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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


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


Practical Problems such as national or society

problems (e.g. problem of waste

management, water supply, environmental pollution, traffic, energy crisis)

Theories (Literature searches)


Technological Change

Previous Research

Some Characteristics of Good Research


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


Factors that affect the choice of a

research problem

Researcher’s 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


Each Student Should Write down a research problem

Defining the Research Problem


Choose a problem (General Topic)


Identify appropriate background literature from various sources the literature


Critically Review and Evaluate the literature


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/



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


Based on a careful investigation of the topic

Reviewed by the researcher (student) and then submitted to the research supervisor for a 2 nd 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


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 M A •Attainable R •Realistic/ Results Oriented T •Time-bound
S •Specific/ Simple
A •Attainable
R •Realistic/ Results Oriented
T •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 17 th October 2014.