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It is the science of studying how research is done scientifically. The various steps are to be considered during research process by the researcher and these steps should be scientific and logically sequenced in order to reach at logical and scientific conclusions. The entire process of drawing the conclusions about the problem involves many steps and demands certain method, which is called as research methodology. The research performed without sequential steps cannot draw the logical result and conclusion drawn from such method becomes myth and cannot be used for scientific purposes. The use of method helps to maintain uniformity, reliability, validity, and un-biasness. Methodology is a set of methods to be employed in a scientific study. In short, research for knowledge through objective and systematic method of finding solutions of problems is research methodology. In research methodology, we generally consider what problem is going to be addressed, what are the objectives and hypothesis of the study and how to conduct the research, collect data, organize and evaluate the data and reach at logical conclusion. Methodology of research depends upon the nature of topic to be studied, data to be collected and analyzed, expertise of researcher on the method etc. Therefore, research methodology relates to the application of appropriate analytical tool and techniques in order to arrive at the conclusion.
Characteristics of Research
From the aforementioned definition of research, it is clear that research is a process for finding solution to the problem through collecting, analyzing, and interpreting information. The characteristics of research are given below-
- Research is systematic: It is structured process and has carefully designed research problem, objectives, hypothesis, procedures, and analysis. Research is rarely blind, shotgun investigation process.
- Research is logical and has objectives: Before reaching at any conclusions, the researcher collects data and tests the validity of the procedures employed. The emphasis of researcher is on testing the hypothesis rather than providing the hypothesis.
- Research is empirical: Research is based on observable data or empirical evidences. Research rejects revelation and dogma as a method of establishing knowledge. It accepts only what can be verified by an empirical observation.
- Research demands accurate observation and description: It uses quantitative measuring devices to collect information required, the most precise from of description. It requires valid data gathering procedures. It may employ mechanical, electronic, or psychometric devices to refine observation, description, and analysis of data.
- Research is replicable and transmittable: Previous important studies are deliberately repeated using identical or similar procedures with different subject, different settings and at different time. Replication is always desirable to confirm the conclusions about previous study.
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Purpose of Research
Broadly defined, the purpose of research is to answer the questions and acquire new knowledge. Research is a primary tool that is virtually used in all arenas to expand the frontiers of knowledge. Research adds extra knowledge about a subject and is a never-ending process. Though each research has its own specific purpose, some of the general purposes of research are as follows:
- Generating new knowledge: Research traces the hidden facts about a specific subject, which helps to establish new relationship of various variables.
- Enlighten problem: Research helps to explain situation, relationship among variables or shed light on misunderstood phenomena. It dispels the thrust of outworn assumption, belief about a specific matter by discovering new facts with the help of scientific methods, which can be undertaken for verification.
- Helping with decision-making: Research work discovers new facts, concepts, and relationship among variables, which help planner to take better and more effective decisions.
- To test the relationship: It tries to test the relationship between different variables by scientific procedures. It tests the prevailing concepts about a phenomenon on the ground of their reality.
- For generalization and prediction: After discovering new fact or relationship between variables about a particular event, one can make verifiable generalization about that event and later on generalization becomes theory and helps in prediction. For example, if we want to know the effect of advertisement on the sale of a product and by the systematic investigation the relation between sale of a product and level of advertisement is assessed. The data generated through active fieldwork are analyzed to draw result and if the result shows universal application, then it becomes theory which is helpful in making prediction.
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Scientific Research Process
Science is science when there is systematic organization of knowledge and knowledge is obtained by observation and testing of facts. Research follows several clearly defined stages and number of stages varies depending upon type of research. The stages involved in a scientific research are as follows-
- Formulating a research problem– Formulating a research problem is the first and most important step in the research process. If the research problem is clear and specific, the chances of collecting the necessary and relevant information will be much greater. Formulating and clarifying the problems is time consuming but without spending time on this stage, it is difficult to achieve success. It is worthwhile to remember that a well- defined problem is half- solved, as it gives a direction to the investigation. It is extremely important to evaluate the research problem in the light of available financial resources, the time available, the skills and expertise available, and knowledge in the field of study.
- Conceptualizing a research design– After the researcher has identified and defined the research problem, it is essential to develop research design. A research design is a master plan specifying the methods and procedures for collecting and analyzing the needed information. It ensures that the information collected is appropriate for solving the problem. Research design also helps to complete the investigation activities within time under the allocated resources. The faulty research design results in misleading findings and is therefore practically the same as wastage of time, labor, and resources.
- Constructing an instrument for data collection– The success of research depends upon the information provided by the respondents. The information given by respondents should be recorded correctly in instruments, called as research tool. The tool may be questionnaire, schedule, interview schedule, and observation form. The choice of research tool depends upon the nature of research problem.
- Selecting sample– The accuracy of research findings largely depends upon procedure of selecting sample and number of samples to be considered. Sampling can be done either by probability sampling or by non-probability sampling. The choice of the method depends on the type of samples required. One thing should be kept in mind that the sample selected should be representative of the population under study.
- Collecting data– The above-mentioned four steps are desktop work but actual research starts with collection of data. Once research design has been formulated, the process of gathering information from respondents may begin. The method of data collection must be in accordance with the research design. Due care should be taken in recording the information provided by the respondent.
- Processing and analyzing data– When fieldwork is over, the data must be converted into the format that will answer the research questions. Data processing generally begins with the editing and coding of the data. The editing process corrects the problem occurred in the data collection form before analyzing the data. The collected data can be grouped into certain categories depending on certain similarities among them. This assists the researcher to develop table that is helpful at the analysis stage. Analysis is the application of reasoning to understand and interpret the data. The appropriate analytical technique is employed to draw valid conclusion from the collected data.
- Drawing conclusion and preparing report– The final stage in the research process is to draw conclusions and document the findings in the form of report. The process of research ends only when the findings are made public. It is done by preparing the report which is a written document about the research process carried which is fed with recently collected data and may be helpful explore new things in the selected field of inquiry. The main purpose of the report is to share knowledge that can help us to understand phenomenon, open up other areas for future research, and enlighten the methodological debate. It is the fundamental principle of research that we must publicize what we find in some way and that way usually involves writing reports.
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