what is research

Definition of Research

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 study that helps solve practical problems using scientific methods. This research plays an important role in solving issues that impact 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. 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 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 a 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 purpose of descriptive research is 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 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

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