When you do your research study, the first thing that you need to polish is your problem statement. The problem statement is the heart of your research. It expresses clearly what problem you want to solve and what questions you want to answer.
It is important that your problem statement is well-crafted. Here are some key tips in writing your research problem statement.
Establish a need for addressing the problem
Simple curiosity or sheer interest is not enough justification for addressing a problem. Make sure that you are clear about what you are researching and why you are researching it. Could there be a gap in existing bodies of research? Is the problem unique and has it never been addressed before? These are some convincing and legitimate reasons for pursuing your research problem.
Also remember that researches in STEM are usually experimental in nature. Make sure that your problem can be answered through the scientific method.
Highlight the ideal state and the current state
One of the main reasons why a problem exists in the first place is because of the gap between the ideal (what should be) and the current state (what is). For instance, waste management is a problem in many cities. Ideally, we should be able to recycle, to have an efficient waste management system, and to enjoy a clean environment. However, the current state of many of our cities shows garbage on the streets, flooding caused by inefficient waste management, and diseases caused by dirt and pollution. This clearly shows a gap, and therefore, a problem. Include how STEM will be able to address the problem you identified.
Remember your 5 Ws
In your English class, you were taught the 5 Ws: who, what, when, where, and why. This is not just for journalistic writing, but for scientific writing as well! Incorporate these elements into your research problem statement. What is the problem? Who is affected by it? Where and when does the problem occur? Why is it important to address this problem? Make sure that these questions are addressed in your problem statement.
Be clear and concise
Academic writing requires you to follow certain formats when writing. While the STEM field usually requires the APA format, your school or teacher can also require you to use another format. Usually, the problem statement will have a word limit, so you have to be clear and concise.
To write clearly and concisely, choose your words carefully and make sure each word serves a purpose. Do not ramble or write long-winded sentences. Make your point clear and understandable to your audience.
Write now, edit later
Because the problem statement holds so much weight, you might get stuck in the idea that it has to be perfect. This is counterproductive and will only give you writer’s block! It’s hard to start writing when you are trying to achieve perfection.
The key here is to start writing. Write out your problem statement in the way that you understand it. Then come back to it to edit and improve. Show it to a teacher or a peer to get their feedback. Continuously edit your problem statement until it is complete, clear, and organized.
Your research problem statement is the backbone of your study. Give significant thought and consideration into crafting the problem statement for this will guide the rest of your research.