How to carry out effective research
Research can be defined as a careful investigation or inquiry especially through search for new facts in any branch of knowledge systematized effort to gain new knowledge. It can be considered a movement from the known to the unknown. it comprises defining and redefining problems, formulating hypothesis or suggested solutions; collecting, organizing and evaluating data; making deductions and reaching conclusions; and at last carefully testing the conclusions to determine whether they fit the formulating hypothesis. OBJECTIVES OF RESEARCH 1.
To gain familiarity with a phenomenon or to achieve new insights into it. 2. To portray accurately the characteristics of a particular individual, situation or a group 3. To determine the frequency with which something occurs or with which it is associated with something else. 4. To test a hypothesis of a causal relationship between variables. MOTIVATION IN RESEARCH 1. Desire to get a research degree along with its consequential benefits; 2. Desire to face the challenge in solving the unsolved problems, i. e. , concern over practical problems initiates research; 3.
Desire to get intellectual joy of doing some creative work; 4. Desire to be of service to society; 5. Desire to get respectability. TYPES OF RESEARCH The basic types of research are as follows: 1) Descriptive vs. Analytical: Descriptive research includes surveys and fact-finding enquiries of different kinds. The major purpose of descriptive research is description of the state of affairs as it exists at present. Analytical research, on the other hand, the researcher has to use facts or information already available, and analyze these to make a critical evaluation of the material.
Applied vs. Fundamental: Research can either be applied research or fundamental research. Applied research aims at finding a solution for an immediate problem facing a society or an industrial/business organization, Whereas fundamental research is mainly concerned with generalizations and with the formulation of a theory. “Gathering knowledge for knowledge’s sake is termed ‘pure’ or ‘basic’ research 3) Quantitative vs. Qualitative. Quantitative research is based on the measurement of quantity or amount. It is applicable to phenomena that can be expressed in terms of quantity.
Qualitative research, on the other hand, is concerned with qualitative phenomenon, i. e. , phenomena relating to or involving quality or kind 4) Conceptual vs. Empirical: Conceptual research is that related to some abstract idea(s) or theory. It is generally used by philosophers and thinkers to develop new concepts or to reinterpret existing ones. On the other hand, Empirical research relies on experience or observation alone, often without due regard for system and theory. It is data-based research, coming up with conclusions which are capable of being verified by observation or experiment.
We can also call it as experimental type of research. Research Approaches. There are two basic approaches to research, quantitative approach and the qualitative approach. Quantitative approach involves the generation of data in quantitative form which can be subjected to rigorous quantitative analysis in a formal and rigid fashion while Qualitative approach to research is concerned with subjective assessment of attitudes, opinions and behavior. Research in such a situation is a function of researcher’s insights and impressions. Significance of Research
These days nearly all governments maintain large staff of research technicians or experts to carry on this work. Thus, in the context of government, research as a tool to economic policy has three distinct phases of operation 1) Investigation of economic structure through continual compilation of facts. 2) Diagnosis of events that are taking place and the analysis of the forces underlying them. 3) The prognosis, i. e. , the prediction of future developments. Research has its special significance in solving various operational and planning problems of business and industry. Operations research and market research, along with motivational research, are considered crucial and their results assist. in more than one way, in taking business decisions. Research is equally important for social scientists in studying social relationships and in seeking answers to various social problems The significance of research can also be understood keeping in view the following points: 1. To those students who are to write a master’s or Ph. D. thesis, research may mean a careerism or a way to attain a high position in the social structure; 2. To professionals in research methodology, research may mean a source of livelihood; 3.
To philosophers and thinkers, research may mean the outlet for new ideas and insights; 4. To literary men and women, research may mean the development of new styles and creative work; 5. To analysts and intellectuals, research may mean the generalisations of new theories. Thus, research is the fountain of knowledge for the sake of knowledge and an important source of providing guidelines for solving different business, governmental and social problems. Research methods This May be understood as all those methods/techniques that are used for conduction of research.
Research methods or techniques, thus, refer to the methods the researchers use in performing research operations. In other words, all those methods which are used by the researcher during the course of studying his research problem are termed as research methods. Research methods can be put into the following three groups. 1. In the first group we include those methods which are concerned with the collection of data. These methods will be used where the data already available are not sufficient to arrive at the required solution; 2. The second group consists of those statistical techniques which are used for establishing relationships between the data and the unknowns; 3. The third group consists of those methods which are used to evaluate the accuracy of the results obtained. Research methodology This is a way to systematically solve the research problem. It may be understood as a science of studying how research is done scientifically. In it we study the various steps that are generally adopted by a researcher in studying his research problem along with the logic behind them. Similarly, in research the scientist has to expose the research decisions to evaluation before they are implemented.
He has to specify very clearly and precisely what decisions he selects and why he selects them so that they can be evaluated by others also. Importance of Knowing How Research is done The importance of knowing the methodology of research or how research is done stems from the following considerations: 1. For one who is preparing himself for a career of carrying out research, the importance of knowing research methodology and research techniques is obvious since the same constitute the tools of his trade. 2. Knowledge of how to do research will inculcate the ability to evaluate and use research results with reasonable confidence.
When one knows how research is done, then one may have the satisfaction of acquiring a new intellectual tool which can become a way of looking at the world and of judging every day experience. 3. In this scientific age, all of us are in many ways consumers of research results and we can use them intelligently provided we are able to judge the adequacy of the methods by which they have been obtained. The knowledge of methodology helps the consumer of research results to evaluate them and enables him to take rational decisions.
Research Process Before embarking on the details of research methodology and techniques, it seems appropriate to present a brief overview of the research process. Research process consists of series of actions or steps necessary to effectively carry out research and the desired sequencing of these steps. However, the following order concerning various steps provides a useful procedural guideline regarding the research process: Formulating the research problem: The researcher must single out the problem he wants to study, i. e. he must decide the general area of interest or aspect of a subject-matter that he would like to inquire into. Initially the problem may be stated in a broad general way and then the ambiguities, if any, relating to the problem be resolved. Essentially two steps are involved in formulating the research problem, understanding the problem thoroughly, and rephrasing the same into meaningful terms from an analytical point of view. The best way of understanding the problem is to discuss it with one’s own colleagues or with those having some expertise in the matter.
After this the researcher rephrases the problem into analytical or operational terms i. e. to put the problem in as specific terms as possible. This task of formulating, or defining, a research problem is a step of greatest importance in the entire research process. The problem to be investigated must be defined unambiguously for that will help discriminating relevant data from irrelevant ones. Care must; however, be taken to verify the objectivity and validity of the background facts concerning the problem. Extensive literature survey:
Once the problem is formulated, a brief summary of it should be written down. It is compulsory for a research worker writing a thesis for a Ph. D. degree to write a synopsis of the topic and submit it to the necessary Committee or the Research Board for approval. At this juncture the researcher should undertake extensive literature survey connected with the problem. For this purpose, the abstracting and indexing journals and published or unpublished bibliographies are the first place to go to. Academic journals, conference proceedings, government reports, books etc.
Development of working hypotheses: After extensive literature survey, researcher should state in clear terms the working hypothesis or hypotheses. Working hypothesis is tentative assumption made in order to draw out and test its logical or empirical consequences. As such the manner in which research hypotheses are developed is particularly important since they provide the focal point for research. They also affect the manner in which tests must be conducted in the analysis of data and indirectly the quality of data which is required for the analysis.
In most types of research, the development of working hypothesis plays an important role. Hypothesis should be very specific and limited to the piece of research in hand because it has to be tested. The role of the hypothesis is to guide the researcher by delimiting the area of research and to keep him on the right track. How one develops working hypotheses. 1. Discussions with colleagues and experts about the problem, its origin and the objectives in seeking a solution; 2. Examination of data and records, if available, concerning the problem for possible trends, peculiarities and other clues; 3.
Review of similar studies in the area or of the studies on similar problems; and 4. Exploratory personal investigation which involves original field interviews on a limited scale with interested parties and individuals with a view to secure greater insight into the practical aspects of the problem. Thus, working hypotheses arise as a result of thinking about the subject, examination of the available data and material including related studies and the counsel of experts and interested parties. Working hypotheses are more useful when stated in precise and clearly defined terms.
Preparing the research design: The research problem having been formulated in clear cut terms, the researcher will be required to prepare a research design, i. e. , he will have to state the conceptual structure within which research would be conducted. The preparation of such a design facilitates research to be as efficient as possible yielding maximal information. In other words, the function of research design is to provide for the collection of relevant evidence with minimal expenditure of effort, time and money. But how all these can be achieved depends mainly on the research purpose.
Research purposes may be grouped into four categories, 1. Exploration, 2. Description, 3. Diagnosis, 4. Experimentation. A flexible research design which provides opportunity for considering many different aspects of a problem is considered appropriate if the purpose of the research study is that of exploration. But when the purpose happens to be an accurate description of a situation or of an association between variables, the suitable design will be one that minimises bias and maximises the reliability of the data collected and analyzed.
There are several research designs, such as, experimental and non-experimental hypothesis testing. Experimental designs can be either informal designs (such as before-and-after without control, after-only with control, before-and-after with control) or formal designs (such as completely randomized design, randomized block design, Latin square design, simple and complex factorial designs), out of which the researcher must select one for his own project. The preparation of the research design, appropriate for a particular research problem, involves usually the consideration of the following:1. the means of obtaining the information 2. the availability and skills of the researcher and his staff (if any) 3. explanation of the way in which selected means of obtaining information will be organized and the reasoning leading to the selection; 4. the time available for research; and 5. the cost factor relating to research, i. e. , the finance available for the purpose. Determining sample design: The researcher must decide the way of selecting a sample or what is popularly known as the sample design.
In other words, a sample design is a definite plan determined before any data are actually collected for obtaining a sample from a given population. Thus, the plan to select 12 of a city’s 200 drugstores in a certain way constitutes a sample design. Samples can be either probability samples or non-probability samples. With probability samples each element has a known probability of being included in the sample but the non-probability samples do not allow the researcher to determine this probability.
Probability samples are those based on simple random sampling, systematic sampling, stratified sampling, cluster/area sampling whereas non-probability samples are those based on convenience sampling, judgment sampling and quota sampling techniques. A brief mention of the important sample designs is as follows: Deliberate sampling: Deliberate sampling is also known as purposive or non-probability sampling. This sampling method involves purposive or deliberate selection of particular units of the universe for constituting a sample which represents the universe.
If a researcher wishes to secure data from, say, gasoline buyers, he may select a fixed number of petrol stations and may conduct interviews at these stations. At times such a procedure may give very biased results particularly when the population is not homogeneous. Simple random sampling: This type of sampling is also known as chance sampling or probability sampling where each and every item in the population has an equal chance of inclusion in the sample and each one of the possible samples, in case of finite universe, has the same probability of being selected Systematic sampling:
In some instances the most practical way of sampling is to select every 15th name on a list, every 10th house on one side of a street and so on. Sampling of this type is known as systematic sampling. An element of randomness is usually introduced into this kind of sampling by using random numbers to pick up the unit with which to start. This procedure is useful when sampling frame is available in the form of a list. In such a design the selection process starts by picking some random point in the list and then every nth element is selected until the desired number is secured.
Stratified sampling: If the population from which a sample is to be drawn does not constitute a homogeneous group, then stratified sampling technique is applied so as to obtain a representative sample. In this technique, the population is stratified into a number of non-overlapping subpopulations or strata and sample items are selected from each stratum. If the items selected from each stratum is based on simple random sampling the entire procedure, first stratification and then simple random sampling, is known as stratified random sampling.