DEFINITION AND PURPOSE OF RESEARCH

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If you are interested in writing, then you are interested in research! If you are interested in problem solving then you are interested in research! If you doubt any existing claims, you should of course be interested in research!

This article is written to help you if you have any problem doing a research for your school, workplace, or personal reason. It is important that you know exactly what your reasons for the research are before you begin a research. If not so, you are likely to start a journey you will not complete. You will end up without achieving any useful result.

To begin, I will like to answer the question;

WHAT IS RESEARCH?

Research has been defined in several ways. It is broadly defined as a process that involves collection, analysis and interpretation of data, information and facts for the advancement of knowledge. Research requires careful, critical and systematic studying of a phenomenon in order to discover something or to add a new voice to something previously analysed. Doing a research is to find out by means of observation of an occurrence or reasons why certain things happen and provide solutions to certain questions and or problems. It is a systematic investigation that leads to a dependable result. This shows that research is a process of engaging in a deeply and result oriented exercise through scientific experimentation or exploration of existing documents or events.

Research is not Like Every Day-to-day Writing

Research work is not just the reflection of our day to day writing where one’s opinion, feelings and thought are expressed. It is a piece of writing which is intended to support existing theory most especially if such theory is marked with controversy. Benson (1) sees research as “any studious investigation designed to support, refuel or formulate scholarly conclusions”. The idea supports the fact that research is based on a theory whose validity is questionable. It would not be out of place, therefore, to conclude that research is a means of advancing knowledge which enables man to relate better with his environment.

Original research

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(s), e.g. in the laboratory or in the field, it 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 disciplines 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. The degree of the originality of the research is among major criteria for articles to be published in academic journals and usually established by means of peer review.

Research is not a perfect phenomenon

One should not say that research is a perfect phenomenon where man’s problems are completely solved. What should be known about it though, is that it is empirical, transparent and replicable; it is not a mystery as some may see it. Not everyone may agree with the findings in a research work but subjective personal believe has to have a validity check against objective tools and methodology. It shows that for every research, the findings and procedures are open to scholarly criticism or scrutiny by fellow members of the research community; therefore, errors can be detected and findings re-evaluated or cancelled.

Research consists of:

  • Asking new questions,
  • Doing the necessary work to find an answer, and
  • Communicating the acquired knowledge to the community.

WHY DO A RESEARCH?

Research has to be a conscious endeavour with a clearly expected result. When you do a research, you do any of the following:

Confirming an earlier theory

You have heard and read many times that yam has some protein in it, and you wonder how that is possible when it is always listed among carbohydrate foods. Now, you just want to know how true that is; and perhaps, why it is not listed as protein food. Through a personal research, you can find out. After your research, you can also tell other people whether or not the claim is true.

Finding solution to a problem that just comes up

A decease that seems not to have a cure is in town killing people, and you want to help. You begin to do a research to find a solution to this new problem, going from place to place and trying several ways of treating the decease. Now, your interest in finding the solution is your reason for research. This is one of the ways research is said to be important to man.

Proving or disproving what has been hypothetically held as real

A hypothesis refers to a claim that has not been empirically tested. It can also be call assumption. We make assumptions almost every day. And in most cases, assumptions come before research, or we can say they prompt research. Two people are in a room quarrelling and after a while, the whole place is silent. You walk into the room and find one of them lying dead with a stab on the neck; and the other is standing up with a blood stained knife. Your first believe is that the one with the knife murdered the dead one, but that is an assumption. After an investigation, truth is known. That is what happens in research.

Finding new ways to do a thing that is already been done in a deferent way.

This is the way that technology has advanced over the centuries; from the cart to modern day automobiles. Electronics, most especially the computer, has changed from one generation to another, from one state to a better one. Man is always looking for new ways to do things to achieve greater result. The advancement in weaponry, agriculture, furniture production etc. is evidence of good research.

Educational advancement

Of course as we advance in education, particularly to earn a degree, we are required to do a research. The research is intended to show how much we have learnt in our study and also to enable us contribute to existing knowledge. A person that is not interested in doing a research is invariably indicating that he/she is not interested in advancing in his/her education carrier.

Other purposes for research are

  1. To understand the subjective world or human experience.
  2. To overcome misleading appearances.
  3. To document trends of existing facts.

Patton (112-3) points out the importance of identifying the purpose in a research process. He classifies four types of research based on different purposes:

1.     Basic research

The purpose of this research is to understand and give explanation, i.e. the research is interested in formulating and testing theoretical construct and propositions that ideally generalize across tine and space. This type of research takes the form of a theory that explains the phenomenon under investigation to give its contribution to knowledge. This research is more descriptive in nature exploring what, why and how questions.

2.      Applied Research

This research is to help people understand the nature of human problems so that human beings can more effectively control their environment. In other words, this type of research poses potential solutions to human and societal problems. This research is more prescriptive in nature, focusing on how questions.

3.     Evaluation research (summative and formative)

This research studies the processes and outcomes aimed at attempted solutions. The formative evaluation is purposed to improve human intervention within specific conditions, such as activities, time and groups of people; the purpose of summative evaluation is to judge the effectiveness of a program, policy, or product.

4.     Action Research:

This research aims at solving specific problems within a program, organization, or community. Patton described that design and data collection in action research tend to be more informal, and the people in the situation are directly involved in gathering information and studying problem.

Conclusion

Research is an interesting but tedious endeavour, and the world will not develop without it. Anyway, people will always ask questions, and answers to the questions will always be sought. Man will always be faced with problems, and solutions will always be provided. Curiosity is also an ardent part of our world. That means that research has come to stay with man, and everyone should endeavour to enrich his own world through research.

References

Ali, Anthony. Fundamentals of Research in Education: Meks Publishers Nigeria LTD. Awka, 1996.

Cohen Louis et. al. Research Methods in Education (6th ed) British journal of Education Technology Vol. 42. 2011.

Creswell Louis et.al. Educational Research: Planning, conduction and evaluating quantitative and qualitative research. Upper Saddle River: Pearson, 2008.

Patton, Michael Quinn. Qualitative Evaluation and research Methods (2nd ed). Newbury Park, CA: Sage. 1990.

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