I took 1 year and 3 months to learn how to formulate a research problem. To formulate a research problem is to rigorously and comprehensively understand a problem.

To formulate a research problem you need to define:

  1. What exactly is the problem?
  2. In what situation does the problem occur?
    1. What conditions need to be met for the problem to arise?
    2. What are the assumptions for the problem set-up?
  3. Why does the problem occur?
    1. What is the exact basis or mechanism by which the problem manifests?
  4. What are the consequences or impact of the problem?
  5. How does the solution target the root cause of the problem?
  6. What are the limitations of the solution?
    1. In what case is the solution limited in effectiveness?
    2. What assumptions are needed for the solution to work?
  7. What is the bigger picture that contextualises this problem?

Without a good understanding of the problem, it is impossible to derive a good solution approach to the problem.