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Research Skills

Introduction to Scientific research

Scientific research is a systematic process of investigation into a problem. Using a
specific research method, a researcher aims either to broaden the readers understanding of a
phenomenon, correct a certain misunderstanding of it, or attempts to provide why some
phenomenon appears in a certain form, state, etc., and how it has become what it is. Scientific
research requires independent thought on your part. It is not simple regurgitation of the ideas
others have produced about a certain topic. It is not the book report style of work. Instead,
when you conduct scientific research, you e!pect to make an original contribution, however
limited in scope, to the sub"ect by bringing new insight or your perspective to your topic.
Scientific research is the highest level of learning in that it allows you to put into e!ercise
most or all the higher order levels of thinking, namely, analysis, evaluation and synthesis or
creation #refer to your SS$ %&%% class on 'looms (a!onomy).
Scientific research is conducted at various levels of an individuals education* it is
formally conducted at the 'achelor level #in most colleges students are required to write a
capstone paper during their last semester of their undergraduate studies). It is definitely required
at the +aster, ,h- and post.doctorate levels.
(he research ,rocess/
%. Identify an area of interest.
&. 0onduct bibliographic research and immerse yourself in the e!isting literature #i.e., what is
published about the topic) on your sub"ect, both to gain knowledge of the sub"ect and to identify
a more precise area of research that needs to be undertaken.
1. 2ormulate one or more research questions.
3. 2ormulate a specific, testable hypothesis.
4. ,roduce a statement of your research methods.
5. (est your hypothesis in a method or manner consistent with the standards in your field of
6ll of these steps require critical thinking, in the positive sense of carefully evaluating rather
than accepting without questioning.
Generating research questions and developing a hypothesis
The research problem
6ll research assumes a problem* a problem not with the pe"orative connotation of
something wrong, but in the sense of a matter to be inquired into, a curiosity, a discrepancy, an
incongruity. (he world is full of such problems and incongruities, but to see them requires an
active, thoughtful, skeptical mindset, sharp observation, and a good deal of
6. 7instein and 8. Infeld, wrote in their %915 book The Evolution of Physics/
(he formulation of a problem is often more essential than its solution, which may be
merely a matter of mathematical or e!perimental skill. (o raise new questions, new
possibilities, to regard old problems from a new angle require creative imagination and
marks real advance in science
6ll good research starts with a question. :ow does one see or think of a question; :ow
do questions occur; (o answer this, we need first to e!amine more closely "ust what a question
is. 6 matter of discussion or debate, sub"ect to doubt, problem, matter to be inquired
into< these are the more common dictionary definitions of the word. 7specially pertinent is the
notion of problem,
A research problem is some intellectual difficulty a researcher experiences in the context of
either a theoretical or practical situation.
(he nature of the question you raise about the research problem is often more important than the
solution you provide. =hy so; >our research question can start a debate about a problem and
other researchers will take up your research problem and try to solve it from different
perspectives and in different conte!ts.
(he research problem can be derived from three areas/
%. (he actual problem faced by you in your environment
&. (he problem may be located in e!isting research* therefore, further research may be
required to e!pand our understanding or correct a misunderstanding, etc.
1. (he problem may be found with a theory* some theories may need to be revised,
improved or challenged. >ou want to find out, for e!ample, how some theories apply in
some conte!ts and whether they can be generali?ed, etc.
(he research problem should be/
. 6 clear research statement
. 6 testable hypothesis
. 6n e!ploratory question
Research design
. 6 blueprint that guides you to conduct research on a specific problem*
. 0over issues of @which and @why of methods and techniques depending on the nature of
your research*
. -ecision on sample si?e and sampling procedures*
. ,rocess of data collection,
. 6nalysis procedures and statistical techniques to be used*
. -escription and validation of e!periment to be used*
. -escription of the control group#s), if any*
7ach field of study has developed along the years preferred research methods and techniques.
In education, for e!ample, the following research methods and corresponding techniques and
tools are more common/
+ethod (echniques (ools
7!ploratory #7!plores a
certain e!isting situation)
Interviews *
0ontent analysis and research
Interview schedules*
Abservation sheets*
7valuative #evaluates certain
e!isting situations)
7!perimental #studies the
effects of certain variables by
having an e!perimental group
and a control group. >ou need
to create an e!perimental
7laborative #mostly used in
descriptive research* it is
based on elaboration of certain
conte!t which might include
analysis of data or a
qualitative problem.
#see handout @Introduction to Cesearch +ethods and do the assignment on the divisions of
human knowledge and research methods)