How to write the problem statement in a research paper?

A problem statement is a brief overview of the issues or problems existing in the concerned area selected for the research. It is an explanation of the issues prevalent in a particular sector which drives the researcher to take interest in that sector for in-depth study and analysis, so as to understand and solve them (Saunders et al. 2009).

Purpose behind writing problem statement in any research study is to:

Problem Statement

Problem Statement

Components of problem statement

The word count of problem statement for a thesis or dissertation should be in range of 150-300 words. The problem statement in any research therefore includes four important segments i.e.

  1. Background of the Problem: Here you can reflect on facts related to the problem to make the reader understand about the gravity of the problem.
  2. Anchor: How one needs to resolve this problem in the  research paper.
  3. General problem: How is impacts a larger population.
  4. Specific problem: How it impacts your sample population.

Example 1 (Quantitative Study)

  1. Background of the problem: The high attrition rate in manufacturing organization is creating anxiety and fear among the employees and thus affecting the productivity of the organization as a whole.
    Here you need to refer to previous research done in the past in the manufacturing sector to determine the key reasons for high attrition rate. It should stimulate the reader to read further.
  2. Anchor: This must include a statistical value to magnify and elucidates the problem.
    Here you can present the attrition percentage within the manufacturing industry and compare it with the case company.
  3. General Problem: The general business problem is to determine the financial lost to the organisation.
    The general business problem needs to just outline the problem.
  4. Specific Problem: Since high attrition rate is affecting the overall productivity of the employees it is in turn affecting the performance of the organization. In order to do so one needs to determine the relationship between employee productivity and organisational performance.
    This is narrower in scope than the general business problem and focused around need of the study which allows easy transition to Need of the Study.

Example 2 (Qualitative Study)

  1. Background of the problem: There has been increase in workplace deaths of miners from 2010 to 2011 (Cite here).
  2. Anchor: Study conducted by XYZ (Year) indicates that 7 out of 10 deaths in mining industry are due to abc reasons (Cite here).
  3. General Problem: The cost of workplace deaths negatively influences profitability to the business workers.
  4. Specific Problem: There is little information on what measures can be undertaken to reduce the workplace death toll.

General problems with problem statement

Quite often students are not able to frame their problem statement properly as they miss out on one or the other component or get confused on what to include or not. Most common problems which are observed have been highlighted below which will improve your ability to write problem statement:

  1. Unable to clearly identify the research problem.
  2. Often confused with research questions of the study.
  3. The problem is not encouraging enough for the researcher to read further.
  4. Not data driven i.e. NO citations.
  5. More than 300 words.
  6. Not focused with the research subject.

Problem statement checklist

To summarise, I have developed this checklist which needs to be kept in mind when writing your problem statement. It includes a list of all the things which should be included in your problem statement

Criteria Yes No
150-300 words
Background of the Problem  
Enticing and Stimulating
Citation (no older than 5 years)
Statistical reference to define the problem
Citation (No older than 5 years)
General Business Problem
Specific Business Problem

Further Reading

  • Saunders, M., Lewis, P. & Thornhill, A. (2009) Research methods for business students, 5th ed., Harlow, Pearson Education.
  • Bryman, A. (2008) Social research methods, 4th edition, Oxford, Oxford University Press.
  • Collis, J. & Hussey, R. (2009) Business Research: A practical guide for undergraduate and postgraduate students, 3rd edition, New York, Palgrave Macmillan.


Senior Analyst at Project Guru
Sudeshna likes to observe and pen down the goings-on in her surrounding, socially and politically. Having a Master's degree in International Relations, her interests lies in analyzing the occurrences of various countries. Previously worked as a teacher, she now holds the position of a Research Analyst in Project Guru and writes down her thoughts through various articles in the Knowledge Tank section.

Related articles

  • Developing conceptual framework in a research paper Before studying the application of conceptual framework, we need to first define it. It can be defined as a ‘visual’ presentation of key variables, factors or concepts and their relationship among each other which have been or have to be studied in the research either graphically or in […]
  • Breaking the code of writing a research paper Research paper writing is a challenging task. You have to deal with criticism as sportingly as you accept compliments. Writing a research paper is not like bulk content writing or general promotional or blog writing.
  • Hypothesis testing in a research paper Hypothesis testing is testing of evidences through mathematical and statistical tools to find whether the researcher was right or wrong in his initial views.
  • Writing an effective review of literature in your paper For many writing the review of literature turns out to be very tricky as it requires you to thouroughly go through your dissertation for review of literature to ensure its perfection.
  • How to frame the right research objectives? In my previous article, I had shed light on the importance of framing good research objectives; this article explains the basics of how the objectives of a research are designed.


  1. thanks is really helpful for my research

    • Thank you destain
      In case you need any help with your research then we will be happy to help.

      • hello! I have a big problem on how to make a problem statement about my thesis entitled “importance of gender sensitivity addressing the dillemas of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender students” can you help me because I’m so exhausted 🙁

    • miss Shruti, Thanks for the article. it’s open my mind a bit, because i have not doing my paper (about linguistics) in a long time and i dont have any ideas to continue this.

      the tittle of my paper is “an analysis of Register used by audio engineers”, would you please to help me to decide what’s problem statements?

      thank you very much 🙂

      • Dear Dee,

        I would first like to understand what are these “registers”. Can you please elaborate?

  2. Good stuff for a junior reseacher like me

  3. Can you help me on the statement of the problem for my research. Thanks

  4. can u help me on the problem statement

  5. Can you help me on the statement of the problem for my research. Thanks

  6. Dear Phaviithtirrah,

    Yes, we can surely help you with the problem statement. Please share your research details with us.


    Thanks,very helpful im writing my research paper – im on the problem statement


    good can i write a statement of problem from this question “COMPLAINS AGAINST THE RELEVANCE OF COUNCIL OF STATE”

  9. Dear Gyasi,
    You need to define the problem in hand, how many complaints? Are there any actions being taken against it?
    Based on this you can suggest that you will bring forth the problem and suggest strategies to overcome same.

    • Good morning! Please help me with how to state a problem pertaining to this topic “Factors associated with mass failure of student in English language in Secondary Schools.”

    • good day can you please help me with the problem statement,my topic is CONSUMER PERCEPTIONS TOWARDS RED MEAT AND WHITE MEAT CONSUMPTION


    • Dear James,
      You can place an order with us so that we can help you in developing your problem statement.


    Thank you.
    a very good guide for research. Thumps up

  12. Financial sector reform stability and industrialisation in Nigeria.

    • Dear Gloria,

      You need to know if there is enough stability and industrialization in Nigeria? If not then why not? What are these challenges? You can thus conduct this research to determine these challenges.

  13. Influence of crm in purchasing behaviour

    • Dear Mudathir,
      There are different factors which make up CRM, you need to first define the industry you want to focus on and then emphasize on why and which factors of CRM can influence purchase behaviour.

  14. Please i need help with my research paper

  15. please send me a complete sample of qualitative and quantitative statement problems

    • Dear Tom,
      We have explained the quantitative and qualitative study based methodology above. We do not have any samples for same.

  16. Joseph Karimbika

    could you help come up with my problem statement on the topic” impact of poor drainage system nextwork in Lusakasa district,, myu focus area is Knayama compound”

    • Sudeshna Chakraborty

      Dear Joseph,
      Your problem statement would involve knowing the source of poor drainage system, in what way is it affecting people and surroundings, are there enough studies and policies addressing the same, and how your approach will help address the same.
      For more detailed assistance, your can place an order of the same with us. We would be happy to help you out. 🙂

  17. please how many A4 paper pages should my problem statement contain for my project. thanks

    • Sudeshna Chakraborty

      Hello Gold

      To begin with your query, content and word count of a problem statement entirely depends on the study aim and scope. Like, if a study is one of a kind, bringing out an entirely novel observation, problem statement will be more explanatory. Therefore, there is no particular size frame to follow. However, in general, it sould not be more than 1.5 pages (A4 size).

  18. please what are my significant of study for the topic “tax evasion and growth of Small and medium scaled enterprises”

    • Sudeshna Chakraborty

      Dear Gold, to understand the significance of your study, you need to check are you bringing out a completely new and different solution to the exisiting problem? Are there very few studies available which provides details on the issue? If no, is your study aims to provide such details? Is the method you are using is much more fullproof in dealing with the issue? Are you recommending any concrete model at the end of the study to help SMEs, which till now has not been proposed? Answering these questions and related others will bring out the significance of the study.

  19. Hello!I need a help in stating a problem for this topic “Factors associated with mass failure of students in English language in Secondary Schools.”

    • Dear Musa,
      You need to first identify the problem in hand. Reflect on the trends of students who have failed, also determine if the trend increasing over the period. What are the challenges for same?
      Once you have presented the problem in hand, you can reflect on what information is there and what you are going to find out in the present research.

  20. Sorry! Also how to justify it

  21. hello,
    can u help me too with my research problem statement…
    my topic is “Relative effectiveness of recruitment methods used in an organisation”

  22. Hi Nidhi,
    You need to reflect on the problem of turnover in your case organization to reflect on the need of effective recruitment methods within and organization.
    Or in case you are focusing on a specific industry/sector then you need to reflect on the trend of high turnover intention so as to reflect on importance of recruitment methods and their effectiveness.

  23. hi
    can u help me problem statement in research and significance of problem statement, and techniques of stating research problem.

    • Sudeshna Chakraborty

      Dear Ansa,

      Kindly let us know your research topic and aim to help you understand the significance and techniques of stating research problem, related to your study.

  24. Hi. My research is ” The imapct of interest rate changes on banks profitability ”
    What my research problem would be

    • Dear Maaytah,
      The problem statement would entirely depend on bank profitability before the change in interest rate. Further studies reporting change in bank profitability should also be considered when defining the problem statement.

  25. Hello, I want to know the problem statements for the topic, “early physiotherapy intervention for patients 1-month post stroke has better prognosis. Also want to know what are the 5 good research problems.

    • Dear Shilpa,
      You need to cite cases wherein such a incident has happened and there is positive impact on same. Then you need to define the patient group that you will be studying to determine the impact and then define why it is important to study same in your patient group.

  26. it is a big big help for me ..

  27. Creation of state police in Nigeria problems and prospects

  28. Pls kindly help me in finding problem statement for Creation of state police in Nigeria problems and prospects

    • Dear Francis,
      You need to first report the problems Nigerian population is facing to suggest a solution of state police. Once the problem is defined, you have to suggest that state police might be able to solve them, but how? Would you be conducting survey among the nigerian population to know if they need the state police?
      I hope this helps.

  29. why is it that general problem and specific problem important?

    • Dear ChanPark,
      That is indeed a good question. Importance of general problem lies in the fact that it lays the foundation to bring the leader to a specific problem. We initiate by defining a broader issue/problem in hand and then move to defining the specific problem to narrow down our scope of research. This enables the reader to know what us unique in your research.

  30. Hi..good day..may i know what is the state of the problem of my research entitled:effect on Pollution of Diversity Marine gastropods in the intertidal area.thanks!

    • Hi Rizza,
      That is indeed a very interesting study, but I think the title is Effect of Pollution on diversity of Marine Gatropods. You need to first define the gravity of situation in the specific area. What are the pollution levels? how is the diversity decreasing? then discuss about how your study will highlight the problem and if you would be giving recommendations on same.

  31. Pls how can you help me with my research work

  32. OK. So, Hemorrhoid is a vast topic and you will first have to narrow down your research by framing research aim and objectives of the study. Once that is done, the problem statement can be easily defined.

  33. How can we write a statement of the problem with the topic Learning styles of BSE-English-Chinese?

    • Dear Joyce,
      What does BSE stands for in your topic? Also what are the aim and objectives of your research?
      Awaiting your response. Cheers!

  34. Can u help me sir for my statement of the problem about “impact of cooperative society on economic development” thanks

    • Dear Joe,
      You need to first define what is a cooperative society, then based on the empirical research which highlights different impacts of cooperative societies you can reflect same for economic development.
      Further, how will your research identify in what country, or in what sectors of economic development should be defined.
      I hope this helps.

  35. Greetings Shruti, please how can I write Statement of Problem on ” Prevalence of Salmonella and shigella spp on poultry feeds, droppings and water “. Thanks

    • Dear Daniel,

      Prevalence of Salmonella spp. especially in Poultry feeds is a fairly common phenomenon. So, your problem statement should reflect on what are the outcomes on their presence? what are the outcomes of contamination? how does it affect its stakeholders?
      Also, if you are highlighting the problem in your thesis project, then are you going to suggest any remediation as well? If so what are these?
      I hope this helps.

      • Dear Shruti, I really appreciate your answer to my question, I don’t know if you can throw more light or elucidate on it once again. example by highlighting
        on what should be the outcomes on their presence? what are their outcomes of contamination? how does it affect its stakeholders?
        Thanks. May God bless you real good

      • Dear Daniel,
        Where is your study based? Which city? How many poultry farms are there?
        Based on these questions you can identify literature in your region on what are the issues and outcomes of these issues?
        Issues could be related to milling process, and in terms of outcomes how much is feedstock is destroyed or wasted?

  36. hi, mrs Shruti. I need u opinion about my topic “sustainable manufacturing practices & sustainability performances”

    it the topic is general?

    how to write a problem statement

    Thank you for u attention.

  37. Dear Roses,

    The topic is not general as long as you define the country and sector in which manufacturing has to be reviewed.
    The problem statement needs to focus on defining the current practices and how they are not sustainable. Based on the factors which you identify, survey can be conducted among manufacturing companies to determine the relationship between manufacturing practices and sustainable development.

    I hope this helps.

  38. Hi ! How would I write my problem statement if it’s regarding ” the decrease in student intakes in a certain college ” ? Thanks !

    • Dear Chi,

      You will first have to decide the geography of the colleges or if you are taking a specific college then you will have to define, the trend in decline in last 1-5 years. Then from the literature you can point at the reasons reflected in previous research studies.
      Finally, reflect on the methodology which you would be following to get answers to your questions and why it is important to take this research forward.

  39. please help me to write problem statement for patients’ perception towards nursing care.

    • Dear Sampath,

      There are several incidences of post-operative problems which can be attributed to lack of proper nursing care. You will have to reflect on the problems faced by the patients from different research studies and also reflect on why understanding the perception is important.
      You can quote specific statistics from case hospitals or city that you are targeting for same.
      Based on this your problem statement can be defined.

  40. pls I need a statement of problem on “corporate governance and performance of mfbs in Nigeria

    • Dear Beulah,

      The corporate governance mechanisms have been found to impact the performance of MFIs. You need to further reflect on the mechanisms which have been adopted in Nigeria or if not, then why is there a need to adopt mechanisms.
      Based on these questions you can develop your problem statement.

  41. Dear Shruti, good day to you. I badly need your help, I don’t know how we will write our problem statement about pine tree bark extract as alternative for vitamin c, can you suggest some details so that I can start? Thank you in advance

    • Dear Elaine,

      You will first have to report the advantages of Pine tree bark as have been indicated in the literature. Further you will have to draw comparisons with Vitamin C and then reflect that although not much research has not been done on same, your study will draw useful insights on the advantages of Pine tree bark as an alternative.
      You can also emphasize about the availability, that it is not used as per the abundance and if it needs any treatment before being used.

      I hope this helps.

  42. Hi Shruti. Good day. Can I ask for help with the problem statement of my research? It’s entitled “Women’s Viewpoint to Gender Discrimination at their Workplace: Call Center Agencies and other BPOs” I don’t know how to start and I happened to see your article. It informed me a bit, but I would be happy if you will help me further. Please. And thank you in advance.

    • Dear Bien,

      Firstly you have to reflect on the statistics about the adversity of gender discrimination, as in what percentage of women have reflected same in previous studies.
      Then on what grounds are they discriminated can be used to support your proposition.

      If the statistics are alarming, then you can reflect upon the need for study.

      I hope this helps.

  43. byiringiro janvier

    please can u help me to get the problem statement to this topic: impact of technology on service delivery in financial institutions with bk as a case study

    • Dear Janvier,

      You will first have to emphasize on different technological advancements which have come up in last half decade mostly with the introduction of Artificial intelligence.
      Then relate it with the impact of technology adoption on financial institutes as reported by the literature.

      Based on this you can mention the need to study same in the case study.

      I hope this helps.

  44. Hi, Can you help me create a statement of the problem regarding this topic: “Comparing the effects of urine and rice water to mongo plants against commercial fertilizer”. Thank you!

    • Sudeshna Chakraborty

      Greetings Dianne!

      You can develop your problem statement by reflecting on issues related to commercial fertilizer on mango plants and alternative or organic option. Amongst organic options, what is the significance of urine and rice water,and degree of usage. This will form the background of need to compare both the options.
      Later you can reflect on studies which have worked on such comparision and in what way your study is different or unique in its contribution.

  45. hi sir can you help me create a statement of the tropic “the impact of green supply chain management practices on organizational performance : Ready made garments (RMG) in bangladesh

    • Sudeshna Chakraborty

      Hello Biplab,

      Your problem statement can reflect on existence of green supply chain management (GSCM) in RMG sector (or lack of it). Later, highlight the need and implications of GSCM in addressing environmental issues of Bangladesh. If GSCM is already in practice in RMG sector, you can also point out the lingering effect despite its existence, making your study holistic in approach.

  46. hi can you help me in developing a statement of the problem for my thesis title “quality of 1000days message “

  47. Sudeshna Chakraborty

    Dear Yoda!

    Unfortunately, I am unable to decipher your study purpose. Is it in any way related to child care or post-natal care in terms of nutrition?
    Kindly let me know your purpose of study so that I can assist you in developing the problem statement.
    Eagerly looking forward.

  48. hello i have difficulties to write a research topic,general objectives,aims, hypothesis etc. can you help me out?


    • Sudeshna Chakraborty

      Hello Fredrisck,

      For developing the problem statement, you can focus on points like,

      1. Instances showing positive contribution of learning environment on development of learning skills of other nations, especially the emerging economies. Select some specific skills which are required in Tanzanian economy and society.
      2. Ground reality in Tanzania- degree of development of requisite skills (or lack of it).
      3. What is the nature of teaching-learning environment in Tanzania? What all existing challenges impeding the development of such skills?
      4. Are there enough studies/reports reflecting on the gravity of the issue? If so, what all parameters your study focuses into, which makes it different from the existing ones?

      Let us know if these suggestions help!

  50. Thank you very much indeed.I would be happy if you specifically show me how to write a problem statement on a topic: Assessment of the provision of comprehensive quality early childhood development services in childcare nursery centers of Addis Ababa,Ethiopia

    • Sudeshna Chakraborty

      Greetings Michael!

      Your problem statement can focus into-
      1. How is child care quality measured in general and in Addis Ababa,Ethiopia? What are the parameters based on which measurement is carried out?
      2. What is the ground reality in comprehemsive quality of early childhood development services? What are lacunae?
      3. Contribution of this study (through the selected method) in assessing the quality, where exisiting studies/reports lack.

      Let me know if the above suggestion helped!

  51. Hi, I have problem how to do problem statement on “consumers purchasing foreign products”

    The three independent variable that I used consists of image country of origin, foreign brand and social influence”

    I really hope that you can help me as soon as possible. Thank you

  52. Sudeshna Chakraborty

    Dear Zie Zie!

    Your study can focus on deriving the intensity of buying foreign products by consumers and specific brands (of a particular country) thos are bought most over others.
    Are there studies which have earlier measured these parameters of spcific brand or country, image of country of origin and foreign brand? If no, then your study could contribute in educating marketers of effective marketing strategies. If yes, if what way your study is different (maybe in terms of methodology or sampled population, etc.)?
    If you have selected any particular country of consumer’s, you can further present if similar profiling of consumers have been done earlier? or, how is the socio-cultural aspect different from other countries?

    Let me know if the suggestions helped!

    • Thank you so much Miss Sudeshna. Now I’m clear how to do the problem statement. Thank you so much for your explaination and so on. 🙂 🙂 🙂

  53. Dear Chakraborty,
    I thank you very much indeed.It helped me a lot.
    can i ask some more questions?

    • Sudeshna Chakraborty

      Thank you Michael. Pleasure is all mine. Yes, definitely you can post your query!
      Look forward to it. 🙂

    • Sudeshna Chakraborty

      Dear Seife Michael,

      Nice to hear that I could be of some help. You are always welcome to share your queries to help us develop better.

  54. I really need help in developing my research topic. I am writing Chapter 2 (the Literature review and I am having difficulty writing/organizing my thoughts to complete this chapter. I am in dire straights because if I do not get this written in a week, I will fail out of school. I am desperate.

  55. i really get my i need on this post .thank u alot

  56. hi

    can u help me do make a statement of a problem for my research paper because im so frustraded coz i cant make it…

    the title is ” effectiveness of price monitoring of dti in baguio city” and the problems are what are the objectives of price monitoring , what is the purposes of price monitoring

  57. Role of entrepreneurship as a tool for sustainable employment

    • Sudeshna Chakraborty

      Dear Balarabe,

      You focus on certain key questions like issues looming within sustainable employment. Are there adequate studies on entrepreneurship and sustainable employment? Are these studies showing any concrete empirical findings of actual case studies? Which region most of these studies focussed onto? You can try out a region/country which has immense need of sustainable employment but very minimal research work and place your problem statement accordingly.

      Hope this helps! Do share your ideas.

  58. sorry,can you help me on writting problem statement on project title called Studies on environmental and health impacts caused by dumpsite to the people who live in vicinity of that dumpsite.

    • Sudeshna Chakraborty

      Hey Dannie,

      Here are some possible ideas you can focus on developing the problem statement-
      1. What are the environmental & health issues majorly impacting dumpsite people?
      2. Are there adequate studies on spreading awareness on the issues or recommendations to address the issues?
      3. If yes, what are the methods used and recommended by these studies? Are they helpful in mitigating the problem? Where are they lacking and how your study will contribute in tackling the gap?
      4. If no, how your study will make a difference in the situation?

      Hope these points help! Do let us know.

  59. My topic is the use of figurative language to empower literary texts.a case study : Hamlet.I am lost to put problem please ?

    • Answer me please

      • Sudeshna Chakraborty

        Dear Sousou,

        Your problem statement can comprise of the following points:
        1. Purpose of figurative language in literary texts.
        2. What are the varying perspectives of previous studies on figurative language used in Hamlet or any other Shakespearian writings.
        3. What areas among these varying perspectives still remain untouched or lesser travelled in revealing the use of figurative language in literary texts, especially in Shakespeare’s works.
        4. Contribution of this study in unearthing the use of figurative language.

        Hope this helps! Apologies for keeping you awaited. Do let us know your views.

      • Thanks a lot.I need it more precised please.I mean about fig language in hamlet

      • Sudeshna Chakraborty

        Dear Sousou,

        We are happy to help you out more precisely. Kind drop your mail detailing your query at 🙂

  60. Pls help me make my research statement the topic we are conducting is ” Investment ways and practices in microbusiness.
    Thanks so much…

    • Sudeshna Chakraborty

      Dear Chel,

      Your problem statement can be developed keeping the following points in mind-
      1. What are the different investment processes and practices associated in developing microbusineses.
      2. Utility and issues associated with each of these practices.
      3. What are areas this study thinks needs more highlighting and why?
      4. What are the contribution of this study in highlighting those areas and dealing with those issues? What unique or innovative recommendation will this study strategise for investors of microbusinesses?

      Hope this helps! Do let us know.

  61. May you please help me in finding the research problem and questions and the significance on the topic: the role of tourism stakeholders in promoting the sustainable development. would you you also help me in formulating the specific objectives of the topic


Trackbacks and Pingbacks:

We are looking for candidates who have completed their master's degree or Ph.D. Click here to know more about our vacancies.