Considering a PhD thesis that use a problem statement chapter in the middle of the thesis. The reason for the chapter is that the required background information is only, fully available at this point. Before that (e.g. in the introduction) it make no sense to discuss it in depth because it is to long (5 pages) and to deep for anyone not in the field. It is stated directly in the beginning of the chapter, that this chapter is used to build a deep problem understanding to better assess the solutions developed in the following chapters 6 and 7. It is also mentioned in the introduction of the thesis. The thesis also states that in the second part (also 5 pages) of this chapter, some things/constructs are in this section presented that are used in both parts are presented.
The PhD thesis has the following structure / table of contents:
- Building the First Research Artifact ( = 1 published Paper)
- Building the Second Research Artifact ( = 1 published Paper)
- Problem Statement / Challenges and Things Used in the Following both Chapters
- Doing some Research in Area X on Artifact of 3. and 4. ( = 1 published Paper)
- Doing some Research in Area Y on Artifact of 3. and 4. ( = 1 published Paper)
Given feedback indicates that some people have issues with such a chapter:
One (post doc) gave feedback that he does not understand the purpose of the chapter because no concept is presented and asks which RQ is addressed? This feedback was given when the second part with developed things was still in chapter 6 and 7 and the chapter only contained the proble statement.
Other one (prof) gave feedback: interesting but complex. Not sure if RQ is completely addressed? Missing the solution.
Based on those observations, I think it is maybe not common to add such a chapter that only describes / discuss / analyse the problem (i.e. problem statement) and provides no solution. However, I have seen this many times in any kind of theses and think some auxiliary chapter without presenting a concept and evaluating can be used. I think it crazy to make a concept of the problem statement and evaluate it. That makes no sense to me.
Other people seem to be OK with the chapter. So my question is: is it just the fast reading mode of some (academic) people with less concentration and checking for the typical things such as evaluation and concept?
Are there any guidelines or recommendations how to make such a chapter? In some theses, it is earlier, e.g., after the foundations, but the other two chapters need to be considered for defining the problem.
If the chapter analyses the problem of research question Z, can said / written that the research objective of the chapter is: to establish a problem understanding and that it contributes / addresses research question Z by establishing a deep problem understanding? I never read something like this but is this ok if it should be related to a research question?