RESEARCH PROCESS

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–        The chart indicates that the research process consists of a number of closely related activities; as shown through 1 to 5. But such activities overlap continuously rather than following a strictly prescribed sequence.

1.Formulating the research problem:

There are two types of research problems,

  1. Those which relate to states of nature
  2. Those which relate to relationship between variables
  • Defining the research problem is the first and most critical step.
  • Some authors object the usage of the word problem. This word has been used as the entire research discovery is oriented towards looking for a solution to the researchers’ dilemma. It is a prelude towards the end result that the one is seeking.
  • Proper refining the problem leads to a clear definition of what one is seeking and for what purpose.
  • The researcher must at the same time examine all available literature to get himself acquainted with the selected problem. He may review two types of literature- the conceptual literature concerning the concepts and theories, and the empirical literature consisting of studies made earlier which are similar to the one proposed after this the researcher rephrases the problem into analytical and operational term i.e.

To put the problem in as specific terms as possible. This task of formulating or defining a research problem is a step of greatest importance in the entire research process.

2.Extensive literature survey

  • Once the problem is formulated a brief summary of it should be written does. It is compulsory for a researcher to write a synopsis of the topic and submit it to the necessary committee or the Research Board for approval.
  • At this juncture the researcher should undertake extensive literature survey connected with the problem. For this purpose, the abstracting and indexing journals and published or unpublished bibliographies are the first place to go to. Academic journals, conference proceedings, government reports, books, etc; must be tapped depending on the nature of the problem.

3.Development of working hypothesis.

  • After extensive literature survey, researcher should state in clear terms the working hypothesis or hypotheses. Working hypothesis is tentative assumption made in order to draw out and test its logical or empirical consequences.
  • As such the manner in which research hypotheses are developed is particularly important since they provide the focal point for research. They also affect the manner in which tests must be conducted in the analysis of data and indirectly the quality of data which is required for the analysis.
  • Hypotheses, is in fact a presupposition of the expected direction of the results.
  • For e.g. it might be hypothesized that the research might be oriented towards testing a direct relationship between work-family conflict and turn-over intentions. Higher the conflict, higher is the intention to leave.
    • Developing the research proposal:
    • Once the research problem is refined and working hypothesis formulated, the next step is to formulate a framework of a plan of investigations, which is called the Research Proposal.
    • Sometimes this step of formulating research proposal is done after formulation of research design or sometimes simultaneously.
    • The reason for placing the research proposal before the research design is that it is a time and objective bound commitment that the researcher needs to make himself.

–        The major components of a research proposal are the research problem, the scope, and the objectives of the study and the operational plan of achieving the same.

4.Research design.

  • Depending on the type of research i.e. Exploratory, descriptive or casual, the researcher has to identify the technique that he will adopt for testing the stated objectives. The main purpose of the research design is to explain how the research problem will be investigated. The logical or the justification for the selected research design must be mentioned explicitly, accurately and should be measureable
  • Exploratory research: allows the researcher to gain better understanding of the concept and provides direction in order to initiate a more structured research e.g. a review of market opposite available to a prospective entrepreneur or an informal survey conducted to identify a problem in supply chain of a product.
  • Descriptive research: research undertaken to describe the situation community, phenomena, outcome or programme. The main goal here is to describe the data and characteristics about what is being studied.
  • Causal research: it is concerned with exploring the effect of one variable over another. It requires a rigid sequential approach to sampling, data collection and data analysis. E.g. To study the impact of flexible work policies on turn-over intentions, the other variables like age, marital status, organisation commitment and job autonomy would be required to control.
    • The research design for a particular research problem, usually involves the consideration of the following:
  1. The availability and skills of a researcher.
  2. The means of obtaining the information.
  3. Explanation of the way in which selected means of obtaining information will be organized and the reasoning leading to the selection.
  4. The time available for research
  5. The cost factor relating to research i.e. the finance available for the purpose.

5.DETERMINING SAMPLE DESIGN

  • There are two categories of sampling decisions available for the researcher:
  • As even the slightest element of bias in research will get larger and larger as the number of observation increases. Besides, this type of research involves a great deal of time, money and energy.
  • The second criteria are to avoid the probability error in prediction is that the selected sample should be free from researcher’s bias and the degree of precision error should be measureable and small enough to be deducted from the results.
  • Sample design helps in determining the direction of the results and the accuracy of the decision based on the finding. The most important criteria for this selection could be the representativeness of the sample selected from the population under study.
  • g. The acceptability of the fruit based beverage by the consumer to be measured based on retailers of beverage products, consumer of juices, consumers of water or consumer of the manufacturer’s brand?
  • It can be presumed that in such an inquiry when all the items are covered no element of chance is left and highest accuracy is obtained. But in practice, this may not be true. Thus, one goes about studying a small and representative sub-group of the same. This sub-group is referred to as the sample of the study.
  • All the items under consideration in any field of inquiry constitute a ‘universe’ or ‘population’. A complete enumeration of all the items in the ‘population’ is known as census inquiry.
  • Probability sampling:
  1. Simple random sampling:This type of sampling method is also known as chance sampling method is also known as chance sampling where each and every item has equal chance of being selected as sample.
  2. Systematic sampling:In this method every nth name on the list has a chance of being selected.
  3. Stratified sampling:The population is divided into different strata based on heterogeneous characteristics, this method of drawing sample from these strata is called stratified sampling and if the sample is selected randomly then it is called stratified random sampling.
  4. Quota sampling:In stratified sampling, when the researcher limits his research to the number of selected sample unit, it is called quota sampling.
  5. Cluster sampling and area sampling:It involves grouping the population and selecting the groups and clusters rather than individual elements for the sample.
  6. Multi-stage sampling:Under this technique, the population is divided at various stages starting from large sampling units and narrowing it down to the target population. It random sampling technique is applied at all stages; this sampling technique is called multi stage random technique.
  7. Sequential sampling:Here the ultimate size of the sample is not fixed in advance but according to mathematical decisions and based on the information collected as the research progresses, the sample size is drawn, this method of identifying the sample size is called sequential sampling.
  • Non-probability sampling design:
  1. Deliberate sampling:It involves deliberate selection of particular units of the universe for constituting a sample which represents the universe.
  2. Convenience sampling:When population elements are selected for inclusion in the sample based on the ease of access.
  3. Judgment sampling:The researcher judgement is used for selecting items which he considers as representative of the population.

6.Collecting the data

  • In research it is important to collect data that are appropriate.
  • There are several ways of collecting the appropriate data which differ considerably in context of money costs, time and other resources at the disposal of the researcher.
  • Primary data can be collected either through experiment or through survey. In case of a survey, data can be collected by any one or more of the following ways:
    • By observation
    • Through personal interviews
    • Through telephone interviews
    • By mailing questionnaires
    • By physically administering the questionnaires

–      The researcher should select one of these methods of collecting the data taking into consideration the nature of investigation objective and scope of inquiry, financial resource, available time and the desired degree of accuracy.

7.Execution of the project

  • Execution of the process is very important step in the research process. If the execution of the project proceeds on correct lines, the data to be collected would be adequate and dependable.
  • The researcher should see that the project is executed in a systematic manner and in time. If the survey is to be conducted by means of structured questionnaires data can be easily analysed.
  • Appropriate steps should be taken to ensure that h=the survey is under statistical control so that the collected information is in accordance with the pre-defined standards of accuracy.

8.Analysis of data

  • After the data have been collected, the researcher turns to the task of analysing them. The analysis of data requires a number of closely related operations such as establishment of categories, the appointment of these categories to raw data through coding, tabulation and then drawing statistical inferences.
  • Analysis work after tabulation is generally based on the computation of various percentages, coefficients etc; by applying various well defined statistical formulae.
  • In the process of analysis, relationships or differences supporting or conflicting with original or new hypotheses should be subject to tests of significance to determine with what validity data can be said to indicate any conclusion(s).
  • In brief, the researcher can analyse the collected data with the help of various statistical measures.

9.Hypothesis-testing.

  • After analysing the data as stated above, the researcher is in a position to test the hypotheses, if he had formulated earlier.
  • Do the facts support the hypothesis or they happen to be contrary? This is the usual question which should be answered while testing hypotheses. Various tests, such as chi square test, t-test, f-test, have been developed by statisticians for the purpose.
  • The hypothesis may be tested through the use of one or more of chi square test, t-test or f-test, depending upon the nature and object of research inquiry.
  • Hypothesis-testing will result in either accepting the hypothesis or in rejecting it.

10.Generalization of interpretation.

  • If the hypothesis is tested and upheld several times, it may be possible for the researcher to arrive at generalization, i.e. to build a theory.
  • As a matter of fact, the real value of research lies in the ability to arrive at certain generalization.
  • If the researcher had no hypothesis to start with, he might seek to explain his finding on the basis of some theory. It is known as interpretation.

11.Preparation of the report or thesis.

  • Finally the researcher has to prepare the report of what has been done by him. Writing of report must be done with great care keeping in view the following:
    1. The layout of the report should be as follows:
  • The preliminary pages
  • The main text
  • The end matter
  • In its preliminary pages the report should carry title and date followed by acknowledgements and foreword.
  • Then there should be a table of contents followed by a list of tables and list of graphs and charts, if any, given in the report.
  • The main text of the report should have the following parts:
    • Introduction: it should contain a clear statement of the objective of the research and an explanation of the methodology adopted in accomplishing the research. The scope of the study along with various limitations should as well be stated in this part.
    • Summary of finding: after introduction, there should appear a statement of finding and recommendations in non-technical language. If the finding is extensive, they should be summarized.
    • Main report: the main body of the report should be presented in logical sequence and broke down into readily identifiable sections.
    • Conclusion: towards the end of the main text, researcher should again put down the results of his research clearly and precisely. In fact, it is the final summing up.

–        At the end of the report, appendices should be enlisted in respect of all technical data. Bibliography, i.e.; list of books, journals, reports etc, should be given specially in a research report meant to be published.

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