A researcher investigates a problem while trying to present what is and what ought to be. Good research work is based on carrying out literature review to determine what others have said or done on the field under investigation. As a result incorporating other people’s ideas in research has many benefits over other ways identifying a research problem.
Coming up with a problem in itself is not an answer to a research question. However, it is suggested that a good problem in research should be researchable. The whole process also involves differentiating terms used in research: research problem and research situation.
Importance of literature review
Many a scholar agrees that conducting a research without doing a thorough literature review is a type of academic selfishness and meanness. Literature review is defined as a systematic, if not explicit and reproducible method for identification and synthesizing an organization or body of completed as well as recorded works by other scholars, researchers and/or practitioners (Blaxter, et al, 2006; Willis, 2007) The importance therefore is not limited or confined to the research process alone.
From this definition therefore, reviewing literature means that research on a particular problem is not largely or entirely an innovative process from a single researcher but a collection of borrowed ideas from others also. Importance of research is that it helps a researcher to:
- Identify key sources relevant to the knowledge claim
- Review the major allegations and/or debates about the topic under investigation
- Add some proposals in order to fill the gaps that may be present in the existing knowledge.
- Demonstrate the familiarity of the problem to the researcher
- Draw comparisons between or among other research in the same field of investigation
Since a research problem is a problem draws the differences between what exists and what is to be, literature review paves way for a researcher to the gap of the difference. Therefore it should precede the problem; in fact it is one way of identifying a research problem particularly to beginners in research.
Identification of an appropriate research problem
They say that attitude is resolute. This is just an argument but it carries significant weight in research. This is related to conducting a research study. For this reason, research shows that this is the very first step in research problem identification.
With respect to attitude, it is said in favor of an inquisitive attitude that a researcher should ask questions. Doctoral research is a form of educational research; its problems for research arise from sources such as theories and past research. People who have been in research for a long time also find their past experiences helpful in problem identification since it is possible that person has some experience that he/she can draw a problem from(Johnson & Christensen, 2011).
Differences between researchable problem and situation
In general terms, a research problem is actually a situation that needs a solution. Traditionally, in research a situation that needs a solution must have possible solutions. A statement is an objective that draws purposes of conducting research.
Consequently, a statement being an objective may be presented in form of a list. A research situation on the other hand is an existing set of relationships in conditions of the subject under research particularly when the new research is attempting to reproduce research results conducted earlier on. A research situation affects the choice of design in research.
In research, a researcher should be able to do a thorough literature review of the topic to be investigated. This one way that is at the disposal of a researcher when identifying a research problem. Arguments presented in a well reviewed topic helps even in the choice of a problem and even when coming up with a hypothesis
Johnson, B., & Christensen, L. (2011). Educational research: quantitative, qualitative and mixed approaches. California: Sage Publications, Inc. Retrieved 8 June 2011.
Blaxter, L. et al. (2006). How to research. New York: open University press. Retrieved 8 June 2011.
Willis, J. W. (2007). Foundations of qualitative research: Interpretive and critical approaches. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage. Retrieved 8 June 2011.