Updated date:

Quantitative Research: Identifying the Inquiry and Stating Problem

Why is Research being conducted?

Researchers in the fields vary in their perspectives and interests when conducting research. The research topics to be pursued by researchers may depend on their expertise, on the current trends, on issues which need immediate answer, or on anything that is relevant and can add to existing body of knowledge. The range of research topics really depends on the area of inquiry of a researcher. It can also be dependent on different purpose.


As a review, research is conducted based on some reasons. These reasons include but not limited to the following: reveal the cause or causes of a phenomenon, resolve an anomaly, test a hypothesis or develop a theorye, verify or replicate someone’s findingse, determine what a new instrument or technique can do, adapt methods or results from one field to another, observe or record an event as it occurse, reproduce conditions from the past in the present, understand human motivations for actions, isolate factors and their interrelationships in a complex system, predict or influence individual or group behaviourm, improve the quality of life across cultures and populations, and analyse the components of a creative work (PU, 2020).


Research is really a wide range concept and to make it easier to understand some may refer to it as historical research, scientific research, textual research, or sociological research. Indeed, research is too diverse when it comes to research topics but a researcher can always choose based on his or her interest.

What is a Research Problem?

Research Problem is a statement about an area of concern, a condition to be improved, a difficulty to be eliminated, or a troubling question that exists in scholarly literature, in theory, or in practice that points to the need for meaningful understanding and deliberate investigation (SH University, 2020).


Usually in social sciences, this research problem is stated in the form of a question.The purpose of a research problem or statement of a problem is to help the readers understand the significance of the topic being studied. It also establishes the problem into a detailed context that defines the parameters of what is to be investigated. This is the backbone for reporting the results and indicates what is probably necessary to conduct the study and explain how the findings will present this information (SH University, 2020).


In social sciences, the relevance of research problem is very significant. Hence, these should possess clarity and precision, identify what would be studied, identify key factors or variables, key concepts and terms, articulate the studies’ delimitation or parameter, possess some generalizability in regards to applicability and bringing results into general use and conveyance of the significance of the study, benefits, and justification.It should not use unnecessary jargons, and must convey of more than the mere gathering of descriptive data providing only a snapshot of the issue or phenomenon under investigation (SH, 2020).

How do we conceptualize research problems?

According to SH University (2020), there are four general conceptualizations of research problems in the social sciences. These are the following: (a) Casuist Research Problem relates to determine the right and wrong in questions of conduct or conscience by analysing moral dilemmas through the application of general rules and the careful distinction of special cases; (b) Difference Research Problem is used to contrast or compare two or more phenomenon; (c) Descriptive Research Problem is used to describe a situation, state, or existence of a specific phenomenon; and (d) Relational Research Problem suggests relationship between two or more variables being studied. It is more on investigating the characteristics that are connected in some way.

How do we identify a research problem?

Identifying a research problem is quite challenging to a new researcher, it must be formulated in a way that it is relevant, specific, and feasible to study. It is advisable not to just duplicate the work of other researchers.

There are some broad sources to make selection of research problems easier. SH
University (2020) identified these as follows:


a. Deductions from Theory.

Researchers can formulate research problems based on an existing theory. This can be done by fitting the theory in an empirical frame of reference through reference in which systematic investigation follows to confirm or reject the hypothesis and the theory.


b. Interdisciplinary Perspectives.

Though most researchers conduct studies based on their field, others prefer to also use the context of interdisciplinary research. This involves new exploration and analysis in related disciplines to construct a more understanding of a complex issue than any discipline might provide.


c. Interviewing Practitioners.

This approach helps researchers understand the real situations in the field hence helping them identify what problems needed to be investigated. It also allows researcher to know the practical body of knowledge which may help in designing the procedures and conduct of the study.


d. Relevant Literature.

Most researchers based their researchers on a review of related literature and studies. Identifying the implications for further studies of other literature and studies can be a starting point to select the research problems. The gap which are not yet studied in particular literature may be used as a foundation to formulate research problem.


e. Personal Experience.

Selection of research problems can be taken from personal observations of certain relationship for which there is no clear explanation or from witnessing an event that appears harmful to a person or group.


A specific and feasible research problem must introduce the general area under study and details the more narrow questions. Research problems must be compelling topic which means it should be relevant to specific discipline. Research problems must be
researchable, this means that study units, materials, procedure or process must be available to you. Research problems must support multiple perspectives which mean it should not be biased and be opened variety of viewpoints and possibility.

What do we mean by Background, Scope and Limitations, and Significance of the Study?

Typically, in writing research paper, there are 5 chapters to be included. First chapter of a research paper focuses on the problem of the study. It usually includes background of the study, statement of the problem, scope and delimitation of the study, and the significance of the study. In this section, we will discuss on how you can write these essential parts of your first chapter.

What is a Background of the Study?

This section of a research paper include the description that leads the reader to understanding the research topic, problems, purpose, and questions. A research topic is the broad or general subject matter addressed by the study. A research problem is a
general issue, concern, or phenomenon addressed in the research that narrows the topic. Purpose of research is the major goal, objective or intention of the study to address the problems. A research question narrows the purpose into specific questions that the
researcher would like to address in the study.

SH University (2020) defines background of the study as the information section which identifies and describes the history and nature of a well-defined research problem with reference to the existing literature. It should present the problem being studied, its scope, and the extent to which previous studies have successfully investigated the problem. It should highlight the where the gaps exist that the study attempts to address.


It is necessary to write the background of the study with enough information to help the reader determine that the researcher has the basic understanding of the research problem being investigated. Thus, it promotes confidence and trust in the quality of the analysis and findings. Enough information in the background of the study provides the reader with the essential context to understand the research problem. The context may be cultural, economic, historical, philosophical, physical/spatial, political, social, or temporal. Background of the study includes summaries of important and relevant literature.

How do we write the Background of the Study?

The general rule in writing the background of the study is to introduce and briefly define the variables under study. It should cite significant related literature and studies that necessitate the conduct of the study. To ensure that the reader captures the essence of the paper, background of the study can be written in broad to specific details. This means that this section must discuss the issue from international perspectives to national or local perspectives. It is advisable also to keep the terms used simple and consistent. The paragraphs must summarize unresolved issues, conflicting findings, social concerns, or educational, national or international issues.

Definition of Scope and Limitations

Scope of a study refers to the research area and parameters of the present study. It is also called as delimitations of the study which aim to narrow the scope of a study. It is about defining the boundary of the research. It is an important feature in a study that can be controlled so as to determine the parameters of the study. The scope of a study can include the general purpose, population or sample, time and duration, area of interest and local of the study. Limitations of a study refer to the weaknesses of a study. This part of paper aims to identify and present the potential limitations of a study and influences in the study that the researcher cannot control or does not have control over it. These might also include weaknesses in the decisions made in the study. In presenting the limitations of the study, things to be considered can include nature of analysis, nature of self-reporting, instruments used, study units, or time constraints.

Definition of Significance of a Study

Significance of a study refers to the details that allows readers to understand the study’s contribution and who would benefit from it. It can also include explanation of the importance of a study as well as other benefits. In writing the details for the significance of the study, it is advisable to check your statement of the problems so as to establish a clear and concise explanation on the benefits and beneficiaries of the study. Your statement of the problems will help you identify the possible benefits the study might have.

© 2020 RBN Knowledge