The activities involved in this step have a tendency to bring the researcher and the supervisor along because the director needs the researcher to help in his decision making. Usually prior to the researcher undertakes this consultancy work, the administrator has to state what he thinks to be the primary issue surrounding the condition. At this point, the researcher would ensure that the manager understands the actual problem. The researcher then helps the administrator to look at the condition objectively, and justify whether it is very problems or it is merely a symptom to an issue. It is important for the supervisor and the researcher to acknowledge the condition to be investigated so the research operations would provide information which is relevant to the situation.

2. 2 Steps required in deciding the study problem

1. Understand the management's targets or situations

The purpose of performing research is to accomplish the management with relevant conclusions. The researcher should make an effort to meet the objectives of the supervisor by clarifying what to achieve before the start of research. Both functions must have an obvious agreement on the issues and the aims of the research. This step supplies the direction for an effective research project. For example, the demand for something is decreasing. The catch is supported by the previous weekly and every month sales body. The management's purpose is to decide whether to establish new product package deal into the market, to release heavy sales advertising for the prevailing product, or even to study the durability and weaknesses of rivals' product prior to making any decision. The research findings would signify the correct decision that the management should take on.

Identify the situation from the symptoms

The most important step in problem recognition process is to comprehend the background of the situation. The failure to understand the genuine problem can make research project begins without clear goals and way. Normally an exploratory analysis and informal interview with the expert in the field might help both researcher and the management to identify the issue. The researcher should research the similar problem happening in other organizations, trying to figure out the similarities with the condition at hand in conditions of the variables involved. For example, the background of the situation is the stiff competition in terms of product costing, product range, and product quality from overseas importers

The genuine problem may be recognized only after gathering the backdrop information and doing an exploratory research. For instance, in measuring the customer satisfaction towards a certain supermarket, a administrator may think many possible factors that influence customer satisfaction. One of them will be the products, the assistance, the location, the price, etc. The most significant activity of the researcher is to isolate and identify the most likely causes predicated on the symptoms of the condition. However, certain factor that are a problem may be only symptoms of a deeper problem.

The iceberg theory serves as a good analogy to describe the problem description process, the symptoms of the challenge, and the sources of the situation. This principle is like a sailor on the available sea who notices only the 10 percent of iceberg that expands above the top of water, while the other 90 percent is lying below the surface. The dangerous part of the challenge is the 90% portion of the iceberg below the surface, which is neither visible nor known by professionals.

For example, a marketing supervisor of a Swimming Club in town is concern about the probability of dropping customers. From his observation on the club's record, he found the number of membership has declined since a fresh water playground was built-in the town a couple of years ago. In this case, the declining in memberships is the indication to problems.

By taking a look at the indicator, he has an opinion that the clients might prefer the exclusive water park as compared to his traditional pool. However, after an exploratory review using the emphasis group interview on customers, he found that the actual problem is the change in demographic variables, the change in life-style, and hence the change in the preference of customers. Children in this neighborhood have become up and their desire has turned to this particular park. So, there is no demand for traditional pool from the era of youthful and outgoing standards of living.

For example, reducing sales volume is a challenge to the business, and consumer dissatisfaction regarding the quality of products and services provided by the business is an indicator of the trouble.

Identify research objectives

In doing the research task, the researcher has certain targets to accomplish. Along the way of achieving the targets, the researcher normally discover some uncertainties about the factors, the factors influencing the variables, and the type of romantic relationship among parameters in the analysis.

Determine the machine of analysis (UOA)

Defining the situation requires the researcher to determine the unit of research for the analysis. Determining the unit of examination is the main aspect in the situation definition and really should not be overlooked during this stage of the study.

The researcher must justify evidently whether the research will acquire data from individuals, households, organizations, departments, physical areas, etc. The machine of analysis in virtually any study must come from the group which relates directly to the condition to be investigated. In the case of the swimming club, the machine of analysis must come from the existing customers of the team and also the prospective customers from the people living within the geographical area where the club is situated. In general, the unit of evaluation must come from a society that the generalization will be produced.

Determine the appropriate research variables

The research problem is generally associated numerous factors, and the ones factors are in essence represented by variables. A varying is anything that changes in value and signifies a volume that may vary in worth, magnitude, or strength. Quite simply, the variable is normally whatever may expect different numerical principles. Among the factors normally associated with marketing research are recognized quality of product or service, product image, product price, competitor's price, socio-economic status of respondent such as education, job, income, etc.

The Parameters in Research:

Dependent variable is the adjustable of main interest in virtually any study. Examples will be the volume of transaction, the expected number of customers, the recognized quality of service, and the customer's devotion intention towards the merchandise or service. Some books define dependent parameters as the response factors.

Independent variable is the changing that triggers the dependent varying to improve in values. Cases are the interest rate, the selling price, the incentive provided, the amount of promotion, the grade of service provided, the every month income of customers, and the number of potential clients in the target area. Some books call independent factors as the predictor parameters.

Mediating variable or sometimes called an intervening variable is the varying that mediates the relationship between the self-employed and dependent variable. For instance, in the service quality - customer loyalty relationship, customer satisfaction is one which stands between service quality and customer loyalty. In this case, the service provided by the company should be able to gratify its customers, and these satisfied customers would, in turn, become dedicated customers to the company.

Moderating variable is the adjustable that moderates the performance of your dependent variable. Cases will be the gender, the socio-economic status, and the demographic factors. In the case of socio-economic status as a moderating changing and customer satisfaction as a centered variable, the study is trying to ascertain if the respondents from different socio-economic status perceived differently pertaining to their satisfaction for the service provided by the same company.

The Managers and analysts must be cautious in selecting the appropriate variables when defining the managerial problem. The parameters that aren't straight related to the condition shouldn't be contained in the study. The procedure of discovering the relevant parameters overlaps with the process of determining the research goals. Typically, each research purpose would directly indicate a couple of variables that would be involved in the study.

State the study questions, and corresponding research hypotheses

Research questions express the research targets in terms of questions that may be resolved by research. A good researcher manages to convert these uncertainties into research questions. The researcher can suppose the research questions as the questions he anticipates would be increased by the audience of his research and must be clarified through this review.

2. 3 Producing the schematic diagram for the study

This step will take place after the study identifies the correct factors either through purposeful interviews or through considerable books search or both. The theoretical framework is a schematic diagram demonstrating how the analysis believes the variables should relate among each other. In the schematic diagram, the analysis would debate the explanation why certain interactions between variables are thought to exist the truth is. The nature and the direction of relationships among the parameters are also discussed and the discussions are recognized with findings from earlier research and also certain theoretical insights. Through the theoretical framework, relevant hypotheses can be developed. The theoretical framework and hypotheses provide proper route for the analysis to carry on till the finish in term of the instrumentation to measure each variable, the techniques of sampling and data collection, and the task for data examination to use in order to test the explained hypotheses.

Example: The schematic diagram for the study:

1) Independent variable: Product, Price, Place and Promotion

2) Dependent Variable: Brand Loyalty

3) Mediating adjustable: Customer Satisfaction

4) Moderating parameters: Income Characteristics

The schematic diagram relating the four parameters in the analysis:









Independent variables

Mediating factor

Dependent variables



How the variables in the analysis relate to each other?

In the above diagram, the analysis feels that 4p's namely product, place, price and promotion provided by the particular business are four unbiased variables. These four self-employed variables are thought to affect the mediating changing namely client satisfaction. Finally, the analysis feels that the satisfied customers would become brand commitment towards the organization in the future. In this case brand devotion is the designed dependent varying.

(Remember: The relationship among factors in a study and any argument made regarding the romantic relationship must be recognized by the literatures in that particular field. That is why literature review is one of the top chapters in virtually any research)

2. 4 The Research objectives

Research objectives establish a set of what the study will achieve. They offer evidence of the researcher's clear understanding about the reason and way of the suggested study. The study targets should follow from the definition of the study problems. Formally stated research objectives provide the guidelines for determining which other steps must be carried out. The assumption is the fact that if the aims are achieved, the decision machine will have the information needed to solve the condition. Overall, research aims are the components of what your research is trying to achieve. Most of the time the research targets begin with the term "to"

Example 2. 2: The objective of the study

Specifically the analysis is designed to achieve the next objectives:

To know the effects of certain demographic factors on service quality, corporate image, and students' satisfaction.

To identify the impact of service quality provided at the university or college on students' satisfaction using their learning experience

To know the affect of corporate image of the college or university on students' satisfaction using their learning experience

To look at the affect of service quality provided at the university or college on students' devotion towards their university

To examine the effect of corporate and business image of the school on students' loyalty towards their university

To verify the impact of students' satisfaction with the service provided by the university on their loyalty towards that university or college in the future

2. 5 The research questions

Research question is the list of questions the study is trying to answer. It really is an ambiguity shrouded the underlying research problem. The researcher and the manager should identify the ambiguities so that the researcher can redefine the ambiguity in a particular question. In other words, research questions will be the questions discovered by the researcher so that his research study is aimed specifically to clarify those questions. The study project is known as successful if the researcher handles to clear all ambiguities adjoining the problem. The researcher utilizes the words "why, what, where, when, who, and exactly how" to develop the research question.

The need for a study question

Research questions will help clear the misunderstandings that normally develops in any research study. The need for the research question lies in its jobs that help the researcher in the following manner:

Provides a direction in arranging the research project.

Delimits the study project through displaying its limitations.

Keeps the research project in concentrate at all times.

Doing a research project takes a complicated process and it is not impossible for the researcher to slide along the way through the research project. In cases like this, the research questions provide great assistance for the researcher to bring the target back on the right track. Specifically, the research question is important to:

Provide a construction to handle research study properly

Determine the info required by the research to answer the question

Provide a basis for designing a questionnaire to acquire data

Provide a basis for the techniques to be employed in data analysis

Provide a path on paper the findings to address the question

Example: The research questions

This study makes an attempt to address the following research questions:

To what degree does the effect of certain demographic factors have on service quality, corporate image, and students' satisfaction?

To what scope does indeed the service quality provided at the college or university influence students' satisfaction with the learning experience in the university?

To what level does the corporate image of the university or college influence students' satisfaction with their learning experience in the college or university?

To what level does indeed the service quality at the university influence students' loyalty towards that school in the future?

To what level does the organization image of the college or university influence students' loyalty towards that school in the future?

How significant will the students' satisfactions with the learning experience at the college or university manage to impact their loyalty towards that one university? Or in other words, the study is interested to answer questions like "Will there be exists a substantial romantic relationship between students' satisfaction and their loyalty?"

2. 6 THE STUDY Hypothesis

Hypothesis is defined as an intelligent expectation or prediction of your researcher regarding the research problem accessible or an unproven proposition or supposition that tentatively clarifies certain facts or phenomena. An intelligent researcher manages to come out with several hypotheses about the problem at hand. It shows that the researcher has a thorough knowledge regarding the phenomena that he can predict the results of the study especially how impartial variables have an effect on the dependent factors. A hypothesis normally flows from the research questions. An excellent hypothesis provides a change from an interrogative declaration into a declarative affirmation. Types of hypothesis:

Null hypothesis (Ho) is a position quo regarding the phenomena. The null hypothesis acts as a starting place for observing the effect of the 3rd party changing on the centered variable. In addition, it acts as a standard for the contrast between your "effects by chance" versus the "real effect".

The declaration of status quo should read as follows:

Ho: There is no difference in the academics performance among students because of the differences in review methods applied.

Ho: There is no romantic relationship between gender and academics superiority of students in higher educational companies.

Ho: There is no significant upsurge in the price of consumer items in the market due to the increase in the price of petrol

Alternative hypothesis (Hi) or sometimes called the research hypothesis is a declarative declaration created by the researcher about the relationship between factors included. The researcher makes this intellectual proposition after some extensive reading of the literatures. Thus, in the study, the research would support his proposition with the proper strategy and data research.

Example: The research hypotheses

H1: There's a difference in academic performance among students because of the differences in research methods applied.

H1: There is a romance between gender and academic quality of students in higher educational corporations.

H1: There is a significant upsurge in the price tag on consumer items in the market due to the increase in the price tag on petrol


Suppose that you are doing a research to investigate the affect of gender on the performance of Mathematics among students in UiTM.

For these study you need to develop one research question and its corresponding hypothesis:


First of most, we need to determine the parameters of main affinity for the study. In cases like this, we found that the variable of interest is the exam score in Mathematics subject matter in UiTM. Another varying involved is gender. This analysis is trying to research whether students of different gender performed in different ways in Mathematics. Thus, the centered variable is the test ratings for Mathematics and the self-employed variable is gender (male and feminine). Now we can formulate the research question and its related hypothesis.

The research question:

To what amount does indeed the gender difference among students impact their performance in Mathematics subject matter?

The research hypothesis:

1. Null hypothesis

Ho: There is absolutely no factor in Mathematic performance between male and feminine students in UiTM.

2. Substitute hypothesis

H1: There's a factor in Mathematic performance between gender (male and female students) in UiTM.

The researcher may connect one or more independent factors to the based mostly variable.


The management of UiTM is thinking why there are many students who won't consume the meals provided at eating halls at the home college. Every day, a large amount of food is not taken and wasted. The federal government is paying the builder at least RM 5. 50 per mind for the meals which has resulted in a waste material of millions of ringgit every year. Rather than eating the food provided at the eating halls, the students are buying their food at the cafeteria or from the stalls near by. The management of UiTM wishes you to review this subject. The conclusions of your quest should determine the main factors that contribute to the above mentioned problem so that appropriate actions can be taken to rectify the situation. At the same time you should provide some advice based on your results to the management of UiTM so the existing problem can be rectified.

What is your quest question?


First of most you need to determine the variables involved in the study. The dependent variable is the students' inclination of eating at dining hall.

The independent parameters are the quality of food offered, the quality of service provided, the sanitation of eating halls, etc.

The research questions

Does the grade of food provided at the dinner hall produce an impact on the students' choices of eating at the dining hall?

To what degree does the impact of service quality provided by the caterer on students' choice of eating at eating halls?

b) What is your hypothesis?

Solution: The hypothesis should associate closely to the study question

The hypothesis for research question 1

1. Null Hypothesis

Ho: There is no significant marriage between quality of food provided and students' tastes of eating at eating halls.

2. Substitute Hypothesis

H1: There's a significant relationship between your quality of food provided and students' choices of eating at dining halls.

The hypothesis for research question 2

1. Null Hypothesis

Ho: There is no significant relationship between the quality of service provided and students' preferences of eating at dining halls.

2. Solution Hypothesis

H1: There's a significant relationship between the quality of service provided and students' choices of eating at dinner halls.



1. Whenever a researcher identifies and develops a conclusion statement and the steps involved in translating it into more correct research terminology, he or she is involved in what process?


hypotheses development


research planning


research process


problem definition

2. Which of the following make defining problems more difficult?


situation is continuing or routine


a dramatic change occurs


symptoms are scattered


symptoms are consistent

3. Every one of the following are spaces that represent problems EXCEPT:


actual business performance is significantly less than possible business performance


actual business performance is greater than expected business performance


actual business performance is worse than expected business performance


expected business performance is greater than possible business performance

4. Which of the next is the First rung on the ladder of the challenge meaning process?


determine the machine of analysis


identify the problem


identify key symptoms in the situation


determine the relevant variables

5. Which of the next is the past step of the problem definition process?


state the hypotheses and the study questions


determine the relevant variables


determine the machine of analysis


understand the backdrop of the problem

6. All the following are steps in the problem-definition process EXCEPT:


identify key problem(s) from symptoms


determine the unit of analysis


develop dummy tables


determine relevant variables

7. All the following are useful tips that can be useful in the interview process when attempting to understand the situation EXCEPT:


develop hypotheses before doing interviews


develop many alternative decisions and problems


think about possible solutions to the problem


be open-minded

8. Which of the next essentially right answers the question, "What information is needed to address this example?"


dependent variable


independent variable


research objectives


research design

9. Whenever a researcher determines what or who should supply the data with what degree of aggregation, they're determining the:




research questions


analysis technique


unit of analysis

2. a) Status the definition of the next:

i) Dependent variables

ii) Separate variables

iii) Research objectives

iv) Hypothesis (10m)

How could the iceberg clarify the type of the research problem? (5m)

A company director can be involved about the reduced productivity of his employees. The literature on job performance talked about four parameters having significant effect on job performance. The variables are the amount of training provided, the remuneration, the determination, and the work satisfaction. In several of the articles, it was mentioned that only if remuneration were appealing to the employees, then their job performance would increase.

For the aforementioned situation:

Identify the populace of the study (1m)

Develop the study objectives for this study. (2m)

Identify the dependent and independent parameters for this review. (5m)

Develop three possible research hypotheses. (3m)

Develop the study work schedule by using the Gantt Graph diagram (4m)

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