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Recognizing and Addressing Doctoral Research Problems

In order to locate a problem that is seen to be appropriate for doctoral research, the problem must be something that can be seen and explored in a new way. It needs to broaden the knowledge that a person has of his or her topic beyond the current bounds and provide an additional facet to a current field of study (Rainwater, 2007). Unlike Masters work, which generally rehashes the work of others, doctoral work looks at either unique areas of research, or unique facets of more common research areas. Conceptual voids should be bridged and fields of current knowledge should be thoroughly exploited and explored (Rainwater, 2007). In addition, a person addressing a doctoral-level research problem must be careful to research the problem and not the symptoms of that problem (Creswell, 2002). This can be difficult to distinguish at times and can cause serious problems with the research.
The topic or research problem must be one that the student has intense and deep-seated interest in if the research is to be undertaken correctly and within a realistic time frame (McCulloch, 2007). Additionally, the student has to be knowledgeable enough about the topic in the beginning that he or she can recognize the problem within the symptoms. Addressing a symptom for a doctoral research project will fail because the true problem will either be ignored or only touched upon, and this will not allow for a strong exploration of the issue and enlightened information on the field of study (Creswell, 1994. One of the best ways for a student to avoid this and have a strong foundation of study that addresses the problem and not just the symptoms is through the use of a dissertation problem statement. The problem statement gives the reader of the dissertation a picture of what the student will be attempting to address, what kind of question will need to be answered, and which area of research will be expanded through the discussion that the dissertation contains…

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