How can I identify a research problem

Define the research question and the research objective

Successful dissertation

What is the underlying of your dissertation Research question? Often, however, there is no answer to this question as simple as it sounds. Nevertheless, it is necessary to face it and to formulate it clearly. Because one of the most common reasons for writing difficulties during the doctoral thesis is that the research question is too open and vague and the boundaries of the project are therefore blurred.

At the same time, however, the answer to the question alone does not make up the doctoral thesis. What must follow is an interpretation of the answer and conclusions from it. You will only achieve this in the part of the work in which you discuss, evaluate and classify the answer you have elaborated with regard to the research question Research objective Her work.

What is the difference between a research question and a research goal?

In some introductions to the dissertation one can read sentences like: “The aim of this thesis is to check ...”, or: “This thesis aims to describe XY”, or also: “This thesis aims to establish the context between X and Y. ”Strictly speaking, all three examples do not describe the goal, but what is to be investigated. In the last example, the relationship between X and Y is to be examined. What is not said, however, is why or for what purpose this should be investigated.

There are therefore two questions that you need to clarify in advance for your dissertation:

1.) What do I want to find out, check, describe or clarify in my dissertation?

This poses the research question that is the key question for your investigation. These can be questions like: "How does ...", "Why does ...", "What is the cause of ...", "What is the best way to ..." etc.

In your study you will work out answers to your research question. These answers are yours Investigation results.

So that the reader doesn't just say: “Yes, that's how it works”, or: “Aha, so that's the cause”, and then looks at you and asks: “Yes, what?”, You have to tell the reader now also say what you think these results mean. This leads to the second question:

2.) Why do I want to find out, check, describe or clarify?

Here you now state the goal of your work and justify your interest in knowledge. Because research is not an end in itself, but is always in a context that points and must point beyond the investigation itself.

Think about it: What conclusions can you draw when you know how XY works, why YZ behaves this way, what is the cause of XZ, or what is the best way to capture YX. What connection potential results from your investigation and for whom can the results of your work be relevant - for example for theorists, practitioners, actors, affected parties, institutions, companies, legislators, etc.?

Only with the answer to these questions do you feed your dissertation into the discourse, clarify the relevance of your work and define where and how you will locate your research contribution.

What do you need to determine first - the question or the goal?

Both variants are possible. When you first know what you want to investigate, you can define the appropriate question about it (“What do I want to find out?”). Then think about why you want to find out and what or for whom the results might be important.

On the other hand, if you first know what needs to be improved, for example, then define your goal first. Then think about what exactly you need to investigate in order to achieve this goal.

The stringent connection between question and goal is important. Regardless of whether you first define the goal or the question for yourself, answering the research question must ultimately be the mandatory prerequisite for achieving the goal. If you have defined a goal that you could achieve without answering your research question, then you should revise and adapt one of the two - question or goal.

Where in your work do you answer the research question and where do you achieve your research goal?

To answer your research question, do an investigation. The examination is the heart of your dissertation and serves to answer the question. You can either present the results of your investigation in a summary at the end of the investigation part, or you can dedicate a separate chapter to them - as is usually done in specialist articles, where "Methods" (What was examined how?), "Results" (What was the result?) And “Discussion” (What do the results mean?) Are separate chapters.

After displaying the results, you can now interpret, classify, evaluate and draw conclusions from them - entirely in line with your research objective, which you will ultimately achieve in your conclusion.

This article was written by Dr. Sven Arnold composed.