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The term research is very closely associated with each and every branch of knowledge. It is equally used by science, arts, and commerce faculties. Academicians and practitioners used to conduct research to identify or solve any inconvenience in human life. Even research is used to offer new ways/instruments to accomplish the job than that of previous days. It is a methodical step-by-step process of performing a few prescribed operations. If something even better comes out without accomplishing the methodical cycle could not be termed as research output. It could be an accidental or incidental innovation but not a research outcome. There is a big debate about what is research and what is not research.
A systematic approach to collecting data and analyzing the outputs for the advancement of human knowledge could be termed research. But the same process could be termed as research while it is done by somebody for evaluating the standard of the products of a manufacturing plant is not research. It could be termed an evaluation. The basic difference between research and evaluation could be its objective. The objective of research could be generating new knowledge in a particular field. While the objective of an evaluation is to provide information for decision-making.
What is not Research?
Now come to the point what is not research even follows scientific methods of data collection, analysis, and observing outputs. For example;
- Routine testing and analysis of materials to understand its standard.
- Routine fitness test of a machine or chemical.
- Routine data collection to prepare a progress report of a task.
- Regular evaluation of the impact of an intervention.
- General purpose reading to be familiar with a concept or issue. But remember that a literature review of a specific issue is also readying but it is part of formal research.
- Even the best innovations come out from accidental or incidental is not research.
Research is going beyond personal experience, thoughts, feelings, and opinions that do not refer to other sources of information. Objectives of conducting the research could be exploring an idea, proving an issue, solving a problem, and making an argument that could lead to reaching a conclusion.
The process of conducting the research could be completely different based on its faculty, situation, and concurrent environment. Similarly, single research could be conducted in different ways based on the resources available in hand and allowed lead time.
The scope of research could give us the direction for selecting study methods. The single scope may give different results over time or dimensions of considerable scopes.
Research is a systematic inquiry to describe, explain, predict, and control the observed phenomenon. Research involves inductive and deductive methods (Babbie, 1998). Inductive methods analyze the observed phenomenon and identify the general principles, structures, or processes underlying the phenomenon observed; deductive methods verify the hypothesized codes through observations.
Researchers conducted research to fulfill various purposes like understanding a natural phenomenon, identifying a problem, solving a problem, establishing a theory, offering newer ways of performing the job, enhancing human understanding of a particular issue, etc.
A simple research process includes 10 steps namely selecting a research topic, identifying the research problem or core issues to be evaluated, conducting a literature review, preparing research questions, determining research design, selecting research methods, conducting a pilot study, conducting the main study, analyzing data, preparing the report and communicating with stakeholders.
Maintaining research ethics is a very important issue for impartial reporting of the study outcomes. The researcher must not be emotional or biased to any predetermined finding / expected outcome of a research. Therefore maintaining a higher standard of ethics by a researcher is important in the case of conducting research, particularly in social science research.
The term RESEARCH means ‘Search for Knowledge’. Generally, research is a systematic process of searching for new knowledge. It is defined by various faculties with various sentences. But the main theme is research is a systematic search for new knowledge with a specific research question and going beyond personal experience, thoughts, feelings, and opinion that does not refer to other sources of information.
Social Scientists defined research as a systematic investigative process to increase or revise current knowledge by discovering new facts. It is divided into two general categories:
- Basic research is inquiry aimed at increasing scientific knowledge, and
- Applied research is an effort aimed at using basic research for solving problems or developing new processes, products, or techniques.
On the other hand application of the scientific method to the investigation of relationships among natural phenomena, or to solve a medical or technical problem is known as scientific research.
From the above definitions, it is prominent that, research is a systematic investigation, conducted for discovering new facts to solve a human problem.
Research could be classified into various categories based on the subject matter, research methods, source of data to be used, types of data to be used, the objective of the research, purpose of the research, scope of the research, etc.
- Primary Research: Primary research is defined as a factual, firsthand study written by a person who was part of the study. The methods vary on how researchers run an experiment or study, but it typically follows the scientific method. In other words, primary research is the original research.
- Secondary Research: Secondary research is defined as an analysis and interpretation of primary research. The method of writing secondary research is to collect primary research that is relevant to a writing topic and interpret what the primary research found. For instance, secondary research often takes the form of the results from two or more primary research articles and explains what the two separate findings are telling us. In other words, secondary research is conducted to explain or refer to or come up with a concluding decision by explaining primary research.
- Qualitative Research: Qualitative Research is primarily exploratory research. It is used to gain an understanding of underlying reasons, opinions, and motivations. It provides insights into the problem or helps to develop ideas or hypotheses for potential quantitative research. Qualitative Research is also used to uncover trends in thought and opinions and dive deeper into the problem.
- Quantitative Research: Quantitative Research is used to quantify the problem by way of generating numerical data or data that can be transformed into useable statistics. It is used to quantify attitudes, opinions, behaviors, and other defined variables – and generalize results from a larger sample population. Quantitative Research uses measurable data to formulate facts and uncover patterns in research. Quantitative data collection methods are much more structured than Qualitative data collection methods.
Classification based on purpose:
- Theoretical Research: A non-empirical approach to research, this usually involves the perusal of mostly published works like researching through archives of public libraries, courtrooms, and published academic journals. In other words, we could state that theoretical research is research driven by curiosity or interest in a scientific question. The main motivation is to expand man’s knowledge, not to create or invent something.
- Applied Research: The practical approach consists of the empirical (based on testing or experience) study of the topic under research and chiefly consists of a hands-on approach. This involves first-hand research in the form of questionnaires, surveys, interviews, observations, and discussion groups. In another form, we could describe that, applied research is designed to solve practical problems of the modern world.
- Exploratory Research: Research conducted for formulating a problem for more clear investigation is known as exploratory research. The primary objective of exploratory research is to explore a problem to provide insights into and comprehension for more precise investigation. It focuses on the discovery of ideas and thoughts. The exploratory research design is suitable for studies that are flexible enough to provide an opportunity for considering all the aspects of the problem.
- Descriptive Research: Research that explores and explains an individual, group, or situation, is known as descriptive or concluding research. It is concerned with describing the characteristics of a particular individual or group. It includes research related to specific predictions, features, or functions of a person or group, the narration of facts, etc.
Classification based on the scope of research:
- Diagnostic Study: Diagnostic research refers to studies that aim to quantify a test’s added contribution beyond test results readily available to the physician in determining the presence or absence of a particular disease.
- Evaluation Study: Evaluation is the systematic acquisition and assessment of information to provide useful feedback about the outcome of a project or intervention.
Classification based on the application of research:
- Action Research: Action research is either research initiated to solve an immediate problem or a reflective process of progressive problem-solving led by individuals working with others in teams or as part of a “community of practice” to improve the way they address issues and solve problems. It is conducted to find solutions to problems in a specific context.
- Educational Research: Educational research refers to a variety of methods, in which individuals evaluate different aspects of education including: “student learning, teaching methods, teacher training, and classroom dynamics”. It is conducted to develop and test educational theory and derive generalizations.
Classification based on target:
- Problem-Oriented Research: Research conducted by the apex private sector institutions/development agencies to identify development barriers of any particular sector is known as problem-oriented research.
- Problem-Solving Research: Research conducted by an individual organization to solve a problem faced by it is known as problem-solving research.
Classification based on the researchers:
- Collaborative Research: Research conducted with cross-faculty / cross-disciplinary issues is known as collaborative research. This type of research team generally includes more than one academic faculties/discipline to get the study done. Biomedical physics could be an example of such a research field.
- Practitioner Research: Practitioner research addresses the investigator, the setting, and the purpose. The investigator is the practitioner, in workplace settings ranging from hospitals to schools and communities. The general purpose is to better align the practitioner’s purpose with their actions. There are those who argue that practitioner research stems from a larger social justice movement within qualitative research. Even when social justice is not the sole motivating principle, an underlying commonality of purpose is the desire to improve upon and develop deeper insights into one’s practice. Practitioner research by its nature offers practitioners a voice in the research conversation.
Some consider it a bridge of sorts between theory and practice, although practitioners claim a rightful place in the research continuum.
- Experimental Research: Experimental research is a systematic and scientific approach to research in which the researcher manipulates one or more variables, and controls and measures any change in other variables.
- Ex Post Facto Research: Ex post facto study or after-the-fact research is a category of research design in which the investigation starts after the fact has occurred without interference from the researcher. The majority of social research, in contexts in which it is not possible or acceptable to manipulate the characteristics of human participants, is based on ex post facto research designs. It is also often applied as a substitute for true experimental research to test hypotheses about cause-and-effect relationships or in situations in which it is not practical or ethically acceptable to apply the full protocol of a true experimental design. Despite studying facts that have already occurred, ex post facto research shares with experimental research design some of its basic logic of inquiry.
- Comparative Research: Research conducted to compare two phenomena is known as a comparative study. It could be a concurrent comparison or historical comparison between two phenomena.
- Historical Research: Historical research is a method of social science that examines historical events in order to create explanations that are valid beyond a particular time and place, either by direct comparison to other historical events, theory building, or reference to the present day.
- Ethnographic Research: Ethnography is a qualitative method for collecting data often used in the social and behavioral sciences. Data are collected through observations and interviews, which are then used to draw conclusions about how societies and individuals function or behave. In other words, we could state that it is the study of people in their own environment through the use of methods such as participant observation and face-to-face interviewing.
- Correlational Research: A study conducted to identify the interrelation between two or more variables is known as correlational research. It is a quantitative method of research in which you have 2 or more quantitative variables from the same group of subjects, & researchers are trying to determine if there is a relationship (or covariation) between the 2 variables (a similarity between them, not a difference between their means).
- Grounded Theory Research: Grounded theory is a systematic methodology in the social sciences involving the construction of theory through data analysis.
- Phenomenological Research: Phenomenological research study is a study that attempts to understand people’s perceptions, perspectives, and understandings of a particular situation (or phenomenon).
- Explanatory Research: Explanatory research is defined as an attempt to connect ideas to understand cause and effect, meaning researchers want to explain what is going on.
- Predictive Research: Predictive analytics/research is a form of advanced analytics that uses both new and historical data to forecast future activity, behavior, and trends. To Know More!