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The Research Problem

How to find a research problem?

Do not be diffident
Your past studies will yield problems
Use existing databases

Characteristics of a Researchable Problem


Is the problem intellectually challenging?
e.g., Individual initiative and the problem should exercise mind of
researcher
Does the problem afford opportunity to discover essential causal
connection?
e.g., If X is a good writer, what qualities of X do appeal to people?
Can the problem be stated clearly?
e.g., When you wish to state a problem clearly, you will need to use
more and more words to make your meaning clear

Stating Problems Clearly

Consider the research problem


Television and Beyond

Research problems are not telegraphic messages


Narrow down the research problem to such an extent that what you say
about it after finding an answer will be extremely specific
Narrow down your problem by saying more about it:

1.
2.
3.
4.
5.

Attitudes of children towards television


Attitudes of children of 10 years towards television
Attitudes of children of 10 years in Mumbai towards television
Attitude of children of 10 years in Dadar, Mumbai towards television
Attitude of children of 10 years in Dadar, Mumbai towards Saturday television
film

Note the difference between 1 and 5


You must know your own strengths and possibilities as one can play only
his part within his own capabilities
Research means knowing more and more about less and less

Dividing Main Problem into Coherent Set of Sub-Problems

Inspect the main problem


If the main problem is correctly written, you will be able to see
the main topics quite easily
e.g., It is hypothesized that the passive phenomenon in English
and Marathi indicates and aspectual meaning and is a
communication universal.
Now separate the sub-problems and state them as questions:
In the example, it is possible to discover following sub-problems:
1.
2.
3.

What are the characteristics of the passive in English?


What are the characteristics of the passive in Marathi?
What are the characteristics of the communication universal?

Delineating Research Problem

Delineating or clear description of a research problem is an


important prerequisite to a good research proposal
Delineation will include the following steps:
1.

2.

3.

4.

5.

Delimitation of the problem


It is necessary for the researcher to say not only what he will do and
include in the study but also what he will not do or include in his study
The definition of the terms
Words have varying meaning, so it is necessary that operational
definition of the terms is given, e.g., a scooter (the term) can be
defined as a form of two-wheeler (general class), which has smaller
wheels than a motorcycle (distinguishing characteristics)
Stating the assumptions
Assumptions are what the researcher takes for granted, without
questioning in a given situation, it is different from the research
problem, which is a question
Stating the hypotheses
Hypotheses are tentative, intelligent guesses, enabling the researcher
collect homogeneous data that revolves around a central purpose,
leading to discovery of new knowledge
Importance of the study would include reasons for undertaking the
study

Lesson-5: Exercise

Write a statement of any problem you consider suitable for


management research.
Evaluate the statement yourself using the following:
1.
2.
3.
4.
5.
6.
7.
8.

Is the problem stated in a complete, grammatical sentence?


Does the problem state any hypothesis?
Have you tried to achieve precision by delimiting your area of study?
Does the problem seem to be merely an exercise in gathering data on the
subject?
Can the problem be easily resolved with a yes-or-no answer?
Does the problem contain reference to the way you are going to interpret
data?
Does the problem seem to indicate that there is a relationship between
various items of data?
Is the problem is two broad?

Wherever answer is yes, rewrite the problem to correct that part.


Separate the major sub-problems and state them as questions
Underline the words which indicate that you intend to interpret data