Once the project's research problem has been identified, the next step is to draft the problem approach. An effective approach to the problem is concise and concrete. You should: Put the problem in context (what do we already know?) Describe the precise question that the research will address (what do we need to know?) Show the relevance of the problem (why do we need to know?) Set the objectives of the research (what will be found out?)

When should the problem be drafted?

According to Delbert and Salkind (2002), there are several situations in which you may have to write the approach to a problem. The drafting of the problem approach is an important step in improvement projects. A clearly defined and well-understood problem is crucial to finding and implementing effective solutions. In this case, the approach to the problem is usually a separate document.

In academic research, writing the problem approach can help you contextualize and understand the importance of your research problem. An approach to the problem can have several paragraphs and serve as the basis for your research proposal, or it can be condensed into just a few sentences in the introduction to your work or thesis. The approach to the problem will look different depending on whether it is a real-world practical problem or a theoretical scientific question. But all problem-raising follows a similar process.

What is a good research problem?

According to Kemple (2000), a good statement of the problem begins by introducing the broad area on which his research focuses and then gradually leads the reader to the more concrete questions it raises. The statement does not have to be extensive, but a good research problem should incorporate the following characteristics

Compelling theme

Simple curiosity is not reason enough to conduct a research study. The issue you choose to explore should be important to you and a wider community you share. The problem chosen should be one that motivates you to address it.

Supports multiple perspectives

The problem must be formulated in such a way as to avoid dichotomies and instead encourage the generation and exploration of multiple perspectives. A general rule of order is that a good research problem is one that would generate a variety of views from an audience composed of reasonable people.

Searchable

It seems a bit obvious, but you won't want to find yourself in the middle of researching a complex research project and realizing that you don't have much to rely on for your research. Choose research problems that can be supported by the resources at your disposal. Not sure? Seek the help of a librarian. NOTE: Don't confuse a research problem with a research topic. A topic is something to be read about and information to be obtained, while a problem is something that needs to be solved or posed as a question to be answered.

Steps to raise a research problem

According to Clifford et al (1996), the steps to pose a research problem are as follows:

Step 1: Contextualize the problem

The statement of the problem should frame the research problem in its particular context and provide some background to what is already known about it.

Practical research problem

For practical research, you have to focus on the specific details of the situation: where and when does the problem arise? Who is affected by the problem? What attempts have been made to resolve the problem?

Example of practical research problem

Voter turnout in region X has been steadily declining over the past ten years, in contrast to other areas of the country. According to surveys conducted by the organization Y, participation is lower among those under 25 and people with low incomes. There have been some effective attempts to attract these groups in other regions, and in the last two elections parties A and B increased their campaign efforts in region X, but these interventions have not yet had any significant effect on participation.

Theoretical research problem

For theoretical research, think about the scientific, social, geographical and/or historical background: What is already known about the problem? Is the problem limited to a specific period of time or geographical area? How has the problem been defined and discussed in the academic literature?

Example of theoretical research problem

In the last ten years, the "sharing economy" has become an increasingly important segment of the labour market. Those under the age of 30 are more likely to participate in self-employed, contract or zero-hour work arrangements rather than traditional full-time jobs. Research on the reasons and consequences of this change has focused on objective measures of income, working hours and employment conditions, but there have been few studies exploring young people's subjective experiences in the gig economy.

Step 2: Show why it's important

The approach to the problem must also address the relevance of the research: why is it important that the problem be solved? This doesn't mean you have to do something innovative or that changes the world. It is more important that the problem is researchable, feasible and clearly addresses a relevant issue in your field.

Practical research problems

Practical research is directly relevant to a specific problem affecting an organization, institution, social group or society in general. To make it clear why your research problem is important, you may ask yourself What will happen if the problem is not solved? Who will suffer the consequences? Does the problem have wider relevance (for example, are there similar problems in other contexts)?

Example of practical research problem

Low voter turnout has been shown to have a negative relationship with social cohesion and civic engagement, and is becoming an area of growing concern in many European democracies. When certain groups of citizens lack political representation, they are likely to become more excluded over time, leading to an erosion of trust in democratic institutions. Addressing this problem will have practical benefits for region X and will contribute to the understanding of this widespread phenomenon.

According to Gray (2004), once the project's research problem has been identified, the next step is to draft the problem approach. An effective approach to the problem is concise and concrete. Should: Put the problem in context (what do we already know?) Describe the precise question that the research will address (what do we need to know?) Show the relevance of the problem (why do we need to know?) Set the objectives of the research (what will be found out?)

Theoretical research problem

Sometimes theoretical problems have clear practical consequences, but sometimes their relevance is less obvious. To identify why the problem is important, ask yourself: How will problem solving contribute to understanding the topic? What benefits will it have for future research? Does the problem have direct or indirect consequences for society?

Example of theoretical research problem

In the literature on the sharing economy, these new forms of employment are sometimes characterised as a flexible active option and sometimes as an exploitative last resort. To better understand why young people are engaged in the sharing economy, in-depth qualitative research is needed. Focusing on workers' experiences can help develop stronger theories about flexibility and precariousness in contemporary employment, as well as potentially inform future policy objectives.

Step 3: Set your goals and objectives

Finally, the approach to the problem must frame the way in which the problem is intended to be addressed. Its aim should not be to find a conclusive solution, but to look for the reasons behind the problem and to propose more effective approaches to addressing or understanding it. The goal is the overall purpose of your research. It is usually written in infinitive: The objective of this study is to determine... The aim of this project is to explore... I intend to investigate... The objectives are the concrete steps that will be taken to achieve the purpose: Qualitative methods will be used to identify... I will use surveys to collect... Using statistical analysis, the research will measure...

Practical objectives of the research

The objective of this research is to investigate effective engagement strategies to increase voter turnout in region X. The most significant factors of the lack of vote will be identified through surveys and interviews, and experiments will be conducted to measure the effectiveness of the different strategies.

Theoretical objectives of the research

This project aims to better understand the experiences of young people in the sharing economy. Qualitative methods will be used to know in depth the motivations and perceptions of those under 30 years of age who work as self-employed and with zero hours in various sectors. This data will be contextualized with a review of recent literature on the sharing economy and statistical analysis of demographic changes in the workforce. Goals and objectives should lead directly to your research questions.

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Bibliographic References

Drew, Clifford J., Michael L. Hardman and Ann Weaver Hart. 1996. Designing and conducting research: Inquiry in education and social science. 2nd ed. Boston, MA: Allyn and Bacon. 470p. Gray, David E. 2004. Doing research in the real world. London, UK: Sage Publications. 422p. Kemple, Mary. 2000. Review of The good research guide for small-scale social research projects, by Martyn Denscombe. Journal of Advanced Nursing 31:733. Miller, Delbert C., and Neil J. Salkind. 2002. Handbook of research design and social measurement. 6th ed. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications. xxii, 786p.

Approach to the Research Problem

Approach to the Research Problem

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