Statement Of The Problem Of 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

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

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.

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Example of statement of the problem in research paper is the description of a certain difficulty or lack that requires a solution or at least research, in order to see whether it can be properly solved. It can report on a condition that has to be improved, specific area of concern, or a problematic question existing in theory, in practice, or in the scholarly literature that needs meaningful understanding and deliberate investigation. Example of statement of the problem in research paper usually comes at the research proposal and includes the outline of the basic facts of the addressing issue and an argument for its importance.

Intellectual Property Rights and Foreign Direct Investment

Nowadays, the problem of intellectual property has turned into one of the most aggravated topics of the disputes among the modern society. The main factor promoting the friction around this issue is the globalization of the economic activities along with the expansion of the international transactions, which involve knowledge-intensive products. In particular, this concerns the FDI decisions, which relationship with the intellectual property rights lacks proper empirical evidence.

The issue of the intellectual property is of great importance to the contemporary communities and can be identified as relevant to the global economy due to the number of pivotal reasons. First of all, as it has been mentioned above, the majority of the international transactions involves the knowledge-intensive products, which are considered as an intellectual property. These products mainly refer to the technologies and innovations, including databases and electronic information, transfer of which has become one of the main processes in the global economy. Among the range of the market-based channels of the technology transfer foreign direct investment (FDI) is the most significant one. Thus, in these terms, the decisions on foreign direct investment can be claimed to be closely related to the intellectual property rights.

Secondly, the globalization of the economic activities has turned the attention of the regional as well as global trading arrangements to the problems of regulatory convergence with the considerable emphasis on the intellectual property rights. This can be explained by the fact that stronger intellectual property is believed to stimulate the innovation in developing countries, promoting their growth and providing greater choice to the consumers around the world. Moreover, despite the controversy that persists over the international means of protecting the main information technologies, there is a commitment among the world countries to achieving strong protection of the intellectual property rights.

Thus, the international commitments have fostered a movement toward the increase of the standards of protection of the intellectual property at a worldwide level. As a result, a great number of developing countries have begun to reform their regimes of intellectual property rights’ protection in response to the domestic and external pressures. Hence, the long-term global reformation of the intellectual property rights allows to predict that IPRs are likely to become essential for the successful foreign direct investment decisions in near future.

Consequently, the issue of the necessity of protection of the intellectual property rights and their relationship with the foreign direct investment decisions is of high importance and requires proper understanding and exploration. For this purpose would serve the following research, findings of which will help to explore IPRs’ influence on the global economy and suggest the possible solutions for the international disputes on this topic.


  • Branstetter, L. & Saggi, K. (2011). Intellectual Property Rights, Foreign Direct Investment and Industrial Development. The Economic Journal, 121(555), 1161-1191.
  • Kashcheeva, M. (2013). The role of foreign direct investment in the relation between intellectual property rights and growth. Oxford Economic Papers, 65(3), 699-720.
  • Liu, W. (2015). Intellectual Property Rights, FDI, R&D and Economic Growth: A Cross-country Empirical Analysis. The World Economy, 39(7), 983-1004.
  • Pathak, S., Xavier-Oliveira, E., & Laplume, A. (2013). Influence of intellectual property, foreign investment, and technological adoption on technology entrepreneurship. Journal Of Business Research, 66(10), 2090-2101.
    Vanhonnaeker, L. (2015). Intellectual property rights as foreign direct investments. McGill University.

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