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How to Choose a Research Paper Problem

The research paper writing process starts with the research problem, also known as the research question. Since it is the reason why the student is writing a research paper about a particular topic it is considered as the most important part of the research paper. If the student has a well formulated research problem or question, it is easy for him to determine what kind of research materials to look for. It also limits the scope of his research to a specific topic.

There are many kinds of research problem.

Descriptive Research Problem. This refers to a research problem that seeks to describe a topic. The goal of this research is not to understand the topic but to describe it. A good example is, what is the percentage of Asian students in California Community College?

Explorative Research Problem. An explorative research problem seeks to understand the cause of the problem that will be used as springboard for further research. A good example is what are the possible reasons for the increase in cases of police use of unnecessary force in the performance of their duties?

Explanatory Research Problem. An explanatory research problem investigates the reasons why a certain event takes place. Unlike the descriptive research problem, it goes deeper into the issue by analyzing why certain things happen. A good example of an explanatory research problem is whether the construction of a wall in Mexican border is the solution to the United States immigration problem

Interventionist research problem. An interventionist research problem suggests a solution to specific problem. A good example of an interventionist research problem is how community policing can reduce the crime problem in the United States.


Choosing a Research Problem

Finding a research paper problem can be difficult. Oftentimes many students cannot choose a particular research paper problem from a variety of topics which he may be interested in. Oftentimes, this is not due to ignorance of lack of knowledge but due to inability of the student to focus his research. This poses a problem because indecision on the research problem affects the student’s entire research.

Students should be able to understand that choosing the right research paper problem is important. It must be something that interests the researcher and is sufficiently limited so as to have a clear focus or direction. However, it must not also be too broad otherwise the researcher may not be able to adequately address the research paper problem.


3 Concepts in Choosing Research Paper Problem

In choosing a research paper problem, students should be able to distinguish between three concepts: research paper topic, research paper problem and problem statement.

The research paper topic refers to the general field or object of study. An example of a research paper topic is nurses, job satisfaction, and private hospitals. They are research paper topics in the sense that they are too broad. Since they are too broad it is not possible to write a research problem about these topics alone which should be narrowed down.

The second concept is the research paper problem. It is a more specific aspect of the research paper topic. The job satisfaction of nurses in private hospitals is a good research paper problem. However, the research paper problem is still too broad which should be narrowed further.

The problem statement is the precise issue which is the focus of the research. It is narrower than both the research paper topic and the research paper problem. A good problem statement is the factors that impact of level of satisfaction among nurses in private hospital setting.

Researchers generally proceed from the research paper topic. Eventually, they narrow it down to research paper problem until they have crafted the problem statement. However, it is possible for a researcher to jump from research paper topic directly to problem statement.

If you do not have a research paper topic or problem, we can be of assistance to you. can help you choose a research paper problem that can get you started on you research.

How to Evaluate Research Materials

Researchers use a variety of research materials in writing the research papers. Among the common research materials used are books, journal articles, government documents, DVDs and CDs.

These materials which can be in print and online are very helpful in convincing the readers about the claims in the research paper. They are also readily available and accessible at the library catalog which can be found in the college library.

In many cases, the challenge for many students is not how and where to find research materials but determining if they are credible and reliable. While these materials are readily available the question of whether they are credible and reliable is often disputable. For example, a peer reviewed journal is considered to be more reliable as a research tool than an article in Wikipedia. It is therefore important for researchers to choose their research materials and evaluate and verify whether the research materials they are using are credible and reliable.

Relevance to the Research Topic

Before you use a material as a resource material, you need to ask yourself whether the source is worth reading. In view of the unlimited number of materials on print and in the Internet it is important for you to distinguish which one of these materials are relevant to your paper. Does the material talk about the same topic that is the subject of your research? Who is the publisher of the research material? If you seek to research about capital punishment in the United States then it may not be advisable for you to cite websites published or sponsored by individuals in Asian countries.

Authority of the Research Material

Who is the author of the resource material and does he have credibility to talk about your topic? An article written by a priest or by a cook, naturally, is not a credible source for the topic of cloning. When was the article written? Using an article that is written 20 years ago for a subject that belongs to the field of science or medicine may not be advisable.

Content of the Research Material

You need to determine whether the source is worth using in the research paper. You need to examine the content of the resource material. How were the ideas presented in the research material? Is it reasonable or biased? If it author appears to be biased for or against an issue then chances are that he is credible. His ideas and statements will be unreliable.

Evaluating your sources is not easy. But they are necessary in order for your research paper to be reliable and credible. If you need help with evaluating the materials for your research paper, visit our for more information.

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