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Research has been defined in a number of different ways. A broad definition of research is given by Martin Shuttleworth (2008), "In the broadest sense of the word, the definition of research includes any gathering of data, information and facts for the advancement of knowledge.” Another definition of research is given by Creswell (2008) who states that "Research is a process of steps used to collect and analyze information to increase our understanding of a topic or issue". It consists of three steps: Pose a question, collect data to answer the question, and present an answer to the question. In addition, the MerriamWebster Online Dictionary defines research in more detail as "A studious inquiry or examination; especially investigation or experimentation aimed at the discovery and interpretation of facts, revision of accepted theories or laws in the light of new facts, or practical application of such new or revised theories or laws".
In overall, research is the systematic investigation into existing or new knowledge. It is used to establish or confirm facts, reaffirm the results of previous work, solve new or existing problems, support theorems, or develop new theories. A research project may also be an expansion on past work in the field. In order to test the validity of instruments, procedures, or experiments, research may replicate elements of prior projects, or the project as a whole. The primary purposes of basic research (as opposed to applied research) are
documentation, discovery, interpretation, or the research and development of methods and systems for the advancement of human knowledge. Approaches to research depend on epistemologies, which vary considerably both within and between humanities and sciences. There are several forms of research: scientific, humanities, artistic, economic, social, business, etc.
Scientific research relies on the application of the scientific method, a harnessing of curiosity. This research provides scientific information and theories for the explanation of
the nature and the properties of the world. It makes practical applications possible. Scientific research can be subdivided into different classifications according to their academic and application disciplines. Besides, scientific research is a widely used criterion for judging the standing of an academic institution, such as business schools, but some argue that such is an inaccurate assessment of the institution.
humanities involves and a
example hermeneutics and semiotics,
more relativist epistemology.
Humanities scholars usually do not search for the ultimate correct answer to a question, but instead explore the issues and details that surround it. Context is always important, and context can be social, historical, political, cultural or ethnic. An example of research in the humanities is historical research, which is embodied in historical method.
The goal of the research process is to produce new knowledge or deepen understanding of a topic or issue. Therefore, it is very important for the researcher to develop an optimal design for every research project. The research process is designed after having identified the variables in a problem situation and developed the theoretical framework. There are ten basic aspects of research design which are the purpose of the study, the types of investigation, the extent of researcher interference, the study setting, the unit of analysis, the time horizon, the measurement, the data collection methods, the sampling design, and the data analysis.
To be noted, the sophisticated the research, the more cost and time are needed to get the solution. So, the research design is specifically asking by each aspect in order to maximize the accuracy of the solution commensurate with the larger investment of resources.
1. Purpose of study:
This is a method of solving problem, where the phenomena of study are understood digging more information in that study. There are three nature of study, which are explanatory, descriptive, or hypothesis testing. It is depends on the stage which knowledge about the research topic. The purpose of study is the stage where we design the decisions, whether we choose explanatory stage which we attempt to explore new areas of organizational research, or descriptive stage where we try to describe certain characteristics
of the phenomena on which main interest, or hypothesis testing stage where we examine whether or not the conjectured relationships have been substantiated and an answer to the research question has been obtained.
2. Type of investigation:
A researcher should determine whether a causal or a co-relational study is needed to find an answer to the issue at hand. The former is done when it is necessary to establish a definitive cause and effect relationship. However if all that the researcher wants is a mere identification of the important factors associated with the problem then a correlation study is called for. In the former case the researcher is keen on delineating one or more factors that are undoubtedly causing a problem. In other words the intention of the researcher conducting a causal study is to be able to state that variable X cause's variable Y. so when variable X is removed or altered in some way, problem Y is solved.
Quite often however it is not just one or more variables that cause a problem in organizations. Given the fact that most of the time there are multiple factors that influence one another and the problem in a chainlike fashion, the researcher might be asked to identify the crucial factors associated with the problem rather than establish a cause and effect relationship. The study in which the researcher wants to delineate the cause of one or more problems is called a casual study.
3. Extent of researcher interference:
This case is normal occurrence in normal working environment. There are two types of interference; the study undertaken is either causal or correctional. Causal relationship means the studies conducted is to establish the cause and effect relationship. This type of relationship is where the researchers try to manipulate certain variables in order to study the effects of such manipulation on the dependent variables of the study. The correlation study is applied in the natural environment of the organization with the minimal interference by the researcher with the normal flow of work. It can be said the correlation study is conducted in initial stage of finding the interference of the researcher. Then, follow by the causal study
which is more details. The extent of researcher interference is determined by looking on minimal, moderate and excessive interference. Minimal interference is happen when the accurate solution could be determined. In this case, beyond collecting the data sample, the researcher has not interfered with the normal activities in other area. In other words, researcher interference has been minimal. In moderate interference situation, the researcher is now not interest with finding a correlation but wants to firmly establish a causal connection. Here, the researcher has interfered more than minimally. Excessive interference is when the normal environment becomes odds environment. Here, the researcher has intervened maximally with the normal setting, the samples of studies and the task given. Therefore, it will interrupt the result and the data collected maybe in errors.
4. Study setting:
A research can be done in the natural environment where work proceeds normally (that is, in noncontrived settings) or in artificial (contrived settings). Correlational studies are invariably conducted in noncontrived settings. Correctional studies done in organizational are called field studies. Research here is done in a noncontrived setting with no interference with the normal work routine.
Whereas most rigorous causal studies are done in organizational lab settings. Studies conducted to establish cause–and-effect relationship using the same natural environment in which employees normally function are called field experiments. Different type of manipulation will be done to the independent variables to see the cause and effect relationship between independent and dependent variables.
Experiments done to establish a cause-and-effect relationship beyond the possibility of the least doubt require the creation of an artificial, contrived environment in which all the extraneous factors are strictly controlled. Similar subjects are chosen carefully to respond to certain manipulated stimuli. These studies are referred to as lab experiment. In this case, the
research has create an artificial environment which is the self esteem factors has been manipulated.
5. Unit of analysis:
It refers to the level of aggregation of the data collected during the subsequent data analysis stage. The research question determines the unit of analysis. As the research question addresses issues that move away from the individual to dyads, and to groups, organizations, and even nations, so also the unit of analysis shift from individuals to dyads, groups, organizations, and nations. The characteristics of these “levels of analysis” are that the lower levels are subsumed within the higher levels. For example, individual do not have the characteristics as groups (eg: structure, cohesiveness), and groups do not have the same characteristics as individuals (eg: IQ, stamina). There are variation in perceptions, attitudes, and behaviors of people in different cultures. Hence, the nature of the data gathered, as well as the level at which the data are aggregated for analysis, are integral to decision made on the choice of the unit of analysis.
6. Time horizon
Cross-sectional studies is a study that can be undertaken in which data are gathered just once, perhaps over the period of days or weeks or months, in order to answer a research question. Such studies are called one-shot or cross-sectional studies.
Longitudinal studies, in some cases, however, the researcher might want to study people or phenomena at more than one point in time in order to answer the research question. For instance, the researcher might want to study employees‟ behavior before and after a change in the top management, so as to what effects the change accomplished. Here, because data are gathered at two different points in time, the study is not cross-sectional or of the one kind shot, but is carried longitudinally across a period of time. Such studies, as when data on the dependent variable are gathered at two or more points in time to answer the research questions, are called longitudinal studies.
Longitudinal studies take more time and effort and cost more than cross-sectional studies. However, well-planned longitudinal studies can, among other things, help to identify cause and effect relationship.
Measurement is central to any enquiry. The greater the refinement in the unit of measurement of a variable, the greater the confidence, other things being equal, one can place in the findings. S.S.Stevens has classified the different types of into measurement scales four categories: • Nominal or classificatory scale • Ordinal or ranking scale • Interval scale • Ratio scale
A nominal or classificatory scale enables the classification of individuals, objects or responses into subgroups based on a common/shared property or characteristic. A variable measured on a nominal scale may have one, two or more subcategories depending upon the extent of variation. For example, ‟water‟ or „tree‟ have only one subgroup, whereas the variable “gender” can be classified into two sub-categories: male and female. „Hotels‟ can be classified into sub-categories. The sequence in which subgroups are listed makes no difference as there is no relationship among subgroups.
Besides categorizing individuals, objects, responses or a property into subgroups on the basis of common characteristic, it ranks the subgroups in a certain order. They are arranged either in ascending or descending order according to the extent a subcategory reflects the magnitude of variation in the variable. For example, „income‟ can be measured either quantitatively (in rupees and paise) or qualitatively using subcategories „above average‟, „average‟ and „below average‟. The „distance‟ between these subcategories are not equal as there is no quantitative unit of measurement. „Socioeconomic status‟ and „attitude‟ are other variables that can be measured on ordinal scale.
An interval scale has all the characteristics of an ordinal scale. In addition, it uses a unit of measurement with an arbitrary starting and terminating points. For example,
Celsius scale: Fahrenheit scale: Attitudinal scales:
0˚C to 100˚C 32˚F to 212˚F 10-20 21-30 31-40 etc
A ratio scale has all the properties of nominal, ordinal and interval scales plus its own property: The zero point of a ratio scale is fixed, which means it has a fixed starting point. Since the difference between intervals is always measured from a zero point, this scale can be used for mathematical operations. The measurement of variables like income, age, height and weight are examples of this scale. A person who is 40 year old is twice as old as one who is 20 year old.
8. Sampling design
A sample is a segment of the population selected to represent the population as a whole. Ideally, the sample should be representative and allow the researcher to make accurate estimates of the thoughts and behavior of the larger population. Designing the sample calls for three decisions: a) Who will be surveyed? (The sample) - The researcher must determine what type of information is needed and who is most likely to have it. b) How many people will be surveyed? (Sample size) - Large samples give more reliable results than small samples. However it is not necessary to sample the entire target population. c) How should the sample be chosen? (Sampling) - Sample members may be chosen at random from the entire population (probability sample). The researcher might select people who are easier to obtain information from (nonprobability sample).
The needs of the research project will determine which method is most effective. There are three types of probability samples and also nonprobability samples:
Probability samples: a) Simple random sample: Every member of the population has a known chance of being selected.
b) Stratified random sample: Population is divided into mutually exclusive groups such as age groups and random samples are drawn from each group. c) Cluster (area) sample: The population is divided into mutually exclusive groups such as blocks, and the researcher draws a sample of the group to interview.
Nonprobability samples: a) Convenience sample: The researcher selects the easiest population members from which to obtain information. b) Judgment sample: The researcher uses his/her judgement to select population members who are good prospects for accurate information. c) Quota sample: The researcher finds and interviews a prescribed number of people in each of several categories.
9. Data collection methods
There are two types of data which are primary data and secondary data. Primary data is collected for the first time while secondary data those which have already been collected and analyzed by someone else.
Methods of Primary Data Collection:
a) Observation method: It is commonly used in behavioral sciences. It is the gathering of primary data by investigator‟s own direct observation of relevant people, actions and situations without asking from the respondent. Types of Observation: i. Structured (for descriptive research) ii. Unstructured (for exploratory research) iii. Participant observation iv. Non- participant observation v. Disguised observation
The limitations for observation methods are feelings, beliefs and attitudes that motivate buying behaviour and infrequent behaviour cannot be observed and it also is
an expensive method. Because of these limitations, researchers often supplement observation with survey research.
b) Survey method: This approach most suited for gathering descriptive information. i. Structured surveys are using formal lists of questions asked of all respondents in the same way. ii. Unstructured surveys let the interviewer probe respondents and guide the interview according to their answers.
Survey research may be direct or indirect survey. Direct approach is when the researcher asks direct questions about behaviors and thoughts. The advantages of this approach are it can be used to collect many different kinds of information. Besides, it also quick and low cost as compared to observation and experimental method. However, the limitation is respondent‟s reluctance to answer questions asked by unknown interviewers about things they consider private. They also may not want to take the time or unable to answer because they cannot remember or never gave a thought to what they do and why.
c) Contact methods: Information may be collected by mail, telephone and personal interview.
i. Mail questionnaires can be used to collect large amounts of information at a low cost per respondent. Respondents may give more honest answers to personal questions on a mail questionnaire. No interviewer is involved to bias the respondent‟s answers. It is convenient for respondent‟s who can answer when they have time and good way to reach people who often travel. The limitations for this approach are not flexible and take longer to complete than telephone or personal interview. Response rate is often very low and researcher has no control over who answers.
ii. Telephone interviewing is a quick method and more flexible as interviewer can explain questions not understood by the respondent. It also depending on respondent‟s answer they can skip some questions and probe more on others. It allows greater sample control and response rate tends to be higher than mail. The drawbacks of this approach are cost per respondent higher while some people may not want to discuss
personal questions with interviewer. Besides, interviewer‟s manner of speaking may affect the respondent‟s answers. Different interviewers may interpret and record response in a variety of ways and it also under time pressure, data may be entered without actually interviewing.
iii. Personal interviewing is very flexible and can be used to collect large amounts of information. Trained interviewers are can hold the respondent‟s attention and are available to clarify difficult questions. They can guide interviews, explore issues, and probe as the situation requires. Personal interview can be used in any type of questionnaire and can be conducted fairly quickly. Interviewers can also show actual products, advertisements, packages and observe and record their reactions and behavior. This takes two forms:
Intercept interviewing: It allows researcher to reach known people in a short period of time and only method of reaching people whose names and addresses are unknown. It involves talking to people at homes, offices, on the street, or in shopping malls. The interviewer must gain the interviewee‟s cooperation and time involved may range from a few minutes to several hours( for longer surveys compensation may be offered). The drawbacks for this method are room for error and bias on the part of the interviewer who may not be able to correctly judge age, race etc. Interviewer also may be uncomfortable talking to certain ethnic or age groups.
Focus Group Interviewing: It is rapidly becoming one of the major research tools to understand people‟s thoughts and feelings. It is usually conducted by inviting six to ten people to gather for a few hours with a trained moderator to talk about a product, service or organization. The meeting is held in a pleasant place, and refreshments are served to create a relaxed environment. The moderator needs objectivity, knowledge of the subject and industry, and some understanding of group and consumer behavior. The moderator starts with a broad question before moving to more specific issues, encouraging open and easy discussion to bring out true feelings and thoughts. At the same time, the interviewer focuses the discussion, hence the name focus group interviewing. It is often held to help
determine the subject areas on which questions should be asked in a later, largescale, structured-direct interview. Comments are recorded through note taking or videotaped and studied later to understand consumer‟ buying process. The limitations are may cost more than telephone survey and group interview studies keep small sample size to keep time and cost down, therefore it may be difficult to generalize from the results. Tend to be interviewer bias.
d) Experimental method:
Also called Empirical Research or Cause and Effect Method, it is a data-based research, coming up with conclusions which are capable of being verified with observation or experiment. Experimental research is appropriate when proof is sought that certain variables affect other variables in some way. Such research is characterised by the experimenter‟s control over the variables under study and the deliberate manipulation of one of them to study its effects. In such a research, it is necessary to get at facts first hand, at their source, and actively go about doing certain things to stimulate the production of desired information.
Researcher must provide self with a working hypothesis or guess as to the probable results. Then work to get enough facts (data) to prove or disprove the hypothesis. He then sets up experimental designs which he thinks will manipulate the persons or the materials concerned so as to bring forth the desired information. Evidence gathered through experimental or empirical studies today is considered to be the most powerful support possible for a given hypothesis.
The construction of a research instrument or tool for data collection is the most important aspect of a research project because anything you say by way of findings or conclusions is based upon the type of information you collect, and the data you collect is entirely dependent upon the questions that you ask of your respondents.
The research tool provides the input into a study and therefore the quality and validity of the output or the finding are solely dependent of it. The underlying principle behind the
guidelines suggested below is to ensure the validity of your instrument by making sure that your questions relate to the objectives of your study: Step 1: Clearly define and individually list all the specific objectives or research questions for your study. Step 2: For each objective or research questions, list all the associated questions that you want to answer through your study. Step 3: Take each research question listed in step 2 and list the information required to answer it. Step 4: Formulate question(s) to obtain this information.
A questionnaire consists of a set of questions presented to a respondent for answers. The respondents read the questions, interpret what is expected and then write down the answers themselves. It is called an Interview Schedule when the researcher asks the questions and record the respondent‟s reply on the interview schedule. Because there are many ways to ask questions, the questionnaire is very flexible. Questionnaire should be developed and tested carefully before being used on a large scale. There are three basic types of questionnaire: • Closed – ended questionnaire • Open - ended questionnaire • Combination of both
Closed ended questions include all possible answers or prewritten response categories, and respondents are asked to choose among them. For example multiple choice questions or scale questions. Type of questions used to generate statistics in quantitative research. As these follow a set format, and most responses can be entered easily into a computer for ease of analysis, greater numbers can be distributed.
Open-ended questions allow respondents to answer in their own words. Questionnaire does not contain boxes to tick but instead leaves a blank section for the respondent to write in an answer. Whereas closed ended questionnaires might be used to find out how many people use a service, open-ended questionnaires might be used to find out what people think about a service. As there are no standard answers to these questions, data analysis is more complex. As it is opinions which are sought rather than numbers, fewer questionnaires need to be distributed.
Combination of both closed and open ended questions is a possible way to find out how many people use a service and what they think of the service in the same form. Begins with a series of closed –ended questions, with boxes to tick or scales to rank, and then finish with a section of open-ended questions or more detailed response.
Below are the steps on how to construct questionnaires: • Deciding which questionnaire to use: Whether to use closed or open ended, self or interviewer administered. • Wording and structure of questions Questions should be kept short and simple. Avoid double barreled such as ask two questions in one sentence. Also avoid negative questions which have not in them as it is confusing for respondent to agree or disagree. Question should not contain Prestige Bias – causing embarrassment or forcing the respondent to give false answer in order to look good. Questions about educational qualification or income might elicit this type of response. Use indirect questions for sensitive issues. • Length and ordering of the questions: Keep the questionnaire as short as possible and ask easy questions. Which respondents will enjoy answering it. If combined questionnaire, keep open ended questions for the end. Make the questions as interesting as possible and easy to follow by varying type and length of question. Also, group the questions into specific topic as this it makes it easier to understand and follow. Last but not least, layout and spacing is important as cluttered questionnaire is less likely to be answered.
10. Data analysis
There are two types of data analysis methods which are qualitative data analysis and quantitative data analysis:
Qualitative data analysis is a very personal process with few rigid rules and procedures. For this purpose, the researcher needs to go through a process called Content Analysis. Content Analysis means analysis of the contents of an interview in order to identify the main themes that emerge from the responses given by the respondents‟ .This process involves a number of steps:
i. Identify the main themes: The researcher needs to carefully go through the descriptive responses given by respondents to each question in order to understand the meaning they communicate. From these responses the researchers develop broad themes that reflect these meanings People use different words and language to express themselves. It is important that researcher select wording of the theme in a way that accurately represents the meaning of the responses categorized under a theme. These themes become the basis for analyzing the text of unstructured interviews.
ii. Assign codes to the main themes: If the researcher wants to count the number of times a theme has occurred in an interview, he/she needs to select a few responses to an open- ended question and identify the main themes. He/she continues to identify these themes from the same question till a saturation point is reached. Write these themes and assign a code to each of them, using numbers or keywords. iii. Classify responses under the main themes: Having identified the themes. Next step is to go through the transcripts of all the interviews and classify the responses under the different themes.
iv. Integrate themes and responses into the text of your report: Having identified responses that fall within different themes, the next step is to integrate into the text of your report. While discussing the main themes that emerged from their study, some researchers use verbatim responses to keep the feel of the response. There are others who count how frequently a theme has occurred, and then provide a sample of the responses. It entirely depends upon the way the researcher wants to communicate the findings to the readers.
Quantitative data analysis is the most suitable method for large well designed and well administered surveys using properly constructed and worded questionnaire. Data can be analysed either manually or with the help of a computer.
Manual data analysis can be done if the number of respondents is reasonably small, and there are not many variables to analyse. However, this is useful only for calculating frequencies and for simple cross tabulations. Manual data analysis is extremely time consuming. The easiest way to do this is to code it directly onto large graph paper in
columns. Detailed headings can be used or question numbers can be written on each column to code information about the question. To manually analyse data (frequency distribution), count various codes in a column and then decode them. In addition, if you want to carry out statistical tests, they have to be calculated manually. However, the use of statistics depends on your expertise and the desire/need to communicate the findings in a certain way.
If you want to analyse data using computer, you should be familiar with the appropriate program. In this area, knowledge of computer and statistics plays an important role. The most common software is SPSS for windows. However, data input can be long and laborious process, and if data is entered incorrectly, it will influence the final results.
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