Selecting the Problem/Subject of Research

The undertaken research problem must be thoroughly selected. For this purpose, the help of a research guide can also be taken. However, since research problems cannot be usually borrowed, each and every researcher must therefore strive to find out his research problem for the study. While buying a new pair of spectacles, we need to cooperate with the optician along with our own preferences in deciding the power of lens. Similarly, a research guide can, at the most, only help the researcher to choose a subject. However, the following points can be observed by the researcher while selecting a research problem/subject:

i.  Generally, the subject, which is overdone, is avoided, as it will be a hard and complex task to throw any new light on such a case that has already been done. Controversial subject should not become the choice of an average researcher. Moreover, too narrow or too vague problems should be avoided.

ii.   The selected research subject should be practical and realistic, so that the related research material/sources are easily available within one’s reach. However, sometimes, even after this it remains still quite difficult to supply absolute ideas regarding how a researcher should acquire the necessary ideas for his research. Thus, for this purpose the researcher should definitely contact an expert or a professor, in the University, who is already occupied in a research. Besides, he may read articles on the subject published in literature and may also get the notions about how the techniques/ideas discussed therein might be functional in obtaining the solutions of other problems. Moreover, he may discuss what he has in his mind, concerning a problem, with others as well. By this way, he should be absolutely successful in selecting a problem by putting his best efforts.

iii.   Some of the other criteria, which must also be considered while selecting a problem, are: importance of the subject, qualifications and training of the researcher, costs involved, and the time factor. In other words, before selecting a problem, the researcher must ask himself the following questions:

  1. Is he well equipped, concerning his background, to conduct the research?
  2. Does the research/study come within the budget he can afford?
  3. Can the necessary cooperation be obtained from those who must participate in the research as subjects?

In case, the answers to all of the above mentioned questions are positive, one may become confident concerning the practicability of the study.

iv.  A preliminary study should most certainly precede the selection of a problem. However, this won’t be necessary regarding the problem needs the conduct of a research closely similar to the one, which has already been conducted. But, usually a brief feasibility study must be undertaken, when the field of inquiry is reasonably new and lacks the availability of a set of well developed techniques.

In conclusion, when the research subject is selected appropriately, by conforming to the above mentioned points, the research will, most probably, not be a boring drudgery. Rather, it will be exciting and educating. The selected subject/problem must involve the researcher and be the prime priority in his mind, so that he may give his best shot required for the study.


What is a Research Problem?

The first and foremost step in a research process is to select and properly define a research problem. In order to define a problem correctly, a researcher must know: what a problem is?

What is a research problem?

A research problem refers to any difficulty which a researcher experiences either in a theoretical or practical situation and, thus, wants to obtain its solution. Generally, a research problem requires the following conditions:

-  An individual or a group having some difficulty or problem.

-   Some objective(s) to attain. Without any objective, one cannot have a problem.

-   Alternative means (or courses of action) to obtain the objective(s). This means that at least two means should be available to a researcher because if he has no options, he cannot have a problem.

-  The researcher should have some doubts related to the selection of alternatives. This means that the research should be able to answer questions regarding the possible alternatives.

-   Some environment(s) to which the difficulty pertains.

Thus, a research problem helps a researcher to find out the best solution for any given problem, i.e., the course of action that can help attain the objective optimally in the context of a given environment.


Problems Encountered by Researchers in India

Lack of Scientific Training: The research methodology is not systematic. Many researchers undertake research work without having actual knowledge of the research methods. They just look for similar studies and copy the methodologies listed in it. Even the research guides do not have a thorough knowledge of the various methodologies. This scenario warrants the need for some sort of short-term training to be imparted to researchers prior to undertaking research activities.

Insufficient Interaction: There is no proper interaction between researchers and the business establishments, government institutions, etc. This leads to a great deal of data going untapped. Interaction programs should be organized between researchers and other institutions on a regular basis. This will highlight what issues need to be researched, what data is required for conducting research, and how the study will be useful.

Lack of Confidence: Most of the business establishments are of the opinion that, researchers can misuse the data provided by them. As such, they are reluctant to divulge details of their company. This affects the research studies for which that particular data may be of utmost importance. Thus, confidence-building measures should be adopted, which will convince the business units that their data will be put to productive purposes, and will not be misused in any manner by the researcher.

Lack of Code of Conduct: No specific code of conduct exists for the researchers, which leads to inter-departmental and inter-university rivalries.

Inadequate Assistance: Researchers in India have to cope with the non-availability of adequate and timely secretarial assistance, which affects the schedule of their research study.

Improper Library Management: The libraries are not managed systematically. Much of the precious time of the researchers is spent in looking for books, reports, newspapers, etc. rather than searching relevant information from them.

High Cost of Publishing: Once their research is completed, the researchers have to look for a means to publish it. Publishing in international journals is highly expensive. This discourages most of the researchers from taking up research work.


Criteria of Good Research

Although the research works and studies differ in their form and kind, they all still meet on the common ground of scientific methods employed by them. Hence, scientific research is expected to satisfy the following criteria:

i.  The aim of the research should be clearly mentioned, along with the use of common concepts.

ii.  The procedures used in the research should be adequately described, in order to permit another researcher to repeat the research for further advancement, while maintaining the continuity of what has already been done.

iii.  The researchs procedural design should be carefully planned to obtain results that are as objective as possible.

iv.  The flaws in the procedural design should be sincerely reported by the researcher to correctly estimate their effects upon the findings.

v.  The data analysis should be adequate to reveal its significance.

vi.  The methods used during the analysis should be appropriate.

vii.  The reliability and validity of the concerned data should be checked carefully.

viii. The conclusions are needed to be confined and limited to only those data, which are justified and adequately provided by the research.

ix.  In case, the researcher is experienced and has a good reputation in the field of research, greater confidence in research is warranted.


In other words, we can state the qualities of a good research” as following:

1)  Systematic - This states that the research is structured with some specified steps, which are to be followed in a specified sequence, according to the well defined set of rules. Systematic characteristic of the research does not actually rule out creative thinking, but it does discourage the use of guessing and intuition in order to arrive at conclusions.

2)  Logical - This states that the research is guided by the rules of logical reasoning, and that the logical process of induction and deduction are essential while conducting a research. Induction is the process of reasoning from a part to the whole; while, deduction is the process of reasoning from some premise to a conclusion that follows from that very premise. Besides, logical reasoning enables the research to be more meaningful in the context of decision making.

3)  Empirical - This states that the research is basically related to one or more aspects of a real situation. Moreover, it deals with the concrete data, which provides a base for the external validity of research results.

4) Replicable - This states that the research results should be allowed verification by replicating their study, to thus build a sound basis for decisions.