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ng a Research 10/20/12 Problem - What exactly should you investigate?

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Avoid the most common mistakes when writing a scientific paper.

Defining a res earc h problem is the fuel that drives the s c ientific proc es s , and is the foundation of any res earc h method and experimental des ign, from true experiment to c as e s tudy.

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by Mar tyn Shuttlewor th (2008)

It is one of the first statements made in any research paper and, as well as defining the research area, should include a quick synopsis of how the hypothesis was arrived at. Operationalization is then used to give some indication of the exact definitions of the variables, and the type of scientific measurements used. This will lead to the proposal of a viable hypothesis. As an aside, when scientists are putting forward proposals for research funds, the quality of their research problem often makes the difference between success and failure.

Look at any scientific paper, and you will see the research problem, written almost like a statement of intent. Defining a research problem is crucial in defining the quality of the answers, and determines the exact research method used. A quantitative experimental design uses deductive reasoning to arrive at a testable hypothesis. Qualitative research designs use inductive reasoning to propose a research statement.


EXAMPLES OF DEFINING A RESEARCH PROBLEM An anthropologist might find references to a relatively unknown tribe in Papua New Guinea. As an example. It could be an interesting area of research.strongly agree’. and is an overall view of the problem. A science report will generally begin with an overview of the previous research and real-world observations. the tests used.strongly disagree’. but allow statistics and replication of the whole research method. to ‘5 .html 2/3 . or the methodology. disagree with the results. This is all an essential part of defining a research problem. a literature review and a study of previous experiments. ‘How do these people live and how does their culture relate to nearby tribes?’ explorable. with only the exact scale used needing definition. If a researcher is measuring abstract concepts. For example. which nobody else has fully a Research 10/20/12 Problem . For example. THE OPERATIONAL DEFINITIONS The operational definition is the determining the scalar properties of the variables. These measurements are always This is called the conceptual definition. and subjective responses. allowing statistical analysis and replication. Behavioral biologists and social scientists might design an ordinal scale for measuring and rating behavior. but never followed up. Many scientific researchers look at an area where a previous researcher generated some interesting results. she arrives at the research problem and asks. might throw up some vague areas of interest. then a system of measuring numerically needs to be established. A scientist may even review a successful experiment. temperature. such as intelligence. intelligence may be measured with IQ and human responses could be measured with a questionnaire from ‘1. Through inductive reasoning. and research. The researcher will then state how this led to defining a research problem. and decide to refine the research process. weight and time are usually well known and defined. retesting the hypothesis.What exactly should you investigate? DEFINING A RESEARCH PROBLEM Formulating the research problem begins during the first steps of the scientific process. emotions.

Copyright © 2008-2012 All Rights Reserved. explorable. The Bandura Bobo Doll Experiment is a good example of using deductive reasoning to arrive at a research problem and hypothesis. and she seeks to fill it. 3 Stars Discussion Com m unity Fa rh a d 0 • 2 days ago Reply Share › thank u so much • • a l i re za 0 • 4 days ago Reply Share › its so well • • elia 0 • 15 days ago Reply Share › well done • • Citation: Martyn Shuttleworth (2008). Ads by Google Report Errors Research Studies Social Research Writing Research Papers 3 comments Leave a message. was a contributor to this rise. without a hypothesis. Defining a Research Problem. Retrieved 19 Oct.html 3/3 . Bandura believed that higher levels of violent adult role models on television. Anecdotal evidence showed that violent behavior amongst children was exactly should you investigate? She has found a gap in Send to friend faq | about | privacy policy | contact | site map http://explorable. This was expanded into a hypothesis. using a qualitative case study. and scientific measurement scale. Plagiarism not allowed. and operationalization of the a Research 10/20/12 Problem .com/ . led to a robust experimental design. 2012 from Explorable: http://explorable...