Answered! Public Administration: Research Methodologies Discuss the importance of the purpose statement in any research…

Public Administration: Research Methodologies

Discuss the importance of the purpose statement in any research, and distinguish between the purpose statement and problem statement in a research.

APA citation required

Expert Answer

 Purpose Statement: A purpose statement announces the purpose, scope, and direction of the paper. It tells the reader what to expect in a paper and what the specific focus will be.

         No matter what subject you are studying, serious research projects and papers require a statement of purpose. A statement of purpose explains to the reader what the goal of the study is, as well as what hypothesis will be tested and what types of studies or literature will be referenced. Without the statement of purpose, the reader may become lost in technical terms and data, or he may skip reading the study if he does not understand what its significance will be.

Importance of Purpose Statement:

Location and Length

The purpose statement should come at the end of the introduction and can range in length from several sentences to an entire paragraph. Very often, the thesis statement will be included as part of the statement of purpose. The researcher should never reveal his or her findings in the statement of purpose, because then the reader has no reason to continue reading the study.


The statement of purpose should consist of several components to successfully communicate the rationale of the research to the reader. It should give the reader the framework for the research, and specifically, what field or area it will cover. It should discuss the main concepts of the paper and what process will be used for the investigation. It should also explain how results will be measured and what impact the study will have.


A statement of purpose is different than a thesis statement in several ways. A thesis statement sets up the main argument or claim the researcher is going to make, while the statement of purpose explains how the research was conducted and analyzed to make that claim. The statement of purpose also sets the stage for the thesis by introducing the topic and the breadth of the research.

How it Helps the Researcher

In addition to orienting the reader, the statement of purpose helps the researcher as he begins his project or paper. It does several things: it allows the researcher to delve more deeply into the topic, helps narrow the project focus to relevant information only, forms the thesis statement, and saves time during the research process. The researcher should know that several drafts of the statement can be written as he works through primary research.

Problem Statement:

problem statement is a brief description of the issues that need to be addressed by a problem solving team and should be presented to them (or created by them) before they try to solve a problem. On the other hand, a statement of the problem is a claim of one or two sentences in length that outlines the problem addressed by a study. The statement of the problem should briefly address the question: What is the problem that the research will address?

When bringing together a team to achieve a particular purpose, they would be provided with a problem statement. A good problem statement should answer these questions:

  1. What is the problem? This should explain why the team is needed.
  2. Who has the problem or who is the client/customer? This should explain who needs the solution and who will decide the problem has been solved.
  3. What form can the resolution be? What is the scope and limitations (in time, money, resources, technologies) that can be used to solve the problem? Does the client want a white paper? A web-tool? A new feature for a product? A brainstorming on a topic?

The primary purpose of a problem statement is to focus the attention of the problem solving team. However, if the focus of the problem is too narrow or the scope of the solution too limited, the creativity and innovativeness of the solution can be stifled.

Difference between a Problem Statement and a Purpose Statement

Typically, a purpose statement comes out of a problem statement. The problem statement lays out the problem and the purpose statement outlines what you as a researcher intend to do to study the problem. Let’s say that you are a social scientist and you want to study the negative campaign ads in elections. Your problem statement might talk about how many campaign ads are negative. It might talk about how anecdotal evidence suggests that such campaign ads make people disillusioned about politics. You would then set out the purpose of your research. You might say that you propose to study the actual effects of negative campaign ads on people’s attitudes towards the political process.

In all types of research the investigator has to be very clear as far as what is at stake, what is being investigated, and what is the reason for the investigation. Moreover, you also need to specify to what point your investigation will have any significance once it is completed. All of these factors are important to prove for a research or investigation to get funding, resources and time granted.

When you state the PROBLEM you are basically saying WHAT is the person, place, thing, or idea (theory) that you will be studying, or testing. You have to define the problem stating a rationale for choosing it. The relevance of this problem is also important to know. For instance, if you are a chemistry major looking to become approved for a research, the problem that you choose should be relevant and related to your field of study, not to another field, such as cooking, or arts.

When you state the PURPOSE of an investigation you are going to answer three specific questions: WHY? HOW? WHEN?

You will use action words and active tense to voice your purpose. For example, you are going to “determine”, or “disprove”, “describe”, “contrast” the problem that you described before. This is the place where you say what exactly you plan to do about the problem.

It is important to do all of this prior to naming your investigation. A common mistake that research students do is title their work and then end up doing something other than what they said that they will do. This is because the purpose is not yet well-identified.

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