A to Z Guide to Research Problem and Definition

A research problem and definition allow you to recognise the methodologies you must take to conduct the research activity. But what does the term mean when developing a software product? What problems do product owners (PO) face when gathering research problems? And how do they identify and solve research problems? Here’s the top-to-bottom guide. 

Understanding research problem and definition

According to Sacred Heart University, a research problem is a clear expression of a condition or an area of concern that needs to be improved. A hindrance that needs to be removed or a troubling question that needs to be answered and solved.

Research Problem And Definition

A research problem is a particular challenge or an information gap that permits you to begin the research to make winning products. It is the fundamental statement related to a specific topic, allowing you to find ways to fill the gap by conducting studies. In simple words, a research problem is an initial step to developing problem-solving digital products for stakeholders and users using best practices.

Also Read: 5 Important Checklist for Software Development Best Practices

Types of research problems

The research problem and definition can be categorized into three types:

Theoretical research problem

Theoretical research problem allows you to explore and provide information to fill the gaps. This research type lets you analyze the differences between multiple perspectives and settle unresolved questions. 

Applied research problem

The applied research problem allows researchers to take practical measures to gain information through theoretical knowledge. It combines testing and exploration to verify the hypothesis’s correctness.

Action research problem

Action research problem offers solutions for issues in a time frame. Software development companies that use action research usually discover problems and their solutions quickly. 

Characteristics of research problem and definition

A research problem and definition must be clear, well-structured, and practical to follow throughout the research. Therefore, an excellent research problem should have the following traits:

  • Shedding light on the required information and problems anchored to a specific field before beginning the research
  • Enough past relevant data is available related to the research topic
  • Only relying on rational facts and excluding data and information without robust evidence
  • Data collection is done by collaborating with fellow team members and researchers
  • All the efforts are made within the defined duration and budget

Example of a research problem and definition

To understand what a research problem is, here’s a short example. Suppose a multi-branched women’s apparel company wanted to increase the number of potential customers by developing an online store. However, the management was unable to scrutinize ways to achieve this objective.

The company approached a brilliant tech partner to attain this goal, where product owners outlined research problems. And ways to increase the number of customers based on the research results. They used the knowledge to create a unique digital platform that fulfills the company’s requirements. 

Common research problems encountered by PO

Is finding a research problem and definition of the topic so simple and non-technical? No, the product owners have to go through thick and thin to have a well-defined research problem. Some of the most common research problems that software development managers and teams face are:

User experience issues

One of the most typical research problem product owners face is the negative user experience of a web or mobile application. This includes several factors, including:

  • Slow-loading platforms 
  • Confusing and complex usability
  • Poor design thinking

Also Read: 10 Benefits of Using Design Thinking for Innovation

Technical challenges

Product owners also encounter technical issues while looking for research problems, such as:

  • Lack of automation
  • Digital products not adhering to data privacy laws
  • Unprotected platforms from system hacking and cyber attacks

Product eligibility for market fit

Another research problem software development companies bump into is a product needing more market-fit features. It happens when the stakeholders don’t identify the ideal target customers, understand their needs, and launch MVPs for further improvement. 

Business-related solutions

Sometimes the issue doesn’t rest in the product but in the business image. POs often find the research problem directed towards the low brand image, incorrect target market, and/or inaccurate pricing.

Best practices for identifying research problem and definition

By utilizing a combination of the best practices, researchers can define their research problem comprehensively and maximize the impact of their findings.

Research Problem And Definition

There are many methods for identifying research problems. Some of the most essential ones are:

Conducting user research

One tried and tested way to understand a research problem is by taking user research. Depending on the PO’s experience, they may use the most suitable methodology for user research, such as qualitative research and user interviews. 

Reviewing customer feedback

Product owners pay great attention to gaining customers’ feedback to determine the research problem. To do that, they may create a user community and allow customers to test the product practically. Or even understand their thoughts by sharing the product concept. 

Investigating market trends

Another way to spot a research problem is by studying the market trends. A PO may keep track of industry publications and influencers to stay up-to-date on the changes. Moreover, they also hold a strong eye on the competition.

Collaborating with technical teams

POs, together with technical and development teams, can pick out research problems as soon as possible. Product owners discuss and share information internally with the relevant departments to pinpoint the issue so they can proceed with the rest of the research process.

Solving research problems

After knowing research problems, software product managers can solve them by:

  • Relying on multiple documents and research
  • Rigorously scrutinizing research problems
  • Evaluating solutions based on evidence
  • Teamwork and logical thinking


A research problem and definition is a matter of question that gives rise to a concern related to a specific topic. It allows product owners and software product managers to identify an issue and help them know what exactly they should investigate. As a result, they can develop customer-focused and efficient products. 

At Slash, we create well-researched and leading digital solutions. A big round of applause goes to our experienced product owners and development teams. Our experts identify and solve even the tiniest problem using agile methodologies and the latest tech stack. Contact us to develop scalable and engaging digital products satisfying your customers’ requirements.

FAQs – research problem & definition guide

What is the problem definition in research? A specific gap or issue in the existing knowledge at which the research is addressed is defined as a problem.  

What are the 4 research problems? The common research problems are difference, relational, casuist, and descriptive problems. 

What is the definition of research objectives? Research objectives define the reasons and outcomes you are trying to achieve through the research. 

What is problem discovery in research? Problem discovery allows you to find issues in customers’ life and learn how they solve those problems.


Daniel Soghoyan
Daniel Soghoyan
Market Development
Daniel is the Head of Growth at Slash. He brings over a decade of experience in developing and executing complex marketing campaigns. He specializes in leveraging data-driven approaches to increase revenue and grow user bases for both enterprises and startups. With expertise in mobile user acquisition and in-app analytics, Daniel has helped numerous organizations achieve digital growth. In addition to his work at Slash, Daniel is a sought-after consultant for large multinational organizations, governments, technology funds, and SMEs. He advises on topics such as digital growth, digitization, e-learning, and the startup ecosystem.
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