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Writing a Compelling Statement of the Problem: Avoiding Common Pitfalls and Crafting an Effective Example


One of the critical components of any research project is the statement of the problem. This section sets the stage for the study by highlighting the issue or gap in knowledge that the research aims to address. However, many junior researchers often struggle with crafting a compelling statement of the problem. In this article, we will discuss common pitfalls to avoid and provide an example of how to write a statement of the problem effectively.

Common Pitfalls to Avoid

1. Lack of clarity: One of the most common mistakes is failing to clearly articulate the problem. Junior researchers may provide vague or general statements that do not clearly define the issue at hand. For example, stating, “There is a problem with hypertension” is too broad and lacks specificity.

2. Lack of relevance: Another pitfall is not demonstrating the relevance of the problem to the field of study. It is crucial to establish why the problem is significant and why it is worth investigating. For instance, stating, “Hypertension is a common condition” without explaining its impact on public health or the need for further research may weaken the statement.

3. Inadequate justification: Junior researchers sometimes fail to provide sufficient justification for why the problem needs to be addressed. It is essential to highlight the gap in knowledge or the limitations of existing research that necessitate further investigation. For example, stating, “More research is needed on hypertension” without explaining the existing gaps may not be persuasive.

4. Lack of specificity: A common pitfall is being too broad or general in the statement of the problem. It is important to narrow down the problem and provide specific details. For instance, stating, “There is a low proportion of uncontrolled hypertension” without specifying the target population or the specific factors contributing to the issue may be insufficient.

Writing a Compelling Statement of the Problem

Now that we have discussed the common pitfalls to avoid, let’s examine an example of how to write a compelling statement of the problem:

Example: Low Proportion of Uncontrolled Hypertension in a Specific Population

Background: Hypertension is a prevalent chronic condition affecting millions of individuals worldwide. Despite the availability of effective treatments and guidelines, a significant proportion of hypertension cases remain uncontrolled, leading to increased morbidity and mortality. While studies have examined the overall prevalence of uncontrolled hypertension, there is a lack of research specifically focusing on the unique challenges faced by the elderly population.

Problem Statement: The aim of this study is to investigate the factors contributing to the low proportion of uncontrolled hypertension in the elderly population and identify potential interventions to improve blood pressure control.

Justification: Understanding the specific barriers to blood pressure control in the elderly population is crucial for developing targeted interventions and improving health outcomes. By addressing this research gap, healthcare providers can enhance their strategies for managing hypertension in this vulnerable group, ultimately reducing the burden of cardiovascular disease and improving overall quality of life.

Significance: This research is significant as it focuses on a specific population, the elderly, who often face unique challenges in managing their health. By identifying the factors contributing to the low proportion of uncontrolled hypertension in this group, the study will contribute to the development of tailored interventions that can improve blood pressure control and reduce the associated health risks.


Writing a compelling statement of the problem is essential for any research project. By avoiding common pitfalls such as lack of clarity, relevance, justification, and specificity, researchers can craft a strong problem statement that sets the foundation for their study. The example provided demonstrates the importance of addressing a specific problem, justifying its significance, and highlighting the potential impact of the research. By following these guidelines, junior researchers can enhance the quality and impact of their work.

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