Problem statement is used in research studies to elucidate a research question. Problem statement addresses gaps in existing knowledge and contributes to spanning the gap. Research seeks solutions to problems, therefore, a great problem statement paves the way for finding solution to a problem being worked upon.

Undertaking research and writing thesis is obligatory for completion of masters and doctoral degree in universities. Findings of these research studies are published in scholarly journals in the form of “Research Papers”. The “statement of the problem” is the soul of the entire research process and formulating a logical problem statement needs analytical skills. But it has been routinely seen that students studying for masters and doctoral degrees are usually redundant in analytical skills.

I am specialized in Agricultural Extension and observed that students, particularly of social sciences, lack the basic concept of a logical problem statement for their dissertation and research papers. Conferring upon the need, I have formulated a few guidelines for students to follow in order to get basics of writing a problem statement right.

 

ILLUSTRATE AN IDEAL STATE OF AFFAIRS

A foremost step of formulating problem statement is that the researcher would have to explain that what would be the situation if this problem did not exist. This idea situation will enable the researcher to identify those factors which can confront persisting of ideal circumstances.

Lets’ try to comprehend through an example that “Extension Advisory Services for the farmers are ineffective”. The ideal state of the problem is that the latest extension teaching methods are adopted by extension workers. Services rendered are equally accessible to farmers regardless of their type and their socio-economic characteristics. The way of technology dissemination is optimized to raise efficiency, conserve the operational cost and make message apprehensive to farmers.

 

EXPLAIN YOUR PROBLEM

Making a problem statement understandable to readers is a significant element. Ensure explaining what is preventing the ideal situation.  Use “However” or “unfortunately” to link ideal situation with the preventing factors. Her is an example:

“Extension services are meant to facilitate farmers’. However, the current system of extension advisory services is ineffective. Field staff is poorly skilled and carrying the sluggish process of information sharing. In result information gap among farmers is widening.

 

BACK UP YOUR ASSERTIONS

It is imperative to support research-based findings with references from relevant literature. Reference support ensures the authenticity of quoted statements. Emphasis should be given to the most relevant studies particularly conducted in local settings. Proper citation will reflect that how important to solve the problem is. For further guidance and assistance, students may contact their respective supervisors.

The way of citing reference should be followed as;

Citing reference in the start of the sentence

For single author……..Ashraf (2018) reported ineffectiveness of extension work

For two authors…….Ashraf and Saleem (2018) reported ineffectiveness of extension work

For more than two authors——Ashraf et al. (2018) reported ineffectiveness of extension work

Citing reference at the end of the sentence

Ineffectiveness of extension work was unveiled by Ashraf (2018).

Ineffectiveness of extension work was unveiled by Ashraf and Saleem (2018).

Ineffectiveness of extension work was unveiled by Ashraf et al. (2018).

Lets’ apply this in our example: Extension services are ineffective pertinent to multiple impediments including, limited number of extension field staff (Ashraf, 2018), poor policies (Ashraf and Saleem, 2018), inadequate resources and sluggish infrastructure (Ashraf et al., 2018).

 

PROPOSE A SOLUTION

Once the importance of the problem is explained, proposing the appropriate solution is the essence of the problem statement. Though, proposed solution should brief, concise, simple and logical. The proposed solution will boost the value of research work.

Let us integrate it in our example: “As the extension system is ineffective, hence, integration of Information Communication Technologies (ICTs) in extension work could raise the efficiency of extension services multifold through the involvement of concerned stakeholders.

It is important to note that the proposed solution should not exceed more than a sentence or two. Just like demonstrated in the example.

 

EXPLAIN THE BENEFITS OF THE SOLUTION

After the successful interpretation of the solution of the stated problem, you would have to address the importance of the proposed solution. Stress would be given on unveiling that how the proposed solution will be important in lowering cost and maximizing benefits.

Lets’ continue with the example: Proposed integration of ICTs in extension work will cut the cost, conserve resources and raise the efficiency of extension service providers and bridging information gap among farmers making information more accessible.

 

CONCLUDING A PROBLEM STATEMENT

 At the end, you would have to conclude your problem statement in best entrusts of readers. The stated conclusion should be specific, concise and should not exceed few lines. Lets’ elucidate the point with our example.

To confront agricultural challenges, nurturing farmers with the latest information, offering quick access and reproducibility is inevitable. Integration of ICTs in extension system harness the tremendous potential in this regard.

For the thesis, by the end thesis statement can be added to improve the status of your work. For example, “Therefore, the present research is planned to investigate the prospects of ICTs in extension work in XYZ area.

The views and opinions expressed in the article are the writer’s own and do not necessarily reflect the views and policy of The Academia Magazine.

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