Fundamentals of Research Methods
There are several steps that when combined and compressed in a proper manner, enable the work of ‘research’ to take place. In other words, systematically collecting data, the evaluation and interpreting of it in a planned manner, for the purpose of contributing towards science is called scientific research. This varies from subject to subject. Be it human trials or animal. The steps forming scientific research are in themselves, massive and without them, the footfall of engagement on studies would not be as accurate as an author would require.
The results then gained from the collection of data are socialized and information is revealed with respect to diagnosis, treatment and reliability of applications. This is done to review the consistent delegation of definition, classification and methodology of scientific research.
Importance of Scientific Basis for Research
The purpose of research is to inform action. Thus the research and study data gathered should be contextualized its findings within the larger body of research. Research must always be of high quality in order to produce knowledge that is applicable outside of the research setting. Science usually conjectures formulas and facts to the normal person. In addition to a body of formulas and facts, science is a practice by which we pursue answers to questions that are approached scientifically. This practice is referred to as scientific research. Until recent times, research institutions scientists and governments relied on self-regulation on shared ethical practices and generally accepted practices to ensure integrity in the research process. Among the principles that guide scientists, are those which are expressed as respect for the integrity of the knowledge, honesty, integrity, and collegiality and opened. These principles serve as a fundamental basis of the scientific method inscribed to use in the research process such as observation, formulating a hypothesis, designing and conducting a hypothesis, as well as collecting and interpreting data. In addition, more principles that are specific to the discipline are used that influence the methods of observation; acquisition, storage and management of data, as well as the communication of knowledge and information. How these principles are applied varies among research organizations, individual researchers as well as among scientific disciplines. Researchers try to seek a systematic organization of verifiable knowledge about the subject matter. This knowledge is based on verifiable and explanatory principles used by researchers and scientists alike that can be verified by independent observers.
The idea of science is learning about a subject manner in a reliable accurate way through collecting empirical data. This process is designed to reduce as much human bias as possible, and make our conclusions as accurate as possible. Once the data is collected, it is analyzed, by use of statistics and calculations, and then conclusions are made from the results. It is crucial for researchers to ensure that the data they collect is representative of the true situation; this means using proved or appropriate techniques of collecting and analyzing data and ensuring the research is conducted ethically and safely. Controlled scenarios may be required in order to test the effects and impacts – such as when developing a new product, or evaluating management actions. The control scenario represents the opposite of the scenario being tested. This is done so that the results obtained from the controlled scenario are guaranteed to be from the tested product or impact, and nothing else.
The reliability and verifiability of the accuracy of these results is tested by a process known as ‘Peer Review’ in which other fellow scientists scrutinize and critique the research. The research must be reviewed by their scientific peers – only they are fully qualified to assess the validity of results, of the methods and the accuracy of the conclusions the researcher has drawn from the results. Having research findings published in an international peer-reviewed journal essentially means that other professional scientists who specialize in that kind of research have verified the quality and validity of the research. This process often takes a lot of time – from submission to the publishing can take over six months to a year. For important decisions that will affect a lot of people, a number of studies may need to be sourced, to show that a majority of scientists experienced with this subject matter tend to agree on this evidence. Hence, this shows “scientific consensus” on the evidence.
Understanding where true evidence comes from, and what it means, is imperative to help us tackling the most effective issues affecting our own lives and the world we live in. So, whenever the term “scientific evidence” is used, probe this term by asking; who funded the research and why? How much evidence there is and how it was gathered? Was the sample size or location representative of the real situation? Has the research been published in an internationally-accepted, peer-reviewed journal, or is it only available online on a website?
Science tends to follow a constant and thorough set of systems. Systems are sets of interconnected parts forming a complex whole. This way, systems become a way of separating the subject matter into a set of parts to be studied. For example, the working of a combustion engine can be separated in turn where, the combustion of water, oil and air; the moving of pistons, the selection of gears can be separated to make do for thorough a constant detailed study of mechanisms in the whole system.
Models are ways to make certain subject matter easier to evaluate, analyze and interpret for study and understanding. A physical clay model, a 3-D landscape and other displays of analytical data are good examples of models being used for analytical interpretation. Constancy and change is the idea that things in nature can change or stay the same. Aspects of the same thing can change or stay the same, or things can seem constant on one time scale, but be changing on another. For example, the condition may not be changing to the naked eye but we know the ground is changing slowly due to platonic plates that show change over a period of about 10,000 years.
Equilibrium is where a system reaches a final, balanced state. For example, ice cubes in a hot tea make do not make the system equilibrium. Heat is transferred from the tea to the ice. When temperature balances out, the ice melts, it could be said the contents of the tea have reached thermal equilibrium.
Main Steps for Conducting a Study
Scientific research involves a systematic process that focuses on being objective and gathering a multitude of information for analysis so that the researcher can come to a conclusion about his/her subject matter. This process is used in all research evaluation projects, regardless of the research method (scientific method of inquiry, evaluation research or action research). The scientific research process is a multiple-step process where the steps are interlinked with the other steps with the other steps in the process. If changes are made in one step of the process, the researcher must review all the other steps to ensure that changes are reflected through all the other steps in the process.
Step 1: Identify the Problem
The first step is to identify a problem and develop a research question. The research problem may be something that the researcher might identify as a problem, some knowledge or information that is needed, or the desire to identify a recreation trend nationally. The scientist researches the question to determine if it has been answered or the type of conclusions other researchers have drawn and experiments that have been carried out in relation to the question. Research involves reading scholarly journal articles from other scientists, which can be found via research databases and journals that publish academic journals online. During the research, the scientist narrows down the broad topic into a specific research question about some issue.
Step 2: Review the Literature
Since the problem has been identified, the researcher must learn more about the topic under investigation. To do this, the researcher must review the literature which is in relation to the subject matter. The review of literature also educates the researcher about what studies have been conducted in the past, in what manner were these studies conducted, and the conclusions drawn from these problems. For example, in an obesity study, the review of the study allows the researcher to statistically analyze the long-term effects of childhood obesity in terms of health issues, death rates, and projected medical costs. The information discovered during this step helps the researcher fully understand the magnitude of the problem, recognize future consequences, and identify a strategy to tackle this problem.
Step 3: Hypothesis
Hypothesis is a concise, clear statement containing the main idea or purpose of your consequential scientific research. A hypothesis must be testable and falsifiable, meaning there must be a way to test the hypothesis and it can either be supported or rejected based on the examining data. Crafting the hypothesis requires you to define the variables, guidelines and parameters of your research, explain them with clarity and explain your position. When writing the hypothesis, researchers make a specific cause-and-effect statement about the variables being studied or make a general statement about the relationship between such variables.
Step 4: Design the Experiment
Designing a scientific experiment requires planning how you’re going to collect the data. The plan for the study is referred as the instrumentation plan. The instrumentation plan serves as the road map for the entire study, specifying who will participate in the study; how, when and where the data will be collected; and the content of the program. This plan comprises of numerous decisions and considerations. Often the nature of the research question impacts how the scientific research will be conducted. For example, researching people’s opinion naturally requires surveys. Hence, when designing the experiment, the scientist selects where and how the sample being studied will be obtained, the dates and times for the experiment, the controls being used and the other measures needed to carry out the research.
Step 5: Collect Data
Once the plan and the experiment has been strategized, the real research; the collection of data begins. This is a critical step in providing the information needed to answer the research question. Every study includes collection of some kind of data – whether it is in the form of literature or any other analytical data – to answer the research question. Data collection involves following the instrumentation plan and conducting the experiment the researcher designed. During this process, the data is recorded and the tasks are completed that are required to conduct the experiment. Tasks involved in the completing of experiment depend on the type of research and subject matter.
Step 6: Analyze Data
This step involves bringing the data together and calculating statistics. Statistical analysis helps the researcher in successfully interpreting the data and concludes on what has been discovered. Calculation of statistics involves both descriptive and inferential measurements. Descriptive statistics involve data to be described as well as the samples collected. Inferential involves conducting tests of significance that have the power to either confirm or reject the original hypothesis. The measurements and calculations are then reviewed and summarized in a manner that is directly related to the research questions.
Step 7: Draw Conclusions
After the data from an experiment is analyzed, the researcher examines the information and makes conclusions based on the findings. The researcher compares the conclusions to the original hypothesis conjured at the start of the study and to the conclusions achieved by other researchers. When drawing conclusions the scientist explains what the results mean and how they should be viewed in the context of the subject matter and the issue being discussed, their affect on the scientific field and the real-world environment, as well as providing suggestions for future research.
The process of scientific research requires a person to dedicate a lot of time and effort to the planning and experimenting process in order to find accurate and validated results. A scientific research cannot be conducted in limited time as they will only result in false conclusions that are not of any value to the organization.
The Format for Research Paper
Following is the format a research paper usually follows where the aforementioned content is categorized:
1. Title Page; this contains the subject of the work, researcher’s personal data and date of writing
2. Abstract; the crux of the research paper
3. Introduction; why the paper was written, what subject does it tackle
4. Literature Review; research and information gathered from other verified and validated scholarly journals
5. Research Methodology; experiment description and the methods used in the experiment
6. Findings; results gathered from experiment
7. Discussion; descriptive analysis of the data gathered through experiments
8. Conclusion; the interpretation of results in context of the subject matter and issues, as well as brief review of the whole work
9. Bibliography/Reference List; journals, research and literature cited from other researchers
The Principles of Research Ethics
One would regard ethics as morals, a rite of passage into the learning sphere of life or a way to distinguish between the right and the wrongs. They define the norms of conduct to be followed, but in different areas of research; the ethics of that particular subject may vary.
The learning of this ethical behavior takes place at different places in a person’s life, from home, to the school and so on. We are taught where these ethics apply, why and how. But even in a functioning society, every other person has a different and complicated manner in which they apply the moral code to their lives and that of others. We all have very different meanings of how our lives should be lived and ideas to be implemented through our own personal experiences. This means that if two people convict one person of acting immorally, one other would stand beside them in support. What may seem right to one, make seem extremely unethical to another. This is how ethics is applicable in practical life.
The rules and regulations set down in accordance with societal standards (the ethics of living) are a bit broader from regular laws that govern human life. In most societies, ethical standards and legal standards may be viewed to be on the same standing and might as well be termed the same; but this is not the case in its entirety. Ethical standards are those that are clearly regarded as moral and for the most part; humanitarian. Whereas laws created to govern life, are philosophically speaking; keeping morality at bay and targeting only danger that requires prosecution. They differ in the above way.
When we talk about the principles of research ethics, they have their own set of rules that have been developed over the years to assist writers in their quest towards churning out vastly researched and proper work.
There are five possible applications of the research ethics placed upon the academia that are based upon truth, knowledge, fabrication, accountability, misconduct, trust and social and ethical responsibilities which i.e. are similar in nature.
Beginning with trust, if your research is based upon public support, it is easier for people to trust your work and help you fund this study further. This will help you build a stronger audience and backing for the future. When it comes to knowledge, the age old saying is true. Knowledge is indeed power but that power must be used positively and properly. Any misuse of it will inevitably lead you to falter in your work.
These research ethics enable you to work towards that knowledge so when you do work on it, any and all of the error that might befall is avoided. You know your research well and errors are barred. If your work speaks against the fabrication of the truth, where data may be falsified in the eye of the public, it will be well received because then your morality is well and above the ground and no one dare question the righteous.
Where many researchers come together for collaborative work, ethics apply. Various policies are applied such as parental controls, copyrights to whom they should be granted, data sharing and how it is to be done without prematurely causing the study to be leaked and many other intellectual property rights that need to be safeguarded. Most researchers do not feel comfortable sharing their work as they fear it might be stolen and published as they may not want it to be.
If a researcher’s work is viewed to be unethical, that is not within the guidelines provided and harms public policy, defames or even disregards animal rights in some form, these people are to be held accountable for the misjudgment and unethical behavior expelled by them.
Jeopardizing or falsifying data have consequences that may as well ban a research or the author behind it for life. In clinical trials, you are not only endangering the lives of the patients you are treating, but for future references, you work will always be deemed false if a mistake made has been caught. Proper work has to be overseen by the authors and no such data should be made public at any time. Not only is your conscience threatened, so is your life’s work.
Conducting research has been an imperative step in human and scientific discovery and evolution. Through research has mankind been able to tackle and successfully able to conjure up solutions to overwhelming problems through thought and reasoning. Conducting a research is a time-consuming and tiring process, as one continually faces obstacles time and time again when striving to achieve accurate results for the discovery of the solution. However, many great minds have continually been determine to strive for excellence and have helped solve many of the world’s troubling issues and problems though this grueling process. Hence, it is roved time and time again that research is essential, for progress, improvement and evolution.