Research comprises of two words, “Re” and “search”. While “Re” implies a repetitive or iterative process, “Search” denotes making a thorough examination of or looking over carefully in order to find something. Different researchers have defined research in various ways due to its wide scope. But, in general, research can be defined as a scientific process where new facts, ideas, and theories are established and/or proved in different areas of knowledge. The research aims at adding to the existing stock of knowledge for the betterment of the world.
According to Waltz and Bausell, “Research is a systematic, formal, rigorous and precise process employed to gain solutions to problems or to discover and interpret new facts and relationships”.
According to Clifford Woody, “Research comprises defining and redefining problems, formulating hypothesis or suggested solutions, collecting, organizing and evaluating data, making deductions and reaching conclusions to determine they fit the formulating hypothesis”.
Research plays a vital role in management decision-making by analyzing the situation systematically and finding new ways to support the operations. For example, a company may conduct research to know consumer reviews about certain products.
Research can be carried out using various methods and techniques which are collectively called ‘research methods’. Research methods are the tools and techniques for analyzing and collecting data so that meaningful outcomes can be extracted from the problem being studied. ‘Research methodology’ can be defined as the scientific procedure to solve various problems related to research. It has a wider scope than research methods, as in addition to the methods and techniques, the researcher designs different methodologies for different research problems. Research methodology varies according to the research problem. Therefore, it is concerned with the application of research methods as per the requirement.
Objectives of Research
Research strives to achieve following five objectives:
1) To Explore about Unknown:
One of the prime objectives of the research is to explore the unknown object or phenomenon. While exploring, a researcher tries to understand the details of the situation or phenomenon for developing preliminary hypotheses and generalisations. Exploring allows the researchers to develop theories and explains the questions of how and why a phenomenon operates in a particular way.
2) To Describe the Features:
Research seeks to describe the features of a phenomenon. It is one of the core activities of research where a researcher either observes the phenomenon and records its characteristic behaviour, or conducts standardised tests to measure the behaviour, or describes the change in attitude or opinion of the object. For example, a researcher can describe the behaviour of smokers by either observing it or analysing their behaviour by undergoing some standard tests, such as measuring the level of resistance, per day consumption, etc.
3) To Explain a Phenomenon:
Another objective of the research is to provide explanation. Here, the researcher aims to explain how and why a phenomenon operates in a specific way. The researchers develop certain theories explaining the behaviour of a particular phenomenon by determining the factors that cause change and identifying their effects on the phenomenon. Most of the scientific and educational researches have this objective for their studies. For example, if a researcher is trying to know, “Do weekend parties for employee families improve work-life balance?”, then in this case, the cause is ‘weekend parties’ and the effect is ‘work-life balance’.
4) To Predict Future Activities:
Research is also conducted with the aim of predicting future activities. Prediction can be done on the basis of explanations regarding a phenomenon. Hence, having adequate prior information is essential for making forecasts. Forecasting activity can also he performed on the research based on the explanation. Here, predictions are made on the basis of cause and effect relationships in a phenomenon. A good example of this objective is the research that analysts conduct during elections to predict the winning political party based on the information that they are able to gather from the voting polls.
5) To Influence Activities:
The last objective of a research study is known as controlling or influencing a particular phenomenon. Here, the research emphasises on applying the existing theories and models instead of developing new theories, for influencing various facets of the environment. Most of the research conducted in social, behavioural and educational research falls under the area of influence.
Essential Criteria of a Good Research
Good research should qualify in following essential criteria:
1) Clearly Defined Objectives:
The objectives of a research study should be clearly defined. If the objective., of research are well defined, then there would he clear roadmap in front of the researcher to follow. It helps the researchers to determine the type of data required to conduct the research efficiently.
2) Ethically Conducted:
A researcher should abide by the ethical standards laid down to conduct research accurately. The research data and the limiting factors should be properly scrutinised, explained. and documented to maintain a level of transparency with the readers. The data should not be altered to match the findings. The results of the research study should be properly documented and the conclusions should be based on proper evidence.
Research involves re-examining the data till correct findings are arrived. This is possible only if the research approach is flexible in nature. There should always be scope to add-on significant data or change the existing data as per the requirement.
Reliability refers to the repeatability of research, tool, procedure, or instrument. The degree of reliability of a research study depends on the degree of similarity in research results. Research is called reliable when it produces similar results for different samples drawn from the same population under similar conditions and procedures. For example, a researcher may study the effect of a course in written English on the final grades for a group of students. The results of this study will be reliable if the sante study on another group of students has similar outcomes.
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Validity is a measure of the applicability of the research. It refers to the suitability and efficiency of the research instrument or procedure regarding the research problem. It measures the accuracy of an instrument in measuring the problem. It is a measurement of applicability of the research. Validity is the basis of deciding whether a research conclusion, assumption, or proposition is true or false. The validity of research is maintained by defining the concepts as clearly as possible.
A research is called accurate if the process of research, instruments, and tools are related to each other. It checks to see that the research tools are being selected appropriately. For example, if research is carried out on mental patients, the use of observation would be appropriate to collect data, because, in case of questionnaire or interview, they may not be able so to answer or may answer incorrectly.
7) Credibility of Sources:
Credibility means that the research data should be taken from trustworthy sources. Although the use of secondary data in research allows the researcher to complete the research within the. timeframe, but he loses the credibility, as the secondary data are usually manipulated and hence relying, exclusively on it can lead to erroneous and faulty research conclusions. A researcher should try to use primary data as much as possible. If primary data is not available, then a specific amount of secondary data can be used. But, conducting research completely based on secondary data can harm the credibility of the research.
8) Generalisable Results:
The degree to which the result of research can be applied to the bigger population is called as generalisability. While carrying out research, the researcher selects a small sample from a target population. Hence, the sample and the research findings represent the target population. If the research results can be applied to other samples from a similar population, then the research findings can be considered as generalisable.