What is the scientific process of conducting research?
Suppose you want to go out on a drive. Before you start, you must decide where you want to go and then which route to take. If you are aware of the route, you don’t need to look for help and consult a dictionary, but if you do not know your route, then you intend to use one. Your problem is compounded if: here is more than one route and you need to decide among them.
The research process is very similar to understanding a journey. As with your drive, for a research journey, two important decisions are to be made. The first to decide is what you want to find out about or in other words, what sort of questions you are trying to find answers to. After deciding your research questions or research problems, then the next step is to decide that how to find answers. The path to finding answers to your research questions constitutes research methodology.
Commonly known process for a research includes eight steps that are;
- Formulating a research problem
- Conceptualizing a research design
- Constructing an instrument for data collection
- Selecting a sample
- Writing a research proposal
- Collecting data
- Processing and displaying data
- Writing a research report
The sequence of these steps is not fixed and with experience you can change it. At every systematic step in your research you are required to choose from multiple research methods, given procedures and samples of research methodology which will help you best achieve your research objectives. At this stage your knowledge about research methodology plays a crucial role.
- Formulating a research problem:
Formulating a research problem is the first and most important step in the research process. A research problem helps in identification of your destination: it inform you, your research supervisor and your readers what you are going to research. The more simple and creative you are the better will be everything that follows your research process. This affects the study of designs, measuring procedures, sampling different strategies, framework of your analysis and the style of writing of your report. These all are influenced by the way in which you formulate your research problem.
The basic function of research problem’s formulation is to decide what you want to find out about?
- Conceptualizing a research design:
An extremely important feature of research is the use of appropriate methods. Research helps in the establishment of association and causation that permit the accurate prediction of outcomes under a given set of conditions. It also identifies gaps in knowledge, verifying what is already known and identification of past errors and limitations. The strength and weakness of what you have researched largely rests on how it was found.
The main function of a research design is to explain how you will find answers to your research questions. The research design set out the specific details of your enquiry.
- Constructing an instrument for data collection:
Anything that becomes a mean of collecting information for your study is called a research tool or a research instrument. For example, all type of observation forms, designed interview schedules, questionnaires and all sort of interview guides are research tools. The construction of a research instrument is the first practical step in carrying out a study. One really needs to decide how he is going to collect data for the proposed study and then construct a research instrument for data collection.
Field testing s research tool is an integral part of instrument construction. As a research ethic, the pre-test of a research instrument should not be carried out on the sample of your study population but on a similar population which you are not proposing to study.
- Selecting a sample:
The underline premise in sampling is that a relatively small number of units, if selected in a manner that they genuinely represents the study of population, can provide us with a sufficiently high degree of probability that is a fairly true reflection of the sampling population that is being studied.
When selecting a sample you should attempt to achieve two key aims of sampling the avoidance of bias is the selection of a sample; and the attainment of maximum precision for a given outlay of resources. There are three basic categories of sampling a research design;
- First, random or probability sampling designs
- Second, non-random or non-probability sampling designs
- And third is mixed sampling design
- Writing a research proposal:
Having done all the preparatory work for research, the next work is to put everything in an organized way that provides adequate information about your research study, for your research supervisor and readers. This overall research proposal tells a reader about your research problem and how you are planning to investigate. In short, function of a research proposal is to detail the operational plan for obtaining answers to your research questions. At the end this ensures and reassures the readers about the validity of the methodology to obtain answers accurately and objectively.
Note: Requirements of a research proposal may also vary within an institution or among institutions, from discipline to discipline or from supervisor to supervisor.
- Collecting data:
Many methods could be used to get the required information on part of the research design that has been decided by you or the procedure you decided upon and wanted to adopt to collect your data. At this phase researcher uses his instruments to collect data. For example, depending upon plans for data collection, one might organize interviews, mail out a questionnaire, conduct group discussions or make observations. Collecting data through any one of the method may involve some ethical issues as well.
- Processing and displaying data:
The way you analyze the information you collected largely depends upon two things: the type of information; and the way you want to communicate your findings to your readers. In addition to the qualitative and quantitative distinction, for data analysis it is important that you consider whether the data is to be analyzed manually or by a computer.
- Writing a research report:
It is the last step for conducting a research process. Your report informs the humankind what you have researched and what you have discovered. It is also a systematic procedure and there are some ethics for proposing a research paper.