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PROBLEM

FORMULATION
A problem well defined is
a problem half solved

created by the Dreamteam

OVERVIEW

What is a good problem formulation?

Why is a good problem formulation important?

How to set up a problem formulation?

Dos & Donts

Sources

WHAT IS A GOOD PROBLEM


FORMULATION?
Definition:
Problem formulation is the creative and
probably the more important step towards
overcoming a problematic state than
problem-solving. A good definition of what
the problem is, is believed to be more than
half of the way towards is eventual
elimination. (ask.references.com)

WHAT IS A GOOD PROBLEM


FORMULATION?

Interesting keeps the researcher involved in


it throughout the research process
Researchable can be investigated through
the collection and analysis of data, using
case study or other techniques
Understandable and logically build up well
formulated and has logical structure with
main question and following sub-questions

WHAT IS A GOOD PROBLEM


FORMULATION?

Manageable fits the level of researchers


level of research skills, needed resources,
and time restrictions
Purposeful establishes cooperation
between researcher and business which
should lead to economical and practical
development of both sides
Ethical does not embarrass or harm
participants

WHY IS A GOOD PROBLEM


FORMULATION IMPORTANT?

Formulating a Problem formulation is the first and


most important step of a research process
The problem formulation is like an identification
of a destination before undertaking a journey
The research problem serves as a foundation of a
research study; like a building and its foundation
If it is well formulated, you can expect a good
study to follow
Remember: Confusion is often but the first step
to clarity

HOW TO SET UP A PROBLEM


FORMULATION?

HOW TO SET UP A PROBLEM


FORMULATION?

Step 1: Choose a area/topic


Your own interest is your most essential motivational factor
(Andersen, 2005)
Brainstorm techniques
Be creative, be open to new ideas
Quantity
Step 2: Narrowing down
Be critical
Determine whether the information already exists
Choose a subject
Think: what is the problem, why is it a problem, and who is it a
problem for? (Andersen,2005)
Divide the broad area into sub areas

HOW TO SET UP A PROBLEM


FORMULATION?

Step 3: Write the problem formulation


Raise research questions + sub questions
Understandable language
Clearly delimited
Determine whether the question can be answered
Step 4: Double check
Check everything (main question, sub questions)
Ask yourself the question if you are satisfied with your
problem formulation
Remember in any case to always justify why you choose
exactly the problem formulation you do, rather than other
possible problem formulations (Andersen, 2005)

DOS & DONTS


Dos

Free thinking wild ideas, spontaneous,


creative
Use brainstorm techniques
Seek help if running in circles/empty of ideas
Always look on the bright side of life

Donts

Avoid negative thinking


Dont panic
Dont push yourself in a corner

Thank you for your attention

SOURCES

Andersen, IB (2002): Den Skinbarlinge Virkelikghed.


Copenhagen: Samfundsliteratur
http://books.google.com/books?hl=en&lr=&id=x_kp__Wm
FzoC&oi=fnd&pg=PR16&dq=guide+for+problem+formulatio
n&ots=mPrby18e29&sig=eMLKjP-0v8kXOv65-EgP7Om81zY#v=
onepage&q=&
f=false
Kumar, R (2005). Research methodology, a step by step
guide for beginners, SAGE
Andersen (2005). Guide to problem formulation,
Samfundslitteratur Press
Table: Kasper Kok, Peter Valkering, et al.

http://edepot.wur.nl/19270