Broadly speaking, any question that you want answered and any assumption or assertion that you want to challenge or investigate can become a research problem or a research topic for your study. However, it is important to remember that not all questions can be transformed into research problems and some may prove to be extremely difficult to study. According to Powers, Meenaghan and Twoomey (1985: 38), ‘Potential research questions may occur to us on a regular basis, but the process of formulating them in a meaningful way is not at all an easy task’ As a newcomer it might seem easy to formulate a problem but it requires considerable knowledge of both the subject area and research methodology. Once you examine a question more closely you will soon realise the complexity of formulating an idea into a problem which is researchable. ‘First identifying and then specifying a research problem might seem like research tasks that ought to be easy and quickly accomplished. However, such is often not the case’ (Yegidis & Weinback 1991: 35).
It is essential for the problem you formulate to be able to withstand scrutiny in terms of the procedures required to be undertaken. Hence you should spend considerable time in thinking it through.
Source: Kumar Ranjit (2012), Research methodology: a step-by-step guide for beginners, SAGE Publications Ltd; Third edition.