Research Methodology

  • Post last modified:8 January 2022
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What is Research Methodology?

It is the procedure that helps to systematically proceed in steps to solve a research problem. Research methodology is a broader concept that includes not only the research methods; but also the logic behind the research methods in the context of a particular research study; and it explains the reasons for using particular research methods and statistical techniques.

What is Research?

Research in simple terms refers to search for knowledge. It is a scientific and systematic search for information on a particular topic or issue. It is also known as the art of scientific investigation. Several social scientists have defined research in different ways.

Meaning of Research

The word research is composed of two syllables, re and search re is a prefix meaning again, anew or over again search is a verb meaning to examine closely and carefully, to test and try, or to probe. Together they form a noun describing a careful, systematic, patient study and investigation in some field of knowledge, undertaken to establish facts or principles.


Research Definition

In the Encyclopedia of Social Sciences, D. Slesinger and M. Stephension (1930) defined research as “the manipulation of things, concepts or symbols for the purpose of generalizing to extend, correct or verify knowledge, whether that knowledge aids in the construction of theory or in the practice of an art”.

According to Redman and Mory (1923), research is a “systematized effort to gain new knowledge”. It is an academic activity and therefore the term should be used in a technical sense.

According to Clifford Woody (kothari, 1988), research comprises “defining and redefining problems, formulating hypotheses or suggested solutions; collecting, organizing and evaluating data; making deductions and reaching conclusions; and finally, carefully testing the conclusions to determine whether they fit the formulated hypotheses”.

Thus, research is an original addition to the available knowledge, which contributes to its further advancement. It is an attempt to pursue truth through the methods of study, observation, comparison and experiment. In sum, research is the search for knowledge, using objective and systematic methods to find a solution to a problem.


Principles of Research

The basic principles of research include a systematic process to identify a question or problem, set forth a plan of action to answer the question or resolve the problem, and meticulously collect and analyse data. In conducting any research it is crucial to choose the right method and design for a specific researchable problem. All research is different. However, the following factors are common to all good pieces of research:

  • It is based on empirical data.

  • It involves precise observations and measurements.

  • It is aimed at developing theories, principles and generalizations.

  • There are systematic, logical procedures involved.

  • It is replicable.

  • The findings of the research need to be reported.

Characteristics of Research

It is clear that research is an unbiased, structured, systematic and sequential method of enquiry directed towards a clear or implicit objective. But to qualify as research it must contain various characteristics.

Henry Johnson mentions that research has the following main characteristics:

  • It is empirical, i.e., it is based on observation and reasoning and not on speculation.

  • It is theoretical, i.e., it summarises data precisely giving logical relationship between propositions which explain causal relationship.

  • It is cumulative, i.e., generalizations / theories arc corrected, rejected and newly developed theories are built upon one another.

  • It is non-ethical, i.e., scientists do not say whether particular things / events/ phenomena / institutions / systems / structures are good or bad. They only explain them.

A good research study contains the following features:

Objectivity

The main purpose of a research is to answer the research question. Research should be objective which helps in necessitating the formulation of a proper hypothesis. Lack of objectivity leads to a poor formulation of hypothesis and the entire process thereafter lacks any congruency between the research questions and the hypothesis.

Control

A good research must be able to control all the variables. This requires randomization at all stages, e.g., in selecting the subjects, the sample size and the experimental treatments. This shall ensure adequate control over the independent variables. This is the basic technique in all scientific experimentation— allowing one variable to vary while holding all other variables constant. Unless all variables except one have been controlled, one cannot be sure which variable has produced the results.

Rigorous

you must be scrupulous in ensuring that the procedures followed to find answers to questions are relevant, appropriate and justified. Again, the degree of rigor varies markedly between the physical and social sciences and within the social sciences.

Systematic

This implies that the procedure adopted to undertake an investigation follow a certain logical sequence. The different steps cannot be taken in a haphazard way. Some procedures must follow others.

Valid and verifiable

This concept implies that whatever you conclude on the basis of your findings is correct and can be verified by you and others.

Empirical

This means that any conclusions drawn are based upon hard evidence gathered from information collected from real-life experiences or observations.

Critical

Critical scrutiny of the procedures used and the methods employed is crucial to a research enquiry. The process of investigation must be foolproof and free from drawbacks. The process adopted and the procedures used must be able to withstand critical scrutiny. For a process to be called research, it is imperative that it has the above characteristics.

Precision

A research should never be ambiguous. One has to make it as exact as necessary. The facts and figures should be exact to the extent possible. Precision does not restrict to just the data or the facts and findings, but also extends to the measurement factor too.


Significance of Research

To Gather Necessary Information

Research provides you with all necessary information in the field of your work, study or operation before you begin working on it. For example, most companies do research before beginning a project in order to get a basic idea about the things they will need to do for the project. Research also helps them get acquainted with the processes and resources involved and reception from the market. This information helps in the successful outcome of the project.

To Make Changes

Sometimes, there are in-built problems in a process or a project that is hard to discover. Research helps us find the root cause and associated elements of a process. The end result of such research invokes a demand for change and sometimes is successful in producing changes as well. For example, many U.N. researches have paved the way for changes in environmental policies.

Improving Standard of Living

Only through research can new inventions and discoveries come into life. It was C.V Raman’s research that prompted invention of radio communication. Imagine how you would have communicated had Graham Bell not come out with the first ever practical telephone! Forget telephones, what would have happened if Martin Cooper did not present the world the concept of mobile phones!

Addicted as we are to mobile phones, we need to understand that all the luxuries and the amenities that are now available to us are the result of research done by someone. And with the world facing more and crisis each day, we need researchers to find new solutions to tackle them.

For a Safer Life

Research has made groundbreaking discoveries and development in the field of health, nutrition, food technology and medicine. These things have improved the life expectancy and health conditions of human race in all parts of the world and helped eradicate diseases like polio, smallpox completely.

Diseases that were untreatable are now history, as new and new inventions and research in the field of medicine have led to the advent of drugs that not only treat the once-incurable diseases, but also prevent them from recurring.

To Know the Truth

It has been proved time and again that many of established facts and known truths are just cover ups or blatant lies or rumors. Research is needed to investigate and expose these and bring out the truth.

Explore Our History

Research about our planets history and human history has enabled us to learn and understand more about our forefathers and helped us learn from their mistakes and absorb good things from their life.

Research about the planet’s history and existence has told us a lot about how things will shape up in years to come and how we need to respect our planet and work closely together to stop global warming and other scenarios of destruction.

Understanding Arts

This helps us in understanding the work of artists in literature, paintings, sculptures and everything that can be attributed with artistic touch. If no research is conducted into any of these, we will never be able to understand any of these as per the artist’s imagination. Also, a lot of great artistic work is hidden in the shadows of history, which needs to be drawn out.

Motives to do Research

Research is the result of advancing knowledge created in the past. There are people from all walks of life that contribute to gathered information. These are ordinary people and extraordinary people.

They include teachers, students, scientists, professors, scholars, business owners, librarians, bookkeepers, writers, politicians and many more unknown out there. These are everyday citizens we interact with. They all help with the flow of information that people use for self-help.


Types of Research

Research can be classified from three perspectives:

Application

From the point of view of the application, there are two broad categories of research:

Pure research

Pure research involves developing and testing theories and hypotheses that are intellectually challenging to the researcher but may or may not have a practical application at the present time or in the future. The knowledge produced through pure research is sought in order to add to the existing body of research methods.

Applied research

Applied research is done to solve specific, practical questions; for policy formulation, administration and understanding of a phenomenon. It can be exploratory but is usually descriptive. It is almost always done on the basis of basic research. Applied research can be carried out by academic or industrial institutions. Often, an academic institution such as a university will have a specific applied research program funded by an industrial partner interested in that program.

Objectives

From the viewpoint of objectives, research can be classified as:

Descriptive research

Descriptive research attempts to describe systematically a situation, problem, phenomenon, service or programme, or provides information about, say, the living condition of a community, or describes attitudes towards an issue.

Correlation research

Correlation research attempts to discover or establish the existence of a relationship/ interdependence between two or more aspects of a situation.

Explanatory research

Explanatory research attempts to clarify why and how there is a relationship between two or more aspects of a situation or phenomenon.

Exploratory research

Exploratory research is undertaken to explore an area where little is known or to investigate the possibilities of undertaking a particular research study (feasibility study/pilot study). In practice, most studies are a combination of the first three categories.

Inquiry Mode

From the process adopted to find answers to research questions the two approaches are:

Structured approach

The structured approach to inquiry is usually classified as quantitative research. Here everything that forms the research process- objectives, design, sample, and the questions that you plan to ask of respondents- is predetermined.

It is more appropriate to determine the extent of a problem, issue or phenomenon by quantifying the variation e.g. how many people have a particular problem? How many people hold a particular attitude?

Unstructured approach

The unstructured approach to inquiry is usually classified as qualitative research. This approach allows flexibility in all aspects of the research process. It is more appropriate to explore the nature of a problem, issue or phenomenon without quantifying it.

Main objective is to describe the variation in a phenomenon, situation or attitude. e,g., description of an observed situation, the historical enumeration of events, an account of different opinions different people have about an issue, description of working conditions in a particular industry. Both approaches have their place in research. Both have their strengths and weaknesses.

In many studies, you have to combine both qualitative and quantitative approaches. For example, suppose you have to find the types of cuisine accommodation available in a city and the extent of their popularity.


Problems and Precautions in Effective Research

Business Research in India is facing a lot of difficulties especially in the case of Exploratory Research, it may be of varied reasons, and some are discussed herein under:

  • It is important to be aware that exploratory research should never take the place of quantitative research. Doing so, ‘could Introduction to Research lead to misinterpretations and poor judgments.

  • The greatest concern, however, is that of rejecting a good idea during the initial stages of exploratory research, thus voiding it from being analyzed and targeted correctly.

  • As secondary data has been collected for purposes other than those outlined in the research study, its usefulness may be restricted in a few ways.

  • Biased research transpires when the research process IS executed improperly, resulting in incorrect findings.

  • The Researchers are not scientifically trained. So they generally make error while selecting the right Research method.

  • Choosing of population for survey is difficult. For example, if you want to make survey of consumer goods in the urban areas it will give a different result than if you make the survey in the rural areas.

  • Due to collection of large data, sometimes the researcher is unable to make correct interpretation leading to false result calculation.

  • As the decision is based on the paradigm of the researcher, so sometimes it is biased and incorrect.

  • While making a Business Research, the secrecy of the business is generally leaked to its competitors. So, in such case the data are not provided to the researcher.

  • Research is time taking process. It may require time which may span over many years. Also in the beginning of the Research, the researcher is not sure, how much result will he get at the end of the research.

  • Since Research is such a long process. So, it requires lot of funds, and that fund has no return unless the research work is complete.

  • Many Social Research face stiff objection of the society, if it is about the changing trend in the society. In such case, it becomes very difficult for the researcher to collect data and interpret it.

    Researchers group in India generally face the problem of discipline, where due to large volume of data, a researcher may predict the data to be collected. This leads to a bias data collection. Data should be collected initially and at the time of making the decisions or conclusion, interpretations should be made.

Research Methods versus Research Methodology

Research Methods: They refer to all the methods the researchers use while studying the research problems and while conducting research operations. In general, the research methods can be categorized into the following three groups:

  • The first group includes the methods that are concerned with the data collection.
  • These cond includes the statistical techniques needed for mapping relationships between the unknowns and the data.
  • The third group contains the methods necessary to evaluate the accuracy of the results obtained.

Research Methodology

It is the procedure that helps to systematically proceed in steps to solve a research problem. Research methodology is a broader concept that includes not only the research methods; but also the logic behind the research methods in the context of a particular research study; and it explains the reasons for using particular research methods and statistical techniques. Research methodology also defines how the data should be evaluated to get the appropriate results.


Applications of Research in Business Decisions

The role and significance of research in aiding business decision is very significant. The question one might ask here is about the critical importance of research in different areas of management. Is it most relevant in marketing? Do financial and production decisions really need research assistance? Does the method or process of research change with the functional area?

The answer to all the above questions is NO. Business managers in each field— whether human resources or production, marketing or finance—are constantly being confronted by problem situations that require effective and actionable decision making. Most of these decisions require additional information or information evaluation, which can be best addressed by research. While the nature of the decision problem might be singularly unique to the manager, organization and situation, broadly for the sake of understanding, it is possible to categorize them under different heads.

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