Before getting to know what research problem you should select for your thesis, we have to know what a research problem is. Also consider reading – What is Research? Research Methods vs Research Methodology, Research Methods vs Research Techniques.
What is a Research Problem?
A research problem is a specific issue, difficulty, contradiction, or gap in knowledge that you will aim to address in your research. You might look for practical problems aimed at contributing to change, or theoretical problems aimed at expanding knowledge.
Bear in mind that some research will do both of these things. But usually the research problem focuses on one or the other.
The type of research problem you choose depends on your broad field of interest and the type of research you want to do.
Importance of Formulating a Research Problem
Let us say your selected topic of research is interesting and you have lots to say about it, but this isn’t a strong enough basis for academic research. Without a well-defined research problem, you are likely to end up with an unfocused and unmanageable project.
You might end up repeating what other people have already said, trying to say too much, or doing research without a clear purpose and justification. You need a problem in order to do research that contributes new and relevant insights.
Whether you’re planning your thesis, starting a research paper or writing a research proposal, the research problem is the first step towards knowing exactly what you’ll do and why.
What Research Problem Should You Select?
What research problem should you select for your research is the first and foremost question you should ask yourself. If you end up selecting a research problem that is not suitable for you, the whole research will go to waste.
Thus the research problem undertaken for study must be carefully selected. The task is a difficult one. The following points may be observed by a researcher in selecting a research problem or a subject for research:
- Subject which is overdone should not be normally chosen. Because it will be a difficult task to throw any new light in such a case.
- Controversial subject should not become the choice of an average researcher.
- The subject selected for research should be familiar and feasible. So that the related research material or sources of research are within one’s reach.
- A problem may be a new one and also important, but if research on it is not feasible, it cannot be selected.
- The problem must have novelty. There is no use of wasting one’s time and energy on a problem already studied thoroughly by others.
- The problem should be researchable, i.e., amenable for finding answers to the questions involved in it through the scientific method.
- The importance of the subject, the qualifications and the training of a researcher, the costs involved, and the time factor are few other criteria that must also be considered in selecting a problem. In other words, before the final selection of a problem is done, a researcher must ask himself the following questions:
- a) Whether he is well equipped in terms of his background to carry out the research?
- b) Whether the study falls within the budget he can afford?
- c) Whether the necessary cooperation can be obtained from those who must participate in research as subjects?