September 17, 2021

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Research and various methods of doing research

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This article is written by Kedar Manoj Lakhe, pursuing Certificate Course in Introduction to Legal Drafting: Contracts, Petitions, Opinions & Articles from LawSikho.

Table of Contents

Since the arrival of the 20th century, the progress humans have made in the field of technology has enabled us to have a large amount of data and information available to us at our fingertips. We are currently in the year 2021, and the pace of our technological progress is not going to slow down in any way in the near future.  However, with this technological advancement and such vast availability of information and data there is a downside which is that such information and data cannot be taken as true and authentic at its face value which leads us to our main topic that is research. Research helps us to filter out the necessary information from the ocean of data and information. Research is a crucial factor in today’s world not just for people who work in the field of academics but also in other areas of employment. 

In this article, we will discuss various strategies of research which will help us on our quest to find the information and data which perfectly fits our needs. We will also look at various methods to do research and how to implement and use those methods. From Leonardo da Vinci to Darwin, research has helped mankind to progress, but the methods for research keep changing and keep evolving. This article will discuss the new and updated strategies which are useful in today’s modern world.

The foremost and pivotal step is understanding the exact definition of research. If we put it for the layman, research is a process of finding new information or knowledge which can give birth to a completely new concept or help us understand any existing ideas. Even though research can be done by anyone belonging to any field of study, most of the research is done to gain knowledge about the physical, biological, and social worlds. The type of research in these areas can range from a variety of topics such as understanding certain materials or learning the different behaviors of people. Thus, research is a systematic analysis in which a conjecture is formed leading to the formation of apt research methods wherein the information is analyzed and results are summed up to reach one or more conclusions. 

  1. Good research always follows a structured approach to gather the correct data. Researchers always have to follow a certain code of conduct and ethics while monitoring information and making appropriate conclusions. 
  2. The study of particular research is based on logical reasoning involving both inductive and deductive methods. 
  3. Real-time information is acquired from actual observation in natural settings. 
  4. There is a comprehensive analysis of all the information collected so that there are no abnormalities associated with it.
  5. Good research creates a way for creating new questions while the existing data helps to create more research opportunities. 

However, there are some well-approved research methods that have been proved to be effective in various types of research. There are two major types of research approaches that are most commonly used namely qualitative methods and quantitative methods. 

Let’s first understand the qualitative methods followed by quantitative methods. 

Qualitative methods

Qualitative research is an approach that involves the collection of data using interactive methods wherein the responses are non-numerical. This method helps the researcher to understand the behavior of the participants.

The types of qualitative methods

  1. Case study, 
  2. One-to-one interviews,
  3. Text analysis, 
  4. Focus groups, 
  5. Ethnographic studies.

Quantitative methods

The quantitative method uses a more methodical analysis of numerical data. This method involves getting answers to questions with measurable variables to predict, explain or control an event. 

The types of qualitative methods

  1. Correctional research, 
  2. Surveys, 
  3. Descriptive research. 

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Correctional research method

There are three major types of correlational research methods as follows:

1. Positive correlation

Two variables are said to be in a positive relationship when an increase in one variable leads to an increase in another. Consequently, a decrease in one variable will lead to a reduction of the other. For instance, the amount of money a person might positively correlate with the number of houses a person owns. 

2. Negative correlation

Two variables are said to be in a negative relationship when an increase in one variable leads to a decrease in the other variable and vice versa.  For example, education and crime can be considered to be in a negative relationship since the improvement in the level of education can lead to a decrease in the crime rate in the country. 

3. No correlation

 In this third type, there is no correlation between the two variables. A change in one variable may not necessarily bring about a change in the other. For example, being financially secure and being happy are not correlated. An increase in money doesn’t necessarily lead to happiness. 

Surveys

Survey research methods are primarily based on two major factors: 

  • A survey research tool, and 
  • Time required to conduct particular research. 

There are three main survey research methods, differentiated on the basis of the medium of conducting surveys:

Face-to-face surveys

If there is a complicated problem to solve, research conducts thorough face-to-face interviews where the response rate is the highest. The downside of this method is its high cost. 

Telephonic surveys

This type of survey is conducted over the telephone and has proved to be useful in covering a large part of the target population. Two main disadvantages associated with this method are that the money invested in phone surveys is higher than the other methods and can be time-consuming. 

Online surveys 

Online or email surveys are one the most popular survey research methods in this era of the internet. Minimal cost and highly accurate responses are the two major benefits of this survey research method. 

Descriptive research methods

Following are the three distinctive methods to conduct descriptive research:

Observational method

This method is the most successful method to conduct descriptive research wherein the researchers make use of both quantitative and qualitative observations. A quantitative observation is meant by an unbiased collection of information, which primarily focuses on numbers and values. The results of quantitative observation are obtained using statistical and numerical analysis of the data. In other words, it can be inferred that the observation of any entity is associated with a numerical value such as age, shape, weight, etc. 

Qualitative observation doesn’t involve measurements but only involves monitoring the characteristics of the respondents from a distance. In this case, since the respondents are in their natural settings, the characteristics thus observed are natural and real-time data is acquired. For instance, in a supermarket, the researcher can observe the behavior and purchasing trends of the customers from a distance in order to gain insight into the purchasing 

Case study method

This method involved comprehensive research and analysis of the masses. A case study leads to postulation and broadens the scope of studying a particular phenomenon. However, the disadvantage associated with this method is that it cannot make accurate predictions as there is a possibility of the researcher’s bias being attached to it. Another disadvantage is that there could be an atypical respondent in the survey which can lead to weak generalisations and going away from external validity. 

Survey research

In this type of research method, participants answer through questionnaires or polls. This is one of the popular research tools to gather feedback from the participants. Thus, to gather the correct information the researcher should include the right survey questions which are a mix of open-ended and close-ended questions. The surveys can be conducted online, face-to-face, or over the telephone. 

Now, after understanding the types of research methods, let us shift our focus to the importance of research. As discussed earlier, the main purpose of research is to gather knowledge and information that act as evidence to specific theories which eventually help us in developing knowledge in a particular field of study.

Following are six major reasons why research is important:

  1. Research is a means to understand the underlying issues and increase public awareness.
  2. It is an effective method to gather knowledge and facilitate learning among the masses.
  3. Research is an important tool to succeed in any business.
  4. It helps to debunk the myths and lies and uncover the truth.
  5. Research promotes the confidence and liking for the art of reading, writing, studying, and sharing valuable information for the greater good.
  6. Last but not the least, research enables us to find, understand and seize opportunities.

Conclusively, we now understand the definition of research, the various types of research methods and their significance, and the importance of why we need to invest time in research. Thus, it is clear that research helps us to gain more knowledge and select only the necessary information from the vast amount of data available to us. 


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