should
not be chosen, because it will be a difficult task to throw any
2.The problem should neither be too narrow nor too vague.
3.The topic of the research should be familiar and feasible so
that the researcher can easily have an access to related
research materials or source of research.
4.Controversial subject should be avoided while selecting a
5.While selecting a research problem the researcher should also
take into account the various factors such as the importance of
subject, the qualifications , the training of researcher , the
investment elements in the research in terms of time, money and
A research problem
may come from
Selection of a research
Formulating final statement
of research problem
Reviewing the literature &
Delimiting the research
Evaluating the research
Selection of a research area:
Formulation of a research problem begins with
selection of a broad research topic from personal
experience, literature, previous research, & theories in
which researcher is interested & has significance for
For example, a researcher gets an idea to conduct a
study on the Impact of library internship on MLIS
Therefore, he or she initially begins with such broad
Reviewing literature &
After getting a broad idea for research, he or she needs
to review the LISc. literature & theories.
Literature is reviewed to know what has already been
done in this selected areas of research.
Review of library theories provides an opportunity for
LISc researcher to plan a research problem to
contribute towards either testing or development of a
Delimiting the research topic:
In this step, researcher proceeds from a general area of
interest to more specific topic of research to conduct a
For example, initially a researcher decides to conduct a
study on Impact of library internship on MLIS Student;
later in this stage researcher limits it to specific research
topic ‘a study on perception of MLIS Students about
impact on internship in pondicherry university ’.
In this stage, a researcher clearly identifies variables,
Evaluating the research problem
Once researcher is clear about the specific research
problem, next the research problem must be carefully
evaluated for its significance, researchability, &
Feasibility of the research problem should be
evaluated for time, cost, availability of subjects &
resources, administrative & peer support, ethical
consideration, & researcher’s competence & interest.
Formulating final statement of
After establishing the significance, researchability, &
feasibility, then researcher finally formulates a final
statement of a research problem.
A statement of research problem could be in
declarative or interrogative format
In this format, a research problem is
stated in declarative statement.
e.g.- impact of library internship on MLIS student of
2. Interrogative format:
In interrogative format, a research
problem is stated in question form.
e.g- “What is the Impact of library internship on MLIS
Student of Pondicherry University ?”
The choice of either of these two types of format formulation
of a research problem depends on the researcher’s
preference & institutional policies.
Declarative format much popular among researchers.
For the formulation of a research problem it is preferable it it
fulfils the following features:
Research problem is clearly, precisely articulated.
It clearly states the variables, population, & research setting
Variable are expressed in measurable terms.
The type of study also may be included in the statement of