It will be in order to begin by defining aresearch problem. Aresearch problem is not the same thing as a social problem.A researchproblem is defined by intellectual curiosity while a social problemisdefined by the values of a group.
A situation may be problematic for onegroupbut it may not be so for another, depending on their differing valuesystems.Increase in incidence of crime may be a problem for socialworkers, but it maynot be so for the underworld of criminals. For aresearcher, on the other hand,it is not only the crime but also the lawabiding behaviour which constitutes aproblem.
It is as important, andfrom an intellectual vantage point even moreimportant, to ask whypeople adhere to law abiding behaviour. In no sense is lawabidingbehaviour a social problem. But it may be an important researchproblem.Thus a research problem is a cognitive phenomenon while a so£ialprobleman evaluative one. This does not imply that a social problemcannot tum into aresearch problem. A social problem may tum into aresearch problem once it is soformulated by a researcher.What are ,some of the sources of finding a researchproblem? Takinga cue from the existing practices, one can immediately mentionthefollowing:( I ) Research supervisor.
(2) Research literature.(3) Researchfunding agencies.It is well known that students desirous of pursuing researchfor adegree generally leave it to the supervisor to find and suggest aproblemfor them. This is so partly because they do not want to strain theirmindand partly because they begin with a sense of total dependenceon thesupervisor. Whatever the reason, the fact remains that mostresearch studentslook up to the supervisor to get a research problemassigned to them. They seemto have hardly any interest of theirownin the problem, let alone a sense of involvement in it.
The students whocomeup with a research problem on their own are more of anexception than a rule.