Easiest Way to write a Problem Statement for Thesis or FYP

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Writing a problem statement for a thesis and final year project is a complex and time-consuming task, and the most important is that it is considered a backbone of your thesis or fyp [1]. You can proceed with all other incorrect and minor changes but not the incorrect problem statement. After reviewing the literature and taking expert’s opinions, I conclude how to write a perfect problem statement for your thesis or fyp by following these easy steps. In this article, I present a method to write a problem statement without any difficulty.

According to Study [1] Conducted by D.Anthony Miles, this is the most asked question by research students: Why doesn’t get any help from literature?. Many students failed to complete their degrees due to this problem. So, by considering this is a problem, the author provides a model and template for developing a problem statement. He further stated that every research student must know the correct process of developing a problem statement. The author discusses the problem statement first then provides a model for developing a problem statement. He also provides different examples of well-written problem statements using the abstract template. When developing the problem statement, there is a tool that this author use with working with doctoral students. The tool is called The Statement Grid. The Statement Grid is a helpful tool that aids students and shows their problem and problem statement visually. It helps them through the problem and develops the problem statement with supporting statements. I use this to help doctoral students when they have trouble with their problem statements. This helps them in their thought process. It describes three possible subproblems as a basis for the research. It helps with the Rule of 3’s.

According to study [2] conducted by Devun Pecher, transforming topic ideas into questions for problem statements is when most research students are confused. This process is considered the base to start research in academics. Most students fail due to a lack of understanding and knowledge about developing a problem statement and transforming topic ideas into questions essential to writing a problem statement.  The purpose of this study is to assess students’ understanding of the research problem they pose to address. The goal is to motivate students to think beyond their interests in the topic and consider the interests of a broader audience. An Activity Worksheet Method for transforming questions to a problem statement was developed. The worksheet asks students to articulate if they plan to address a practical or conceptual. The authors present the results from undergraduates who used the activity worksheet method to transform questions into a research problem statement. The main research question is “How do students perceive the usability of the Activity Worksheet Method for developing problem statements?” The activity worksheet was completed by 41 students enrolled in two sections of an undergraduate data visualization course in the Department of Computer Graphics Technology at Purdue University. After completing the worksheet, students were asked to provide feedback on the usability of the worksheet. Results show 68% of students responded positively when questioned on the usability of the worksheet.  The implications of this work will help students develop vital research questions that inform a practice required in engineering and computing education. The contribution of this work is in helping students to pose questions and ask questions that will strengthen their critical thinking skills in the practice of engineering and computer science.

The article was written by the famous Job listing platform Indeed editorial team [3], provides a complete guide to writing a problem statement to make employees capable of handling complex or unanticipated circumstances in the workplace. This article is also beneficial for academic research students and those who want to make problem statements for their FYPs. This guide will show their problem-solving skills, which are a huge demand nowadays. Companies rely on individuals and teams to assess problems effectively and propose viable solutions. They proposed the following steps to be followed:

In article [4] by Scribbr, Shona McCombes describes three steps to follow to write a problem statement in research. He further stated that the problem should be concise and concrete. It should:

  • Put the problem in context (what do we already know?).
  • Describe the specific issue that the research will address (what do we need to know?).
  • Show the problem’s relevance (why do we need to know it?).
  • Set the research objectives (what will you find out?).

The author also stated that the student must know when writing a problem statement. He proposed three steps which were:

Step 1: Contextualize the problem:

Practical research problems

  • where and when does the problem arise?
  • who does the problem affect?
  • and what attempts have been made to solve the problem?
Theoretical research problems:

For theoretical research, think about the scientific, social, geographical, and historical background:

  • What is already known about the problem?
  • Is the problem limited to a specific period or geographical area?
  • How has the problem been defined and debated in the scholarly literature?
Step 2: Show why it matters:

The problem statement should also address the relevance of the research: why is it essential that the problem is solved?

This doesn’t mean you have to do something groundbreaking or world-changing. It’s more important than the problem is researchable, feasible, and addresses a relevant issue in your field.

Practical research problems

Practical research is directly relevant to a specific problem that broadly affects an organization, institution, social group, or society. To make it clear why your research problem matters, you can ask yourself:

  • What will happen if the problem is not solved?
  • Who will feel the consequences?
  • Does the problem have broader relevance (e.g., are similar issues found in other contexts)?

Theoretical research problems

Sometimes theoretical issues have clear, practical consequences, but sometimes their relevance is less immediately apparent. To identify why the problem matters, ask:

  • How will resolving the problem advance understanding of the topic?
  • What benefits will it have for future research?
  • Does the problem have direct or indirect consequences for society?
Step 3: Set your aims and objectives:

Finally, the problem statement should frame how you intend to address the problem. Your goal should not be to find a definitive solution but to seek out the reasons behind the problem and propose more effective approaches to tackling or understanding it.

The aim is the overall purpose of your research. It is generally written in the infinitive form:

  • This study aims to determine
  • This project aims to explore
  • I aim to investigate

The objectives are the concrete steps you will take to achieve the aim:

  • Qualitative methods will be used to identify
  • I will use surveys to collect
  • Using statistical analysis, the research will measure

According to the study[5] conducted by the researchers of Sheffield University UK. The researchers suggest focusing on the 5 W’s (Who, What, Where, When, and Why) when writing the problem statement.


A problem statement is usually one or two sentences to explain the problem your process improvement project will address. In general, a problem statement will outline the negative points of the current situation and explain why this matter. It also serves as a great communication tool, helping get buying and support from others.


One of the most important goals of any problem statement is to define the problem being addressed clearly and precisely. It aims to focus the process improvement team’s activities and steer the project’s scope.


The creation of a problem statement is an activity that is best completed in a small group (46 people). It is helpful to have a couple of people and a process owner involved.

  1. Get each person to write their problem statement without conferring. Compare each of the sentences/look for common themes and wording.
  2. Start to write an improved statement using the common themes.
  3. Ensure that the problems include the customer’s perspective
  4. Ensure that the statement focuses on existing problems.
  5. Try to include the time frame over which the problem occurred.
  6. Try to quantify the problem. If you do not have the data to hand, defer writing the final problem statement to quantify the problem.

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A problem statement can be refined as you further investigate the root cause.

Finally, review your new problem statement against the following criteria:

  • It should focus on only one problem.
  • It should be one or two sentences long.
  • It should not suggest a solution.

Rod Morgan, in his article [6], describes the key elements of an effective problem statement include:

  • Gap: Identify the gap that exists today.
  • Timeframe, location, and trend: Describe when and where the problem was first observed and what kind of trend it is following.
  • Impact: Quantify the gap (cost, time, quality, environmental, personal, etc.)
  • Importance: To the organization, the individual, etc., to better understand the urgency.

The formplus blog [7] states that every research starts with identifying a problem which is usually an existing gap in your field of study. Once you do this, the next step is to craft a statement that captures this issue and how you plan to resolve it. A statement of problem forms the basis of every systematic investigation. As a problem statement forms the core of your research, it makes sense to write an effective one. So how do you go about this? First, you need to get acquainted with the features of a good problem statement plus its elements and structure.

Problem Statement in Research:

A problem statement refers to the critical issue that your research seeks to address. In other words, it captures the existing knowledge gap that your study aims to bridge using reliable results or outcomes. A problem statement can be as little as a few sentences or go all the way to several paragraphs—what matters is it communicates the central focus of your study.  As your study bridges this gap, it also leaves room for future investigations. The implication is that your problem statement should not be too broad; instead, it should address one specific issue and contribute to the knowledge pool for further research.

What are the Features of a Good Problem Statement?

A good problem statement captures the core purpose of your study in simple, clear, and direct terms. Some other tell-tale signs of a well-written research statement of problem include:

  1. A good problem statement is concrete and concise. It doesn’t capture ideas vaguely or ambiguously.
  2. It allows you to contextualize the research problem.
  3. A good problem statement helps you to set the aims and objectives of your systematic investigation.
  4. It justifies your research and draws attention to the study’s significance.
Why is a Problem Statement Important in Research Writing?

Writing a good problem statement serves both the researcher and the readers. For the researcher, the problem statement helps you visualize the scope of your project and outline it accordingly. Also, it allows you to map out specific aims and objectives for your study.

On the flip side, the problem statement helps the reader identify the core reason for your research and see how your work fits into the existing body of knowledge. It helps them get on the same page as you regarding the importance and significance of your systematic investigation.

If you require funding for your research, a problem statement can help potential financiers to see why investing in your project is the right move to make. It gives them an overview of the existing problem, your solution, and the impact of your solution on the field of study.

Elements and Structure of a Problem Statement

In its most basic form, a problem statement comprises three(3) elements which are:

  1. The research problem
  2. The claim or working thesis
  3. The significance of the study

In other words, it tells the reader what you’re trying to solve, how you plan to solve it, and why you want to solve it.

1. The Research Problem:

Your research problem is the reason for your systematic investigation. It is the gap you identified and planned to fill based on the results of your study. You can also think of this as the primary research question.

A few questions you should ask yourself here include:

  1. Is it clear what’s being described in this problem statement?
  2. Do I understand the main problem being described here?
  3. Do I have a good grasp of the main issue here?
2. The Claim or Working Thesis 

Your working thesis is the first attempt at asserting your position, and it spells out your stance on the matter at a specific point in time. It’s called a “working” thesis because it is subject to change as your study progresses. In your working thesis, you have the chance to justify your position by providing primary and secondary claims that support your position.

3. The Significance of the Study 

This is the point where you communicate the value of your research and show readers why it is necessary in the first place. Here, you can discuss the impact of your work and its relevance to your field of study. Don’t forget to highlight the contributions of your work to existing knowledge and how others will benefit from it.

According to an article [10], a quality problem statement should be:

Concise: You should be able to summarize your problem, as well as the different elements of how and why it’s a problem, in brief sentences. If you can’t, revisit your initial notes and clarify what you want to achieve with your project. 

Specific: Only write about one issue in a problem statement, even if there’s more than one impact of that issue. Your research and actions only have to focus on solving one problem, and there’s no confusion. 

Measurable: Be clear about how you’re able to measure and convey both the problem and your proposed objectives. This is usually done by communicating the problem in terms of degree and frequency.

What is the Difference Between a Thesis Statement and a Problem Statement? 

A problem statement focuses on the specific issue you’ve identified and hope to resolve with your research. It comprises the research problem, claims, or working statement and the significance of your research. On the other hand, a thesis statement makes a specific claim or assertion open for debate.

For example, the statement “writing is more of a science than an art” is an excellent example of a thesis statement because it proposes an idea that may be true or false. Once you establish the thesis statement for your research, you are expected to provide evidence and build a strong argument that supports this claim.

Mistakes to Avoid when Writing Problem Statements

A good problem statement sets the tone for the rest of your dissertation, so you want to get it right. That said, here are some things you should have at the back of your mind as you craft a problem statement for your research paper.

How do you identify a research problem?

The best way to identify a research problem is to read through existing studies to discover any gaps in knowledge. You can also discover research problems by observing your environment and identifying contradictions among perspectives.

Whether you’re seeking funding for your research or approval from your professor, you need to write a well-defined statement of the problem. A problem statement allows you to pitch the core idea of your study and show others why it is worth being addressed. It should draw attention to the core idea of your research and convince others to invest in your systematic investigation.

What Should A Problem Statement for a Thesis Look Like?

According to Brittany Storniolo in the article [9], the problem statement in a thesis must look like this. Because your problem statement is supposed to define your research problem, the best place to start is by asking questions that your problem statement answers. Here’s a quick and straightforward problem statement template that you can use for your thesis:

This will produce an introductory four-sentence problem statement that you can use as-is or expand as you feel necessary. However, don’t feel shackled to one specific phrasing of your problem statement. This template is more of a set of guidelines that can help you along, rather than a fixed format that you should follow to the letter.

Examples of Problem Statements:

In article [8] author provides an example problem statement in education. The author discusses that they submit test reports, projects, and assignments in college that start with either an abstract or an introductory paragraph that explains the contents. These are the problem statement examples in education. It could be the basis for a master’s thesis that addresses the problem and explains the method used to solve it, along with the results.

The problem statement can be longer than a problem statement in a professional context for essays and reports. Here’s an example:

“There have been several problems with transitioning to a fully online study model in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. The report describes the advantages and disadvantages of this transition, with interviews and case studies. The study has interviews with eleven K-12 teachers in charge of different courses and subjects. Their experience of teaching online classes, with cohorts of different sizes, reveals that online learning is challenging, but advantageous in the long run.”

The problem statement can be a few paragraphs long. You can add any setbacks you faced and how you overcame them during your research. In education, it’s essential to set the context like you would for a layperson.

Adeel Ahmed
Department of Software Engineering
Comsats University Islamabad
Islamabad, Pakistan



[1] Miles, D.A., Problem Statement Development: How to Write a Problem Statement in A Dissertation.

[2] Pecher, D., Chu, Z. and Byrd, V.L., 2020, October. Developing Research Questions: A method for transforming a question into a problem statement. In 2020 IEEE Frontiers in Education Conference (FIE) (pp. 1-8). IEEE.

[3] Editorial Team, I. (2021, February 23). How To Write a Problem Statement Step By Step (With an Example) | Indeed, Career Guide.

[4] McCombes, S. (2019, April 15). How To Write a Problem Statement. Scribbr.

[5] Webmaster, S. (n.d.). Sheffield University UK. How to write a problem statement?.!/file/HowtoWriteaProblemStatement.pdf.

[6] Morgan, R. (2018, April 9). How To Write an Effective Problem Statement. iSixSigma.

[7] Blog, F. (2001, October 18). How To Write a Problem Statement for Your Research. How to Write a Problem Statement for your Research.

[8] Blog Team, H. (2021, August 16). Examples Of A Problem Statement – Harappa. Harappa.

[9] Storniolo, B. (2021, May 6). How To Write A Problem Statement for a Thesis. Flowcite.

[10] Blog Team, P. (n.d.). How To Write a Problem Statement – Paperpile. Paperpile.

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