what is research

What is Research: Definition

Research is defined as a careful consideration of study regarding a particular concern or a problem using scientific methods. According to the American sociologist Earl Robert Babbie, “Research is a systematic inquiry to describe, explain, predict and control the observed phenomenon. Research involves inductive and deductive methods.”

Inductive research methods are used to analyze the observed phenomenon whereas, deductive methods are used to verify the observed phenomenon. Inductive approaches are associated with qualitative research and deductive methods are more commonly associated with quantitative research.

One of the most important aspects of research is the statistics associated with it, conclusion or result. It is about the “thought” that goes behind the research. Research is conducted with a purpose to understand:

  • What do organizations or businesses really want to find out?
  • What are the processes that need to be followed to chase the idea?
  • What are the arguments that need to be built around a concept?
  • What is the evidence that will be required that people believe in the idea or concept?

Characteristics of Research

1. A systematic approach is followed in research. Rules and procedures are an integral part of research that set the objective of a research process. Researchers need to practice ethics and code of conduct while making observations or drawing conclusions.

2. Research is based on logical reasoning and involves both inductive and deductive methods.

3. The data or knowledge that is derived is in real time, actual observations in the natural settings.

4. There is an in-depth analysis of all the data collected from research so that there are no anomalies associated with it.

5. Research creates a path for generating new questions. More research opportunity can be generated from existing research.

6. Research is analytical in nature. It makes use of all the available data so that there is no ambiguity in inference.

7. Accuracy is one of the important character of research, the information that is obtained while conducting the research should be accurate and true to its nature. For example, research conducted in a controlled environment like a laboratory. Here accuracy is measured of instruments used, calibrations, and the final result of the experiment.

What are the types of Research?

Following are the types of research:

Basic Research: Basic research is mostly conducted to enhance knowledge. It covers fundamental aspects of research. The main motivation of this research is knowledge expansion. It is a non-commercial research and doesn’t facilitate in creating or inventing anything. For example, an experiment is a good example of basic research.

Applied Research: Applied research focuses on analyzing and solving real-life problems. This type of research refers to the study that helps solve practical problems using scientific methods. This research plays an important role in solving issues that impact the overall well-being of humans. For example, finding a specific cure for a disease.

Problem Oriented Research: As the name suggests, problem-oriented research is conducted to understand the exact nature of the problem to find out relevant solutions. The term “problem” refers to having issues or two thoughts while making any decisions.

For e.g Revenue of a car company has decreased by 12% in the last year. The following could be the probable causes: There is no optimum production, poor quality of a product, no advertising, economic conditions etc.

Problem Solving Research: This type of research is conducted by companies to understand and resolve their own problems. The problem-solving research uses applied research to find solutions to the existing problems.

Qualitative Research: Qualitative research is a process that is about inquiry, that helps in-depth understanding of the problems or issues in their natural settings. This is a non- statistical research method.

Qualitative research is heavily dependent on the experience of the researchers and the questions used to probe the sample. The sample size is usually restricted to 6-10 people in a sample. Open-ended questions are asked in a manner that one question leads to another. The purpose of asking open-ended questions is to gather as much information as possible from the sample.

Following are the methods used for qualitative research:

  1. One-to-one interview
  2. Focus groups
  3. Ethnographic Research
  4. Content/ Text Analysis
  5. Case study research

Learn more: Qualitative Research Methods

Quantitative Research: Qualitative research is a structured way of collecting data and analyzing it to draw conclusions. Unlike qualitative research, this research method uses a computational, statistical and similar method to collect and analyze data. Quantitative data is all about numbers.

Quantitative research involves a larger population as more number of people means more data. In this manner, more data can be analyzed to obtain accurate results. This type of research method uses close-ended questions because, in quantitative research, the researchers are typically looking at measuring the extent and gathering foolproof statistical data.

Online surveys, questionnaires, and polls are preferable data collection tools used in quantitative research. There are various methods of deploying surveys or questionnaires. In recent times online surveys and questionnaires have gained popularity. Survey respondents can receive these surveys on mobile phones, emails or can simply use the internet to access surveys or questionnaires.

Learn more: What is Quantitative Research?

What is the purpose of Research?

There are three purposes of research:

1. Exploratory Research: As the name suggests, exploratory research is conducted to explore the research questions and may or may not offer a final conclusion to the research conducted. It is conducted to handle new problem areas which haven’t been explored before. Exploratory research lays the foundation for more conclusive research and data collection. For example, a research conducted to know the level of customer satisfaction among the patrons of a restaurant.

2. Descriptive Research: Descriptive research focuses on throwing more light on current issues through a process of data collection. Descriptive studies are used to describe the behavior of a sample population. In descriptive research, only one variable (anything that has quantity or quality that varies) is required to conduct a study. The three main purposes of descriptive research are describing, explaining and validating the findings. For example, a research conducted to know if top-level management leaders in the 21st century posses the moral right to receive a huge sum of money from the company profit?

3. Explanatory Research: Explanatory research or causal research, is conducted to understand the impact of certain changes in existing standard procedures. Conducting experiments is the most popular form of casual research. For example, research conducted to understand the effect of rebranding on customer loyalty.

To understand the characteristic of research design using research purpose here is a comparative analysis:

Exploratory Research Descriptive Research Explanatory Research
Research approach used Unstructured Structured Highly structured
Research conducted through Asking research questions Asking research questions By using research hypotheses.
When is it conducted? Early stages of decision making Later stages of decision making Later stages of decision making

Learn More: Primary Research- Examples, Methods and Purpose

Research method is defined as the tools or an instrument that is used to accomplish the goals and attributes of conducting a research process. Think of the methodology as a systematic process in which the tools or instruments will be employed. There is no use of a tool if it is not being used efficiently.

To understand research methods we must first understand what research is. Research is a careful study of a specific problem or concern using scientific methods, tools, and instruments. Remember as kids, we were given projects in elementary schools and we were asked to know about it in details. Research is the adult form of that elementary project, only a more precise and thorough version!

Research can be about anything, scientific research, basic research, applied research, market research- qualitative market research and quantitative market research, problem-oriented research, problem-solving research. To begin researching something, you need to have a problem or a concern that needs a solution.

Research really begins with asking the right research questions, what follows next is choosing appropriate research method to be able to investigate the problem or issue in the right direction and then finally analyze your findings or observations to draw appropriate conclusions.

When it comes to customers and related research, there should be no stone unturned. Specify and plan the customer’s research, help make smart decisions about how to market and position your business efficiently. Choosing the right research method will help you get important answers about your clients. But before we go any further, first let us identify the research methods

Learn more: Primary Research- Examples, Types, Methods and Purpose

Types of Research Methods and Research Example

what is research

Research methods are broadly classified as Qualitative Research and Quantitative Research.

Both research methods have distinctive properties and data collection methods. In this segment of the blog, we will learn more about both these research methods.

Qualitative Research Methods

Qualitative research is a research method that collects data using conversational methods, where participants involved in the research are asked open-ended questions. The responses collected are essentially non-numerical. This method not only helps a researcher understand “what” participant think but also, “why”they think in a particular way.

Here are the widely used qualitative research methods:

  • One-to-one Interview: This interview technique is systematically planned and as the name suggests is conducted with one participant at a given point in time. One-to-one interviews need a researcher to prepare questions in advance and to make sure the researcher asks only the most important questions to the participant. This type of interview lasts anywhere between 20 minutes to half an hour. During this time the researcher collects as many meaningful data as possible from the participants to draw inferences.
  • Focus Groups: Focus groups are small groups comprising of around 6-10 participants who are usually experts in the subject matter. A moderator is assigned to a focus group who facilitates the discussion amongst the group members. A moderator’s experience in conducting focus group plays an important role. An experienced moderator can probe the participants by asking the correct research questions that will help him/her collect a sizable amount of information related to the research.
  • Ethnographic Research: Ethnographic research is an in-depth form of research where people are observed in their natural environment with any alterations. This method can prove to be a bit demanding in terms of a researcher getting adapted to the natural environment of the target audience which could even be the Amazon rainforest! Geographic locations can be a constraint in this type of research method. Instead of conducting interviews a researcher needs to experience the settings in person to collect information.
  • Text Analysis: Text analysis is a little different from other qualitative research methods as it used to analyze the social life by decoding words, texts etc. through any available form of documentation. The researcher studies and understands the context in which the documents are furnished with the information and then tries to draw meaningful inferences from it. In modern times, researchers follow activities on a social media platform and try and understand the pattern of thoughts.
  • Case Study Research: Case study research, as the name suggests is used to study an organization or an entity. This research method has evolved over the years and is one of the most valuable qualitative research methods known to researchers. This type of research is used in fields like education sector, philosophical and psychological studies. This method involves a deep diving into the ongoing research and collects data.  

Quantitative Research Methods

Quantitative research methods are the methods that deal with numbers and anything that can be dealt with a measurable form, in a systematic way of investigating the phenomenon. It is used to answer questions in terms of justifying relationships with measurable variables to either explain, predict or control a phenomenon.

There are three methods that are often used by researchers to conduct this type of research, they are:

  • Survey Research- The ultimate goal of survey research is to learn about a large population by deploying the survey. Gone are the days where a survey was carried out using a pen and a paper. Today, online surveys are a popular mode of research as they are convenient and can be sent in an email or made available on the internet. In this method, a researcher designs a survey with most relevant survey questions and deploys the survey. Once the researcher receives the responses he/she summarizes them to tabulate meaningful findings and data.
  • Descriptive Research- Descriptive research is a quantitative research method, which corresponds to identifying the characteristics of an observed phenomenon and collecting more information. This research method is designed to depict the participants in a very systematic and accurate manner. In simple words, descriptive research is all about describing the phenomenon, observing and drawing conclusions from it.  
  • Correlational Research- Correlational research examines the relationship between two or more variables. Let us take an example to understand correlational research. Let us take an example to understand correlational research, Consider hypothetically, a researcher is studying a correlation between cancer and marries women. Let us say married women have a negative correlation with cancer. In this example, there are two variables: cancer, and married women. When we say negative correlation it means women who are married are less likely to develop cancer. However, it doesn’t mean that marriage directly avoids cancer.

Identifying Research Methodology

To choose the appropriate research methods, it is necessary to clearly identify the research objectives. Here is an example of some of the research objectives you can take into consideration for your business:

  • To start with, find out the needs of your clients
  • Know their preferences and understand what is important to them
  • Find an appropriate way to make your customers aware of your products and services.
  • Find ways to improve your products or services to suit the needs of your customers.

After identifying what you need to know, you should then ask what research methods will offer you that information.

Organize your questions within the framework of the 7 Ps of marketing that influences your company – product, price, promotion, place, people, processes and physical tests.

A well-organized customer research process produces valid, accurate, reliable, timely and complete results. Research results that rigorously reflect the opinions and needs of your clients will help you grow your sales and improve your operations. To obtain the results you need to establish and follow the processes that you have detailed out for your organization:

Set your goals

Consider the client’s research objectives and define those that identify with yours and plan a strategy once you obtain the information. Make sure that your goals objectives smart  do not presume their result, and define them intelligently and make sure you set achievable targets, smart goals, and objectives.

Plan your research

Good planning allows the use of creative and logical approaches to select the research methods that gather the information. Your plan will be influenced by the type and complexity of the information you need, the skills of your market research team, and how soon you need the information and your budget. Make an adequate strategic planning for your market research

Identify your list of questions and decide on the research methods that will best achieve your goals. Detail your research approach and some initial idea of how you will classify and analyze the data.

Collect and collate your results

Make a list of how you are going to carry out the research process, the data you need to collect and collection methods. This will help you keep track of your research processes and make sense of your findings. It will also allow you to verify that your research accurately reflects the opinions of your clients and your market. Create a record table with:

  • The consumer research activity
  • The necessary data
  • The research method (s) for data collection
  • The steps to follow for data analysis.

Remember, research is only valuable and useful when it is valid, accurate and reliable. Relying on imperfect research is dangerous; Incorrect results can lead to customer churn and a decrease in sales.

It is important to obtain information about how the collection of customer information was carried out, and to ensure that your data is:

  • Valid – founded, logical, rigorous and impartial.
  • Accurate – free of errors and including required details.
  • Reliable – that can be reproduced by other people who investigate in the same way.
  • Timely – current and collected within an appropriate time frame.
  • Complete – includes all the data you need to support your business decisions.

Analyze and understand your research

The analysis of the data can vary from simple and direct steps to technical and complex processes. Adopt an approach, and choose the method of data analysis based on the research methods you have carried out.

Keep the findings ready

Choose a spreadsheet that allows you to easily enter your data. If you do not have a large amount of data, you should be able to manage them with the use of basic tools available in the software. If you have collected more complete and complex data, you may have to consider using specific programs or tools that will help you manage your data.

Review and interpret the information to draw conclusions

Once you have gathered all the data, you can scan your information and interpret it to draw conclusions and make informed decisions. You should review the data and then:

  • Identify the main trends and issues, opportunities and problems you observe, and write a sentence about each one
  • Keep track of the frequency with which each of the main findings appears
  • Make a list of your findings from the most common to the least common
  • Evaluate and perform separately a list of the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats that have been identified in a SWOT analysis.
  • Preparation of conclusions and recommendations about your research

Review your goals before making any conclusions about your research. Keep in mind if the process you have completed and the data you have gathered help answer your questions. Ask yourself if what your research revealed facilitates the identification of your conclusions and recommendations. Review your conclusions and, based on what you know now:

Choose some strategies that will help you improve your business

  • Act on your strategies
  • Look for gaps in the information, and consider doing additional research if necessary
  • Plan to review the results of the research, and consider efficient strategies.

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