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Research Problem , Hypotheses and Variables

Research Problem , Hypotheses and Variables

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Published by GILTON MADEME

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Published by: GILTON MADEME on Jun 24, 2009
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07/21/2013

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RESEARCH PROBLEM , HYPOTHESES AND VARIABLES1. INTRODUCTION
The research problem is often argued as the heart of the research process, withoutwhich no research process can take place. In formulating the problem the variablesmust be eminent and easily identifiable while a hypothesis should accompany eachresearch problem. Once a research problem is clearly defined, it should be translatedinto a research hypothesis that states; a relationship between two or more variables inone (or more) population(s).Thus the assignment will reflect on the linkage of theresearch problem, research hypothesis and the existing variables.Firstly, the research problem will be explored, its importance, sources of the researchproblem, considerations as well as steps to be followed when formulating a researchproblem. Secondly, identification of variables will be discussed using the three commontypes of variables and the four prominent scales of measurement.Lastly,the definition,functions,characteristics,types and errors in testing hypothesis will be discussed.
2. THE RESEARCH PROBLEM
A research problem is the first step and the most important requirement in the researchprocess. It serves as the foundation of a research study thus if well formulated, youexpect a good study to follow. According the Kerlinger; in order for one to solve aproblem, one must know what the problem is. The large part of the problem is knowingwhat one is trying to do. A research problem and the way you formulate it determinesalmost every step that follows in the research study. Formulation of the problem is likethe input into the study and the output is the quality of the contents of the researchreport. A research problem is often accompanied by research question(s).
A ResearchQuestion
is a statement that identifies the phenomenon to be studied. For example,“What resources are helpful to new and minority drug abuse researchers?(
).
 
Bless
et al 
(2006:29) write that, in some cases research problems or questions aredefined too vaguely and too generally. An important point to keep in mind when definingor formulating a research problem is that it should be specific rather than general. Whena problem or question is specific and focused, it becomes amore answerable researchquestion than if it remained general and unfocused. A well formulated problem isalready a half-solved problem .A research problem is expressed as a general questionabout the relationship between two or more variables. The formulation of a problemintroduces the necessity of defining clearly all concepts used and of determining thevariables and their relationships.
 
If you know a lot about the topic, you can develop aresearch question based on your own knowledge. If you feel you don't know muchabout the topic, think again (
www.esc.edu/esconline
). 
2.1THE IMPORTANCE OF FORMULATING THE RESEARCH PROBLEM
According to Kumar (2005:40) research formulation is like the identification of adestination before undertaking journey. As in the absence of a destination, it isimpossible to identify the shortest-or indeed any –route in the absence of a clear research problem, a clear economical plan is impossible. A research problem is like thefoundation of a building. The type and design of a building is dependant upon thefoundation of a building.
2.2 SOURCES OF RESEARCH PROBLEMS
Kumar (2005:41) writes that most research in the humanities revolves around four Psthus People, Problems, Programs, and Phenomena
2.3 CONSIDERATIONS IN SELECTING A RESEARCH PROBLEM
According to Kumar (2005:43) there are a number of considerations to keep in mindwhen selecting a research problem/topic. These considerations are; interest,magnitude, measurement of concepts, level of expertise, relevance, availability of data
 
and ethical issues. Bailey (1982:19) is of the contention that there are six factorsaffecting problem selection. These factors are; the sociological paradigm, theresearcher’s values, the degree of reactivity inherent in a particular method deemedappropriate for gathering data, the researcher’s methodology, the unit of analysischosen (small or big) and time factor thus, whether the study deals with a cross sectionof the population at cone point in time or is a longitudinal study conducted over time.Thus it can be deduced that a handful of considerations and factors should beconsidered when selecting a research problem.
2.4 STEPS IN THE FORMULATION OF THE RESEARCH PROBLEM
According to
http://wiki.answers.com,
thefollowing are Steps involved in formulating aresearch problem:1. Identify a broad area of interest in your academic /professional field.2. Dissect the broad area into sub-areas by having a brain storming session with your colleagues.3. Select the sub-area in which you would like to conduct your research through theprocess of elimination.4. Reverse the research questions that you would like to answer through your study.This can be after formulation of the objectives of can lead you to the formulation of theobjective.5. Assess these objectives to ascertain the feasibility of attaining them in the light of time and other issues like finances and human resource expertise.
3. IDENTIFYNG VARIABLES
The following working definitions of variable can be outlined;
An entity that varies from one observation to the next, an empirical property thatis capable of taking two or more values(Bless
et al 
2006;30)

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