The difference between research problems

Differences and problems in research

Research problems need to be distinguished and recognized as different steps because they represent the problems addressed in the research. In the following brief definitions, according to Creswell (2015) the differences between these parts of the study:

A research topic is a broad subject that is dealt with by research. Maria, for example, sought to examine the possession of weapons by students in schools.

A research problem is an educational issue, problem, or controversy of a general nature addressed in a study, narrowing its topic. 

The problem Maria is addressing is the rise in school violence caused, in part, by gun ownership.

Research intent is the main intention or purpose of the research used to deal with the problem. 

Maria might state her research intent as follows: "my research intent is to identify factors that influence the extent to which students carry weapons in high school".

Research questions narrow the intent to question specific questions that the researcher wants to answer in his research. Maria might ask, " How do peers influence students to carry guns?"

Difference between quantitative and qualitative research problems

According to Creswell (2015), there are differences between quantitative and qualitative research problems, namely: tend to use quantitative research if the research problem requires you to :

Measuring variables 

  1. Assess the impact of these variables on the results
  2. Testing theories or broad explanations
  3. Applying the results to a large number of people
  4. Learn about individual views
  5. Assess the process over time 
  6. Generate theories based on the participant's perspective, ·
  7. Obtaining detailed information about several people or places of research

According to Sugiyo (2011), there is a fundamental difference between quantitative problems and qualitative problems that quantitative research will be solved through research that must be clear, specific, and considered unchanged while qualitative research carried out by researchers is still dim and even dark and complex. 

Identify statements about research problems

Based on the opinion of Creswell (2015) the statement about the problem includes research problems that include four other aspects, namely:

1. Topics

The topic of education is a subject that the researcher wants to address in the study and which creates an initial interest for the reader. This approach can unnecessarily narrow down the topic too quickly and lose readers who have never researched or read about plagiarism. Instead, the author can start with the broader topic of on-campus dishonesty and the need to explore the values students learn during their college studies. 

A good Narrative hook has the following specific characteristics: it makes the reader pay attention, elicits an emotional response or attitude response, arouses interest, and encourages the reader to continue reading. A convincing Narrative hook might include one or more of the following types of information:

  1. Statistical Data (for example, "more than 50% of the adult population is currently depressed.") 
  2. Provocative questions (e.g., "Why aren't school policies banning smoking in high schools enforced ?")
  3. The obvious need to carry out research (for example, suspension by schools attracts more and more attention among scholars in the field of Teacher Education.")
  4. The intention or intent of the study (e.g., "the purpose of this study is to examine how clients interpret the therapist-client relationship.")

2. Research problems

Narrow down the topic to a specific research problem or issue. A research problem is an educational issue, problem, or controversy studied by a researcher. The author can present it as a single sentence or several short sentences. Justifying the importance of the problem by citing evidence from:

  1. Researchers and other experts as reported in the literature
  2. Experiences others have had at work
  3. Personal experience

3. Justification of the importance of the problem in research

  1. Justification in the literature based on research and other experts
  2. Justification based on experience at work or personal experience
  3. Deficiencies in existing knowledge about the problem.

Deficiencies in the literature may be part of the justification for the research problem, it is useful to mention some deficiencies in existing literature or practice. A deficiency in evidence means that the researcher's previous literature or practical experience does not address the research problem strongly. Deficiencies in practice mean that educators have not identified good and workable solutions for schools or other educational domains.

4. Benefits of research on the problem

The audience in the "statement of the problem" section needs to be identified. It consists of individuals and groups who will read and potentially benefit from the information provided in the study. These audiences will vary depending on the nature of the study, but some of the audiences often considered by educators include researchers, practitioners, policymakers, and individuals participating in the study.

Identify the research topic

Ali (in Usman, 2008) suggested that the steps taken in order to formulate the problem are; 

  1. Recognize the existence of the problem, 
  2. Analyze variables, 
  3. Define variables, and 
  4. Make the formulation of the problem. 

Basically, the discussion to identify some common topics that may be able to contribute to the knowledge base of the profession in a meaningful way, and simultaneously stimulate and motivate students to explore and learn more about those topics. According to Heppner (2008) identifying topics in counseling can take the following steps:

Gather information about previous research, both inside and outside of counseling. Thus, read a lot of professional journals and books. Reading widely will not only provide information about what is being published, but it can also help to clarify what topics are most interesting. Another strategy is to start by looking for literature reviews more focused on a specific topic.

Using the brainstorming method helps to record ideas, observations, and questions in a journal. Perhaps one of the most basic reasons for doing research is to develop a knowledge base that in one way or another can help people by addressing the urgent needs of society. 

In essence, in order for the counseling profession to be of value to the wider society, our research must address important issues and problems in society.

Researchers might consider whether improvements could be made to increase the effectiveness of various treatment programs (such as smoking cessation, anger management, substance abuse, or parenting training) or outreach programs (for example, rape prevention or alcohol awareness programs).


Creswell, John. W. 2015. Educational Research: planning, implementing and evaluating qualitative & quantitative research (fifth edition). Yogjakarta: student library

Danim, Sudarwan. 2002. Become A Qualitative Researcher. Bandung: Pustaka Setia

Gall, M.D., Gall, J.P., & Borg, W.R. 2003. Educational Research: An Introduction. New York: Pearson Education, Inc

Sugiyono. 2011. Combined research methods (mix methods). London: Alfabeta 

Usman, H. & Purnomo, 2008. Methodology Of Social Research. Jakarta: PT. Earth Characters.

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