How to draft the research problem statement of your study proposal?


In your research, the problem statement is the main organizing principle that guides the elements or structure of your paper. It provides you with the justification for your research and gives clarity to the thrust of your paper. It describes a certain complexity or shortfall that requires research to see whether it can be properly solved.

What is a research problem statement?

Research problem presents a perplexing question that exists in theory, in practice, or in literature and needs proper understanding and careful investigation.

The problem statement is the foundation of any research method and experimental plan because it pinpoints the drawback(s) of past researches and gives direction to your research.

The problem statement aims to transfigure a problem into a solution that can be resolved through proper research and investigation.

What are the features of a problem statement?

The important features of a proper research problem are:

  • It should be mentioned clearly and briefly.
  • It must raise research questions.
  • It must have scope for new research with sufficient data.
  • It should be new or not fully explained in earlier researches.
  • It must have relevance in the field of study.
  • It must evoke curiosity and interest in the research community.

How can you write an effective statement of problem?

In order to write a proper research problem statement, you need to:

  • Describe the aim of the research. This will raise the ideal situation, i.e., what should be or what is desired.
  • Describe the reasons that have prevented existing researches to achieve the goal. Specify the current situation and suggest what should be done to achieve the goal.
  • Use words like “but,” “unfortunately,” or “despite” to describe the drawbacks.
  • Highlight the importance of your investigation by pointing out its benefits and by forecasting the consequences of possible solutions presented in your research.

While writing your statement of problem, you need to divide it into three sections: the first should mention the potential (ideal) condition, the second should identify the issues that have prevented that situation from being a reality, and the third should present how your research can help identify the issues and present the way forward.

Here is an example of a proper research problem statement:

Step 1

The inland waterways in the U.S. are a vital part of the country’s transportation system. If properly managed and funded, it can contribute significantly to the nation’s economy and efficiently connect the inland with points of international trade.

Step 2

Despite the immense potential, the waterways have languished because of neglected and aging infrastructure, lack of funding for the maintenance of the lock and dam system on the rivers, and government apathy.

Step 3

As an answer to this problem, our research intends to present ways and means by which the management of the inland waterways can be improved. The study will include an evaluation of all the 239 locks on America’s river system and identify the weak points where urgent repairs need to be carried out in the infrastructure and the hydraulic system that raises and lowers the wickets. The research will also investigate how the national budget can be skewed to provide more funds for a complete overhaul of the existing 50-year-old infrastructure.

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