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In the broadest sense of the word, the definition of research includes any gathering of
data, information and facts for the advancement of knowledge.

Reading a factual book of any sort is a kind of research. Surfing the internet or watching
the news is also a type of research.

Science does not use this word in the same way, preferring to restrict it to certain
narrowly defined areas. The word ‘review’ is more often used to describe the learning
process which is one of the underlying tenets of the rigid structures defining scientific
The strict definition of scientific research is performing a methodical study in order to
prove a hypothesis or answer a specific question. Finding a definitive answer is the
central goal of any experimental process.

Research must be systematic and follow a series of steps and a rigid standard protocol.
These rules are broadly similar but may vary slightly between the different fields of

Scientific research must be organized and undergo planning, including performing

literature reviews of past research and evaluating what questions need to be answered.

Any type of ‘real’ research, whether scientific, economic or historical, requires some kind
of interpretation and an opinion from the researcher. This opinion is the underlying
principle, or question, that establishes the nature and type of experiment.

The scientific definition of research generally states that a variable must be manipulated,
although case studies and purely observational science do not always comply with this

by Martyn Shuttleworth (2008).


The process of gathering information for the purpose of initiating, modifying or

terminating a particular investment or group of investments.
Desk Research (sometimes known as secondary data or secondary research) involves
gathering data that already exists either from internal sources ...
The systematic examination of all available secondary data in the context of a particular
marketing research problem.

This is a research technique which involves the market researcher collating and drawing
together secondary sources of information. ...

The collation of existing research results and data from published secondary sources for a
specific, often unrelated, project.

Desk research

Research using published sources, and/or the client's own internal sources, carried out
prior to a research project. This analysis may be integrated into the overall findings of the
study, and/or used to help design the main project (for example, regarding sample