The 'common notion of research' also associates it with the findings of the scientists who do extensive work in research laboratories. constrain the nature and narrow the scope of the subject-matter of research.Litt/D. on the other. though research is also undertaken by scholars other than the physical / natural scientists.Commonsense Meaning of Research • Research is usually associated with the outcomes of endeavours of scholars who pursue it in order to earn such degrees as M. The discussion of definition (s) of research and its methodology may as well be started with an examination of definitions enunciated by other scholars.Phil/M./D.Sc. Another genre of research is associated with the findings contained in the project reports.D.Phil or D. if any. and to expose the distinction between the technical meaning and general notion of research. while the projects may or may not be sponsored. • . These notions of research portray obliquely the meaning and nature of research. research institutes or post graduate departments of the faculty of science of the universities. This portrayal of research may. of some university. however. But let first day today or commonsense concept and the dictionary meaning be considered to highlight the nature and scope of research on the one hand. or the projects may constitute an integral part of the programme of studies for specific degrees or diplomas.Litt/Ph.

The commonsense definition may be compared and contrasted with the dictionary meaning of research in order to understand and appreciate the limitations. the need for evolving a technical definition of research and its methodology. Research has also been defined as a systematic inquiry for finding relevant facts or information about the subject of investigation. though wheels may be made daily. As facts may also be real as well as perceptual. Research may thus be defined as an effort to know more about any given subject or topic. implying literally the possession of awareness of the efforts having been made in the past to know the given phenomenon. and hence. • . if ever. In common parlance. It means that research seldom. This means that research does not stand for investigating a given subject again and again to reach the same results. however. if any. research may thus refer to a search for knowledge. occurs without there being precedents. It may partly be factual and partly be perceptual.Dictionary Meaning of Research • Literal meanings of "Research' are "re-search'. The phenomenal world may. of the commonsense definition. The word ‘re’ before ‘search’ may be interpreted to mean that research is an endeavour to advance ahead of the prevailing and go beyond what is already known about the given phenomenon. not be completely factual. research as the search for real and perceptual facts may apparently be accepted as the commonsense definition of research. But no one re-invents the wheel. or search again.

Investigation may also relate to practical problems or policy designs. Though this definition is free from some limitations discussed earlier. Survey of literature may help in identifying the problem in the selected area to be taken up for research. still its focus misses vital aspects of research.Research: Technical Definition Slesinger and Stephenson define research as the manipulation of things. whether that knowledge aids in construction of theory or in the practice of an art” (Encyclopedia of Social Sciences). and it also exposes policies in operation. Knowledge of these will help in choosing a suitable problem for investigation. correct or verify knowledge. Other limitations of the definition may be considered with reference to the following: Research generally involves various steps and each step focuses on one or more aspects: (i) Identification of the broad problem area of research and specification of the exact problem is the first step in the sequence. and data easily available etc. The missed aspects will become obvious when the objectives and types of research are discussed in detail.. The survey familiarizes with the existing hypotheses/theories/laws and the gaps therein. . if any. concepts or symbols for the purpose of generalizing to extend.

(vi) Evaluation of the impact of policy or change on the given scenario is a step in research pertaining to policy (cf. Encyclopedia). will be the next logical step.The survey of literature may highlight the consonance or dissonance between the conceptual framework and theoretical paradigms. It may also involve the empirical validation/verification of hypothesis. . (iii) Formulation of some working hypothesis. (ii) Identification of the problem of investigation will naturally necessitate the collection. (v) Evaluation of deductions or inferences to determine whether these do or do not conform to the formulated thesis will follow the previous step. classification and tabulation of data pertaining to the identified problem. suggesting important problems for investigation. (iv) Analysis of data or/and available evidence for drawing inferences comes next. if received theory does not furnish one relevant for investigation of the problem in hand. Possible solution for the problem of investigation may also be anticipated in advance. Cliffrod Woody.

whereas theory. contrasted with ‘Practice’. Alternatively. in contrast to practice. like law or principle. Thus. Therefore. The theory seeks to determine the pattern and the cause underlying the change in the observed phenomenon. The logic may proceed with certain suppositions/assumptions. But the relation is prone to be proved by logic. In this sense. what factors have shaped and guided the process to be in the form or state in which it exists. Theory is. it just needs logical articulation. therefore. Thus. Thus. its meaning may also help us in under standing the connotation of theory. theory may be said to seek to determine the uniformities of coexistence of two or more factors and the sequence in which the change in the observed values of the factors occur. Since the word ‘Theorem’ is a derivative of the word ‘Theory’. . is the statement of a causal relation that is subject to the specified conditions. the proof of a theorem is not contingent upon any empirical evidence. Theorem in Physics and Mathematics is an ‘expression of a general proposition or rule that can be proved by reasoning’. the theory is concerned with the formulation/establishment of general laws that pertain to the observed tendencies. may refer to the imagery or just an image of this phenomenon or activity. the theorem may seek to explain as to what the observed matter is. ‘Guess’ or ‘Conjecture’.Theory • The origin of the word ‘Theory’ is the Greek word ‘Theoria’ which means ‘Speculation’. practice refers to some ‘activity’ or ‘phenomenon that has an observable existence in reality’. theorem.

. Theory may also refer to the principle that guides the performance of a specialized activity or offers an explanation of some occurrence or a social/physical phenomenon. Theory may be described as the result of the process of miniaturizing a complex into a simple and huge into a small phenomenon.On this analogy. or ‘a statement of a causal relation based on evidence and supported by logic’. the term theory may be used to express either the statement of a causal relation. The evidence may be garnered from experiment (s) or practice or facts. The ‘Theory of Education’ may be a good example of the usage of the term in the sense of an activity. Elimination of the mundane or non-essential elements/aspects of a phenomenon is achieved through the process of abstraction from details. historical or ahistorical. Thus. associated with theorizing. Assumptions are designed to reduce a vast/huge into a finite/limited and complex into a simple phenomenon. Assumptions. based purely on the principle of abstraction from practice to push logic into the centre stage. play the pivotal role in abstraction/simplication and size reduction. it abstracts from the mundane and irrelevant details with a view to have the pointed focus on the essentials in order to reduce the size and remove complexities. theory may be described as a well reasoned statement that projects a mental image of some process or phenomenon by means of which the chain of cause and its effect materializes.

iii) behavioural aspects. ii) relate theory to institutional set up. in this sense. earth shakes. that look like the real. The belief may be rooted partly or wholly in reality. The idea or its explanation may emanate from the belief in some thing to be true and the assumptions from which the belief arises. Theory is a similar replication of real phenomenon in a miniaturised form. Similarly. The Hindu Mythology projects the idea that the earth is kept on the horns of the cow. are sold in Agra in thousands. Hazarding of a guess regarding the causes of Tsunami may belong to the category of theory based purely on speculation/guess or imagination. and iv) social factors. These miniaturized Tajmahals which look like an exact replica in colour. The assumptions may be designed to i) simplify by eliminating the less important or inessentials. When she gets tired and changes her posture. or it may arise from experience or observation or it may just originate from intuitive imagination. .It is like an advance drawing on paper or a clay/stone model of a vast building. Theory. For example. shape. design and structure of real Taj. connotes an idea or a set of ideas put forward as a conjecture to explain a given phenomenon and it embodies the rules of procedure that govern its operational aspects. earthquake may also not be explained fully scientifically. models of Tajmahal.

observation or empirical evidence. As against this. there is the category of quasi empirical and quasi speculative theory. This may suggest the classification of theory into two distinct categories: Pure Theory and Empirical Theory. which is supported by assumptions and logic on which it is based. As against the Deductive Positivism. Theory may also be partially speculative and partly empirical. Thus. . The empirical theorizing may base the ‘Conception of Theory’ on ‘Inductive Positivism’. The conception of first type of theory may be derived from ‘Deductive Positivism’ rather than ‘Scientific Positivism’. theory may be purely empirical. which draws sustenance mainly from experience. that is. It implies the domination of logic over facts. It may be designated as ‘Pure Theory’ or ‘Philosophy’. devoid of any requirement of empirical or experiential evidence to support the reasoning. Alternatively. Scientific Positivism may use both logic and experience. generalization of an inference drawn from limited evidence. theory may be purely speculative. the terms ‘Deduction’ connotes ‘Pure Logicism’. Here. It means that a scientific theory has to be supported both by logic and empirical evidence. though it partly gets support from logical consistency. underlying the ‘statement relating cause to its effect.Theory that attempts to explain or furnish an understanding of business operations or the economy may be put in the category of theory designed to explain the observed phenomenon. Between these two limits. Such theories result from empirical theorizing. much of the theorizing about the ‘Origin of the Universe’ is speculative.

the practices. Empirical theorization occurs only indirectly from evidence and that too in an indefinite form. 1966). It only means that evidence is dominant and logic is dominated. Empirical theorizing occupies the prime space in social sciences. Inductive Theory may basically be empirical. But empirical evidence in general and its historical evolution in particular may help. . The real characteristics and prominent features of any existing socio-economic system can distinctly be perceived. and hence. Same is true about the trade union movement. evolved and constructed purely a priori. if we trace its evolution and take note of the important phases and stages which it has traversed through to reach the current state. the Indian taxation system has moved through distinct phases since 1951. observation or empirical evidence as the basic prop to support the statement of causal relation. It is quasi empirical and quasi logical. Incidentally.Induction stands for the use of experience. But empirical theory stands for that theory which is not of the ‘Most Abstract Character/Nature’. For example. there are very few theories in social sciences which are purely speculative. Basic facets of current industrialization of Indian economy can be understood and explained better in the context of its historical evolution. In fact. limiting the role and function of empirical evidence to being just a support (Cf. Popper. But it does not mean that there is no place for logic in inductivism. Practices relate to facts and facts evolve over a period of time. obtaining at any point of time. cannot be perceived. by and large.

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