What is a Problem Statement? With Examples | Author Services Blog (2023)

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The statement of the problem is one of the first things that a colleague or potential client will read. With the vastness of the information available at one’s fingertips in the online9 world, your work may have just a few seconds to draw in a reader to take a deeper look at your proposal before moving on to the next option. It explains quickly to the reader, the problem at hand, the need for research, and how you intend to do it.

A strong, clear description of the problem that drew you to your research has to be straightforward, easy to read and, most important, relevant. Why do you care about this problem? How can solving this problem impact the world? The problem statement is your opportunity to explain why you care and what you propose to do in the way of researching the problem.

A problem statement is an explanation in research that describes the issue that is in need of study. What problem is the research attempting to address? Having a Problem Statement allows the reader to quickly understand the purpose and intent of the research. The importance of writing your research proposal cannot be stressed enough. Check for more information on Writing a Scientific Research Project Proposal.

It is expected to be brief and concise, and should not include the findings of the research or detailed data. The average length of a research statement is generally about one page. It is going to define the problem, which can be thought of as a gap in the information base. There may be several solutions to this gap or lack of information, but that is not the concern of the problem statement. Its purpose is to summarize the current information and where a lack of knowledge may be presenting a problem that needs to be investigated.

The purpose of the problem statement is to identify the issue that is a concern and focus it in a way that allows it to be studied in a systematic way. It defines the problem and proposes a way to research a solution, or demonstrates why further information is needed in order for a solution to become possible.

What is Included in a Problem Statement?

Besides identifying the gap of understanding or the weakness of necessary data, it is important to explain the significance of this lack.

(Video) Problem Statement Example | How to Write Problem Statements

-How will your research contribute to the existing knowledge base in your field of study?

-How is it significant?

-Why does it matter?

Not all problems have only one solution so demonstrating the need for additional research can also be included in your problem statement. Once you identify the problem and the need for a solution, or for further study, then you can show how you intend to collect the needed data and present it.

How to Write a Statement of Problem in Research Proposal

It is helpful to begin with your goal. What do you see as the achievable goal if the problem you outline is solved? How will the proposed research theoretically change anything? What are the potential outcomes?

Then you can discuss how the problem prevents the ability to reach your realistic and achievable solution. It is what stands in the way of changing an issue for the better. Talk about the present state of affairs and how the problem impacts a person’s life, for example.

It’s helpful at this point to generally layout the present knowledge and understanding of the subject at hand, before then describing the gaps of knowledge that are currently in need of study. Your problem statement is a proposed solution to address one of these gaps.

A good problem statement will also layout the repercussions of leaving the problem as it currently stands. What is the significance of not addressing this problem? What are the possible future outcomes?

(Video) A Fresh UX Designer Talks - Episode 2 - The Problem Statement

Example of Problem Statement in Research Proposal

If, for example, you intended to research the effect of vitamin D supplementation on the immune system, you would begin with a review of the current knowledge of vitamin D’s known function in relation to the immune system and how a deficiency of it impacts a person’s defenses.

You would describe the ideal environment in the body when there is a sufficient level of vitamin D. Then, begin to identify the problems associated with vitamin D deficiency and the difficulty of raising the level through supplementation, along with the consequences of that deficiency. Here you are beginning to identify the problem of a common deficiency and the current difficulty of increasing the level of vitamin D in the blood.

At this stage, you may begin to identify the problem and narrow it down in a way that is practical to a research project. Perhaps you are proposing a novel way of introducing Vitamin D in a way that allows for better absorption by the gut, or in a combination with another product that increases its level in the blood.

Describe the way your research in this area will contribute to the knowledge base on how to increase levels of vitamin D in a specific group of subjects, perhaps menopausal women with breast cancer. The research proposal is then described in practical terms.

How to write a problem statement in research?

Problem statements differ depending on the type and topic of research and vary between a few sentences to a few paragraphs.

However, the problem statement should not drag on needlessly. Despite the absence of a fixed format, a good research problem statement usually consists of three main parts:

Context: This section explains the background for your research. It identifies the problem and describes an ideal scenario that could exist in the absence of the problem. It also includes any past attempts and shortcomings at solving the problem.

Significance: This section defines how the problem prevents the ideal scenario from being achieved, including its negative impacts on the society or field of research. It should include who will be the most affected by a solution to the problem, the relevance of the study that you are proposing, and how it can contribute to the existing body of research.

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Solution: This section describes the aim and objectives of your research, and your solution to overcome the problem. Finally, it need not focus on the perfect solution, but rather on addressing a realistic goal to move closer to the ideal scenario.

Here is a cheat sheet to help you with formulating a good problem statement.

1. Begin with a clear indication that the problem statement is going to be discussed next. You can start with a generic sentence like, “The problem that this study addresses…” This will inform your readers of what to expect next.

2. Next, mention the consequences of not solving the problem. You can touch upon who is or will be affected if the problem continues, and how.

3. Conclude with indicating the type of research/information that is needed to solve the problem. Be sure to reference authors who may have suggested the necessity of such research.

This will then directly lead to your proposed research objective and workplan and how that is expected to solve the problem i.e., close the research gap.

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(Video) Solve Product Design Assignments like a Pro: Ultimate Guide to Cracking Problem Statements!


What is an example of a problem statement? ›

For instance, consider the following example of a problem statement: Employee turnover rate is up by 60% with most of them leaving due to lack of support for growth opportunities. To retain top talent, we need to invest in quality training and development initiatives.

What is the statement of problem with author? ›

The statement of a problem defines and describes the research hypothesis or question(s), along with the broad method that will be used to solve the problem. The statement of the problem serves as the basis for the introductory section of your project proposal.

What are the 3 statement of the problem? ›

Problem statements often have three elements: the problem itself, stated clearly and with enough contextual detail to establish why it is important; the method of solving the problem, often stated as a claim or a working thesis; the purpose, statement of objective and scope of the document the writer is preparing.

What is a good problem statement? ›

A good problem statement should create awareness and stimulate creative thinking. It should not identify a solution or create a bias toward a specific strategy. Taking time to work on a problem statement is a great way to short-circuit the tendency to rush to solutions.

What are the 4 things your problem statement should include? ›

There are four key elements you should include when writing a problem statement:
  • Ideal situation. The first thing your problem statement should describe is what the ideal situation would be if there wasn't a problem you needed to address. ...
  • Reality. ...
  • Consequences. ...
  • Proposal.
Feb 25, 2020

What is an example of a problem statement in research? ›

Example of a problem that isn't evidence-based: “Based on the researcher's experience, the problem is that people don't accept female leaders;” which is an opinion-based statement based on personal (anecdotal) experience.

Which of the following is an example of a strong problem statement? ›

Which of the following is an example of a strong problem statement? Lawrence is a painter who needs a way to find the best deals on art supplies, because he wants to save money on the cost of his materials. Can an effective problem statement help UX designers set benchmarks for success? Yes.

What are the 5 things included in a problem statement? ›

In business, a problem statement is a written report on a problematic condition that stands in the way of progress. A good problem statement will cover the "five Ws"—who, what, where, when, and why—surrounding the company's current state of affairs.

How long should a problem statement be? ›

How long should your statement of the problem be? Not too long. One page is more than enough for a clear and effective problem statement.

What is a SMart problem statement? ›

So the Problem Statement is a simple sentence that contains the problem but no causes or solutions and to be a SMart Problem Statement it needs to be Specific and Measurable and clearly say “what's wrong with what, how much and so what'. When to use it?

What is an example of a problem statement in business? ›

Problem: “Going to the video store requires fighting traffic, wandering the aisles, and waiting in long lines just to get a single movie.” Solution: “Netflix allows anyone to enjoy thousands of titles streamed directly to their home or delivered to their mailbox.”

What does a good problem statement not include? ›

A problem statement should describe an undesirable gap between the current-state level of performance and the desired future-state level of performance. A problem statement should include absolute or relative measures of the problem that quantify that gap, but should not include possible causes or solutions!

Is problem statement a question? ›

In research, the problem statement articulates the issue that the researcher is attempting to find an answer to. It is a set of questions that require answers.

How many words is a problem statement? ›

Do not exceed 250-300 words. It is helpful to begin the problem statement with a sentence: “The problem to be addressed through this project is…”

What is an example of a problem statement in healthcare? ›

Problem Statement: Individuals with disabilities experience significant health disparities compared to the non-disabled population. Despite the documented need, the focus on health disparity issues within the disability population is limited and often ignored.

What is an example of a problem statement in education? ›

Using Example 1 from above, the problem statement could be worded like this: "High school dropout rates are high, and there is speculation that use of minimum competency tests may be contributing the high rate of school dropout."

How do you show a problem statement? ›

Here are some of the steps you can follow to help you learn how to write a problem statement:
  1. Identify a gap. ...
  2. Explain the problem. ...
  3. Explain your problem's financial impact. ...
  4. Back up your assertions. ...
  5. Offer a solution. ...
  6. Explain why your proposed solution is the best. ...
  7. Summarise the problem and solution. ...
  8. Be concise.
Aug 16, 2021

What is an example of a smart problem statement? ›

Some of the best problem statements are simply goals formatted as questions. If you need to increase sales by 10%, a good problem statement is, “Within the next 12 months, what are the most effective options for the team to increase sales by 10%?”

How do you write a problem statement with a template example? ›

Problem Statement Template

Problem Using one sentence, define the problem. In this section, use evidence to describe and explain the context of the problem. In this section, describe why the problem matters. In your conclusion, propose solutions to the problem based on your research and understanding of it.


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