Developing a Statement of the Problem Part II

In the previous post, we looked at two of the five characteristics of developing a statement of the problem, which was the topic and the research problem. In this post, we look at the last three characteristics, which are

  • a justification for the problem
  • exposing the gap
  • determining the audience

Justification of the Problem

When conducting research, it is a researchers job to explain the importance of a study or to justify it. There are several ways to do this.

  • Cite literature that recommends such a study as yours
  • Share experiences others had that call for the investigation of the problem
  • Share personal experiences that call for the investigation of the problem

These approaches are most self-explanatory. Many journal articles include recommendations for further study at the end of the article. This is a great place to find justification for a new study. The experiences of others and yourself provides anecdotal support for a current study. Recommendations in research is a stronger justification but anecdotal evidence is often acceptable as well.

Exposing the Gap

Your current study must clearly explain what other studies have not examined. This is called exposing the gap or indicating the deficiencies in prior studies. It is easy to find out what others have done. However, it is much more challenging to notice what people have not done since people do not often share what they did not do in a study. Identifying what is missing in a field is challenging.

Determining the Audience

This aspect of the statement of the problem indicates who will benefit from the study. All research is not for everybody. Usually, research is very specific in who it will benefit. Your responsibility is to identify who will want to read and possibly use your research,


The statement of the problem is the first section of a study. This component of an article lays the foundation for the entire paper. As such, it must be well-written with a clear sense of direction. One way to enhance and maintain the clarity of this section is by adhering the five characteristics of a statement of the problem. Through approaching the statement of the problem with these characteristics in mind a researcher can develop a succinct approach to expressing this component of research.

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