5 Sources of a Research Problem: The Complete Guide

June 28, 2024

sources of a research problem

In this guide, you will learn about the best sources of a research problem for your next project. 

The term research problem refers to a clear expression of an area of concern that requires a clear understanding and deliberate investigation. While it offers a broad proposition and a valuable question, a research problem doesn’t demonstrate how to do something.

It’s worth looking at a research problem for a number of reasons. It introduces a reader to the topic under investigation and orients to the importance of the study.

Besides allowing you to define the most important parameter to investigate in your paper, a research problem offers you a concise guide to come up with research questions, make relevant assumptions, and formulate a proposition.

More importantly, a research problem gives you a more comprehensive framework to conduct extensive studies and explain your findings.

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Type of Research Problems

types of research problems

There are four types of research problems that you need to know before we look at the sources of a research problem.

These are casuist, difference, descriptive and relational research problems.

1. Relational Research Problem

A relational research problem suggests the need to investigate the correlation between two or more variables.

It’s the researcher’s responsibility to investigate a number of precise characteristics and identify the relationship between them.

2. Casuist Research Problem

Casuist research problem has something to do with the determination of what’s right and what’s wrong.

It questions human conduct by looking closely at the moral dilemmas by means of careful differentiation of cases as well as the application of general rules.

3. Descriptive Research Problem

In this case, a researcher looks forward to investigating a “what is” kind of issue.

The goal of examining a descriptive research problem is to determine the underlying significance of an event or the existence of a situation.

It’s with the descriptive research problem that a researcher can discover understudied or hidden issues.

5. Difference Research Problem

A difference research problem focuses on the distinction between two or more groups.  More often than not, researchers use this type of problem to compare and contrast more than one phenomenon.

What are the Sources of Research Problems?

Now that you know the types of possible research problems that you can focus on in a term paper, let’s look at the sources that you can use to identify research problems.

From a research perspective, the kind of research problem that you wish to investigate should meet two conditions.

First, the problem has to be unique and not something other researchers have already looked into exhaustively. Second, the problem has to be concise enough to raise specific issues that you can address in a research paper.

With that said, below are five sources of a research problem:

1. Interviews


Interviews sessions can be significant sources of research problems. The method gives you an opportunity to have formal discussions and informal interactions with individuals who can provide useful insights into research and make findings more relevant to future research. 

Consider having discussions with experts in the field you wish to investigate. These professionals mat be healthcare service providers, business leaders, teachers, social workers, attorneys, and accountants to mention but a few examples.

By interacting with these experts, you’re able to identify real-world problems that researchers have either ignored or understudied in the academic space.

Moreover, interview sessions give you the opportunity to get some practical knowledge that can help you to design and conduct your studies.

2. Personal Experiences

Your everyday experiences are a good source of research problem.

You have to think critically about your personal experiences with an issue that affects your family, your personal life, or your community.

A research problem derived from personal experience can spring from any issue and from anywhere.

For example, you can construct a research problem from events that appear to be out of the ordinary or from community relationships that don’t have clear explanations.

3. Deductions from Theory

deduction from theory

A deduction from theory refers to inferences a researcher makes from the generalizations of life in a society that a researcher knows very well.

A researcher takes the deduction, places them in an empirical frame, and then, based on a theory, they come up with a research problem and a hypothesis that suggests some findings based on given empirical results.

The research accounts for the relationship to observe if a theory summarizes the state of an affair.

A systematic investigation, which evaluates if the empirical information affirms or rejects the hypothesis, comes next.

4. Interdisciplinary Perspective

If you consider interdisciplinary perspective to identify a problem for a research study, you’ll have to look at scholarship and academic movements from outside your main area of investigation.

It’s an intellectually involving process, one that requires reviewing pertinent literature to discover unique avenues of exploration an analysis.

The benefit of using this approach to identify a research problem for your research paper assignment is that it presents an opportunity for you to understand complex issues with ease.

5. Relevant Literature

Relevant Literature

To generate a research problem from relevant literature, you first have to review research related to your area of interest.

Doing so allows you to find gaps on the topic, making it easy for you to understand just how much understudied your area of interest is.

Data collected from relevant literature is relevant because it helps to:

  • Fill existing gaps in knowledge based on a specific research
  • Determine if current studies can have implications on further research on the same issue
  • See if it’s possible to conduct a similar study in a different area or apply the same in a different context
  • Determine if the methods used in previous studies can be effective in solving future problems

We can’t stress enough on the value of existing literature. The results should point you towards an outstanding issue, give suggestion for future gaps, and make it possible to delineate gaps in existing knowledge.

Research Paper Writing Help

Finding a research problem is just one part of the research paper assignment. You have to develop a research question, formulate a hypothesis, write a thesis statement, and then write your research paper. It can be a lot of work, which demands a lot of attention and time.

If you need help to brainstorm, research, and write your research paper, click the button below to place your order. 

About the author 

Antony W is a professional writer and coach at Help for Assessment. He spends countless hours every day researching and writing great content filled with expert advice on how to write engaging essays, research papers, and assignments.

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