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Research Methods and Technical

Report Writing
Lecture 2: Problem Identification and
Proposal Writing

Research Problem
Recall that the first step in conducting
research is to Choose or Identify a Problem
A research problem is the topic you would like
to address, investigate, or study, whether
descriptively or experimentally.
The FOCUS of your research

What is Problem Identification

Defining the research problem,


Formulation of the research hypotheses,
The importance of problems and hypotheses
GIGO (Garbage In, Garbage Out)
If you ask a meaningful question, you will get
a meaningful answer
If the problem definition is not good, then the
research will be wasted no matter how well it
is done

Choose Researchable Problems


Not Every Problem can be researched (e.g
Personal Problems)!!
A problem with your inter?
How to ask for more money from parents

Some Problems that can be researched are:


Issues with for which a knowledge exists
Issues with a solution but the effectiveness is not
known (e.g effectiveness of a drug, or new energy
efficient fridge).
issues with different answers which may seem
contradictory

Group Work
As a researcher you have to be curious
How do you identify a research problem?
10 minutes for discussions and 10 minutes for
reporting back
What is the meaning of SMART objectives

Sources of Research Problems


Experience
Practical Problems such as national or society
problems (e.g. problem of waste
management, water supply, environmental
pollution, traffic, energy crisis)
Theories (Literature searches)
Publications
Technological Change
Previous Research

Some Characteristics of Good Research


Problems
Problem is well defined
Variables defined in the problem can be
measured
It adds new knowledge or it adds a new
dimension to existing studies (do not choose
over-researched areas)
It can be achieved within a given time and
resources

Factors that affect the choice of a


research problem
Researchers interests and motivation (choose
a topic that you have a good interest in)
Relevance and usefulness of Topic
Familiarity with the subject area (topic must
be related to your field of study)
Resources available for study (time, money,
laboratory etc)
Feasibility of methodologies

Activity
Each Student Should Write down a research
problem

Defining the Research Problem


1. Choose a problem (General Topic)
2. Identify appropriate background literature
from various sources the literature
3. Critically Review and Evaluate the literature
4. Based on gaps or issues identified from
literature, clearly define or state the research
question or hypothesis (Specific Topic)

Moving from General to Specific


General Topic (Sanitation
Related Diseases)
Research Problem
Specific Topic/
Research
Question

What is a Research proposal?


systematic plan of procedure for the research
to follow.
Can be likened to a building plan or a
directional map (e.g. How will you travel from
Sunyani to Accra? )

Process of developing Research


Proposal
A brief description or a written report on a chosen
topic
Based on a careful investigation of the topic
Reviewed by the researcher (student) and then
submitted to the research supervisor for a 2nd review.
There will be discussions between the supervisor and
the researcher (student) to help them both understand
aims and objectives and methodology for the research.
It is submitted to a supervisor or academic board for
approval (depends on University Protocol(
A proposal helps the researcher to make a map out and
analyse which process to use for research

Contents of a basic research proposal


Introduction/Background
Rationale (Problem Statement)
Theoretical Context, Hypothesis
Methodology to be used
Body of Evidence to be used
Initial References/ Bibliography
**Note: the above is just an example. the
contents of a proposal may vary depending on
its purpose and guidelines given for a proposal

Research Methods and Methodologies


Difference between Method and
Methodologies
What are Data Collection Instruments

Examples of methodologies: Case studies,


experimental studies

Remember: SMART Research Goals


S

Specific/ Simple

Measurable

Attainable

Realistic/ Results Oriented

Time-bound

Assignment 2
Write a problem statement for your various
projects.
Identify a problem and write a problem
statement/proposal of 2 pages
To be submitted by Friday 17th October 2014.