Thursday, May 25, 2017

Research Methodology Notes - Introduction to Research Project

Unit – 1: Introduction to Research Project
Concept of Research and Research Methodology  – Meaning, Characteristics and objectives
Research is an art of scientific investigation. Research covers the search for and retrieval of information for a specific purpose. Research has many categories, from medical research to literary research. Basically research is a search for truth with the help of some study, observation, comparison and experiments. It is search for knowledge with the help of objective and systematic method of finding solution to a problem.
Research in common man’s language refers to “search for knowledge”. Research is simply the process of finding solution to a problem after a complete study and analysis of situational factors. Research is purposeful investigation. It provides a structure for decision making. It provides an analytical framework for the subject matter of investigation. It establishes the relationship between different variables, especially the relationship of the dependent variable with the valuable independent variables. In short, the search for knowledge through objective and systematic method of finding solution to a problem is research.

Definition of Research: According to P.M. Cook, “Research is an honest, exhaustive, intelligent searching for facts and their meanings for implications with reference to given problem. It is the process of arriving at dependable solutions to problems through the planned and systematic collection, analysis and interpretation of data. The best search is that which is reliable, verifiable and exhaustive so that it provides information in which we have confidence.”

Meaning of Research Methodology: Research methodology is a way to systematically solve the research problem. It may be understood as a science of studying how research is done scientifically. In it we study the various steps that are generally adopted by a researcher in studying his research problem along with the logic behind them. It is necessary for the researcher to know not only the research methods/techniques but also the methodology. Researchers not only need to know how to develop certain indices or tests, how to calculate the mean, the mode, the median or the standard deviation or chi-square, how to apply particular research techniques, but they also need to know which of these methods or techniques, are relevant and which are not, and what would they mean and indicate and why. Researchers also need to understand the assumptions underlying various techniques and they need to know the criteria by which they can decide that certain techniques and procedures will be applicable to certain problems and others will not. All this means that it is necessary for the researcher to design his methodology for his problem as the same may differ from problem to problem.
Research is required because of the following reasons:
Ø  To identify and find solutions to the problems.
Ø  To help making decisions.
Ø  To develop new concepts.
Ø  To find alternative strategies.
1)      To identify and find solutions to the problems: Research is required to understand the problems in depth. For example:
Ø  Why is that demand for a product is falling?
Ø  Why is there a business fluctuation once in three years?
        By identify the problem as above; it is easy to collect the relevant date to solve the problem.
2)      To help making decisions: Research is helpful for making the decision. For example: Should we maintain the advertising budget same as last year? Research will answer this question.
3)      To find alternative strategies: Research is helpful to find alternative strategies. For examples: Should we follow pull strategy or push strategy to promote the product.
4)      To develop new concepts.
Characteristics of Research: The characteristics of research are as follows:
1.       Systematic Approach: Each step must on your investigation be so planned that it lead to the next step.
2.       Objectivity: It implies that true research should attempt to find an unbiased answer to the decision making problem. Its means true research have a pre-planned objective.
3.       Relevancy: A research should be relevant according to objective and according to information required for that. It furnishes three important tasks:
a)      It avoids the collection of irrelevant data or information and saves money and time.
b)      It compares the information to be collected with researcher’s criteria for action.
c)       It enables to see whether to research is proceeding in right direction.
Essentials of Good Research
Whatever may be the types of research works and studies, one thing that is important is that they all meet on the common ground of scientific method employed by them. One expects scientific research to satisfy the following criteria:
1. The purpose of the research should be clearly defined and common concepts be used.
2. The research procedure used should be described in sufficient detail to permit another researcher to repeat the research for further advancement, keeping the continuity of what has already been attained.
3. The procedural design of the research should be carefully planned to yield results that are as objective as possible.
4. The researcher should report with complete frankness, flaws in procedural design and estimate their effects upon the findings.
5. The analysis of data should be sufficiently adequate to reveal its significance and the methods of analysis used should be appropriate. The validity and reliability of the data should be checked carefully.
6. Conclusions should be confined to those justified by the data of the research and limited to those for which the data provide an adequate basis.
7. Greater confidence in research is warranted if the researcher is experienced, has a good reputation in research and is a person of integrity.
Objectives of Research
All researchers aim at finding answer to questions by applying certain scientific procedures. Research investigates the truth, which is hidden and tries to find solution to existing problem which have not been discovered yet. Different research studies have different purposes depending on nature and type of research. Generally, we have following categories of objectives of research:
1)      To investigates a Subject: Research is undertaken in a specific field of knowledge. It may be pure science or social science; one may be interested in verifying a fact or principle in any discipline of his choice like physics, chemistry, botany, commerce or economics. For that matter, every discipline is a body of knowledge. An activity undertaken to verify or revise these facts or principles becomes research.
2)      To collect the data regarding a problem: Research gathers new knowledge or data from primary or first hand sources. It is not research when on simply restates what is already known or what has been written. Research endeavors to research the first hand source of data instead of serving its purpose with the data available from second hand sources.
3)      To conduct logical and objective study: Research is logical and objective, applying every possible test to verify the data collected and the procedure employed. The researcher eliminates personal feelings and preferences from his research activity. He works with in the scope and relevance of his data.
4)      To conduct a systematic inquiry of the subject: Research is said to be a careful and systematic inquiry. It means that research is a scientific study of facts.
5)      For carefully recording, reporting and presenting the facts: Research is carefully recorded and reported. Every term is carefully defined, all procedures and described in details, all limiting factors are recognized, all reference are carefully documented and all results are objectively recorded.
Various Types of Research
Types of Research: On the basis of the objectives of the research, we can classify research into following types:
a)      Applied Vs. Fundamental Research: Research can either be applied or fundamental. Applied research aims at finding a solution for an immediate problem facing a society or an industrial/business organization, whereas fundamental research is mainly concerned with generalizations and with the formulation of a theory. Research to identify social, economic or political trends that may affect a particular institution or the marketing research are the examples of applied research. Fundamental is mainly concerned with generalization and with the formulation of theory.  Research concerning some natural phenomenon or relating to pure mathematics are examples of fundamental research.
b)      Descriptive Vs. Analytical Research: Descriptive research includes surveys and fact finding enquiries of different kinds. The major purpose of descriptive research is description of the state of affairs as it exists at present. In social science and business research, we quite often use the term Ex-post facto research for descriptive research studies. The main characteristics of this method are that the researcher has no control over the variable; he can only report what has happened or what is happening. Most ex-post facto research projects are used for descriptive studies in which the researcher seeks to measure such items:
Ø  Frequency of Shopping.
Ø  Preference of people etc.
In analytical research, the researcher has to use facts or information already available and analyze these to make a critical evaluation of the material.
c)       Quantitative Vs. Qualitative Research: Quantitative research is based on the measurement of quantity or amount. It is applicable to phenomena that can be expressed in terms of quantity. It is research methodology that seeks to quantity the data and typically applies some form of statistical analysis. Quantitative research is structured in nature and recommends a final course of action. Qualitative research, on the other hand, is concerned with qualitative phenomenon. Qualitative research is important in the behavioural sciences where the aim is to discover the underlying motives of human behaviour. Through such research we can analyze the various factors, which motivate people to behave in a particular manner or which make people like or dislike a particular thing.
d)      Conceptual Vs. Empirical Research: Conceptual research is related to some abstract ideas of theory. It is generally used by philosophers and thinkers to develop new concepts. On the other hand, empirical research relies on experience or observation alone, often without due regard for system and theory. It is data based research, coming up with conclusions which are capable of being verified by observation or experiment. We can also call it an experimental type of research.
e)      Other types of research:  All types of research are variations of one or more of the above stated approaches, based on either the purpose of research, or the time required to accomplish research, on the environment in which research is done, or on the basis of some other similar factors. There are many other types of research based on their occurrence such as one-time research, field-setting research, clinical or diagnostic, historical and conclusion-oriented research etc.
Significance of Research in Business Decision Making:
The role of research has greatly increased in the field of business and economy as a whole. In modern of development three factors increase the interest in a research to business decision making.
a)      The manager’s increased need for more and better information.
b)      The availability of improved techniques and tools to meet this need.
c)       The resulting information overload.
Role of research in important areas of business through research, an executive can quickly get a information of the current scenario. The following are the major key areas in which research play a key role in making effective decisions.
a)      Scientific and Inductive:  Research inculcates scientific and inductive thinking and it promotes the development of logical habit of thinking and organisation.
b)      Aid to Economics Policy:  The role of research in several fields of applied economics, whether related to business or to the economy as a whole has greatly increased in modern times. The increasingly complex nature of business and government has focused attention on the use of research in solving operational problems.  Research as an aid to economic policy has gained added importance.
c)       Basis for Policies:  Research provides the basis for nearly all government policies in our economic system.  For instance, govt’s budget rest in part on an analysis of the need and desire of people and on the availability of revenues to meet these needs.  The cost of need has to be equated to probable revenues and this is a field where research is most needed.
d)      Operational and Planning:  Research has its special significance in solving various operational and planning problems of business and industry.  Operation research refers to application of mathematical, logical and analytical techniques to the solution of business problems of cost minimization or profit maximization or optimization problems.  Business budgeting, which ultimately results in a projected profit and loss account, is based mainly on sales estimates which in turn depend on business research.  Thus research replaces intuitive business decisions by more logical and scientific decisions.
e)      Social Relationship:  Research is equally important for social scientists in solving social relationship and in seeking answers to social problems.  Research in social science is concerned both with knowledge for its own sake and with knowledge for what it can contribute to practical concerns.
f)       Other significance of research
Ø  To those student who are to write a master or Ph.D. thesis, research may mean careerism or a way to attain high position in the social structure.
Ø  To professional in research methodology, It may mean a source of livelihood.
Ø  To philosophers and thinkers, it may mean the outlet for new ideas and insight.
Ø  To literary man and women, it may mean the development of new styles and creative work.
Ø  To analysts and intellectuals, it may mean the generalisation of new theories.
Research Approaches
The above description of the types of research brings to light the fact that there are two basic approaches to research, viz., quantitative approach and the qualitative approach. The former involves the generation of data in quantitative form which can be subjected to rigorous quantitative analysis in a formal and rigid fashion. This approach can be further sub-classified into inferential, experimental and simulation approaches to research.
The purpose of inferential approach to research is to form a data base from which to infer characteristics or relationships of population. This usually means survey research where a sample of population is studied (questioned or observed) to determine its characteristics, and it is then inferred that the population has the same characteristics. Experimental approach is characterised by much greater control over the research environment and in this case some variables are manipulated to observe their effect on other variables. Simulation approach involves the construction of an artificial environment within which relevant information and data can be generated. This permits an observation of the dynamic behaviour of a system (or its sub-system) under controlled conditions. The term ‘simulation’ in the context of business and social sciences applications refers to “the operation of a numerical model that represents the structure of a dynamic process. Given the values of initial conditions, parameters and exogenous variables, a simulation is run to represent the behaviour of the process over time.”5 Simulation approach can also be useful in building models for understanding future conditions.
Qualitative approach to research is concerned with subjective assessment of attitudes, opinions and behaviour. Research in such a situation is a function of researcher’s insights and impressions. Such an approach to research generates results either in non-quantitative form or in the form which are not subjected to rigorous quantitative analysis. Generally, the techniques of focus group interviews, projective techniques and depth interviews are used. All these are explained at length in chapters that follow.
Developing a Research Plan
After identifying and defining the problem as also accomplishing the relating task, researcher must arrange his ideas in order and write them in the form of an experimental plan or what can be described as ‘Research Plan’. This is essential specially for new researcher because of the following:
(a) It helps him to organize his ideas in a form whereby it will be possible for him to look for flaws and inadequacies, if any.
(b) It provides an inventory of what must be done and which materials have to be collected as a preliminary step.
(c) It is a document that can be given to others for comment.
Research plan must contain the following items (Components of a research plan)
1. Research objective should be clearly stated in a line or two which tells exactly what it is that the researcher expects to do.
2. The problem to be studied by researcher must be explicitly stated so that one may know what information is to be obtained for solving the problem.
3. Each major concept which researcher wants to measure should be defined in operational terms in context of the research project.
4. The plan should contain the method to be used in solving the problem. An overall description of the approach to be adopted is usually given and assumptions, if any, of the concerning method to be used are clearly mentioned in the research plan.
5. The plan must also state the details of the techniques to be adopted. For instance, if interview method is to be used, an account of the nature of the contemplated interview procedure should be given. Similarly, if tests are to be given, the conditions under which they are to be administered should be specified along with the nature of instruments to be used. If public records are to be consulted as sources of data, the fact should be recorded in the research plan. Procedure for quantifying data should also be written out in all details.
6. A clear mention of the population to be studied should be made. If the study happens to be sample based, the research plan should state the sampling plan i.e., how the sample is to be identified. The method of identifying the sample should be such that generalisation from the sample to the original population is feasible.
7. The plan must also contain the methods to be used in processing the data. Statistical and other methods to be used must be indicated in the plan. Such methods should not be left until the data have been collected. This part of the plan may be reviewed by experts in the field, for they can often suggest changes that result in substantial saving of time and effort.
8. Results of pilot test, if any, should be reported. Time and cost budgets for the research project should also be prepared and laid down in the plan itself.
Research Design
The most significant part that follows the task of defining the research problem is the preparation of the design of the research project, popularly known as ‘research design’.  A research design is the arrangement of conditions for collection and analysis of data in a manner that aims to combine relevance to the research purpose with economy in procedure.  According to Pauline V Young, “The logical and systematic planning and directing a piece of research is called research design”.  First, it is the plan that specifies the sources and types of information relevant to the research questions.  Second, it is strategy or blueprint specifying which approach will be used for gathering and analysing the data.  Finally, since most business research studies have time and economic constraint, both time and cost budget are typically included.
Need for Research Design: It is needed because it facilitates the smooth sailing of the various research operations, thereby making research as efficient as possible yielding maximum information with minimal expenditure of efforts, time and money. Research design stands for advance planning of the methods to be adapted for collecting the relevant data and technique to be used in their analysis keeping in view the objective of the research and the availability of staff, time and money.  A research design usually involves he consideration of the following factors:
a.       The mean for obtaining information.
b.      The availability and skills of the researcher and his staff, if nay.
c.       The objective of the problem to be studied.
d.      The nature of the problem to be studied.
e.      The availability of time and money for the research work.
Characteristics of research design
a)      Objectivity: The findings obtained by the research should be objective. It is possible by allowing more than one person to agree between the final scores/ conclusion of the research.
b)      Reliability: If the similar research is carried out time and again in a similar setting it must give similar result. So the researcher must frame the research questions to make it reliable and provide similar outcomes.
c)       Validity: Any measuring device can be said to be valid if it measures what it is expected to measure and nothing else. To make a research valid the questionnaire framed before research must be framed accordingly.
d)      Generalization: The information collected from given sample must be utilized for providing a general application to the large group of which the sample is drawn.
Types of Research Design
Research design is of four types
a)      Sampling design: In this design the total population is census and a random sample is taken which denotes the entire population. There are two types of sampling design:
Ø  Probability
Ø  Non-probability
b)      Observational design: In this design the researcher plans how to take data for research.
c)       Operational design: In this deign the researcher design how the research is going to be operated.
d)      Statistical design: In this design the statistical tools to use for research are planned by the researcher.
Components or essentials of a Research Design
Components of a Research Design are given below
a)   Dependent and Independent Variables: A magnitude that varies is known as a variable. The concept may assume different quantitative values, like height, weight, income, etc. Qualitative variables are not quantifiable in the strictest sense of objectivity. However, the qualitative phenomena may also be quantified in terms of the presence or absence of the attribute considered. Phenomena that assume different values quantitatively even in decimal points are known as ‘continuous variables’. But, all variables need not be continuous. Values that can be expressed only in integer values are called ‘non-continuous variables’. In statistical terms, they are also known as ‘discrete variable’. For example, age is a continuous variable; whereas the number of children is a non-continuous variable. When changes in one variable depend upon the changes in one or more other variables, it is known as a dependent or endogenous variable, and the variables that cause the changes in the dependent variable are known as the independent or explanatory or exogenous variables. For example, if demand depends upon price, then demand is a dependent variable, while price is the independent variable. And if, more variables determine demand, like income and prices of substitute commodity, then demand also depends upon them in addition to the own price. Then, demand is a dependent variable which is determined by the independent variables like own price, income and price of a substitute.
b)   Extraneous Variable: The independent variables which are not directly related to the purpose of the study but affect the dependent variable are known as extraneous variables. For instance, assume that a researcher wants to test the hypothesis that there is a relationship between children’s school performance and their self-concepts, in which case the latter is an independent variable and the former, the dependent variable. In this context, intelligence may also influence the school performance.
c)    Control: One of the most important features of a good research design is to minimize the effect of extraneous variable. Technically, the term control is used when a researcher designs the study in such a manner that it minimizes the effects of extraneous independent variables. The term control is used in experimental research to reflect the restrain in experimental conditions.
d)   Confounded Relationship: The relationship between dependent and independent variables is said to be confounded by an extraneous variable, when the dependent variable is not free from its effects.
e)   Research Hypothesis: When a prediction or a hypothesized relationship is tested by adopting scientific methods, it is known as research hypothesis. The research hypothesis is a predictive statement which relates a dependent variable and an independent variable. Generally, a research hypothesis must consist of at least one dependent variable and one independent variable. Whereas, the relationships that are assumed but not be tested are predictive statements that are not to be objectively verified are not classified as research hypothesis.
f)    Experimental and Control Groups: When a group is exposed to usual conditions in an experimental hypothesis-testing research, it is known as ‘control group’. On the other hand, when the group is exposed to certain new or special condition, it is known as an ‘experimental group’. In the aforementioned example, the Group A can be called a control group and the Group B an experimental one. If both the groups A and B are exposed to some special feature, then both the groups may be called as ‘experimental groups’. A research design may include only the experimental group or the both experimental and control groups together.
g)   Treatments: Treatments refer to the different conditions to which the experimental and control groups are subject to. In the example considered, the two treatments are the parents with regular earnings and those with no regular earnings. Likewise, if a research study attempts to examine through an experiment regarding the comparative impacts of three different types of fertilizers on the yield of rice crop, then the three types of fertilizers would be treated as the three treatments.
h)   Experiment: An experiment refers to the process of verifying the truth of a statistical hypothesis relating to a given research problem. For instance, the experiment may be conducted to examine the yield of a certain new variety of rice crop developed. Further, Experiments may be categorized into two types namely, absolute experiment and comparative experiment. If a researcher wishes to determine the impact of a chemical fertilizer on the yield of a particular variant of the rice crop, then it is known as absolute experiment. Meanwhile, if the researcher wishes to determine the impact of chemical fertilizer as compared to the impact of bio-fertilizer, then the experiment is known as a comparative experiment.
i)     Experiment Unit: Experimental units refer to the predetermined plots, characteristics or the blocks, to which the different treatments are applied. It is worth mentioning here that such experimental units must be selected with great caution.
Research Questions
A research question is a clear, focused, concise, complex and arguable question around which a researcher center his research. He should ask a question about an issue in which he is genuinely curious about. Research questions help writers focus their research by providing a path through the research and writing process. The specificity of a well-developed research question helps writers avoid the “all-about” paper and work toward supporting a specific, arguable thesis. A good research question defines the focus of a research project. A research question helps readers to know the specific subject matter on which the project lays emphasis.
Steps to developing a research question:
a)      Choose an interesting general topic. Even directed academic research should focus on a topic in which the writer is at least somewhat personally invested. Writers should choose a broad topic about which they genuinely would like to know more.
b)      Do some preliminary research on general topic. Do a few quick searches in current periodicals and journals on your topic to see what’s already been done and to help you narrow your focus.
c)       Consider audience. For most college papers, audience will be academic, but always keep your audience in mind when narrowing your topic and developing your question.
d)      Start asking questions. Taking into consideration all of the above, start asking yourself open-ended “how” and “why” questions about your general topic.

Research Process
Research process can be explained with the help of following diagram:
                STEPS                                                                                    TASK TO BE PERFORMED
1.       Formulation of
Research Problem
Identification of Research Problem.
Selection of Research Problem.


2.       Review of Literature
Review of concepts & Theories.
Review of previous Research Findings.

3.       Formulation of
Hypothesis
Discuss the problem with colleagues.
Examine the data & Reports.
Developed tentative assumptions.
               
4.       Operationalisation of
Concept
Define concept to be used in the study.
Construct Index.
Construct scale for measuring variables.
Operationalisation of concept.

5.       Preparation of the
Research
Plan/Research Design
The means of obtaining information.
The availability and splits of the researchers.
Explanation of the ways in which selected.
Means of obtaining information will be organized.
Time schedule.
Cost of Scheme.

6.       Determine the Sample
Design.
Define Population.
Determine Sample Size.
Choosing the sample Techniques.

 




7.       Construction of the
Tools for Data
Collection
Observation.
Personal Interview.
Telephone Interview.
Questionnaire.
Schedule.

8.       Collection of data
Primary Source.
Secondary Source.

9.       Processing of Data
Editing.
Classification.
Coding.
Transcription of Decoding.
Tabulation.
10.   Analysis of Data
Percentage.
Average.
Time Series Analysis.
Index Number Analysis.
Use of other Statistical Tools.
11.   Hypothesis Testing
Chi-square Test.
F-Test.
Z-Test.
T-Test.
12.   Interpretation and
Generalization
Draw meaning from the analysis.
Reach to the conclusion.
See of the Conclusion are applicable.
Universally.
Make Generalization.

13.   Report Writing
Or Dissertation
The Preliminary Pages.
Main Text.
Introduction.
Main Reports.
Summary & Findings.
Conclusion.

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