Steps in Writing an Effective Statement of the Problem

Steps in Writing an Effective Statement of the Problem

There are various steps that should be taken in order to write an effective research problem.

a) Reflection — The statement of a problem usually starts with an idea the researcher might have as to what kind of a problem he/she wants to solve or what questions the researcher wants to answer in a selected topic. Everyday practices and experiences usually bring up questions the researcher wants to answer. These are fertile grounds for identifying the research problem.

The researcher should write down some research ideas/puzzles he/she has been debating based on the selected topic. Reflection involves assessing the selected research topic and title and thinking of the best way to reflect the riddle in the

topic/title. The researcher should also attempt to reflect on key issues in the topic and the independent and dependent variables of the study.

b) Identification -After identifying the key variables, the researcher should attempt to identify the key uncertainties. The researcher should attempt to answer the following: Is there something wrong or disturbing in society, theoretically unclear or in dispute related to the topic/title selected? Why is this a problem?

c) Formulation -After identifying the problem, the researcher should formulate it by clearly explaining why this is a problem and how it affects people or institutions. The researcher should indicate what it is he/she knows about the problem, through personal observation and research.

Justification -After stating what the researcher thinks is the problem he/she should explain briefly the repercussions likely to follow in the long run if the problem is not addressed. The researcher should use the statement of the problem to show that the research is definitely needed.

Challenges Faced in Articulating the Research Problem

a) Defining the research problem -One problem faced by researchers in stating the research problem is lack of clarity. The issue being addressed is hardly noticeable in the research problem.


Objectives are intentions or purposes stated in specific measurable terms. They provide opportunities for evaluating the end results. In research, an objective is a specific statement relating to the defined aim of the study. Specific objectives constitute the means by which the aim/ goal of the study could be achieved. They specify what the researcher will do in the study. Objectives are operational. They state specific tasks that will be carried out by the researcher to accomplish the aims of the study. These tasks are measurable.


Objectives play a vital role in research. This includes the following:

  • Objectives guide decisions in the selection of respondents, research instruments and the study area. This assists the researcher to avoid the collection of data, which are not strictly necessary for understanding and solving the problem identified.
  • Objectives influence all components of the research design including data analysis and report writing.
  • A clear statement of objectives helps to limit the scope of the literature review. This is necessary for valid outcomes. They assist the researcher to be precise about what to accomplish. They help organize the study in clearly defined parts or phases.
  • Objectives serve to clarify the variables of the study. This helps in the evaluation of the study.
  • Objectives break up the aim into achievable and measurable components. They serve as a guide for evaluation.
  • Objectives provide a common consistent focus for the many activities in research. Some unity in emphasis and some common focus are needed to achieve the goal of the study. This facilitates sequencing.


Effective objectives display the following qualities:

a) They are specific – This means that the objectives selected clearly state what the researcher will do in order to fulfill the purpose of the study.

b) They are measurable – thus can be evaluated.

c) They are focused– The objectives should narrow the study to essentials. They should also cover the different aspects of the problem and its contributing factors in a coherent way and in a logical sequence. They should systematically address the various aspects of the problem, particularly the key factors that are assumed to influence or cause the problem.

d) They are operational – They should be clearly phrased in operational terms, specifying exactly what the researcher will do.

e) They are realistic -therefore achievable.

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