Research can be thought of as a systematic inquiry into a problem. In can be quantitative, qualitative, or some mixture of the two, but it the three key terms you need to remember are: systematic, inquiry, and problem.
- Research needs to be systematic, meaning you account for all the choices you made through the design of your study and your study is able to be replicated by others.
- Research is always about answering unanswered questions.
- Research is about solving problems that are meaningful to people besides you.
In your cover letters for this course, you should reflect on some aspect of research that you have explored in each module. The following concise description of the stages of the research process will help you do so. If you want, you can pick a different stage to reflect on in each module.
Stages of a Research Process
Finding a research problem: research problems are central questions that researchers attempt to answer through their research. They should be specific and should be developed through a review of previous research into a particular topic.
Designing a methodology: a methodology can be thought of an a basic orientation to your research problem. It is the theory behind your approach + the way (methods) you plan to employ.
Sampling: all empirical research, meaning research conducted through an examination of physical phenomena, involves collecting a group of objects to study. It’s very important to understand why you are collecting certain objects and excluding others.
Collecting Data: data is simply information collected for the purposes of analysis. It can be anything from interviews with human beings to analyses of physical objects.
Analyzing Data: once you collect data, you must attempt to understand its meaning for your research problem. This is usually done through a combination of coding, or systematic annotation, and interpretation.
Presenting/Reporting/Disseminating Findings: research is meant to be shared, typically to fellow researchers. This can be done through professional or trade journals, professional organizations, and at conferences and other kinds of professional meetings.