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Research Methods for

Construction Engineering
and Management
CB 712- C

Slide 1
Course Objectives
To give the Engineers:

A comprehensive understanding on all aspects

of research.
A guide on how to conduct research in a
systematic way.
A guide to solve and analyze data and results.
A guide on writing techniques and presentation

Slide 2
What is Research?

Eng. Samy prepared a paper on Computer usage in
secondary schools after reviewing literature on the subject
available in his university library and called it a piece of
Eng. Ali says that he has researched and completed a
document which gives information about age of his
students, their SPM results, their parents income and
distance of their schools from home.

Slide 3
What is Research (cont.)?
Mr Andrew participated in a workshop on curriculum
development and prepared what he calls, a research report
on the curriculum for building technicians. He did this
through a literature survey on the subject and by
discussing with the participants of the workshop.

NONE of the above cases can be classified under the name


Slide 4
What is Research (cont.)?

A general manager of a car producing company was
concerned with the complaints received from the car users
that the car they produce have some problems with
rattling sound at the dash board and the rear passenger
seat after a few thousand kilometers of driving.

Slide 5
What is Research (cont.)?
What he did?

He obtained information from the company workers to

identify the various factors influencing the problem. He then
formulated the problem and generated guesses (hypotheses).
He constructed checklist and obtained requisite information
from a representative sample of cars. He analyzed the data
thus collected, interpreted the results in the light of his
hypotheses and reached conclusions.

Slide 6
What is Research (cont.)?

CASE 4 is an example of research because:

The researcher went through a sequence of steps

which were in order and thus systematic.

The researcher did not just jump at the

conclusions, but used a scientific method of
inquiry in reaching at conclusions.

Slide 7
a careful search
systematic investigation towards increasing
the sum of knowledge.
Research: comprises "creative and systematic work
undertaken to increase the stock of knowledge,
including knowledge of humans, culture and society,
and the use of this stock of knowledge to devise new
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.

Slide 8
A research project may also be an expansion on past work
in the field. Research projects can be used to develop
further knowledge on a topic, or in the example of a school
research project, they can be used to further a student's
research prowess to prepare them for future jobs or reports.
The primary purposes of basic research (as opposed to
applied research ) are documentation, discovery,
interpretation , or the research and development (R&D) 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, Marketing, Practitioner
research, life, Technological, etc.
Slide 9
Two Important Characteristics
1. Systematic
Research is systematic, because it follows certain steps that
are logical in order. These steps are:
Understanding the nature of problem to be studied and identifying
the related area of knowledge.
Reviewing literature to understand how others have approached or
dealt with the problem.
Collecting data in an organized and controlled manner so as to
arrive at valid decisions.
Analyzing data appropriate to the problem.
Drawing conclusions and making generalizations.

Slide 10
Two Important Characteristics

Systematic characteristic of research

Problem Identification

Reviewing Information

Data Collection


Drawing Conclusions
Slide 11
Two Important Characteristics

2. Follows a scientific method

This means that it makes an integrated use of
Inductive and Deductive reasoning. This makes it
very useful for explaining and predicting phenomena.
The basic assumption of the scientific method is that
every effect has a cause.

Slide 12
Two Important Characteristics
Inductive reasoning
Construction of hypotheses from casual
observations and background knowledge.
From the examination of these, the researcher
establishes certain expectations.
Deductive reasoning
Reasoning out consequences or implications of
hypotheses followed by testing of the
implications and confirmation or rejection of the

Slide 13
The aims of research

The goal of research is to solve problems of

interest. These problems may be of a theoretical or
practical in nature.
The scientific community tend to be more interested
in research that pushes the frontier of knowledge

the aims of research should be to describe,

predict, explain, interpret or demystify

Slide 14
Research Type

There are many ways of classifying research.

One way is to classify it by function.
Basic or pure research is motivated by curiosity
and aims to advance theoretical knowledge.
Applied research is concerned with applying
scientific theory to real-life problems
Although research activities are classified according to
their different natures, they will overlap and merge
from one into the other.

Slide 15
Research Type

Research can be divided into 5 categories:

1. Basic/pure/fundamental Research
2. Exploratory Research
3. Applied Research
4. Development Research
5. Design Research

Slide 16
1) Basic/Pure/Fundamental Research
Refers to original investigations for the
advancement of scientific knowledge that do
not have the specific objective of application to
practical problems.
[Lee et al. 1990]
It is research devoted to achieving a fuller
knowledge or understanding rather than
practical application of the subject under study.

Slide 17
1) Basic/Pure/Fundamental Research
It is experimental or theoretical work undertaken
primarily to acquire new knowledge of the
underlying foundation of phenomena and
observable facts with or without any particular
immediate application or use in view.
It is not subject to a time-restraint and it is an

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2) Exploratory Research

Aims to clarify concepts and problems.

Closely allied to underlying basic research, in
which there is an objective.
It is open-ended, looking for something which
might form the basis for a successful research
project development,
eg. Research for a new drug and examining
the biological effects of a new range of
chemical materials.

Slide 19
3) Applied Research

Research directed towards the practical

application of knowledge.
It involves the application of basic knowledge
for the solution of a particular problem, the
creation and evaluation of a new concepts or
components but not development for
operational use.
eg. Application of existing scientific
knowledge to the problems of own institution.

Slide 20
4) Development Research

Systematic use of scientific knowledge directed towards

the production of useful materials, devices, systems or
methods, including design and development of
prototypes and processes.

Slide 21
4) Development Research

Can be further classified into:

Product development: Refers to research regarding
new products and products new to industry or
combination of product components in a new way
[Lee et al. 1990].
Process development: Refers to research into new or
improved methods of control and control systems
and changes or improvements in manufacturing and
processes technologies.

Slide 22
5) Design Research

Research directed at cost/performance

improvement to existing products, processes
or systems; recombination, modification and
testing of systems using existing knowledge;
or opening new markets for existing products.
e.g. Parts and components research.

Slide 23
Forms of Research
1- Original research is research that is not exclusively
based on a summary, review or synthesis of earlier
publications on the subject of research. This material is of a
primary source character. The purpose of the original
research is to produce new knowledge, rather than to
present the existing knowledge in a new form (e.g.,
summarized or classified).
Original research can take a number of forms, depending
on the discipline it pertains to. In experimental work, it
typically involves direct or indirect observation of the
researched subject(s), e.g., in the laboratory or in the field,
documents the methodology, results, and conclusions of an
experiment or set of experiments, or offers a novel
interpretation of previous results.
Slide 24
Forms of Research
In analytical work, there are typically some new (for
example) mathematical results produced, or a new way of
approaching an existing problem. In some subjects which
do not typically carry out experimentation or analysis of
this kind, the originality is in the particular way existing
understanding is changed or re-interpreted based on the
outcome of the work of the researcher.
The degree of originality of the research is among major
criteria for articles to be published in academic journals and
usually established by means of peer review. Graduate
Students are commonly required to perform original
research as part of a dissertation.

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Forms of Research
2- Scientific research is a systematic way of gathering data
and harnessing 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 is funded
by public authorities, by charitable organizations and by
private groups, including many companies. Scientific
research can be subdivided into different classifications
according to their academic and application disciplines.
Scientific research is a widely used criterion for judging the
standing of an academic institution, but some argue that
such is an inaccurate assessment of the institution, because
the quality of research does not tell about the quality of
teaching (these do not necessarily correlate).
Slide 26
Forms of Research
3- Research in the humanities involves different methods
such as for example hermeneutics and semiotics.
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. Other studies aim to merely examine the occurrence
of behaviors in societies and communities, without
particularly looking for reasons or motivations to explain
these. These studies may be qualitative or quantitative, and
can use a variety of approaches, such as queer theory or
feminist theory.
Slide 27
Forms of Research
4-Artistic research: Also seen as 'practice-based research',
can take form when creative works are considered both the
research and the object of research itself. It is the debatable
body of thought which offers an alternative to purely
scientific methods in research in its search for knowledge
and truth

Slide 28
Contextual factors affecting research
The contextual factors, the environmental variables, which
may influence the results through their impacting on the
data recorded. (Environmental variables and constructs are
fundamental, express concerns of institutional theory; Such
environmental variables merit consideration in tandem
with the subject variables (dependent, independent and
intervening) of the topic of study. The choice of
methodology/methodologies is important in assisting
identification of all relevant variables, their mechanisms
and amounts of impact.

Slide 29
Classifications of research
1- Pure and applied research: the discovery of theories,
laws of nature and so on, whilst at the other, applied
research is directed to end uses and practical applications.
Most academics are encouraged to undertake research
towards the pure end of the spectrum whilst
practitioners/industrialists tend to pursue development
work and applications.
Closed (ended) problems simple problems each with a
correct solution. The existence of the problem, its nature
and the variables involved can be identified easily.
Open (ended) problems- tend to be complex; the
existence of the problem may be difficult to identify, the
situation is likely to be dynamic and so, the variables
are difficult to isolate.
Slide 30
Classifications of research
2- Quantitative and qualitative research:
Quantitative approaches adopt scientific method in
which initial study of theory and literature yields precise
aims and objectives with proposition(s) and hypotheses to
be tested. In qualitative research, an exploration of the
subject is undertaken, sometimes without prior
formulations the object may be to gain understanding
and collect information and data such that theories will
emerge and so, tends to be exploratory. Thus, qualitative
research is a precursor to quantitative research. Generally,
quantitative approaches provide snapshots and so, are
used to address questions such as what, how much, how

Slide 31
Classifications of research
2- Quantitative and qualitative research:

Qua Litative Measures

Numbers not the primary focus
Interpretive, ethnographic, naturalistic
Qua Ntitative Measures
N for numbers

Slide 32
QuaLitative measures

Content Analysis
Analyzed course syllabi of library use through
discipline and level Studied online tutorials,
applying best practices recommendations

Think Aloud Protocols

Studied how users navigate a library web site
Usability testing
Examined students mental models of online

Slide 33
QuaLitative Measures

Discourse Analysis
Analyzed student responses in writing and
discussions to a short film & compared
findings to parallel study with LIS grad Ss
Focus Groups
Discussed how participants experience & use
the library
Studied why students use the Internet and
how much time they use it

Slide 34
QuaLitative Measures

Studied 25 HS students web use for research
Looked at what type of information first
year students need and how they go about
acquiring it
Observation (obtrusive)
Observed students as they conducted online
research & noted their activities
Observation (Unobtrusive)
Retrieval of discarded cheat sheets to
analyze academic misconduct

Slide 35
QuaNtitative measures
Compare Things
Count Things
Survey People About Things
Comparison studies
Experimental and control groups
Instructional methodologies
Program assessment using before/after
analysis of research papers

Slide 36
QuaNtitative measures

Pre & Post Tests

Measures & Scales
Bosticks Library Anxiety Scale
Procrastination Assessment Scale

Numeric Studies
Citation AnalysisBibliometrics

Slide 37
Classifications of research
2- Quantitative and qualitative research:

Qualitative Quantitative
Goal: To Understand, Goal: To Predict and
Predict Control
Descriptive accounts Measure and Evaluate
Similarities and Generalize to population,
Contrasts reproduction
Applied and Basic and Theoretical
Theoretical Hypothesis testing
Research Questions Lab study
Field study Controlled, contrived
Natural conditions
Slide 38
Classifications of research

Validity and Reliability

Both Quantitative and Qualitative research
designs seek reliable and valid results. For
Quantitative Reliability: Data that are consistent or
stable as indicated by the researcher's ability to
replicate the findings.
Qualitative: Validity of findings are paramount so
that data are representative of a true and full
picture of constructs under investigation.

Slide 39
Part Versus Whole

Whole is often greater than Parts

It is a non-trivial matter to infer the behavior of the
whole from the behavior of its parts
Quantitative research designs strive to identify and
isolate specific variables within the context
(seeking correlation, relationships, causality) of the
Qualitative design focuses on a holistic view of
what is being studied (via documents, case
histories, observations and interviews).

Slide 40
Data Collection

Emphasis on numerical data, measurable variables
Data is collected under controlled conditions in
order to rule out the possibility that variables other
than the one under study can account for the
relationships identified
Emphasis on observation and interpretation.
Data are collected within the context of their
natural occurrence.

Slide 41
Static and Dynamic

The accumulation of facts and causes of behavior
through careful isolation, measurement and
evaluation of variables.
Predictability and Control over time.
Concerned with the changing and dynamic nature
of reality.
Understanding a Point in time

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Classifications of research

3- Other categories of research:

Instrumental to construct/calibrate research
instruments, whether physical measuring equipment
or as tests/data collection (e.g. questionnaires; rating
scales). In such situations, the construction and so on
of the instrument is a technological exercise; it is the
evaluation of the instrument and data measurement
in terms of meaning which renders the activity
scientific research. The evaluation will be based on

Slide 44
Classifications of research

3- Other categories of research:

Descriptive to systematically identify and record (all
the elements of) a phenomenon, process or system.
Such identification and recording will be done from
a particular perspective and, often, for a specified
purpose; however, it should always be done as
objectively (accurately) and as comprehensively as
possible The research may be undertaken as a survey
(possibly of the population identified) or as case
study work. Commonly, such research is carried out
to enable the subject matter to be categorized.
Slide 45
Classifications of research

3- Other categories of research:

Exploratory to test, or explore, aspects of theory (if
any is applicable). A central feature is discovery of
processes and so on, sometimes through the use of
propositions/hypotheses. A proposition or a
hypothesis may be set up and then tested via
research (data collection, analyses and interpretation
of results). More usually, a complex array of
constructs or/and variables is identified by the
research and propositions/hypotheses are produced
to be tested by further research.
Slide 46
Classifications of research

3- Other categories of research:

Explanatory to answer a particular question or
explain a specific issue/phenomenon. As in
exploratory studies, propositions/hypotheses are
used but here, as the situation is known better (or is
defined more clearly), theory and so on can be used
to develop the hypotheses which the research will
test. Also, this could be a follow-on from exploratory
research which has produced hypotheses for testing.

Slide 47
Classifications of research

3- Other categories of research:

Interpretive to fit findings/experience to a theoretical
framework or model; such research is necessary when
empirical testing cannot be done (perhaps due to some
unique aspects. The models used may be heuristic (using
rules of thumb) in which variables are grouped to
(assumed) relationships or ontological, which endeavor to
replicate/simulate the reality as closely as possible.

Slide 48
Research styles

Slide 49
Major Stages of Work
For conducting research, a researcher / investigator goes
through 4 major stages of work:

1. Preparing research proposal

2. Organizing and conducting research
3. Writing a research report
4. Evaluating research

Slide 50
Preparing Research Proposal

Describes why of research

What of research
Questions about which researcher is seeking answers
Hypotheses (expected relations) he would like to test
How of research (methodology)

Slide 51
Organizing & Conducting Research

Researcher conducts research following methodology

/ plan.
Makes small deviations, if necessary.

Slide 52
Writing Research Report

Researcher writes report which outlines the findings

of study and its implications.

Slide 53
Evaluating Research

In order to find any gaps or weakness in study.

Help in modifying the study and improving research
in future.

Slide 54
Capabilities Requirement

Capabilities required to undertake work:

1. Selecting and defining research problem.
2. Describing methodology of research.
3. Collecting data.
4. Analyzing data and interpreting the results.

Slide 55
Selecting & Defining Research Problem

Carry out literature review related to problem.

Make thorough diagnosis to specify problem,
research questions or hypotheses.

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Describing Methodology

Select appropriate research design.

Select subjects on whom the study has to be
Select or develop instruments for measuring
variables in study.

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Data Collection

Develop capabilities of administering instruments,

recording data, scoring and tabulating for analysis.

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Analyzing data & Interpretation of

Acquire capabilities of selecting and applying

appropriate statistical methods for handling and
analyzing the collected data, so as to arrive at valid

Slide 59
Selecting a Problem

Personal practical experiences.

Critical study of literature.
Interaction with others.

Slide 60
Problem Selection Criteria (cont.)

If you are not interested in the area you want to
research, what will the quality of the product be
By being interested, you are more likely to read
widely on the topic and have more thorough
knowledge of the situation.

Slide 61
Problem Selection Criteria (cont.)

Remember, a problem is often too large when it is
first considered.
Further analysis can reduce large problem into a
smaller, manageable research problem.

Slide 62
Problem Selection Criteria (cont.)

Research are often confronted with practical
constraints, not the least of which are time and
If your problem situation is macro in size, is it
possible for you to find the answers to your
question? Do you have enough time and money?

Slide 63
Problem Selection Criteria (cont.)

Capabilities and Limitations:

A researcher should not be too ambitious and
must recognize your own capabilities.
Wise, especially at prior planning stage to seek
advice from more experienced persons.
If inexperienced in educational research, then it is
highly likely that you will need some guidance.

Slide 64
Problem Selection Criteria

Findings from research should contribute to body
of knowledge already in existence, not merely
duplicate existing study.
However, to pursue a study similar to one
already in existence but change the methods
used, or modify the design, or use a different
sample, or choose to perform different statistical

Slide 65
Topic for Study

Selection of a topic
Very often, the most difficult task for any researcher is to
select a topic for study and then to refine that topic to
produce a proposal which is viable.
Generally, people set targets which are far too high in
terms of both the extent of the research which is possible
and the discoveries which are sought. It is surprising to
most new researchers how little (inscope) can be achieved
by a research project and, hence, the necessity to restrict
the study in order that adequate depth and rigorous of
investigation of the topic can be undertaken

Slide 66
Topic for Study

Selection of a topic
Subject selection
List 1 Topics of interest to the researcher.
List 2 Personal strengths and weaknesses.
List 3 Topics of current interest in practice.
List 4 Data required for each topic.
List 5 Sources of data for each topic.
List 6 Research limitations for each topic.
Choosing a topic (i.e. judging possibilities against criteria/desires)

Evaluating alternatives
What does the research seek to achieve and find out?

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Topic for Study
Refining a topic
The process of selection will continue for some
time as investigations proceed and the topic
(through considerations of definitions, variables
and their relationships, aspects of theory, findings
of previous work, etc.) emerges and undergoes
progressive refinement. The goal is to reach a
state in which the topic is delineated sufficiently
well for the aim and objectives of the research to
be identified, and appropriate methodologies and
methods considered, to enable a research plan to
be formulated, including a draft timetable.

Slide 68
Topic for Study

Slide 69
Writing the proposal
The outcome of the initial considerations and
investigations will be a proposal for the research. The
United Kingdoms Engineering and Physical Sciences
Research Council (EPSRC) prescribes the format for
proposals, as do most funding agencies. It comprises
a form concerning the support requested and an
outline of the project plus a six page case for support
outlining the project proposal in more detail

Slide 70
The Process of Research
Normally, for a degree of Master dissertation, a proposal
of around four sides of A4 is adequate; a proposal for
MPhil or PhD will be more extensive, but all proposals
should be concise. Depending on the nature of the
research proposed, the proposal should contain:
Brief background to the topic and rationale for the study
Proposition (if appropriate)
Hypothesis (if appropriate)
Methodology and Methods (with reasons for their selection)
List of primary references.

Slide 71
Executing the Research

In the 1980s, the Science and Engineering Research

Council (SERC, 1982), the forerunner of the Engineering
and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) in
United Kingdom, held a Specially Promoted Program
(SPP) in Construction Management and issued the
following diagram

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The research process
Initial phase
Data and information
Dynamic process
Initial search
Definitions and assumptions
Theory and literature review
Analyzing data from a search

Literature-based discovery
Assembling the theoretical framework
Philosophy and methodology
Theoretical models and constructs
Proper referencing

Slide 75
The Process of Research

The process is initiated with a question or problem

(step 1)
Next, goals and objectives are formulated to deal with
the question or problem (step 2)
Then the research design is developed to achieve the
objectives (step 3)
Results are generated by conducting the research (step
Interpretation and analysis of results follow (step 5)

76 Slide 76
Creativity in the Research Process

Research is a creative process

research includes far more than mere logic It includes
insight, genius, groping, pondering sense The logic we
can teach; the art we cannot (p 30)
Research requires (or at least works best) with
imagination, initiative, intuition, and curiosity.
There are different types of creativity, characteristic of
different situations applied and theoretical most
closely associate with economic research

77 Slide 77
Fostering Creativity (Ladd 1987)
A. Gather and use previously developed knowledge
B. Exchange ideas
C. Apply deductive logic
D. Look at things alternate ways
E. Question or challenge assumptions
F. Search for patterns or relationships
G. Take risks
H. Cultivate tolerance for uncertainty

78 Slide 78
Fostering Creativity cont.
I. Allow curiosity to grow
J. Set problems aside and come back to them
K. Write down your thoughts
frequently I dont know what I think until I write it
L. Freedom from distraction some time to think.

Creativity may provide the difference between satisfactory and

outstanding research.

79 Slide 79
Approaches to
Empirical Work

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