Nature of Research Meaning, Characteristics and Types

Table of Contents:-

  1. Nature of Research
  2. Meaning of Research
  3. Research Definition
  4. Characteristics of Research
  5. Criteria for Good Research
  6. Qualities of a Good Research
  7. Types of Research
  8. Need for Research

Nature of Research

The basic nature of research is to advance knowledge and seek solutions to problems. To do this, we start with simple questions. For example, the fundamental questions in journalistic practice are: who, what, why, where, when and how. In research, these questions are addressed more systematically, reliably, testable, and replicable. In practice, all the questions are mixed, and it is difficult to isolate one from the other when dealing with human behaviour and social phenomena.

In research, these are isolated and studied in depth – separately and together. The basic premise is that any issue/event/phenomenon can be learned and subjected to appropriate systematic, objective scientific procedures, and conclusions can be arrived at that can preferably be generalised to the population. Such results and conclusions should also be amenable to replication as the search for knowledge is conducted with a defined set of rules and procedures commonly understood and shared by all sciences.

The following points can characterise the nature of research:

1) Systematic Activity

The research follows a systematic procedure to analyse a research problem in a better way. It is essential to avoid haphazard research methods and adhere to a well-structured approach for reliable outcomes. Researchers can proceed to the next step only after successfully concluding the previous one.

2) Logical Process

The basic tenet of research is “logic”. All the assumptions and analyses undertaken are based on certain logic. Research is a scientific, systematic, and planned investigation to understand the underlying problem.

3) Iterative Process

Research is an iterative process. Sometimes it becomes necessary for the researcher to review the work of earlier stages, which makes it cyclic. Often it becomes harder for the researcher to find out the starting and ending points.

4) Based on Empirical Evidence

Research studies are empirical. Researchers employ various scientific tools and techniques at every step of the research process. Accuracy and reliance on observable experiences or empirical evidence are verified in each research step. Therefore, quantitative research is easier to validate than qualitative research, which is more conceptual.

5) Controlled in Nature

Researchers frequently manage variable effects by permitting the variation of selected variables for testing purposes. Due to this reason, controlling the variables in scientific research is much easier than controlling the factors in social research. Hence in research, it is essential to control the variables carefully.

Research Meaning

Research comprises two different words, “Re” and “Search”. ‘Re’ implies a repetitive or iterative process, whereas ‘search’ signifies conducting a comprehensive examination or looking over carefully to find something. Various researchers have defined research in different ways because of its expansive scope. In general, researchers define research as a scientific process that establishes and/or validates new facts, ideas, and theories across diverse domains of knowledge. The research aims at adding to the existing stock of knowledge for the betterment of the world.

Research Definition

According to Waltz and Bausell, “Research is a systematic, formal, rigorous and precise process employed to gain solutions to problems or to discover and interpret new facts and relationships”.

John Best states, “Research is a systematic activity directed towards discovery and the development of an organised body of knowledge.”

According to Clifford Woody, “Research comprises defining and redefining problems, formulating hypothesis or suggested solutions, collecting, organising and evaluating data. Making deductions and reaching conclusions to determine they fit the formulating hypothesis.”

Encyclopaedia of Social Science defines research as, “the manipulation of generalising to extend, connect or verify knowledge…” Manipulation incorporates experimentation adopted to arrive at generalisation.

Kerlinger (1973) defines “research as a systematic, controlled, empirical and critical investigation of hypothetical propositions about the presumed relationship about various phenomena.”

Burns (1994) also defines “research as a systematic investigation to find answers to a problem”.

Research involves scientific and systematic analysis of a specific area of study, culminating in the formulation of findings supported by sound reasoning.

Related Articles:

Characteristics of Good Research

A good research should qualify in the following essential criteria:

1) Ethically Conducted

A researcher should abide by the ethical standards laid down to conduct research accurately. Researchers must thoroughly examine, explain, and document both the research data and the limiting factors. This practice ensures transparency with the readers. The data should remain unaltered to accurately reflect the findings. The researchers must document the results of the study comprehensively.

2) Reliability

Reliability refers to the repeatability of a research, tool, procedure, or instrument. The degree of reliability of a research study depends on the consistency of its findings. Researchers determine the reliability of their work by observing consistent results under similar conditions and procedures. For example, a researcher may study the effect of a course written in English on the final grades of a group of students. To ensure the reliability of the study’s findings, researchers can replicate the study with a different group of students and achieve consistent results.

3) Clearly Defined Objectives

Researchers must clearly define the objectives of a research study. Well-defined research objectives provide researchers with a clear roadmap to follow. It helps the researchers to determine the type of data required to efficiently conduct the research.

4) Accuracy

Accurate research occurs when the research process, instruments, and tools interconnect seamlessly. It verifies that researchers are appropriately selecting their research tools. For example, Observation is the recommended data collection method when researching mental patients, as it helps overcome the challenge of potential inaccuracy in questionnaires or interviews.

5) Flexibility

Research involves re-examining the data till correct findings arrive. This is possible only if the research approach is flexible. There should always be scope to add on significant data or modify existing data as needed.

6) Generalisable Results

The degree to which the result of research can be applied to a bigger population is called generalisability. While carrying a research, the researcher selects a small sample from a target population. Hence, the sample and the research findings accurately reflect the characteristics of the target population. If the research results can be applied to other samples from a similar population, then the research findings can be considered generalisable.

7) Validity

Validity is a measure of the applicability of the research. It refers to the suitability and efficiency of the research instrument or procedure regarding the research problem. Validity measures the accuracy of an instrument in measuring the problem. It is a measurement of the applicability of the research. Validity is the basis of deciding whether a research conclusion, assumption, or proposition is true or false. The validity of research is maintained by clearly defining the concepts involved.

8) Credibility of Sources

Credibility means that the research data should be taken from trustworthy sources. Although the use of secondary data in research allows the researcher to complete the research within the timeframe, he loses credibility, as the secondary data are usually manipulated and hence relying exclusively on it can lead to erroneous and faulty research conclusions. A researcher should try to use primary data to the greatest extent feasible. If primary data is not available, then a specific amount of secondary data can be used. However, conducting research completely based on secondary data can harm the credibility of the research.

Objectives of Good Research

Research aims to uncover answers to questions by applying scientific procedures. The primary goal of research is to find hidden facts that have yet to be discovered. Although each research study has its specific purpose, research objectives can be broadly categorized into the following groups:

1. To test a hypothesis of a causal relationship between variables (such studies are known as hypothesis-testing research or experimental studies).

2. To gain familiarity with a phenomenon or achieve new insights into it (studies with this objective are termed exploratory research studies).

3. To determine the frequency with which something occurs or is associated with something else (studies with this objective are known as diagnostic research studies).

4. To accurately portray the characteristics of a particular individual, situation, or group (studies with this objective are known as descriptive research studies).

Research serves as a pool of knowledge. It is a vital source of guidelines for addressing various business, personal, professional, governmental, and social problems. It is a formal training ground, enabling individuals to understand new developments in their respective fields better.

Criteria for Good Research

The criteria for good research are outlined as follows:

1. The validity and reliability of the data should be examined.

2. The research report should be candid enough to assess the effects of the findings.

3. The research design should be carefully planned to generate results that maintain objectivity.

4. The purpose of the research should be clearly defined, and common concepts used should be operationally defined.

5. Data analysis in the research report should be adequate to reveal its significance, and the analysis method employed should be appropriate.

6. The research procedure must be precisely planned, focused, and appropriately described to enable other researchers to conduct further studies for advancement.

Qualities of Good Research

Good research possesses certain qualities, as outlined below:

1. Empirical

Conclusions are drawn based on hardcore evidence from real-life experiences and observations. This reliance on concrete information provides a foundation for external validation of research results.

2. Develop theories and Principles

Good research contributes to developing theories and principles, aiding in accurate predictions regarding the variables under study. Through the observation and analysis of samples, researchers can make sound generalizations about entire populations, extending beyond immediate situations, objects, or groups being investigated.

3. Logical

Research is guided by the rules of reasoning and logical processes, including induction (general to specific) and deduction (specific to public). Logical reasoning enhances the feasibility and meaningfulness of research in decision-making.

4. Replicable

The designs, procedures, and results of scientific research should be replicable, allowing anyone other than the original researcher to assess their validity. This ensures that one researcher can use or build upon the results obtained by another, making the procedures and results both replicable and transferrable.

5. Systematic

Research is structured according to a set of rules, following specific steps in a defined sequence. Systematic research encourages creative thinking, avoiding reliance on guessing and intuition to reach conclusions.

6. Valid and Verifiable

Research involves precise observation and accurate description. Researchers select reliable and valid instruments for data collection and utilize statistical measures to portray results accurately. The conclusions drawn are correct and can be verified by the researcher and others.

Need for Research

The research strives to achieve the following needs:

1) Describe the Features

The research seeks to describe the features of a particular phenomenon. It is one of the core activities of research where a researcher either observes the phenomenon and records its characteristic behaviour, conducts standardised tests to measure the behaviour or describes the change in attitude or opinion of the customers. For example, a researcher can describe the behaviour of smokers by either analysing or observing their behaviour by undergoing some standard tests, such as measuring per-day consumption, the level of resistance, etc.

2) Influence Activities

The research emphasises applying the existing theories and models instead of developing new theories, for influencing various facets of the environment. Most of the research conducted in social, behavioural and educational research falls under the area of influence.

3) Explore unknown facts

One of the prime objectives of research is to explore an unknown object or phenomenon. While exploring, a researcher tries to understand the details of the situation or phenomenon for developing preliminary hypotheses and generalisations. Exploring allows the researchers to develop theories and explain the questions of how and why a phenomenon operates in a particular way.

4) Explain a Phenomenon

Another objective of the research is to explain several facts. The research aims to explain why and how a phenomenon operates in a specific way. Researchers develop theories to explain the behaviour of a particular phenomenon, these theories are prepared by determining the factors that cause the change and identifying their effects on the phenomenon. Most scientific and educational researchers have this objective for their studies. For example, if a researcher is trying to know, “Do holiday trips for employee families improve work-life balance?”. Therefore, the cause is ‘holiday trips’ and the effect is ‘work-life balance’.

5) Predict Future Activities

Research is also conducted to predict future activities. Predictions can be made based on explanations regarding a phenomenon. Hence, for making forecasts adequate prior information is essential. Forecasting activity can also be performed on the research based on explanation. Here, predictions are made based on cause-and-effect relationships in a phenomenon. A good example of this objective is the research that analysts conduct during elections to predict the winning political party based on the information that they can gather from the voting polls.

You May Also Like:

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top