What is Research?

WHat is Research

Concept of Research

The unique characteristic of the human mind is the curiosity to know about the universe. Innumerable questions arise in our minds about our environment, planet and the universe. Most of these questions start with what, why, how and soon. For example, what are stars? Why do day and night alternate? How is rain formed, and why does human beings' mode of life and activities vary from place to place? Whenever such questions arise, we seek answers to them or try to find solutions to them. Seeking answers to questions and finding solutions to the problems have been the basis of human progress. A systematic search for a reply to a question or a solution to a problem is called research.
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The word research is derived from the Middle French "recherche", which means "to go about seeking", the term itself being derived from the Old French term "researcher" a compound word from "re-" + "catchier", or "searcher", meaning 'search'. The earliest recorded use of the term was in 1577.
"A systematic investigation, including research development, testing and evaluation, designed to develop or contribute to generalizable knowledge. Activities that meet this definition constitute research for purposes of this policy, whether or not they are conducted or supported under a program that is considered research for other purposes.
Research Simply means searching for facts – answers to questions and Solutions to Problems. It is a Purposive investigation. It is an "Organized inquiry" (It seeks to find explanations to unexplained phenomena, classify doubtful propositions, and correct the misconceived facts).
Research is a systematic and organized effort to investigate a specific problem that needs a solution. It contributes to the general body of knowledge. It also corrects human knowledge. Actually, research is simply arriving at the dependable solution to a problem through the planned and systematic collection, analysis and interpretation of data. Research is the most important process for advancing knowledge to promote progress and enable man to relate more effectively to his environment to accomplish his purpose and solve his conflicts. Although it is not the only way, it is one of the most effective ways of solving problems.
The term research has two words Re+Search. Re means again, and Search means to find out something new. In fact, research is a process of unrevealing the facts underlying a phenomenon. Thus it is a simple process to look at phenomena again and again from different dimensions. Research is oriented towards discovering relationships that exist among various phenomena of the world. Research is based on the fundamental assumption that invariant relationships exist between certain antecedents and certain consequents. Under a specific set of conditions, certain consequents can be expected to follow the introduction of a given antecedent.
Research is a point of view, an attitude of inquiry or a frame of mind. It asks questions that have hitherto not been asked, and it seeks to answer them by following a reasonably definite procedure. It is not mere theorizing but rather an attempt to elicit facts and face them once they have been assembled.

Scholarly definition of Research by different authors

The research has mainly four objectives: theoretical objectives, Factual objectives, Establishment of truth as objective, and Practical objectives.
§  According to Black and Champion, "scientific research consist of obtaining information through empirical observation that can be used for systematic development of logically related propositions attempting to establish causal relations among variable".
§  Emory defines research as "any organized inquiry designed and carried out to provide information for solving a problem".
§  Kerlinger defines research as a" systematic, controlled, empirical and critical investigation of hypothetical relations among natural phenomena".
§  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; and at last, carefully testing the conclusions to determine whether they fit the formulating hypothesis".
§  L.V. Redman and A.V.H. Morry have defined "systematic effort to gain new knowledge we call research".
A broad definition of research is given by Godwin Colibao: "In the broadest sense of the word, the definition of research includes any gathering of data, information, and facts for the advancement of knowledge."
Another definition of research is given by John W. Creswell, who states that "[r]esearch is a process of steps used to collect and analyze information to increase our understanding of a topic or issue". It consists of three steps: pose a question, collect data to answer the question, and present an answer to the question.
The Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary defines research in more detail as "a studious inquiry or examination; especially investigation or experimentation aimed at the discovery and interpretation of facts, revision of accepted theories or laws in the light of new facts, or practical application of such new or revised theories or laws".
The research seeks to find explanations for unexplained phenomena to clarify the doubtful propositions and correct the misconceived facts. It simply means searching for points, answering questions, and solutions to problems. The search for facts may be done through either (a) arbitrary (unscientific) method or (b) scientific method.
The arbitrary method of seeking answers to questions is based on imagination, blind belief or impression. It is vague and inaccurate. The scientific method is a systematic, rational approach to seeking fact. It is objective and precise and arrives at conclusions based on verifiable evidence. Hence research is a systematic and logical study of an issue, problem or phenomenon through the scientific method. The following definitions may reveal the proper meaning of the concept of research.
§  Research is a process to discover new knowledge, and this process is known as the scientific method.
§  Scientific method is a systematic investigation (i.e. gathering and analysing information) designed to develop or contribute to generalizable knowledge.
§  Scientific inquiry is a systematized effort to gain new knowledge or activity to know the unknown.
§  Scientific method tries to rediscover every aspect of man's evolution as a social animal and every moment even adds new knowledge about man's behaviour.
§  Application of the scientific method in the social field to discover new knowledge is social research.


Features of Research

The above definitions reveal the following characteristics of research.
§  Research is a systematic and critical investigation of a phenomenon.
§  It aims at interpreting and explaining a phenomenon.
§  It adopts the scientific method.
§  It is based on empirical evidence and visual experience.
§  It develops generalizations, principles or theories.
§  It is directed towards finding answers to the questions and solutions to the problems.


7 distinct features of research

Moreover, there are more distinct features of research, such as:

  1. An empirical – analysis is based on direct experience or observation by the researcher.
  2. Logical – research is based on proper procedures and principles.
  3. Cyclical – research starts with a problem and ends with a problem.
  4. Analytical research utilizes proven analytical procedures in gathering historical, descriptive, experimental, or case study data.
  5. Critical – research exhibits careful and precise judgment.
  6. Methodical – research is conducted in an organised manner without bias using systematic methods and procedures.
  7. Replicability – research design and procedures are repeated to enable the researcher to arrive at valid and conclusive results

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