Research Aptitude – Steps in Research
"Research is a process of steps used to collect and analyse information to increase our understanding of a topic or an issue" – Creswell
Research is a structured, scientific and step by step approach to reach towards a definitive goal, solution or a finding which is unknown for now but we have other things and discoveries with us to reach that specific goal. It is a journey from the known toward the unknown. The term research itself comprises of two words, namely 're' and 'search'. Generally, 're' means again, and 'search' means to find out. Hence, research is a process of both scientific discoveries and knowledge gaining that involves a good knowledge of the known facts and exposure to the sources.
There are several steps to carry out the research process, which are systematic and to be followed in that particular order to reach to the destination. (These could be remembered with the acronym I Love Research Development and Formulation in 3-D to Get Results), they are:
- Identification of the research problem: This is the first and foremost problem in the process, a reasonable knowledge about the subject and information about our chosen topic is required here. This could be further broken into the following steps:-
- The main consideration behind the topic selection should be Interest of the researcher, the magnitude of the research proposal and its manageability, what is its relevance and also the amount of data available to carry out the research.
- Literature Review: - This is the second important step of the research which helps and substantiate all the upcoming steps. The process of literature review covers searching the existing literature and reviewing it and developing a theoretical and conceptual framework. The main objectives of this stage are:
- Research Objective: The objectives are the goals one set up to attain at the end of the study. They tell us the mina objectives as well as the sub-objective of any research problem. They make the research clearer and actions oriented. The goals generally start with the words, such as 'to determine', 'to find out' to explore, etc. The objective should be such that it communicates the main aim of our finding to the other person. An example for the same is "To find out the effect of stubble burning on the Delhi pollution".
- The concept of variables also comes into the picture, the independent variables also called as experimental variables. Their values don't depend on any factor; instead, they become the cause of another variable.
- The dependent variables are those whose value is determined by the independent variables; they change with any changes in the independent variables.
Example: When the income of an individual is raised, his disposable income increases too. In this example, the income level of the individual is an independent variable whereas the disposable income is an independent variable.
- Formulation of Hypothesis: The researchers have many questions that they want to ask. These might include predictions about a possible relationship between the variables that have in mind for the research. The truth completely is not available to the researcher at the beginning so he makes assumptions about the outcome, that assumption is called the research hypothesis.
- The assumption or fact we already know is called the null hypothesis, and the one we want to test is called an alternative hypothesis. The primary function of a hypothesis is to bring focus, clarity and specification to the research proposal and to make the study more objective. There is various type of hypothesis:
- Preparing the research design: Once we have the hypothesis in place the next step is to draft a design strategy for the research proposal which include questions like how long you wish to carry the research, what will be the timeline, what will be the methods to collect the data and also what type of data you want to collect. The design could be said as the overall plan and structure of the research in the coming days of the research. The design could be on the basis of the nature of the investigation (experiments or non- experimental study).
- Data collection: The type of data one needs to collect and how the researcher wishes to collect it. There are many methods of data collection. Some of them are: The data is collected either using Probability sampling or Non-probability sampling that includes Convenience sampling, Judgement sampling, quota sampling or accidental sampling.
- Data Analysis: This step of the research is the analysis of all the data collected and collecting it through techniques such as probability or random sampling or the non-probability sampling which is then analysed and processed using editing and coding. A large amount of data collected has to be stored in the form of tables, charts or graphs. This data is then analysed using Manual data analysis, also data analysis using computers. Hypothesis testing is also done here using various methods like t-test, f-test or chi-square.
- Generalisation and Interpretation: The Hypothesis is tested, and the researcher may arrive at the generalisation of the topic. Here he is prepared to build a theory from all the observation and work done up to this stage. It is possible that the researcher has no hypothesis to go with, so here he makes interpretations and develops a general idea that could be subsequently used in further researches.
- Report Writing: This is the final step of the journey. The report writing is a more formal and structured approach to conclude everything until now. It includes everything from theory, methods, findings, references and citations. The language should be articulate and formal.
These are the steps that are usually undertaken by any research scholar who wishes to conduct his study about the topic he chose of his interest.
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