With so many opportunities to do good, and so many ways to leverage data to learn about and identify outcomes, it can be challenging to narrow in and focus on the change you specifically want to create. At the heart of this is defining the question or problem you want to solve. Though this can be a big undertaking, clearly articulating the research objective and desired goals and outcomes helps lay the foundation for a successful impact project.

The first step in launching a social impact research project, and arriving at the problem statement, is to identify the potential topics and areas of interest to focus on. 

Things to consider could include: 

Once you’ve begun to narrow the subject of your research project, the next step is to get informed! To learn more about the topic you’re looking to investigate further, it’s important to do some initial research on the current ecosystem and landscape of the issue. 

This can include gaining an understanding of:

Finally, once you’ve identified the topic and gained an understanding of it, you’re ready to write your problem statement. An effective problem statement can help define the purpose of the project and address the problems it's looking to solve or inform. The statement should answer the questions - who, when, where, what and why. The goal is not to provide solutions or an abundance of context at this level. 

Problem statements should be clear, concise, and provide at a high level, the issue at hand, who it impacts, and the change you want to make. Think of the problem statement as the north star for the research project, and something you and your team can continuously look to to remain on track and in scope throughout the project.

By walking through these steps, you’ve built a roadmap to begin activating on your open data impact project.