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Chapter 3

The Research Process - The Broad Problem

Area and Defining the Problem Statement –
(Stage 1 - 2 in Research Process)

© 2009 John Wiley & Sons Ltd. 1
Stage 1:
The Broad Problem Area
 Examples of broad problem areas that researchers
(economists) could observe:
1- Government expenditures on health are improving medical
2- The government subsidies of a product are not helping to
reduce the inflation.
3- The introduction of flexible work hours has created more
problems than it has solved in many government units.
4- Reduction in oil prices creates budget deficit in Kuwait.
5- Reducing tariffs among GCC states are not enhancing
bilateral trade among them.

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 Recall the Research process:
1) Broad problem area

2) Problem statement

3) Theoretical Framework

4) Generation of hypotheses

5) Data collection:

6) Data analysis: -------------- if Yes go to 7 ( if No go to back!!!)

7) Report Writing( Interpretation of results)

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Preliminary Information Gathering

 Nature of information needed to be gathered:

– Background information of the problem.
(Why this problem?)

– Prevailing knowledge on the topic. (How??)

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Step One:
Why this Problem

 Job Research

 Interests

 Hot Topic

 Others

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Step Two:
Literature Review
 A good literature survey:
– Ensures that important variables are not left out of the study.
– Helps the development of the theoretical framework and
hypotheses for testing.
– Ensures that the problem statement is precise and clear.
– Enhances testability and replicability of the findings.
– Reduces the risk of “reinventing the wheel”.
– Confirms that the problem is perceived as relevant and

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A. Data sources
 Textbooks
 Academic and professional journals
 Theses
 Conference proceedings
 Unpublished manuscripts
 Reports of government departments and corporations
 Newspapers
 The Internet
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B. Searching for Literature
 Most libraries have the following electronic resources at
their disposal:
– Electronic journals
– Full-text databases
– Bibliographic databases
– Abstract databases

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C. Conducting the Literature
 Based on the specific issues of concerns (raised in the
literature) and factors (variables( identified, the literature
review needs to be done on these variables.
 Make sure that the identified published/unpublished
papers are available (or can have access to them) on the
topic of interest.
 Gathering the relevant ones.
 Be ready to write the literature section after finishing this
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Stage 2:
The Problem Statement
 After reading into the literature, the researcher now can narrow
down the problem from the original broad.
 The question( problem) does not necessarily mean that
something is seriously wrong.
 The problem (question) could indicate an interest in an issue,
where finding the right answers might help to improve an
existing situation.
 Thus, the problem statement is a clear, precise, and brief
statement of the question to be investigated with the goal of
findings an answer or solution.

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The Research Proposal
 Key elements:
– Purpose of the study
– Specific problem to be investigated.
– Scope of the study
– Relevance of the study
– Research design:
• Sampling design
• Data collection methods
• Data analysis
– Time frame
– Budget
– Selected Bibliography

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