Research


Research
Basrelief sculpture "Research holding the torch of knowledge" (1896) by Olin Levi Warner. Library of Congress Thomas Jefferson Building, Washington, D.C.

Research can be defined as the scientific search for knowledge, or as any systematic investigation, to establish novel facts, solve new or existing problems, prove new ideas, or develop new theories, usually using a scientific method. The primary purpose for basic research (as opposed to applied research) is discovering, interpreting, and the development of methods and systems for the advancement of human knowledge on a wide variety of scientific matters of our world and the universe.

Scientific research relies on the application of the scientific method, a harnessing of curiosity. This research provides scientific information and theories for the explanation of the nature and the properties of the world around us. It makes practical applications possible. Scientific research is funded by public authorities, by charitable organizations and by private groups, including many companies. Scientific research can be subdivided into different classifications according to their academic and application disciplines.

Artistic research, also seen as 'practice-based research', can take form when creative works are considered both the research and the object of research itself. It is the debatable body of thought which offers an alternative to purely scientific methods in research in its search for knowledge and truth.

Historical research is embodied in the historical method. Historians use primary sources and other evidence to systematically investigate a topic, and then to write histories in the form of accounts of the past.

The phrase my research is also used loosely to describe a person's entire collection of information about a particular subject.

Contents

Etymology

Ibn al-Haytham (Alhazen), 965–1039, Basra - one of the early figures in the development of scientific method.

As per the Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary, the word research is derived from the Middle French "recerche", which means "to go about seeking", the term itself being derived from the Old French term "recerchier" a compound word from "re-" + "cerchier", or "sercher", meaning 'search'.[1] The earliest recorded use of the term was in 1577.[1]

Definitions

Research has been defined in a number of different ways.

A broad definition of research is given by Martin Shuttleworth - "In the broadest sense of the word, the definition of research includes any gathering of data, information and facts for the advancement of knowledge."[2]

Another definition of research is given by Creswell who states - "Research 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.[3]

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".[1]

Steps in conducting research

The major steps in conducting research are:[4]

  • Identification of research problem
  • Literature review
  • Specifying the purpose of research
  • Data collection
  • Analyzing and interpreting the data
  • Reporting and evaluating research

The steps generally represent the overall process, however they should be viewed as an ever-changing process rather than a fixed set of steps [5]. Most research begin with a general statement of the problem, or rather, the purpose for engaging in the study [6]. The literature review identifies flaws or holes in previous research which provides justification for the study. The purpose of the research identifies a specific hypothesis. The researcher(s) collects data to test the hypothesis. The researcher(s) then analyzes and interprets the data via a variety of statistical methods, engaging in what is known as Empirical research. The results of the data analysis in confirming or failing to reject the Null hypothesis are then reported and evaluated. At the end the researcher may discuss avenues for further research.

Scientific research

Primary scientific research being carried out at the Microscopy Laboratory of the Idaho National Laboratory.

Generally, research is understood to follow a certain structural process. Though step order may vary depending on the subject matter and researcher, the following steps are usually part of most formal research, both basic and applied:

  1. Observations and Formation of the topic: Consistst of the subject area of ones interest and following that subject area to conduct subject related research. The subject area should not be randomly chosen since it requires reading a vast amount of literature on the topic to determine the gap in the literature the researcher intends to narrow. A keen interest in the chosen subject area is advisable. The research will have to be justified by linking its importance to already existing knowledge about the topic.
  2. Hypothesis: A testable prediction which designates the relationship between two or more variables.
  3. Conceptual definition: Description of a concept by relating it to other concepts.
  4. Operational definition: Details in regards to defining the variables and how they will be measured/assessed in the study.
  5. Gathering of data: Consists of identifying a population and selecting samples, gathering information from and/or about these samples by using specific research instruments. The instruments used for data collection must be valid and reliable.
  6. Analysis of data: Involves breaking down the individual pieces of data in order to draw conclusions about it.
  7. Data Interpretation: This can be represented through tables, figures and pictures, and then described in words.
  8. Test, revising of hypothesis
  9. Conclusion, reiteration if necessary

A common misconception is that a hypothesis will be proven. Generally a hypothesis is used to make predictions that can be tested by observing the outcome of an experiment. If the outcome is inconsistent with the hypothesis, then the hypothesis is rejected. However, if the outcome is consistent with the hypothesis, the experiment is said to support the hypothesis. This careful language is used because researchers recognize that alternative hypotheses may also be consistent with the observations. In this sense, a hypothesis can never be proven, but rather only supported by surviving rounds of scientific testing and, eventually, becoming widely thought of as true. A useful hypothesis allows prediction and within the accuracy of observation of the time, the prediction will be verified. As the accuracy of observation improves with time, the hypothesis may no longer provide an accurate prediction. In this case a new hypothesis will arise to challenge the old, and to the extent that the new hypothesis makes more accurate predictions than the old, the new will supplant it. Researchers can also use a null hypothesis, which state no relationship or difference between the independent or dependent variables. A null hypothesis use a sample of all possible people to make a conclusion about the population.[7]

Historical method

German historian Leopold von Ranke (1795-1886), considered to be one of the founders of modern source-based history.

The historical method comprises the techniques and guidelines by which historians use historical sources and other evidence to research and then to write history. There are various history guidelines commonly used by historians in their work, under the headings of external criticism, internal criticism, and synthesis. This includes lower criticism and sensual criticism. Though items may vary depending on the subject matter and researcher, the following concepts are usually part of most formal historical research:[8]

Research methods

The goal of the research process is to produce new knowledge, or deepen understanding of a topic or issue. This process takes three main forms (although, as previously discussed, the boundaries between them may be obscure.):

The research room at the New York Public Library, an example of secondary research in progress.

Research can also fall into two distinct types:

Primary research
Original findings
Secondary research
Summary, collation and/or synthesis of existing research

In social sciences and later in other disciplines, the following two research methods can be applied, depending on the properties of the subject matter and on the objective of the research:

Qualitative research
Understanding of human behavior and the reasons that govern such behavior. Asking a broad question and collecting word-type data that is analyzed searching for themes. This type of research looks to describe a population without attempting to quantifiably measure variables or look to potential relationships between variables. It is viewed as more restrictive in testing hypotheses because it is extremely expensive and time consuming, and typically limited to a single set of research subjects. Qualitative research is often used as a method of exploratory research as a basis for later quantitative research hypotheses.
Quantitative research
Systematic empirical investigation of quantitative properties and phenomena and their relationships. Asking a narrow question and collecting numerical data to analyze utilizing statistical methods. The quantitative research designs are experimental, correlational, and survey (or descriptive).[9] Statistics derived from quantitative research can be used to establish the existence of associative or causal relationships between variables.

The Quantitative data collection methods, rely on random sampling and structured data collection instruments that fit diverse experiences into predetermined response categories. They produce results that are easy to summarize, compare, and generalize.Quantitative research is concerned with testing hypotheses derived from theory and/or being able to estimate the size of a phenomenon of interest. Depending on the research question, participants may be randomly assigned to different treatments. If this is not feasible, the researcher may collect data on participant and situational characteristics in order to statistically control for their influence on the dependent, or outcome, variable. If the intent is to generalize from the research participants to a larger population, the researcher will employ probability sampling to select participants.[10]


Research is often conducted using the hourglass model structure of research.[11] The hourglass model starts with a broad spectrum for research, focusing in on the required information through the methodology of the project (like the neck of the hourglass), then expands the research in the form of discussion and results.

Publishing

Cover of the first issue of Nature, 4 November 1869.

Academic publishing describes a system that is necessary in order for academic scholars to peer review the work and make it available for a wider audience. The system varies widely by field, and is also always changing, if often slowly. Most academic work is published in journal article or book form. In publishing, STM publishing is an abbreviation for academic publications in science, technology, and medicine.

Most established academic fields have their own journals and other outlets for publication, though many academic journals are somewhat interdisciplinary, and publish work from several distinct fields or subfields. The kinds of publications that are accepted as contributions of knowledge or research vary greatly between fields; from the print to the electronic format. Business models are different in the electronic environment. Since about the early 1990s, licensing of electronic resources, particularly journals, has been very common. Presently, a major trend, particularly with respect to scholarly journals, is open access. There are two main forms of open access: open access publishing, in which the articles or the whole journal is freely available from the time of publication, and self-archiving, where the author makes a copy of their own work freely available on the web.

Research funding

Most funding for scientific research comes from three major sources: Corporate research and development departments; Private Foundations, for example, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and government research councils such as the National Institutes of Health in the USA[12] and the Medical Research Council in the UK. These are managed primarily through universities and in some cases through military contractors. Many senior researchers (such as group leaders) spend a significant amount of their time applying for grants for research funds. These grants are necessary not only for researchers to carry out their research, but also as a source of merit.

The Social Psychology Network provides a comprehensive list of U.S. Government and private foundation funding sources.

Original research

Original research is research that is not exclusively based on a summary, review or synthesis of earlier publications on the subject of research. This material is of a primary source character. The purpose of the original research is to produce new knowledge, rather than to present the existing knowledge in a new form (e.g., summarized or classified).[13][14]

Different forms

Original research can take a number of forms, depending on the discipline it pertains to. In experimental work, it typically involves direct or indirect observation of the researched subject, e.g., in the laboratory or in the field, documents the methodology, results, and conclusions of an experiment or set of experiments, or offers a novel interpretation of previous results. In analytical work, there are typically some new (for example) mathematical results produced, or a new way of approaching an existing problem. In some subjects which do not typically carry out experimentation or analysis of this kind, the originality is in the particular way existing understanding is changed or re-interpreted based on the outcome of the work of the researcher.[citation needed]

The degree of originality of the research is among major criteria for articles to be published in academic journals and usually established by means of peer review.[citation needed] Graduate students are commonly required to perform original research as part of a dissertation.[15]

Artistic research

The controversial trend of artistic teaching becoming more academics-oriented is leading to artistic research being accepted as the primary mode of enquiry in art as in the case of other disciplines.[16] One of the characteristics of artistic research is that it must accept subjectivity as opposed to the classical scientific methods. As such, it is similar to the social sciences in using qualitative research and intersubjectivity as tools to apply measurement and critical analysis.[citation needed]

Artistic research has been defined by Dans och Cirkushögskolan (the University of Dance and Circus), Stockholm in the following manner - "Artistic research is to investigate and test with the purpose of gaining knowledge within and for our artistic disciplines. It is based on artistic practices, methods and criticality. Through presented documentation, the insights gained shall be placed in a context."[17] Artistic research aims to enhance knowledge and understanding with presentation of the arts [18]

See also

References

  1. ^ a b c Unattributed. ""Research" in 'Dictionary' tab". Merriam Webster (m-w.com). Encyclopaedia Brittanica. http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/research. Retrieved 13 August 2011. 
  2. ^ Shuttleworth, Martyn (2008). "Definition of Research". Experiment Resources. Experiment-Research.com. http://www.experiment-resources.com/definition-of-research.html. Retrieved 14 August 2011. 
  3. ^ Creswell, J. W. (2008). Educational Research: Planning, conducting, and evaluating quantitative and qualitative research (3rd ed.). Upper Saddle River: Pearson.
  4. ^ Creswell, J.W. (2008). Educational research: Planning, conducting, and evaluating quantitative and qualitative research (3rd). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall. 2008 ISBN: 10 0136135501 (pages 8-9)
  5. ^ Gauch, Jr., H.G. (2003). Scientific method in practice. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press. 2003 ISBN: 0 521 81689 0 (page 3)
  6. ^ Rocco, T.S., Hatcher, T., & Creswell, J.W. (2011). The handbook of scholarly writing and publishing. San Francisco, CA: John Wiley & Sons. 2011 ISBN: 9780470393352
  7. ^ Creswell, J. W. (2008). Educational Research: Planning, Conducting, and Evaluating Quantitative and Qualitative Research. Upper Saddle River, NJ. Pearson Education, Inc.
  8. ^ Garraghan, Gilbert J. (1946). A Guide to Historical Method. New York: Fordham University Press. p. 168. ISBN 0837171326. 
  9. ^ Creswell, J. W. (2008). Educational Research: Planning, Conducting, and Evaluating Quantitative and Qualitative Research. Upper Saddle River, NJ. Pearson Education, Inc.
  10. ^ http://people.uwec.edu/piercech/ResearchMethods/Data%20collection%20methods/DATA%20COLLECTION%20METHODS.htm
  11. ^ Trochim, W.M.K, (2006). Research Methods Knowledge Base.
  12. ^ "US Scientific Grant Awards Database". http://search.engrant.com/. 
  13. ^ What is Original Research? Original research is considered a primary source. Thomas G. Carpenter Library University of North Florida
  14. ^ http://books.google.com/books?id=XlIH4R9Z_k8C&pg=PT75
  15. ^ http://books.google.com/books?id=oFFWt5oyA3oC&pg=PA178&dq=%22original+research%22&lr=&cd=90#v=onepage&q=%22original%20research%22&f=false
  16. ^ Lesage, Dieter (Spring 2009). "Who’s Afraid of Artistic Research? On measuring artistic research output". Art&Research - A Journal of Ideas, Contexts and Methods 2 (2). ISSN 1752-6338. http://www.artandresearch.org.uk/v2n2/pdfs/lesage.pdf. Retrieved 14 August 2011. 
  17. ^ Unattributed. "Artistic research at DOCH". Dans och Cirkushögskolan (website). http://www.doch.se/web/Artistic_Research.aspx. Retrieved 14 August 2011. 
  18. ^ Schwab, M. (2009). Draft Proposal. Journal for Artistic Research. Bern University of the Arts.

Further reading

  • Freshwater, D., Sherwood, G. & Drury, V. (2006) International research collaboration. Issues, benefits and challenges of the global network. Journal of Research in Nursing, 11 (4), pp 9295–303.

External links

(Social Psychology Network)


Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Synonyms:

Look at other dictionaries:

  • research — re‧search [rɪˈsɜːtʆ, ˈriːsɜːtʆ ǁ ɜːr ] noun [uncountable] 1. study of a subject to find out new things about it or to test new ideas, products etc: • A leading pharmaceutical company will finance the research. • What sets us apart from the rest… …   Financial and business terms

  • Research — Re*search (r? s?rch ), n. [Pref. re + search: cf OF. recerche, F. recherche.] 1. Diligent inquiry or examination in seeking facts or principles; laborious or continued search after truth; as, researches of human wisdom; to research a topic in the …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Research*eu — est un magazine européen dédié à la recherche scientifique dans la communauté européenne. Il est publié en anglais, français, allemand et espagnol et est édité par l unité communication de la DG Recherche de la commission européenne. Son… …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Research*eu — ist der Titel des Magazin des Europäischen Forschungsraums, das die die Europäische Kommission in vier Sprachausgabenn, nämlich auf deutsch, englisch, französisch und spanisch herausgibt. Unter dem alten Namen FTE info Magazin über Europäische… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • research*eu — magazine de l espace européen de la recherche Langue Publié en français, anglais, allemand et espagnol Périodicité Dix numéros par an Rédacteur en chef …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Research eu — research*eu ist der Titel des Magazins des Europäischen Forschungsraums, das die Europäische Kommission in vier Sprachen, nämlich auf Deutsch, Englisch, Französisch und Spanisch herausgibt. Unter dem alten Namen FTE info – Magazin über… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • research — ► NOUN ▪ the systematic study of materials and sources in order to establish facts and reach new conclusions. ► VERB 1) carry out research into. 2) use research to discover or verify information to be presented in (a book, programme, etc.).… …   English terms dictionary

  • research — [rē′sʉrch΄, ri sʉrch′] n. [MFr recerche < recercher, to travel through, survey: see RE & SEARCH] [sometimes pl.] careful, systematic, patient study and investigation in some field of knowledge, undertaken to discover or establish facts or… …   English World dictionary

  • research — I noun analysis, careful search, close inquiry, eruditio, examination, experimentation, exploration, factfinding, indagation, inquest, inquiry, inquisition, inspection, investigation, observation, probe, pursuit, quest, questioning,… …   Law dictionary

  • research — 1570s, act of searching closely, from M.Fr. recerche (1530s), from O.Fr. recercher seek out, search closely, from re , intensive prefix, + cercher to seek for (see SEARCH (Cf. search)). Meaning scientific inquiry is first attested 1630s. Related …   Etymology dictionary

  • research — [n] examination, study analysis, delving, experimentation, exploration, factfinding, fishing expedition*, groundwork, inquest, inquiry, inquisition, investigation, legwork*, probe, probing, quest, R and D*, scrutiny; concepts 349,362 Ant.… …   New thesaurus


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