How To Write a Proper Problem Statement In Your Research Paper

A lot of students have issues with this part of the chapter one in their research work and as a matter of fact, some supervisors who do not want you to submit project topics for approval, demand problem statement, and for some of you, this have been very frustrating. Well, I know the feeling. So calm down; it is not s difficult as your supervisor have presented it.

Alright!!! Now that you know that writing a problem statement or statement of problem is not difficult, let us proceed to easy understanding of the concept.

Problem statement in one sentence is the economic relevance of your study. If you want to present it as a question to aid your understanding, you can say, why am I doing this research??

Something you need to understand before we continue is that, Statement of Problem is not Statement of Problems. Please note the difference. when you meet a doctor, you don’t want to complicate issues by telling him you financial problem, spiritual problem and still trying to discuss your medical problems. it is always better to stay on one thing and focus on that particular problem and find a way to fix it than identifying lots of things at once.

Using taxation as a tool for Economic development as an example : I can not say

the poor fiscal discipline in the allocation of resources and the operation of an ineffective tax authorities in Nigeria and the Nigerian over dependency on the oil sector for revenue: is the problem identified.


This is wrong because I already mentioned ineffective tax authority as the problem identified thus; introducing oil revenue kind of defiled the aim.

so a better way to present it is;

the poor fiscal discipline in the allocation of resources and the operation of an ineffective tax authorities in Nigeria; is the problem identified.


To start your problem statement, you need to understand that, it is not different from when you go to a doctor, you don’t know what is wrong with you except of course you explain the symptoms to the doctor and if need be, a medical test is recommended.

Alright!! With this picture of doctor and patient in your mind, it is time to bring our imagination to live.

For starters let’s say you have taxation and economic growth in mind; now you need to first understand the idea of taxation, understand how or why it is a problem and why this problem is a researchable problem.

In some cases, some people prefer a long note for a problem statement. However, it is not about the long note, as a matter of fact, sometimes, the long note put you in trouble and your supervisor gets to indentify errors in what you have written.

When working on taxation, you identify taxation and its relations to the economy, you give one or two relevance of taxation, and you may have to cite one or two persons that have similar thoughts as you. Then you proceed to making your points. You points I mean here; you give the previous status of taxation possibly as compared to other economic states, you give the current status of taxation and then you identify the problem that is now, and what will become of the economy if measures are not taken to tackle the problem identified; with this you can move to add the research gap.

So just like you tell the doctor, I have headache, high body temperature, loss of appetite, fatigue and vomiting and the doctor tell you it is fever or advice to proceed for medical examination, it is the same way with writing a problem statement.

For those who do not understand RESEARCH GAP; it is the knowledge gap you intend to fill. That is, as you must have been told, no research topic is new; at least one person must have worked on the area of study you are trying to explore. However, the essence of research gap is to tell the difference in the knowledge that was previously explored and the new idea you intend to add to the already existing knowledge.

Please note that if your research has no knowledge gap, then it is just a recycled knowledge with no relevance of study.

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