Example of Problem Statement in Research

Example of Problem Statement in Research Proposal. Examples and Samples of Problem Statements in Quantitative Research.

Problem Statement in Research

A problem statement in research refers to a concise and precise synopsis of the research problems that the study intends to address concretely. It also identifies the knowledge gap that is the reason for the entire study to contribute to the body of knowledge.

The problem statement section analyzes what is known and unknown about the research problems and issues. The ‘known’ vs ‘unknown’ needs to be analyzed, synthesized, and defended rather than written descriptively. The arguments for the existence of the problem may be shown by highlighting any inconsistencies, controversies, conflicts, or contradictions in past studies.

It also proposes variables identifying the research gaps contributing to resolving the research problem. Additionally, the statement of the problem in research highlights what are the weaknesses of past findings. Moreover, it emphasizes the expected knowledge or what is required (still unknown) to enable you to contribute to the body of knowledge.

A good problem statement certainly answers the following questions: what issue needs to be addressed and why?

Does the research problem statement differ from quantitative and qualitative research?

The answer is no and there is no difference. The research problem statement writing style is similar for every research strategy. Consequently, the research candidates follow the same style for writing research problems for quantitative, qualitative, and other research approaches.

Examples of Problem Statement in Research

How To Write a Problem Statement for a Research Proposal

The problem statement contains these 4 elements: context, issue, relevance, and objective.

The context is the background of what is currently known and unknown about the research issue. The problem statement develops a context for the audience and defines the problem within the context. Issue refers to the problem of what we need to know more about it. Relevance means the justification of the study. It justifies why it is an important issue to research and the value of research. Finally, the objective is the aim of the study what you want to discover and clarify or confirm. It proposes the solution to the problem.

The author divides the process into three stages to define four elements.

The three stages of writing a research problem statement are:
  1. Review the Literature From Previous Findings
  2. Identifying the Problem With Research Gaps
  3. Contribute to the Body of Knowledge
Review the Literature From Previous Findings

Firstly, the researchers have to read industrial reports, government statistics reports, and newspaper articles to know more from read world context. They also read relevant research papers, review papers, and dissertations published previously to obtain more knowledge.  Many scholars suggest researchers review journal articles to enrich knowledge systematically. According to Mark Petticrew and Helen Roberts, the systematic literature review adheres closely to obtaining knowledge in a particular area. The PRISMA systematic literature review is the most common and well-accepted strategy to review the literature of past studies.

The literature review from Past findings has to answer the following question:

  1. What do we know about the problem from the real world and academic literature?  
Identifying the Problem With Research Gaps

Researchers have to identify the research gaps including inconsistencies, controversies, conflicts, or contradictions in past studies. Among the approaches to show research gaps, the most common research gaps are in concepts, perspectives, theory, methodology, methods, analysis, etc. Research gaps must be systematically identified as the basis for an investigation. So, the researchers need to state it specifically and exactly and be very clear about the type of research gaps they choose to study.

The 7 types of research gaps are: (1)Evidence gap, (2)Knowledge gap, (3)Practical knowledge gap, (4)Methodological gap, (5)Empirical gap, (6)Theoretical gap, and (7)Population gap.

The researchers have to identify important gaps, inconsistencies, and/or controversies in the literature to establish the need for additional research. Researchers can conduct any research based on only one or two or more than two research gaps. This section also defines the process and method of study to achieve the goals.

The Problem with research gaps must answer the following questions:

  1. What we do not know about the problem from the real world and academic literature?
  2. What does your research want to achieve by this study?
  3. How do we want to resolve the problems?
Contribute to the Body of Knowledge

Finally, the research problem includes the importance and significance of the study. It explains why and how it contributes to the body of knowledge. The empirical evidence contributes to the enrichment of the literature. It also highlights the theoretical and practical significance of the study to resolve the issues.

The section answers the following questions:

  1. Why do we need to know what we do not know about the problem?
  2. What might happen if the problem is not resolved?
  3. What are the future benefits of solving the problems including the impact on society, community, and people’s lives?

Examples of Problem Statement in Research

(Example of Problem Statement in Research Proposal. Examples of Statements of the Problem in Quantitative Research)

The author demonstrates samples of a problem statement in research based on the following research article published on sustainability.

Article Title: Effects of High‐Performance Work Systems (HPWS) on Hospitality Employees’ Outcomes Through Their Organizational Commitment, Motivation, and Job Satisfaction

 Review the Literature From Previous Findings

Less research has been done on how HPWSs affect employee outcomes, such as an employee’s health or job satisfaction which is crucial in the COVID-19 situation (Kloutsiniotis and Mihail, 2020a) (Adikaram et al., 2021).

Uncertain & highly stressful context has aggravated the problem of burnout (Ayachit & Chitta, 2021), which was customary among hotel employees even before the COVID-19 pandemic (Tsui, 2021; Wong et al., 2019).

Previous research has validated the direct impact of HPWS on employees’ social identity, confirming. Additionally, it has a mediating role in the HPWS –“psychological empowerment” relationship (Bartram et al., 2014; Mihail and Kloutsiniotis, 2016).

Identifying the Problem With Research Gaps

Due to the importance of HPWS in the hospitality and tourism industry scholars highlight the need for further investigation on the topic [27,28], especially in hotel settings[19]. Thus, in this research, we build on the identified gaps in the literature to seek ways of opening the so‐called black box between HPWS and outcomes, focusing on the hotel sector. Concretely, we investigate the mechanisms that relate employees’ perceptions of the use of HPWS to their well‐being. In addition, we empirically corroborate the relationship between workers’ well‐being and individual job performance.

Problem Statement in research examples and samples

Contribute to the Body of Knowledge

This research provides the field with manifold theoretical as well as managerial contributions. First, we answer recent calls in the literature remarking on the lack of empirical studies in the hospitality and tourism sector, analyzing the effects of HPWS on employees’ outcomes. In doing so, we contribute to the burgeoning research stream that supports the benefits of employees’ perceptions of HPWS on results such as QoL.

In conclusion,  the examples of the statement of the problem in research assist students in approving the research proposal. These samples show the way to conduct the qualitative and quantitative research.

Importance of a Strong Problem Statement

The statement of the problem stands as the most crucial part of getting the research proposal or project accepted. The candidates must identify research problems with knowledge gaps systematically to write a problem statement for a research proposal, project, dissertation, or thesis. The strong problem statement impresses examiners and reviewers to accept the proposal. It is the initial element to conduct any academic research.

The researcher sets the research objective, research question, and hypothesis based on the problem statement. Hence, candidates or students can not continue research without a strong problem statement. The research problem is an inevitable part of quantitative, qualitative, and other research. No research can be conducted without identifying the research problem.

A good research proposal must include a research problem statement to explore the weaknesses of the previous study. Accordingly, it provides empirical knowledge to enrich the literature. A strong problem statement must explain how to fulfill the research gaps.

The Ph.D. and Master of Science (by research) students go through a proposal defense session. In this presentation, examiners might ask the candidates what research problem they want to resolve. Thus, a concise and strong problem statement stands firmly to overcome proposal defense (PD).

Poorly Written Problem Statement of the Research Proposal

A research proposal can be rejected because of a poorly written problem statement of the research proposal. The authority might deny the research proposal for the following reasons:

  • A research proposal can be rejected if this section is poorly defined and discussed.
  • The research proposal also might get declined if the candidate merely states the Research Proposal without discussing critically why it is a problem.
  • The candidate did not successfully highlight the connections of constructs with the theory used to explain the framework.
  • How is the moderator supported by Contingency theory?
  • How does the theory support and justify the relationships in the framework?

Academic Journal Article Review Example

Academic Journal Article Review Example. Example of a Journal Article Review. Journal Review Example APA. Example of Article Review Assignment pdf.

Journal Article Review

Journal article review refers to a systematic approach to critiquing other scholar’s work in the research field. It is an academic strategy to summarize academic journals with strengths and weaknesses. The academic journal review system allows reviewers to clarify the authenticity and contribution of papers to disciplines in the study. It represents the article’s values with in-depth analysis. The academic journal article review includes a summary, evaluation, and conclusion with strengths and limitations.

Academic Journal Article Review Outlines
  1. Summary of the article
  2. Evaluation of the article
  3. Conclusion (Strengths & Limitations of the article)


Academic Journal Article Review Example

How To Review Academic Journal Articles

The author explains how to review academic journals with examples. It certainly enhances students’ ability to review other experts’ works. The example will provide an in-depth understanding of reviewing articles.

1. Summary of The Article

The summary of the article includes Problem Statements, Research Questions, Research Objectives, Research Methodology, Significance, Research Model, Variables and Findings.

The author depicts an example to demonstrate how to summarize the academic journal.

Article Title: Effects of High‐Performance Work Systems (HPWS) on Hospitality Employees’ Outcomes Through Their Organizational Commitment, Motivation, and Job Satisfaction

Problem Statements Research Questions Research Methodology Significance
1. Less research has been done on how HPWSs affect employee outcomes, such as an employee’s health or job satisfaction which is crucial in the COVID-19 situation (Kloutsiniotis and Mihail, 2020a) (Adikaram et al., 2021).

2. Uncertain & highly stressful context has aggravated the problem of burnout (Ayachit & Chitta, 2021), which was customary among hotel employees even before the COVID-19 pandemic (Tsui, 2021; Wong et al., 2019).

1. What are the mechanisms through which HPWSs practices will effect employee job satisfaction?

2. What are the effects of burnout as a mediator in the relationship between HPWSS and employee job satisfaction?

1. Research Method: Exploratory; Quantitative.

2. Research Design: Descriptive

3. Respondents: 202 sample of respondents on hotel employees in Gran Canaria (Canary Islands, Spain) during Spring 2021.

4. Data Collection Method: Survey-based questionnaire (using a paper pen or an electronic version); convenience sampling process

5. Data Analysis: Correlation Analysis; Validity & Reliability using Partial Least Squares- Structural Equation Modelling (PLS-SEM) analysis.

1. To contribute theoretical literature development of HPWSs practices on employee job satisfaction in hospitality & tourism firms.

2. To recommend the practical implications to be useful for HR specialists & hoteliers in the implementation of HPWSs mechanisms in the current pandemic situation, in order to mitigate its negative effects on an employee-centered approach.


Research Objectives
1. To examine the direct effects of HPWSs on employee job satisfaction.

2. To examine the indirect effects of HPWSs through a reduction in burnout on employee job satisfaction.

Academic Article Research Model Review Example

Academic Journal Article Variables Review Example
Variables of the Study

Independent Variable [ IV ]

  • High-Performance Organization Systems (HPWSs)

(HPWSs are unique interrelated HRM practices that act in concert to improve employee skills, motivation, and participation in organizations (Dorta-Afonso and Gonzalez-de-la-Rosa, 2022; Messersmith et al., 2011; Sun et al., 2007).

Mediating Variable [ MeV ]

  • Burnout

Burnout is a psychological job-related syndrome that derives from prolonged exposure to chronic job stressors, resulting in a physical, emotional, and mental state of feeling drained (Maslach et al., 2001).

Dependent Variable [ DV ]

  • Employee Job Satisfaction

Job satisfaction refers to feelings resulting from a worker’s perception of the extent to which their job satisfies their needs (Kong et al., 2018).

Academic Journal Article Variables Review Example

Findings of the Article
  1. HPWSs exerted a positive direct effect on job satisfaction but also had an indirect effect by reducing employee burnout for hoteliers and HRM managers during COVID-19.
  2. It was found that the abilities bundle of HRM practices affects job satisfaction, whereas the motivation and opportunities bundles reduce burnout (based on the AMO framework).
  3. In conclusion, this study underlined the importance of HPWSs for hospitality firms given their effects on crucial attitudinal employees.

2. Evaluation of the Article

The evaluation of the academic article contains the hypothesis, theory, framework, data collection and analysis, and findings of the study.

Journal Article Hypothesis Review Example
Based on the Findings

Hypothesis 1:

  • The findings were aligned with the previous studies that there is a positive relationship between HPWSs and employee job satisfaction in hospitality firms, thus consistent with SET in supporting the mutual gain Thus, consistent with SET in supporting the mutual gain perspective.
  • Based on JD-R theory, it can be concluded that HPWSs have positive benefits offered by the organizations that can help employees overcome daily demands in achieving their desired state within their

Hypothesis 2:

  • The study found that HPWSs practices have negative direct effects on burnout and exert an indirect effect on the job.
  • The indirect effect is explained by to pandemic situation which has brought higher workloads and for the same reasons, it would apply to employment
  • Thus, the study demonstrated that the three HRM bundle practices (abilities, motivation, and opportunities) may alleviate burnout in stressful situations which in turn would increase employee jobs.
Academic Journal Article Adopted Theories Review
Based on Theories:
01. The Social Exchange Theory

This study advocates the mutual gains perspective based on social exchange theory (SET) and it hypothesizes that HPWSs are a way to boost employee job satisfaction as a result of their adherence to the fundamental reciprocity principle (Cropanzano and Mitchell, 2005).

As a result, employees will view HPWSs as an indication that their bosses care about them and will reciprocate by having better attitudes (i.e. a high level of job satisfaction).

Thus, the study has highlighted the usefulness of the SET in explaining the process through which HPWSs influence employee attitude and the significant role of trust as a social exchange which can be evident in the HPWSs.

02. The Organizational Support Theory

This argumentation aligns with the organizational support theory (Eisenberger et al., 1986), another HRM approach that has been considered as a solution to the pandemic challenges (e.g. Chen and Eyoun, 2021; Cheng et al., 2022) to foster employee performance, engagement and commitment (Eisenberger et, 2020; Kurtessis et al., 2017).

This finding is consistent with the organizational support theory in supporting the benefits of HPWSs for hospitality firms that can enhance employee job satisfaction in harsh working

03.   The Job-Demand Resources Theory

The authors use the J-DR theory to propose that HPWSs provide workers with resources, such as skills, autonomy, feedback, and growth opportunities (Bakker and Demerouti, 2017).

Consequently, HPWSs may very well contribute to a reduction in worker burnout, which may in part improve levels of job satisfaction, therefore supporting the mutual gains perspective.

Academic Journal Research Method Analysis
Academic Journal Research Method Analysis

Single Respondents: 

The authors suggested gathering data from both HR managers and employees (multiple respondents).

It would broaden the knowledge of the effects of HPWSs on employee outcomes.

Cross-Sectional studies:

This study is cross-sectional. Therefore, it is suggested that longitudinal studies be performed to examine whether the relationships found here are true.

Disaggregation of HPWSs on AMO:

It shown to affect employee outcomes in varied ways to examine the differential effects of HPWSs on employees’ job satisfaction and dissatisfaction.

The characterization of motivating or hygiene factors can be considered.

May use other mediating mechanisms:

Such as leadership or employee, attitudes & behaviors which HPWSs may be conducive to higher levels of job satisfaction & burnout reduction.

To consider different kinds of job resources & job demands

To examine the differentiation between challenge and hindrance job resources/demands on the development of the current JD-R theory Model (Bakker & Demerouti, 2017).

Conclusion With Strengths and Limitations

This study does not clearly on systems of HRM practices, it explores processes and recommendations to enhance the HPWSs effects, especially in the service sector.

I agree that HPWSs could be considered one of many resources of organizational support that managers may take into consideration the possible negative effects associated with HPWSs & specific bundles of HRM practices.

HPWSs are unique interrelated HRM practices that act in concert to improve employee skills, motivation & participation in organizations.

In conclusion, I learned that the relationship between HRM practices & organizational performance has space for progress and becomes a good indicator of a company’s success.

 Journal Review Example APA

The author demonstrates the following journal review example APA  for example of the article review assignment. The author illustrated this journal review example for students’ instructions.

Selected Article
Title: Transformational Leadership and Job Performance: The Mediating Role of  Work Engagement
Author: Lai, Tang, Lu, Lee, & Lin.
Publish year: 2020
Journal: SAGE Open (published by SAGE)
Quartile:  Q2
Citation Count: 194 (as of 28/10/2022 via Google Scholar)
Citation: Lai, F. Y., Tang, H. C., Lu, S. C., Lee, Y. C., & Lin, C. C. (2020).          Transformational leadership and job performance: The mediating role of work engagement. Sage Open10(1), 2158244019899085.URL: https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/2158244019899085


In Lai et al.’s article above, they explored the mediating role of work engagement (WE) between the relationship of transformational leadership (TFL) and employee job performance (JP) and helping behavior (HB). Specifically, how the nurses’ work engagement intervenes in the impact of transformational leadership of head nurses on the job performance of nurses. The study shows that TRL gives rise to WE but not JP and HB. We mediated the relationship between  TFL JP and HB. The results are able to support all three of their hypothesis.


The central argument is that it is important to comprehend the factors and underlying mechanisms that give rise to employee motivation, which makes them perform well in their in-role task and perhaps go the extra mile. In addition, because of a wider variety of work behaviors, work-engaged employees are more likely to help their peers. Transformational leaders provide robust and common goals for employees and convince them that those goals are meaningful. Transformational leaders may improve employee task performance and helping behaviors through work engagement. Work-engaged employees deploy themselves to the in-role task and devote their energy to behavior that gives rise to achieving organizational goals.

In short, employees will be work-engaged when transformational leaders are able to get their buy-in by providing meaningful goals, offering a safe and supportive environment, and providing accessible resources. The paper did well in reducing concerns about common method variance (CMV) errors where it uses three waves of study, collecting data from leaders and members.

The paper did provide practical implications for personnel selection and leadership training:

During day-to-day interaction, lower level (ward head nurse) TFL, who have more contact with members, might have more opportunities to (i) instill in members the organization’s vision and collective goals, (ii) offer emotional support when members feel frustration or help them overcome difficult tasks with new solutions immediately. Through training, leaders may enhance their coaching skills including how to set unit goals, communicate with members about these goals, motivate members to achieve goals, invent new methods for problem-solving, and cheer up members when they experience setbacks.

The research could have better explained the mechanism of how TFL leadership gives rise to WE by using the job demands-resource (JD-R) model (Bakker and Demerouti, 2016). The JD-R model proposed two paths in their model: (i) motivational path and (ii) health-impairment path. According to the motivational path, job and personal resources give rise to employee engagement. It subsequently affects an employee’s job performance.

In Lai et al.’s article above,

JD-R could be used as such that TFL can be conceptualized as job resources for the employee that give rise to employee engagement and consequently lead to better job performance and helping behaviors among nurses. In addition to that, the paper could have tested their assumption on psychological fulfillment (i.e. psychological meaningful, psychological safety, and psychological availability) that led to employee engagement. Meaning, that instead of directly testing TFL to WE, it is possible that TFL  led to meaningful work and then led to WE.

The paper did a good job of representing the work engagement among nurses. However, in terms of gender, this is insufficient to make generalizations about male nurses even within the same industry. The author disclosed the limitations of the study such as the generalizability of their findings, as they collected from one profession and it was dominated by females. Additionally, some citations could have been more recent. For example, when citing past studies to demonstrate empirical evidence: “prior research highlights the positive relationship between motivation and members’ performance (e.g., Cerasoil et al., 2014)”. One of the explanations could be that when initiating their study above in 2019, citing a 2014 paper was still acceptable because it was still within five years back then.


The ward head nurse’s transformational leadership has an impact on nurses’ outcomes (i.e. job performance and helping behavior) through work engagement. Such individual employee outcomes are not only affected by monetary means but rather the perceived support of his or her surroundings (i.e. leadership, job characteristics, support, feedback, autonomy, etc.). It means employees’ behavioral outcomes are influenced by their psychological processes. Whereby, when certain psychological conditions of the employees are fulfilled, they are more likely to express themselves as a member of the organization and perform their in-role tasks well. This is in line with Kahn’s (1990) theory of the psychological condition of engagement that posits a work-engaged individual would need to be psychologically present. To meet that presence,  one must experience psychological meaning, psychological safety, and psychological availability.

Example of a Journal Article Review- 2
Title: Socially responsible human resource management and hotel employee organizational citizenship behavior for the environment: A social cognitive perspective

Link: Article Link

Introduction of the Article

Zhao and Zou(2020)  conducted a study “Socially responsible human resource management and hotel employee organizational citizenship behavior for the Environment: A Social Cognitive Perspective” in which they, drawing inspiration from Social Cognitive Theory, SCT, explored the relationship and interplay of three key predictors that could modulate an employees’ response towards OCBE;  SRHRM, which goes beyond offering enough pay and excellent working conditions and focuses on addressing employees’ personal and family needs, employee’s own Moral reflectiveness and Responsible leadership who form rules and norms and can directly motivate employees. While previous studies focussed on micro-level factors like psychological aspects, this study integrated them with macro-level factors, SRHRM.

Evaluation of the Article

The researchers hypothesized that: Hypothesis-1, SRHRM was positively related to employee OCBE. Hypothesis-2 Moral reflectiveness mediated the relationship between SRHRM and OCBE. Hypothesis-3, Responsible leadership moderated the positive relationship between SRHRM and moral reflectiveness. Hypothesis-4 Responsible leadership via moral reflectiveness moderated the mediated relationship between SRHRM and employee OCBE.

Employees from a large hotel group in Shanghai, China participated in the study. A total of ten hotels were chosen from three categories of hotels, three economy, three upscale, and four luxury hotels. The two-phase survey was conducted between 2018 -2019. The first batch of questionnaires on SRHRM and moral reflectiveness was given to 340 of the full-time employees, and 310 returned the completed questionnaires. In January 2019 second batch of questionnaires on OCBE and responsible leadership was dished out. 270 completed were returned.

SRHRM was measured by employing a six-item scale from Orlitzky and Swanson (2006). Moral reflectiveness through a five-item developed by Reynolds (2008), OCBE was measured with Ten items developed by Boiral and Paill´e (2012) and responsible leadership was evaluated by using the five-item scale developed by Voegtlin (2011).

Statistical analysis of questionnaires revealed that SRHRM had a positive impact on OCBE (p < 0.05), thus it supported Hypothesis 1. As for the second hypothesis, moral reflectiveness was found to be positively associated with OCBE (p < 0.01) whereas the positive impact of SRHRM on OCBE was not significant (p > 0.05) providing initial evidence to support Hypothesis 2.  An indirect effect of SRHRM on OCBE through moral reflectiveness was found significant, further supporting Hypothesis 2. Hypothesis 3 indicated that responsible leadership moderated the relationship between SRHRM and moral reflectiveness. It was found that SRHRM was more significantly related to moral reflectiveness when responsible leadership was low as compared to when it was high. This supported Hypothesis 3. While testing Hypothesis 4, i.e., the indirect influences of SRHRM on OCBE, the moderated mediation effect of H4 was supported.


Based on their findings, the authors suggested that organizations should adopt strong HR policies. Induction process with a clear job description and through interviews organizations should select individuals who are naturally environmentally friendly. Then they must reinforce OCBE culture through training, evaluation, and providing incentives. Similarly, hotels should employ, train, and promote leaders who can support these cultures by engaging and motivating employees. However, the study was limited to one hotel and only to a responsible leader. Additionally, other leaders in the organization like servant leaders, and ethical leaders may be considered in future studies.