The elements to pose a problem are three and are related to each other and are the questions of the research, the objectives and the justification of the study. We will start by referring to the approach of the problem and the delimitation, and then we will see the subject of the objectives and the justification of the study.
The approach of the problem of the investigation is the clear and precise delimitation of the object of the investigation that is realized by means of questions, readings, pilot surveys, interviews, etc.
The function of the approach of the problem is to reveal to the researcher if his research project is viable, within his time and available resources.
The delimitation is done through 5 steps, namely:
- The delimitation of the object in the physical-geographical space
- The delimitation in time.
- The delimitation specifying the meaning of its main concepts, through semantic analysis, through the use of encyclopedias and specialized dictionaries.
- The selection of the problem that will be the subject of the investigation. The interrogative formulation of research problem. The formulation of topical sentences
- The determination of available resources
Let us agree that research means having an interest or desire to know, to know.
However, the way in which the researcher connects with the subject can be very varied and can contain many nuances.
Within this broad framework of choice possibilities there are at least two basic parameters: the subject is imposed on the researcher by the institution or is freely chosen by the researcher (or the research group). Within these two polar alternatives there are many nuances that combine different possibilities of choice.
An alternative that is quite frequent is that the institution fixes in a general way the subject or the possible topics and the researcher is free to select the problem, the objectives, the hypotheses, etc.
This last alternative is justified since the institution has its objectives and it is assumed that if the research is related to the topics that are of institutional interest they will enrich and enrich the training of the students.
In any of the alternatives it is necessary that the researcher have the necessary discipline to accomplish the task, given that the issues, in most cases, begin to be formulated inappropriately, which would make it impossible to solve it through research.
At this stage of development it is necessary to clarify what is the relationship between the subject and the object of the investigation.
To begin, we will say that the topic is expressed in a sentence or statement that generally links two areas or concepts, in some way. Example:
1). “Tourism and the Conservation of the Environment.”
2). “Disability and Tourism”
3) “Health care in people with disabilities”
On the other hand, the Object is the phenomenon to which the statement or the investigation refers.
In the natural sciences the object of research is normally a real object. In contrast in the social sciences the object is usually a constructed object.
The object of the investigation is an aspect of reality, that we want to know and that can not be explained immediately or without using the theory
The steps to determine the object of the investigation:
1st Step: The delimitation of the object in the fisco-geographic space
For example, in the first topic the delimitation could consist of circumscribing it to P. Example a national park.
2nd Step. The delimitation in time
In this case, one year can be taken as a basis. Or a limited period of time.
… during the year 2002. … in the quinquennial 1998-02.
3rd Step The semantic delimitation. specifying the meaning of its main concepts, through the analysis of the meaning, through the use of encyclopedias and specialized dictionaries.
For example in topic 1 it will be necessary to define “tourism” and “conservation of the environment.” In topic 2. besides “Tourism”, with what concept of disability we work. .
In addition to defining these terms, they must be used throughout the work in the same way and with the same meaning.
4th Step: The selection of the problem that will be the object of the investigation. The interrogative formulation of research problem.
As the particular aspects of the subject matter of the research can be multiple, it is necessary to make a selection taking into account those that most interest you and that are feasible to be investigated during the time available and with the resources that are counted.
At least there are two ways to make this choice:
1) Formulate one or two problems that are of interest to the researcher and feasible to be investigated.
2) Formulate a large number of problems and select that set, one or two, which will be investigated.
A tool proposed by Heinz Dieterich are topical sentences. Topos, from the Greek: place. He defines it as “It is a statement about the research topic that briefly expresses what the intention of knowledge is with respect to the research object”. It helps to clarify the interest of knowledge and it is suggested to do it in the following way:
- “The purpose of the investigation is to know / know …”
- P. example, if the subject is “The city of BsAs and the polluted air”
Topical sentences (O.T.) can be:
- O.T1. The purpose of the investigation is to know the average concentration of Ozone in the air in the city of BsAs.
- O.T2. The purpose of the investigation is to know in what month the highest level of air pollution occurred in the city of BsAs.
Finally, it must be taken into account that the selected problem must be stated in an interrogative way, (that is, as a question)
For example, in the first case of the OT1. we had “The purpose of the research is to know the average concentration of Ozone in the air in the City of BsAs”.
If we estimate that this would really be the interest of knowledge to turn it into the problem of research we should state it like this:
What is the average concentration of ozone in the City of BsAs?
5th Step Determination of available resources
Keep in mind that the most important resource is the workforce available, this resource includes, the number of people available, the time these people spend on research tasks and the degree of training
(knowledge, skills, and discipline for work). It is also necessary to evaluate the transfer costs, the necessary equipment to process the data, etc. Depending on the tasks demanded by the research and the available resources, it is possible to have an idea about the feasibility of the same. It is also desirable that the knowledge and skills are complementary.
If we evaluate that resources are scarce with respect to the necessary tasks, we have the possibility to continue expanding the delimitation by reducing the time period (temporal delimitation), the geographic scope (spatial delimitation) or also reducing the questions (or the research problem). ) in the case that they were several or wide. Also being less ambitious with the objectives of the investigation. When we reduce the questions and the objectives we are reducing the scope of the investigation.
In all these cases it is sought that with the reduction of the tasks the investigation is feasible, feasible (that is to say, adjusted to the resources that are available).
The objectives of the investigation
In all research, it is necessary to know what you want to know, that is, what your knowledge objectives are.
The objectives must be clearly expressed and they must be capable of being achieved. They constitute a guide to research.
For better understanding, its wording is usually divided into general and specific.
The general objective refers to the problem raised in its entirety and what will be done to investigate it.
The specific objectives point to each part of the indicated problem and to the different aspects to be investigated, which will allow reaching the desired knowledge.
The justification of the investigation
In addition to the delimitation of our object of study, the interrogative formulation of the research problem, the writing of the objectives, it is necessary to justify the usefulness of the proposed research.
That is, we must clearly state the benefits that would be obtained, the usefulness of the study, etc.
Some criteria that have been proposed to evaluate the potential value of an investigation are the following:
What is its importance for society? Who would benefit from the results of the investigation? In what way?
Will it help solve some practical problem?
Will the research fill a gap of knowledge?
Will the information obtained be used to develop or support a theory?
Can ideas arise, or recommendations for future studies?
Will it help create a new instrument to collect or analyze data?
In summary, the stage of the research approach includes:
The clear and precise delimitation of the object of the investigation that is realized by means of the delimitation of the object in the time, in the physical-geographical, semantic space, the interrogative formulation of its main problem and the evaluation of its resources.
They must also formulate their objectives (general and specific)
Finally, its usefulness must be justified.