What are the Criteria and Sources for Identifying the Research Problems?
The general area of a study is suggested either by some practical concerns or by some scientific or intellectual interest. The research topic may be based on a number of considerations such as practical consideration, theoretical consideration and intellectual interest.
A research problem may very well be selected from the burning problems of the time. It may be based on the interest and convenience of the researcher.
Sometimes a research problem is undertaken to suggest an alternative and a better theory or analysis. Intellectual and scientific interest of the researcher may lead to the exploration of a variety of topics for research. He may also test the validity of some existing theory on the basis of new facts and data.
Personal values play an important role in the selection of a research topic. Social conditions also shape the preferences of investigators in a subtle and imperceptible way. The selection of a topic for research is only half a step forward.
The general topic does not help a researcher in selecting the data, techniques and organization needed. Before he can consider these aspects, he needs to formulate a specific problem. The problem defines the goal of the researcher in clear terms. Research, like any other human activity, is goal-oriented.
Thus without a problem research cannot proceed because there is nothing to proceed from and proceed toward. There is nothing but wisdom in the saying. “If you start from nowhere, you will generally reach there.”
In selecting a research topic, a researcher has to consider a number of things such as his ability, the time at his disposal, the available resources, the availability of data and so on. It is an area in which ‘vision’ plays an important role. It should be remembered that research is primarily a function of an objective valued by an individual, institution or country.
Any research problem does exist if the following conditions are in existence:
1. There must be an individual or a group or an organization having different types of environment.
2. There must be at least two courses of action is defined by one or more values of the controlled variables.
3. There must be at least two possible outcomes. Out of these two a researcher wants an objective.
4. The courses of action available must provide some chance of obtaining the objective but they cannot provide the same chance as they have unequal efficiencies for the desired results.
Thus, an individual or a group of persons or institutions can be said to have a problem which can be technically described as a research problem if they have one or more desired outcomes, faced with two or more courses of action, unequal efficiency for the desired objective add doubt about the best selection of course of action.