How to Formulate a Good Research Problem?

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A good research problem is one that is related to a current research gap. It should be relevant to the present context and helps in further research. So, formulating a good research problem requires finding a significant research gap and objective in a particular area of the study.

Researchers often find it difficult to formulate a research problem. What they have is a broad knowledge of a subject but they don’t know how to take out a specific research problem from it. The following steps might be helpful in the formulation of a good research problem.

Steps for Formulating a Good Research Problem

Identify an area of interest:

The first step is to know what interest you most in your subject. Ask yourself the following questions: is there any particular debate that interests you? is there any particular thinker that you like? or is there a particular branch of the subject you are interested in? Once you answer one of these questions, you have at least a broad area of interest.

Dividing an area of interest in subareas:

The second step is to find out what are subareas within the broad area of interest. You have to look for various questions and debates within the particular area. It is basically to identify what questions within the area interest you most. It clarifies what aspect of the study you would like to focus on.

Selecting a specific area of interest:

Once, the researcher is able to identify what questions interest her, she will be able to select a specific area of interest. It also leads the researcher to identify what is the objective and scope of the study.

Finding the Research Gap:

After selecting a specific area of interest, the researcher must go through different sources like books, journals, and other scholarly materials carefully. She must analyze arguments, findings, or debates within the particular area of interest. The purpose is to find a research gap on which a research problem can be formulated.

Formulating the Research Problem:

Finding a research gap leads to the formulation of the research problem. The research objective and scope come out of the research questions. The research problem should not be too broad or too narrow. Also, it should be manageable within the available time and resources.

In sum, formulating a research problem involves analyzing already existing research and finding a gap in it. Based on the gap, the researcher can pose some research questions that have relevance to the current debate.

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