Problem Question Examples

EXAMPLE F:  Problem Identification Paper
(A failing paper)

        I have often wondered why women have to work harder to advance in organizations.  I feel that it is important to help women improve there promotability in organizations.  This paper attempts to find out how women can face this in the organization.

    How to help women get a fair chance for promotions is an important problem in our society.  I feel this problem is meaningful to solve because the way you communicate causes you to be perceived differently.

    In conclusion, how women are given their due is an impotant communication problem.



EXAMPLE A:  Problem Identification Paper

(A successful paper) 


    For some time communication scholars have been interested in the effects of different language patterns from male and female sources (Schein, 1975; Carli 2001).  In formal organizations, the impact of messages from male and female communicators may be an area of productive inquiry.  This paper suggests a research problem on this topic.

   Among women's distinctive message behaviors, the use of assertive and tentative speech (speech with hedges and tag questions) has stimulated interest and study (Palomares, 2009).  In organizational settings women’s use of tentative speech might be expected to influence such variables as their rates of promotion and their work performance ratings.  Based on such speculation, the following problem is advanced for research:  What is the relationship between the degree to which women use tentative speech and their rate of promotions in formal organizations?

   This paper has isolated tentative speech among women as a communication variable and asked a research question relating it to rates of promotion in the organization.  This problem suggests a potentially fruitful research area to guide future investigation.


Carli,  L. L. (2001). Gender and social influence. Journal of Social Issues, 57,
     725–741. doi: 10.1111/0022-4537.00238 
Palomares, N. (2009). Women are sort of  more tentative than men, aren't they?:
     How men and women use tentative language differently, similarly, and 
     counterstereotypically as a function of gender salience. Communication Research,
     36, 538-560. doi: 10.1177/0093650209333034 
Schein,  V. E. (1975). Relationships between sex role stereotypes and requisite
     management characteristics among female managers. Journal of Applied Psychology,
     60, 340-344.