Stages/Steps in the Research Process
1. Identifying a problem
In identifying a research problem, one should keep in mind the following: -
Is it important to Caribbean Development and can I justify it as a significant piece of research? -
Can I obtain information on it easily or with minimum inconvenience? -
Will I be able to research this issue in an ethical way?
Can this problem be studied empirically – Can I collect information “in the field” about it? -
Is the issue or problem written as clearly so that readers understand what my focus is?
The process of identifying a problem that is researchable ends when we write it and, it then becomes a problem statement.
Problem Statement (Research Problem)
This is a clear, concise description of the focus of your research. The problem statement identifies the problem and the relationships that the researcher would like to know more about.
Problem statements can be written in declarative (as a statement) or problem forms (as a question).
Writing a Problem Statement can help you clearly identify the purpose of your research.
Research problems must demonstrate a relationship between at least two variables in a study. A variable is a concept, condition or characteristic of the study. Variables can be classified in two (2) ways:
Independent variable – a characteristic or condition whose changes are not affected by a change in another characteristic. Eg. Age, sex, height.
Dependent variable – a characteristic that is interrelated, changes, or is impacted by the change(s) in another characteristic or condition. Eg. Number of cigarettes smoked in a day, weight, temperature.
Statement of the Problem
This is a further statement that clarifies the problem we want to study and includes the variables, relationships, and specific aspects you wish to study as well as the need for the study. -
It is a concise description of the nature of the problem you are going to study. It is not a re-statement of the topic or a re-statement of the problem statement itself but a short paragraph providing some depth of the problem and why this problem is worthy of being studied.
After identifying a researchable problem, it is written as the problem statement. The problem is further clarified in the statement of the problem. This statement of the problem gives a good idea of the focus of the study, what is being claimed, the aspects being investigated, and usually how the data will be gathered.
2. Formulating Research Questions
From the statement of the problem, the researcher derives one or more research questions.
These are specific questions that the investigation or study seeks to answer.
Research questions flow naturally and logically from the problem statement and the focus of the statement of the problem.
Research questions help the researcher to keep the investigation focused on particular issues as outlined in the statement of the problem.
Instead of writing research questions, the researcher may prefer to use a hypothesis (or hypotheses) to test his or her beliefs about the problem.
A hypothesis is a statement that indicates the relationships the researcher expects to find on investigating the issue.
It is a prediction of the relationships that will be found operating between the variables in the study. The findings of your study will either support or reject your hypothesis.
Gun violence is more common in urban areas than in rural areas.
The variables are:
number of gun-related crimes in urban areas
number of gun-related crimes in rural areas
Examples of Problem Statements, Statement of the Problem, and Research Questions
Here are a few examples of problem statements along with the appropriate statement of the problem and possible research questions. These examples cover some of the listed themes for the research...
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