Problem Formulation

A problem formulation is a sought of question or what we are not sure about. The conclusions made are actually the results of the stated problem. Problem solving is considered to be the innovative and significant way of solving a problem. Selection of the research topics is basically the problem which is going to be analyzed. These topics are selected by different ways like having some knowledge about practical problems in the field, specific field literature, better result ideas be taken through request for proposals and last way is that the researcher thinks the topic by their own minds. For example; there found the appearances of back injuries in the field of health care. There are three types of problem formulation, stated as;

• Descriptive
• Explanatory
• Normative

Descriptive Problem Formulation

Descriptive problem formulation describes the problem. It actually elaborates “what” factor in the problem. For example, what sorts of problems are faced in the field of health care? 

Explanatory Problem Formulation

Explanatory problem formulation is a type of a problem that explains the problem like evaluating the reasons for such problems or to explore the causes behind such problem. It involves the factor “why”. For example; nurses in the health care centre are facing back injuries because they might be uplifting the heavy equipments, pushing and lifting heavy patients etc.

Normative Problem Formulation

The factor “how” is involved in the normative problem formulation because it is how to solve a problem. This type includes that how can to overcome a problem. For example; by providing male staff as well as advanced technology to remove the problem of back injuries.


A well formulated problem statement is actually a problem which is almost solved. In order to have an attractive report, the problem should be well structured like as problem formulation and which is considered as the representation. Representation in fact states the differences and the hierarchical situation of the report. For quantitative research, problem formulation can be stated in the form of hypothesis to know about the causes and effects of the problem as well as their relationship among the variables. It also involves the deductive an inductive reasoning in order to have qualitative research.  For formulating the problem, the researcher may conduct qualitative research to know about the actual problem. A problem is good and better defined when at least half of their points are evaluated and solved. A problem is formulated in order to cover all related facts be covered in minimum statement but it itself be a very broad concept and if the problem is longer and cover more facts then research may be conducted individually and separately. It is the most difficult part in the research to formulate the research problem in clear, to the point and appropriate form.  The problem formulation originates the center of attention and significance related to the problem, provides situations and a framework to state the conclusions and results.


• Ingemansen, J. (2007). Problem Formulation, “introduction to problem solving”.

• Heylighen F. (1988): Formulating the Problem of Problem-Formulation, in: Cybernetics and Systems ’88, Trappl R. (ed.), (Kluwer Academic Publishers, Dordrecht), p. 949-957.

•, accessed on April 3, 2012.