Chapter 1 – Description of the Problem

Chapter 1 – Description of the Problem


Chapter 1 of the Research Project states the purpose and provides a full description of the problem. You will be required to review the history and background of the problem and detail the scope and limits of the project. Chapter 1 will identify the importance (significance) of the problem, demonstrate the full knowledge of the setting (organization or community) in which the problem is researched, and defines all key terms.

After reading this chapter, the reader should have a clear picture, not only of the specific problem being explored, but also of its background and history, its setting, and its limits. Basically, this chapter is an expansion and more refined discussion of many of the items included in the Topic Proposal.

The following are the sections that should be included in Chapter 1. Generally, all six topics constitute separate sections and will be written in the indicated sequence; however, the sequence is not mandatory. In some cases, it may be more logical to combine two or more of them into a single section. In other cases, a change in the sequence may improve the flow of the presentation. Check with your Project Facilitator for guidance.

Statement of Purpose

In two or three sentences, state as clearly as possible the purpose of the project.


The purpose of this project was to create, implement, and evaluate a communication/ feedback manual for the Welding Metallurgical Department of Factory SKS. The manual will be used to develop, improve and maintain the metallurgists’ communication skills.

The Setting of the Problem

In this section, you should describe the organization or community in which the problem exists and will be implemented.

The following examples indicate how the description of the setting might be organized.

Note: You may wish to combine this section with the next one, especially if the problem is intricately tied to several components of the system. If the sections are combined, make sure the heading in the report reflects the combination.


Elmwood Counseling Center is a non-profit organization located in a southern suburb of Chicago. It exists to provide a variety of counseling services, foster home placement, and outdoor educational activities to residents within the county. 

Staff members of the center and representatives from the community elect a twelve-person board of trustees, which hires a director who is responsible for running the agency. Four coordinators report to the director: The Drop-in Center Coordinator, the Agency Outreach Coordinator, the Outdoor Education Coordinator, and the Drug Counseling Coordinator. (See organizational chart at the end of description.) The director and coordinators are the only paid staff members with the exception of the consultants who are called in periodically for the purpose of staff development.

Much of the agency’s work is conducted by its seventy-five volunteers who donate their time each week. The volunteers are dedicated community members who are willing to donate their time because they find the work personally rewarding. One difficulty is that there is constant turnover of volunteers, making it necessary for staff to devote a considerable amount of time to recruiting and training new volunteers. There is often inadequate or poor communication between paid staff members and volunteers.

The structure of the organization is functional. There is overlapping of services in the four functions when clients are cross-referred, making cooperation of the coordinators necessary for the agency to function smoothly. Weekly staff meetings are held to facilitate cooperation and communication among coordinators.

The organization maintains close ties with law enforcement agencies, hospitals, courts, and state agencies such as the Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS). Although members of the community serve on the Board of Trustees and as volunteers, the Center has been accused of not being responsive enough to the needs of the community.

Elmwood Counseling Center is supported by state, federal, and village funds, which provide an operating budget. Special projects are paid for by community contributions or through writing grant proposals and submitting them to the appropriate funding sources. Different paid staff members take turns writing grant proposals as needed. While this is a necessary part of the agency’s activities for its economic survival, staff members neither enjoy nor feel competent writing grant proposals.

History and Background of the Problem

This section should be an expansion of the basic description you gave in the Topic Proposal. Describe, in some detail, all the ramifications of the problem: the symptoms, the possible and most probable underlying causes, and how these causes may be interrelated. Also, describe the history of the problem: how long it has existed; how it has existed; how it has changed over time; and what major events have had an influence on it. To the extent possible, show how various parts of the problem are related to the various parts of the setting. Describe the group(s) involved or affected by the problem. Who are they? How many are involved and in which organizational unit or geographical location? In most cases, the source of the information for this section will come from the setting itself. It will come from the personal knowledge of and experience in the organization, from organizational records or documents, from your observations, and from discussions with people in the setting. In some cases, the description may include information obtained from the published literature, but the history should be real and not theoretical. In this case, you may write an initial draft of this section based on your knowledge of the setting, and then rewrite if after you have completed the literature review.

Scope of the Project

Here one should very clearly and specifically describe the limits or scope of the problem to be dealt with in the project. In the history and background section, you should completely describe the problem as it exists in its setting. However, since you may choose to work on only parts of the problem, indicate which parts will be included in the project. Only some of the underlying causes, organizational units involved, or parts of the population affected may be addressed. You might need to modify this section after completing the literature review, since the review may cause you to change the scope of the study.

Importance/Significance of the Project

In this section, indicate why the project is important. Explain what special or unique benefits will be derived from developing it. Is there anything unique about it in comparison to what other research has been done on the problem? Be specific in the analysis, so the reader can immediately grasp why this project is considered important.

This is another section you might wish to rewrite after completing the literature review. In that way, there will be a better understanding of how the project relates to the work of others.

Definition of Terms

In the final section of Chapter 1, define all important and unique terms used to this point, and any anticipated to be used later in the Senior Project. You might also have to add to this list in the final draft of the report. Include all terms that are unusual or technical, and not likely to be familiar to the readers.

Have someone who is not a member of the profession read the rough drafts and circle any term not understood. This is a good way to identify terms that need defining for the casual reader. Be sure that the list is alphabetized for greater ease in finding the terms.


The Senior Project requires at least 8-10 bibliographical references, and the Reference List must be in APA style. Learners should consult A Writer’s Reference and/or the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association, 6th edition for further details.

REFERENCE LIST: BASIC RULES Angeli, E., Wagner, J., Lawrick, E., Moore, K., Anderson, M., Soderland, L., & Brizee, A. (2011, February 5). Reference list: basic rules. Retrieved October 1, 2011 from (Links to an external site.)

FINDING REFERENCE SOURCES Listed below are three web resource links for accessing full text articles in online databases.


Research and citation resources (n.d.). Retrieved October 1, 2011 from (Links to an external site.)    

USING OCLC FIRST SEARCH Using OCLC firstsearch (n.d.). Retrieved October 1, 2011 from (Links to an external site.)

CHARACTERISTICS OF QUALITY RESEARCH As you have already learned earlier in the program, the characteristics of quality research are as follows:

· The literature search conducted was thorough and the sources cited were creditable

· Selection of subjects were unbiased

· The tools used to collect the data is fair and unbiased

· The statistics used to compute the “numbers” were appropriate

· The conclusions did not stray far from the data

· The research was reviewed by peers

· The research was not undertaken to prove someone’s point

· The research strategy was suitable, feasible and ethical

Listed below are web link examples of “scholarly research.”


Bayer, Patrick J., B. Douglas Bernheim, and Scholz, J. (2009, October). The effects of financial education in the workplace: evidence from a survey of employers. Economic Inquiry p. 605(20).  Retrieved April 25, 2011 from General OneFile via Gale: (Links to an external site.) 

Castiglia, Beth, and Nunez, E. (2010, February). A moral imperative–overcoming barriers to establishing an MBA infused with ethics. Journal of Legal, Ethical and Regulatory Issues 13.2, p. 33(12). Retrieved April 25, 2011 from General OneFile via Gale: (Links to an external site.) .

Cooke, Gordon, et al. (2008, October). Employee-friendly and employer-friendly non-standard work schedules and locations. International Journal of Employment Studies 16.2, p. 31(36). Retrieved April 25, 2011 from General OneFile via Gale: (Links to an external site.) .

 Coetzer, G H, & Trimble, R. (Spring 2010). An empirical examination of the relationship between adult attention deficit, cooperative conflict management and efficacy for working in teams.  American Journal of Business, 25, 1. p.23(12). Retrieved April 25, 2011 from General OneFile via Gale: (Links to an external site.) .

Hua, Vanessa. (2010, May) A strategy worth watching: human resources is out, human capital is in: how a simple departmental name change has propelled the use of data-driven, observation-based systems that recognize teachers as the primary influence on student achievement. T H E Journal [Technological Horizons In Education] 37.5. p. 26(5). Retrieved April 25,2011 from General OneFile via Gale: (Links to an external site.) .

Writing Chapter 2

Writing the Literature Review

The literature review is Chapter 2 of Part One. Center the heading, LITERATURE REVIEW, at the top of the page. Section headings for parts of the review are entered as free-standing side headings, as outlined in the format and style section of these guidelines.

When citing references in the text of the review and preparing a reference list, follow the examples in the Format, Style and Organization section.

The reference list is placed at the end of the final report; however, a preliminary reference list should be submitted with the draft of Chapter 2. The Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association (Latest Edition) is required as the guide for all referencing.

Note: When submitting the literature review to the Project Facilitator students must also submit the reference list. This reference list must contain only the references cited in the report. The review must include at least a minimum of 8-10 bibliographical references

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