What Are the 5 Types of Research Problems?

What Are the 5 Types of Research Problems?

Research problems are the cornerstone of any scientific inquiry, guiding researchers to understand and address critical issues within a particular field. In exploring research problems, categorizing them is imperative for a clearer understanding of their nature and purpose. This essay delves into the fundamental question, “What Are the 5 Types of Research Problems?”

The initial section introduces the concept of a research problem, elucidating its role in driving scholarly investigation. Following this, the significance of a well-defined research problem is explored, emphasizing its role as a compass in shaping comprehensive research projects. The subsequent section provides a step-by-step guide on defining a research problem, underscoring the importance of thorough exploration and practical considerations.

Finally, the essay explores the five types of research problems, including descriptive, causal, action, relational, and exploratory problems, shedding light on their unique characteristics and applications within the research domain. Through this exploration, readers will gain insights into the diverse dimensions of research problems, essential for fostering a nuanced understanding of the research process.

What is a Research Problem?

A research problem, also known as a research issue, is a statement about an area or field of concern that professionals focus on comprehending and addressing. In addition, the research aims to clarify a contradiction and fill a knowledge gap. Researchers may decide to conduct research to solve a problem, contribute to social or scientific change, or add additional knowledge to an existing topic.

Moreover, the purpose of research is typically to introduce readers to the research purpose and provide a framework for reporting results that can highlight discovered information. The features of a research problem include:

  • Having an explicit problem variable
  • Being specific and limited in scope
  • Having a goal
  • Usually, being free from ethical constraints
  • Typically generating research questions
  • Often relating to one or more academic study fields
  • The possibility of obtaining sufficient data

What is the Significance of a Research Problem?

A practical and well-defined problem can assist you in creating an inclusive research project. In addition, it serves as a guide to the research to ensure the study’s intended purpose and justification while making it distinctive and innovative. Furthermore, the problem might contribute relevant insights into a specific issue or challenge previously held ideas. Additionally, research problems can assist in recognizing the steps to take when collecting data and outing the procedures for the research.

How Do You Define a Research Problem?

Defining a research problem is a vital step in the research process. A research problem is a statement that identifies an area of concern, discrepancy, or gap in knowledge that requires further investigation. Here are the key elements and steps involved in defining a research problem:

  • Look for a broad problem area
  • Learn more about the problem
  • Identify the relevant variables and how they are related
  • Think of practical aspects
  • Formulate the problem statement
  • Stick to plans, but be flexible

Look for a Broad Problem Area

Identify under-explored aspects, areas of concern, or a controversy in your topic. In addition, examine the significance of addressing the problem regarding its potential contribution to the field, practical applications, or theoretical insight.

Learn More About the Problem

Read the literature, from historical aspects to the current status and latest updates. Additionally, rely on reputable evidence and data. Be sure to consult researchers who work in the relevant field, mentors, and peers. However, do not ignore the gray literature on the subject.

Identify the Relevant Variables and how they are related

Consider which variables are most essential to the study and will assist in answering the research question. Once this is done, you must determine the relationships between these variables and how these relationships affect the research problem.

Think of Practical Aspects

Deliberate on ways your study can be practical and feasible regarding times and resources. In addition, discuss practical aspects with researchers in the field and be open to revising the problem based on feedback. Moreover, refine the scope of the research issue to make it manageable and specific; consider the resources available, time constraints, and feasibility.

Stick to Plans and be Flexible

Plan when defining the research problem, but adhere to your budget and timeline. At the same time, consider all possibilities and ensure that the problem and question can be modified if needed.

What Are the 5 Types of Research Problems?

Research problems are specific questions or issues researchers aim to investigate and address in their studies. Formulating a research problem is vital in the research process, as it guides the entire research endeavor. In addition, different research problems can be categorized based on criteria.

Below are some common types of nursing research problems, including:

  • Descriptive research problems
  • Causal research problems
  • Action research problems
  • Relational research problems
  • Exploratory research problems

Descriptive Research Problems

Descriptive research problems focus on questions like ‘what is?’, with its main aim to describe the situation, state or the existence of certain phenomena. In addition, they seek to depict what already exists in a group or population. For such studies, surveys and opinion polls are the most suitable as they need systematic observation of social issues.

Moreover, these problems use two ways to collect data: cross-sectional and longitudinal studies. Cross-sectional studies provide a snapshot of data at a particular moment in time. On the other hand, longitudinal studies entail a fixed and stable sample measured repeatedly over time.

However, in both cases, methods that can be used to collect data include mail, online or offline surveys, and interviews. There can be no manipulation when dealing with a descriptive research problem; the variables and hypotheses are usually non-directional.

Causal Research problems

A causal research problem focuses on identifying the extent and nature of cause-and-effect relationship. Such research problems assist in assessing the impact of some changes on existing norms and processes.

An example of a causal research problem can be ‘How does online education affect student learning abilities’?

Additionally, a popular way of collecting primary data to solve causal research problems is performing experiments (laboratory experiments and field experiments)

Action Research Problems

Action research problems aim to create positive change within specific contests by involving stakeholders, executing interventions, and collaboratively evaluating outcomes.

Some examples of action research problems may be partnering with healthcare professionals to identify barriers to patient adherence to medication regimens and devising interventions to address them. Another example is ‘collaborating with a nonprofit organization to evaluate the effectiveness of their program to provide job training for underserved populations.

Relational Research Problem

This research problem states that a relationship between two variables needs to be investigated. The aim is to investigate the qualities or characteristics that are connected somehow. An example of a relational research problem may be ‘How is the teaching experience of a teacher concerning their teaching style’?

Therefore, this research problem requires more than one variable describing their relationship.

Exploratory Research Problems

This research problem is typically preliminary for problems in specific fields of study. Researchers may not have enough information on the issue, but they establish a reference frame and hypothesis. In addition, exploratory research relies on data gathering to identify patterns that can assist in explaining the problem.


In conclusion, understanding the intricacies of research problems is paramount for any scholarly endeavor. This article has navigated the foundational aspects of research problems, emphasizing their role as the linchpin in scientific inquiries. From defining the significance of a well-formulated research problem to providing a comprehensive guide on how to define one, the essay has laid out a roadmap for researchers.

Moreover, by exploring the five types of research problems—descriptive, causal, action, relational, and exploratory—the article has illuminated the diverse dimensions and applications within the research domain. As readers delve into this exploration, they gain valuable insights into the nuanced nature of research problems, crucial for navigating the complex terrain of the research process. Ultimately, this essay serves as a compass, guiding researchers toward a deeper understanding of the critical issues that drive scientific inquiry. However, if you are looking for the highest quality nursing essays, you can place your order here

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