Research Problem and Research Topic

Which Elements Make Research Problem and Research Topic Different


Are you a student pursuing a Master’s, or PhD degree? If yes, then you might know the difference between a research problem and a research topic. Oh. You don’t know the difference? Don’t worry, it’s fine. Because today in this guide, I will discuss the key elements that distinguish a research problem from a research topic. But before that, we need to define both the terms.

A research problem is a specific issue, or gap in the existing knowledge that you will discuss within your research. In a research problem, you might look for a solution to a problem for bringing change. This also includes theoretical problems aimed at the expansion of existing knowledge in dissertation writing task. On the other hand, a research topic refers to overall understanding of the problem. It is generally broader in scope as compared to a specific research problem.


For example, the research topic can be “Impacts of COVID-19 pandemic on education.” Now this is the topic, but the research problem will be more specific. The research problem can be “Impacts of COVID-19 pandemic on the educational system within US.”

This is more specific. I hope the difference is clear to you now. Let’s move on towards the elements of a research problem.

Elements of a Research Problem

There are five elements of a research problem. The description of all these elements is as follows;

Objective of the Problem

The first, and foremost important element of a research problem is to have clear objectives. It answers the question “why”. Your research problem should tell about the importance of the issue as well. Why is there a need to carry out this research? For answering this, you should have a clear picture of your objectives and goals. Given below is an example within this context;

“Impacts of COVID-19 pandemic on the Educational system within US.”

In this particular problem, the researcher’s objective is to uncover impacts that this pandemic brought to the education system of US. So the objectives should be crystal clear for proceeding with this topic’s research.

The Topic

The 2nd most important element is that of topic. This element answers the question of “what.” What is it that the researcher is going to investigate, or study? To have a topic is very important. This is because it’s considered as the backbone of one’s research.

Taking the example mentioned above, the topic is related to COVID-19. The researcher is going to investigate, or study its impacts on the educational system. The researcher will use different methods, as well as ways for conducting this research.

Time-Frame of the Study

Time frame of the study answers the question “when.” When will the data be gathered for the research? When is the research to be performed? The time dimension aspect will answer these questions. But many researchers fail to define the time frame. This is due to the fact that they overcommit their dates and deadlines. Hence, they fail in achieving their desired results on time.

For example, if the research is extensive, the researcher can start gathering data from the beginning. The researcher can also work on things like writing the dissertation after collecting data. Therefore, time frame is very important in the construction, and management of research problem.

The Geography

The geographic element of a research answers the question “where.” Where do you need to conduct this study? It should be noted that location, or target area are also very important aspects. From the previous example, the geography is that of US. The research is only based in the US, so the results will also be of said region, and not the whole world.

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This particular element answers the question “who.” Who are the respondents? In case of the example mentioned above, the researcher will take his questions to students, or educational institutions. The students and such institutions will give him the answer based on their thoughts. This defines that the area of study is that of educational institutions. The researcher can’t go to a shopkeeper and ask him about the impacts of COVID-19 on education. This is because the respondents should match the research’s topic.

In conclusion to the above discussion, I would say that differences are evident between the research problem, and the research question. These differences are more obvious with the examples described.