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The Basics of Research Methodology

Research is an organized, dynamic and creative scientific activity, performed to explore the fact by using quantitative and qualitative tools in different settings. The research needs the direct involvement of researcher in establishing and testing the scientific observation and intervention. It is a rigorous process for acquiring new knowledge and solving the specific problem in a systematic way. The finding of specific research can be used for generalization purpose.

Types of Research:

1.    Basic Research

Basic research is necessary to generate new knowledge in the field of basic science and technologies. Basic research is directed solely by the intellectual curiosity of the researcher, without potential practical application. It is done to develop or refine a theory, or generate new knowledge.

2.    Applied Research

Applied research directs towards solving practical problems with functional applications, for betterment of human beings in every field, with optimal use of available resources.

Both approaches are interrelated, that the findings from the applied research pose question for the basic research.

The Five ‘W’

When you start to think about your research project, a useful way of remembering the important questions to ask is to think of the five ‘Ws’:
a.    What?
b.    Why?
c.    Who?
d.    Where?
e.    When?

What?

What is your research? This question need to be answered as specifically as possible. One of the hardest parts in the early stages of your research project is to be able to define your project; research may fail if the researcher is unable to do this. This situation may arise when the research topic is too broad, ill thought out or too obscure.

Why?

Why do you want to do the research? What is its purpose? Okay, you might have been told to do some research by your tutor or by your boss. It might be solely to do with the fact that you are interested in the topic. You might have identified a gap in the research literature. This is good, as it shows that you have carried out careful background research. Whatever your reason, think very carefully about why you are doing the research. Does your proposed research provide the opportunity to reach the required intellectual standard? Will your research generate enough material to write a dissertation of the required length?

Who?

Who will be your participants? At this stage of research process, you need not worry too much about exactly how many participants will take part in your research, as this will be covered later. However, you should think about the type of people with whom you will need to get in touch with and whether it will be possible for you to contact them. If you have to conduct your research within a particular time scale, there is a little point choosing a topic which would include people who are difficult or expensive to contact.

Where?

Where are you going to conduct your research? Thinking about this question in geographical terms will help you to narrow down your research topic. Also, you need to think about the resources in terms of budget and time that is available. If your are a member of a community group on a limited budget, only work in areas within walking distance, which will cut down on travel expenses. Would you be comfortable in doing so? Think very carefully about whether your chosen topic and method might have an influence on personal safety.

When?

When are you going to do your research? Thinking about this question will help you to sort out whether the research project you have proposed is possible within your time scale. It will also help you to think more about your participants, when you need to contact them and whether they will be available at that time. For example, if you want to go into schools and observe classroom practice, you would not choose to do this research during the summer holidays.

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