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Give an Example of a Problem Statement With Researchable Questions

Research problems direct or drive the research enterprise. How you will eventually conduct a research study depends largely on what your research questions are. It is important, therefore, to frame or formulate a clear research problem statement. Remember, the research process begins with an idea and only a rough notion of what is to be researched. As you read through and collect information from the literature, these rough questions become clearer and theoretically more refined.

Let us return to the earlier research idea: What is the relationship between college and drinking among American males? After reading through some of the literature, you might begin to refine and frame this idea as a problem statement with researchable questions:

Problem statement. This research proposes to examine alcohol-drinking behaviors in social settings among college-age American males. Research questions. A number of questions are addressed in this research including (although not limited to) the following: 

  1. What are some normative drinking behaviors of young adult American males during social gatherings where alcohol is present?
  2. How do some young adult American males manage to abstain from drinking (e.g., avoidance rituals) while in social situations where alcohol is present?
  3. How do young adult American males define appropriate drinking practices?
  4. How do young adult American males define problem drinking? 

These questions did not just happen spontaneously. They were influenced by the literature about drinking practices among Americans. They resulted after the investigator began thinking about what issues were important and how those issues might be measured. This required the researcher to consider various concepts and definitions and perhaps to develop operationalized definitions.