The first step in the research process is deciding on a topic to research. Choosing and defining a topic to research is often an ongoing process and can be one of the most difficult aspects of your research project. Here are some suggestions for defining, refining, developing and a topic. However, if you are having difficulty in identifying a topic, consult with your course instructor or library liaison.
A research problem is the issue or situation of concern that is the focus of the research project. A research problem is a definite or clear expression [statement] about an area of concern, a condition to be improved upon, a difficulty to be eliminated, or a troubling question that exists in scholarly literature, in theory, or within existing practice that points to a need for meaningful understanding and deliberate investigation. A research problem does not state how to do something, offer a vague or broad proposition, or present a value question.
-Bryman, A. (2007): The research question in social research: What is its role?
International Journal of Social Research Methodology. 10. 5-20.