Posted by: p4mristkippgrisda | February 21, 2011

the Research Problem

the Research Problem

What is a research problem?

A research problem is a problem that someone would like to research. It is the focus of a research investigation. Problems involve areas of concern to researchers, conditions they want to improve, difficulties they want to eliminate, questions for which they seek answers.

Research questions

Many research problems are stated as questions. The essential characteristic of a researchable question is that there be some sort of information that can be collected in an attempt to answer the question.

Example research questions:

What goes on in an elementary school classroom during an average week? (Ethnographic research)

Do teachers behave differently toward students of different genders? (Causal-comparative research)

How do parents feel about the school counseling program? (Survey research)

Characteristics of good research questions

Good research questions possess four essential characteristics:

1)      The question is feasible, i.e. it can be investigated without expending an undue amount of time, energy, or money (capable of being investigated with available resources)

2)      The question is clear, i.e. most people would agree as to what the key words in the question mean (unambiguous)

3)      The question is significant, i.e. it is worth investigating because it will contribute important knowledge about the human condition (worthy of investigation)

4)      The question is ethical, i.e. it will not involve physical harm or damage to human beings or to the natural or social environment of which they are a part

Defining terms

There are essentially three ways to clarify important terms in a research question:

The use of constitutive (dictionary-type) definitions

It uses additional terms to clarify meaning.

Definition by example

Operational definitions

It describes how examples of a term are to be measured or identified.


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