Research Problem

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A problem is (1) any significant, perplexing and challenging situation, real or artificial, the solution of which requires reflective thinking; (2) a perplexing situation after it has been translated into a question or series of questions that help determine the direction of subsequent inquiry.


The term research problem implies that an investigation, inquiry or study is to be conducted, or that the problem is ready for investigation, inquiry or study. There are certain elements that a problem must possess before it becomes a research problem ready for investigation.

1. AIM or PURPOSE OF THE PROBLEM FOR INVESTIGATION. This answers the question “Why?” Why is there an investigation, inquiry or study?

2. THE SUBJECT MATTER OR TOPIC TO BE INVESTIGATED. This answers the question ”What?” What is to be investigated or to be studied?

3. THE PLACE OR LOCALE WHERE THE RESEARCH IS TO BE CONDUCTED. This answers the question “Where?” Where is the study to be conducted?

4. THE PERIOD OR TIME OF THE STUDY DURING WHICH THE DATA ARE TO BE GATHERED. This answers the question “When?” When is the the study to be carried out?

5. POPULATION OR UNIVERSE FROM WHOM THE DATA ARE TO BE COLLECTED. This answers the question “Who?” or “From whom?” Who are the respondents? From whom are the data to be gathered? In formulating the title of a research inquiry, the aim is usually omitted and sometimes the population is not included.

Characteristics of a Good Research Problem:

T-Time Bomb/Time Conscious

The topic should be of good interest to you.
1. Useful for the concerned people in a particular field
2. Progress Novelty
3. Invites more complex designs / more variables
4. Time-bounded
5. Does not carry ethical or moral impediments


1. The research problem or topic must be chosen by the researcher himself. 2. It must be within the interest of the researcher.
3. It must be within the specialization of the researcher. This will in some way make the work easier for him because he is working on familiar grounds. 4. It must be within the competence of the researcher to tackle. The researcher must know the method of research and other research procedures applicable to his problem and he must know how to apply them. He must have a workable understanding of his study. 5. It must be within the ability of the researcher to finance; otherwise he must be able to find funding for his research. There must be a budget, which he must be able to shoulder. 6. It is researchable and manageable:

a) Data are available and accessible. The researcher must be sure that the participants in his investigations possess the needed data and that they are within his reach. So, one must not choose a problem in which the locations of the data are not too far away, say foreign land. b) The data must meet the standard of accuracy, objectivity and verifiability. c) Answers to the specific questions (sub-problems) can be found. The data to be collected must supply the necessary answers to the specific questions. d) The hypotheses formulated are testable, i.e., they can be accepted or rejected. Hypotheses are not proved, they are only determined as true or not. If the findings from the data do not conform to the hypotheses, the latter are rejected. If the findings conform to the hypotheses, the latter are accepted as true and valid. e) Equipments and instruments for research are available and can give valid and reliable results. f) It can be completed within a reasonable period of time unless it is a longitudinal research which takes a long time for its completion. Although research is unhurried, there must be a timetable for its completion. g) It is significant, important, and relevant to the present time...
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