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How to Write a Problem Statement for a Research Paper

As a student, you might have already faced the necessity of clarifying your research arguments and dealing with a particular problem statement during your studies. Now, this guide aims to learn how to correctly write a problem statement for a research paper! Take your time to read through all the sections, and remember to take notes as you browse through the problem statement example offered!

What is a problem statement in a research paper?

A problem statement is your scientific opportunity to explain why you care for a specific subject and why you prefer to approach this or that as a way to address the problem. It should represent a clear explanation in your research or proposal paper that offers an accessible description of a particular issue that has to be studied. Ask yourself what you want to address with your research. In addition to the thesis part and offering enough evidence, you must provide a clear position and outline why something represents a problem and why it must be researched.

How to work with the problem statement?

Before you start to write a research problem statement, outline it for yourself first and think about what things you would like to address in your paper and how to make it condensed and clear for your target audience. The importance and relevance of the problem must be made clear by the first lines as you show the purpose and the intent of your research work.

Remember to keep things brief and always to the point, as it is not the paper where you must offer detailed data or present your research findings. The purpose of this paper is only to state the problem and tell how exactly you will address the issue you have identified. Discuss why it poses a concern and focus on systematic studies with a clear methodology.

When is a problem statement the most effective?

When creating a problem statement for your paper, you must consider the main rules before starting. The efficiency will depend on the clarity and formatting of your content. Since problem statement writing rarely takes place alone without an accompanying paper, remember the following rules:

  • Keep your problem statement always brief and concise without turning to your research findings or specific data you have already obtained for your paper.
  • Define the problem clearly and state why it’s relevant for your course and the thesis statement (main definition of an issue).
  • Your problem statement becomes efficient only when it tends to fill the gap in the information base.
  • The average length of your problem statement structure must not exceed one page unless specified otherwise by your grading rubric.
  • Don’t focus on the solution and avoid discussing the different problem-solving methods. It should not be your immediate concern for your problem statement work.

Your main task here is to define a clear problem to research and process scientifically. Think about summarizing current information that is already known and discuss the aspects showing a lack of knowledge. It should present a problem and explain why research is important! For example, when dealing with bullying in England, you may talk about specifics of the British culture and educational system. Look at what other researchers have conducted by checking at least one relevant paper. Then, pursue something less researched. Talk about those aspects that are less studied!

If you wish to write a good problem statement and make it truly effective, think about how you can persuade your audience and scientific community that more research must be done. It will always make your work effective and relevant for the scientific community!

Main components of the problem statement

The most challenging part of a research problem statement is knowing how to structure your thoughts correctly. While there is no strict formula or method to approach this part of your writing, following a certain order of events is necessary. It will help your target audience follow your logic and identify your problem. Here are the important points to consider:

  • Identify the significance of the problem you are researching.
  • Talk about the lack of information on the topic (if relevant).
  • Explain why the problem is significant for the academic community.
  • Discuss how and why it matters by making the meaning obvious.
  • Show the need for additional research and include at least one methodology you favor (no need to list or explain them all).
  • Show how exactly you plan to collect the necessary data and have it presented in further research.
  • Provide specifics of your planned research by showing the differences.

Remember that writing problem statements always takes time, which means that your final structure and order of sentences may change. Still, if we sum things up, it should present at least four main points in your paper template:

  • Problem identification.
  • Talking about the causes of the problem.
  • Why does it represent an issue worth researching?
  • How would you like to represent the problem?

As you try your best to fit within a single page, think about how you would describe the subject of your research in simple and accessible words. Your introductory part will have to talk about the problem first. The body parts talk about the causes and the reasons for the problem. You may also talk about why it is important to research it. The conclusion of your problem statement must discuss how you would approach this problem as you research. To create a problem statement, you must divide your information into three parts and approach it like a classic research assignment.

Step-by-step problem statement writing guide

Regardless if you wish to clarify research outcomes when dealing with a particular issue or plan to present something as guidance for an upcoming project, it’s essential to understand the main steps that must be taken. Let’s start with the checklist of things you must consider to make your problem statement assignment stand out!

  1. Narrow things down! The most important aspect of writing is related to explaining how the problem should be approached in general terms and why it’s researched. In developing a problem statement, you have to show that a certain problem has existed before and has been researched by others. Your task is to show how different your work is going to be.
  2. Explain why your problem matters. It may sound like a difficult part, but you have to go beyond saying what the problem is and discuss (briefly) why it is taking place. Talk about who is affected by the problem and why. If something has been tried before and did not work, talk about it, too.
  3. Mention limitations and costs. If certain challenges and financial issues exist, mention them by offering accurate numbers and examples.
  4. Support your claims with evidence. While it may be hard to do within a problem statement format and one-page scope, make your best to help the scientific community perceive your information with due attention and care. If you have evidence, provide it!
  5. Offer solutions and explain their benefits. If what you propose differs from research work done before, talk about it and explain why you hope to achieve success.

As you can see, problem statements are most effective when they provide clear details or relevant elements of a problem you want to explore. While it’s important to avoid being overly detailed, you still have to explain (in 2-3 sentences) what solution you will use and how it can resolve and address the problem.

Example of a problem statement

If all of this sounds like rocket science to you, we can help you achieve better clarity with the research statement example. We would like to present you with a sample of scientific writing based on autistic children in the United Kingdom. Belonging to the U.S. audience, this subject will help you see how to approach something that may be rare for you. The reason it’s done is the necessity to research something that more scientists in the USA do not widely address.

As a rule, the problem statement in a research paper may be divided and presented this way:

Problem: The special education methods and focus on the educational, social, and emotional needs of an autistic child make boarding schools a safer option for most learners currently on the autistic spectrum. Nevertheless, the lack of information on boarding schools for autistic children and awareness of the benefits available in the United Kingdom often make parents avoid the boarding system of education as such.

Background: Surveys that NHS specialists have conducted suggest that boarding schools in the UK can provide a deeper educational focus on the special needs of autistic children and avoid emotional turmoil and damage that may be encountered in public schools. The information provided by the National Autistic Society Academies Trust and questionnaires by the schools like Vanguard, Church Lawton, and Thames Valley shows that most students can adapt differently and achieve better academic results.

Relevance: Turning to the advertisement and marketing of special education, the United Kingdom holds a particular stigma related to the cases of emotional and physical neglect and bullying in boarding schools. While it may have been true for the past decades, modern boarding schools use complex monitoring processes to ensure that every autistic learner is in a safe and child-friendly environment. It makes it necessary to research the benefits of boarding schools for autistic children and help parents become aware by systematizing surveys and relevant information offered by the schools mentioned above.

Objectives: This research paper aims to examine the information provided by boarding schools in the UK and turn it into promotional material that will inspire parents of autistic youngsters and help spread a positive message. It will also help distinguish major and minor differences between schools and showcase their methodologies.

This sample research statement describes a problem to help you understand how to get your research’s main objectives clear as you write them down. Take your time to examine this guide again and use our example for guiding purposes as you work on your paper. We wish you the best of luck in your studies and await your thoughts, tips, and comments!

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