Problem Statement Frequently Asked Questions

Problem Statements are used to submit research ideas to CDOT Applied Research & Innovation Branch.

What is a Problem Statement?

A Problem Statement is a concise description of a problem or innovative idea that can be addressed through research. A good research problem statement should address an existing gap in knowledge in the field and lead to further research. CDOT uses the submission of problem statements from CDOT staff, universities, and other stakeholders to develop its research program each year. The problem statement is not a grant application or contract document. Submitted problem statements may be shared with others in an open Request for Proposal (RFP).

Who can write a problem statement? 

Most problem statements are written by university researchers or CDOT staff but anyone may author or contribute to a problem statement. All authors should be identified. For each author: name, affiliation, phone number, and email address.

What is a Champion?

Anyone can submit a problem statement, but each problem statement needs to list a CDOT champion. The champion is the CDOT staff member (frequently a manager, statewide expert, or unit leader) who will work with the researchers to find a solution to the problem, and will be responsible for implementing any research recommendations.  

What is a Sponsor?

Usually a member of CDOT Executive Management and/or a member of the Research and Implementation Council (RIC) who supports the study, and has authority for various activities such as implementation of results or delegation of a new champion or study panel members if necessary. 

How detailed should the project Description and Objectives be?

This should be focused on a concise statement of objectives. (e.g. "The objective of this research is…") describing:

  • The desired outcome(s) and expected final product(s)
  • Major tasks or activities the research contractor will likely have to perform in order to successfully conduct the research
  • Describe the tasks or activities in enough detail to demonstrate that the objective can be fully achieved and that the estimated funding is justified and sufficient
  • How the research results should be presented
    • Possible formats include, but are not limited to, guidance or guidelines, a test method, equipment, a tool, specifications, a manual, a new or revised process, etc.]

Do I need to do a Literature Search?

Currently, no. Although this is under consideration. If you have, describe how your proposed research differs from, or will build upon, the existing body of research found in your review  of relevant literature (do not include the literature search results). The CDOT Librarian may be able to assist with this.

At a minimum, literature searches should be conducted on TRID, which includes the transportation Research in Progress database. 

Can I be involved in the research process?

Yes! We encourage problem statement authors to stay involved in the research via the Study Panel. Champions are required to stay involved. 

When are Problem Statements Due? When can the research start?

There are currently two Problem Statement review cycles each year. Problem Statements are due to the Research Branch in mid-February and mid-August (the exact date varies by year). Contact ARIB staff or see the Problem Statement Announcement each year for the current due date.

Problem Statements are evaluated and prioritized by Research Oversight Teams, and by the Research and Implementation Council. Most projects that are selected can begin within a few months, depending on fiscal year funding availability and other internal processes. 

How do I submit a Problem Statement?

Each year, the Research Branch solicits problem statements from universities, researchers, and CDOT staff. Please fill out the form and follow the instructions for submission. You will be asked to create a 2-slide PowerPoint summarizing the problem statement as well. CDOT Research Managers will coordinate review by the appropriate Research Oversight Team. For more details on the Problem Statement evaluation process, please contact the Research Branch staff.