Week 2 dissertation | Doctoral Dissertation Reaearch Development

Milestone 2: Research Problem Statement

Work with your chair to determine any specific instructions or guidance that he or she may have for you about your topic selection development document.

Although in a business research environment a problem statement may articulate a very clear issue the organization is pondering (e.g., does marketing process A or B generate the most sales?), in an academic environment, you may think of the problem statement as a gap in the current research literature. What has not been studied yet? What is missing? Why is [your!] research needed?

Let’s consider an example. In Milestone 1 instructions, a sample topic refinement emerged by adding the subtopic “ethics” to a main topic “transformational leaders.” Suppose that your preliminary review of the literature discovered several statements touting the idea that transformational leaders raise the ethical values and behaviors of followers. However, also suppose that you have been unable to locate any empirical research testing the proposed relationship between transformational leaders and the ethical behaviors of followers. Accordingly, you may have located a gap in the literature, a problem, or research that needs to be conducted.

Your dissertation needs to defend the existence of that problem (gap) in the literature to justify the need for your study.

One note of caution: Let the literature speak! In other words, as your refine your topic and look for the gap, be careful not to make the literature say what you want it to say. Stay disciplined. Stay open. Let the literature lead you to your conclusions.

Using your topic development work to-date and the feedback from your instructor in the previous task, conduct further review in the literature (e.g., at least another eight to ten scholarly sources), further refine your topic and create a problem statement. What is the gap? When written appropriately, your problem statement should explain and justify your envisioned research.

Submission Details:

  • Present this problem statement in a 5- to 7-page paper that integrates an introduction to your topic and the research problem, including appropriate documentation.
  • Use APA style in preparing your paper and citing references.
  • Post the problem statement in the Milestone 2 Submissions Area.
  • Notify your chair (e.g., e-mail) when you have submitted the topic paper.

Note: A successful dissertation requires self-directed behaviors. To successfully pass each dissertation course, you must successfully complete (pass) each milestone presented in the course materials. Additionally, you must complete the milestones in the order they are presented in the course. The tasks in some milestones may take you more than a week to complete. Finish each milestone before you move on to the next milestone. In your planning, also allow time for feedback from your dissertation chair/committee and revisions as part of completing each task.

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