Creswell (2008) states that research problems are the educational issues, controversies, or concerns that guide the need for conducting a study. Research problems are utilized as a means of communicating quality information to individuals. This information may be used to make decisions, allow a more in depth understanding of a particular issue, or aid in the resolving of a problem or issue. The identification and justification of a research problem is a very important juncture in the research process. Without properly identifying and justifying the research problem, the readers do not know why the study is important, why the study is needed, or why the study should be read.
In order to effectively identify and justify a research problem, evident practices should be considered. The researchers must clearly identify the problem to be researched. This practice does not simply mean to determine a problem exists but should include why it is a need to study the problem. Identifying a research problem consists of specifying an issue to study, developing a justification for studying it, and suggesting the importance of the study for select audiences that will read the report (Creswell, 2008). The clear identification and justification of a research problem is considered to be a best practice because it limits the subject matter and focus attentions on a specific point of view of the study. This best practice can be applied by clearly identifying the research problem and providing a clear justification to why the research is being conducted. By applying this best practice, a different perspective may be provided, the scope of the research problem may be narrowed, and direction for the research may be rendered.
Another consideration that should be made when identifying and justifying a research problem is to determine why the study is needed. The study that will be conducted should contribute to existing knowledge or provide new knowledge. There are several ways to assess whether a research problem will contribute to existing knowledge or provide new knowledge: if your study fill a gap or void in existing literature, if your study replicate a past study but examines different participants and different research sites, if your study extend past research or examines the topic more thoroughly, if your study give a voice to people silenced, not heard, or rejected in society, and if your study inform practices.
A research problem may contribute to existing knowledge or provide new knowledge by filling a gap or void by addressing a topic that has not been previously covered by published literature. For example, a researcher examined the cause of high school students dropping out of school and found past research only examined the point of view of the students but not the teachers. This would be a void or gap in the research. By addressing the cause of high school students dropping out of school from the point of view of teachers, it will...