Research information for online study; you can learn about research and related subjects, self-study and e-Learning courses about research.


Research is simply systematic inquiry. You want to know more about a particular topic, so you go through a process to increase your knowledge. The type of process depends on who you are and what you need to know. Design research both inspires imagination and informs intuition through a variety of methods with related intents: to expose patterns underlying the rich reality of people’s behaviors and experiences, to explore reactions to probes and prototypes, and to shed light on the unknown through iterative hypothesis and experiment. One has to understand that finding the what is important, but finding the how is also as important. Take an example of Research in Cloud Computing. The term cloud computing was proposed in the latter half of the 20th century, however, it is only now that people have started to follow it more closely. The most important question - THE WHAT, in this case was -- Cloud computing. But, the HOW has only come up recently in the last decade. If one fails to understand the correlation between the two terms, then there is no point in diving into hardcore scientific research. Research is defined as a careful consideration of study regarding a particular concern or a problem using scientific methods. According to the American sociologist Earl Robert Bobbie, “Research is a systematic inquiry to describe, explain, predict and control the observed phenomenon. Research involves inductive and deductive methods.”

Inductive research methods are used to analyze the observed phenomenon whereas; deductive methods are used to verify the observed phenomenon. Inductive approaches are associated with qualitative research and deductive methods are more commonly associated with quantitative research.

Scientific Research

Furthermore, scientists don't just come up with explanations about the world around us willy-nilly. Not even close. Scientists use the scientific method, a process that helps construct an accurate depiction of our universe and its processes, in order to answer whatever question they may have. Research conducted for the purpose of contributing towards science by the systematic collection, interpretation and evaluation of data and that, too, in a planned manner is called scientific research: a researcher is the one who conducts this research. The results obtained from a small group through scientific studies are socialized, and new information is revealed with respect to diagnosis, treatment and reliability of applications. The purpose of this review is to provide information about the definition, classification and methodology of scientific research. What this means is, researchers observe the world around them, formulate potential explanations for the phenomena they observe, test their hypotheses out with experiments, and analyze their results to see if they were right or wrong. The key thing about the scientific method is that it carries no prejudice, meaning you don't even have to believe whatever it is the researcher wrote or said! Using the scientific method, you can repeat the experiment to find out for yourself whether or not the other researcher's assertions are true. This is a key factor that separates science from dogma. The other important part of scientific research is that a hypothesis must be falsifiable. A falsifiable hypothesis or theory is one where an experiment or another discovery can prove it to be wrong, untrue, and false. This is another critical factor that separates science from the world of religion, astrology, and pseudoscience.

Historical Research

Historical research involves studying, understanding and interpreting past events.  The purpose of historical research is to reach insights or conclusions about past persons or occurrences.  Historical research entails more than simply compiling and presenting factual information; it also requires interpretation of the information. While it sounds pretty obvious, you definitely don't want to make up your mind before you do any research. Sure, it may sound like it makes perfect sense that American collegiate fraternities and the Academy of Athens have some deep connection, but the truth is that you have to examine any connection with an open mind. If you go in thinking that there is some secret bond that goes back 2,500 years and ignore everything that doesn't link to that bond, you're going to miss out on some pretty interesting material. The same goes for if you assume there is no connection whatsoever. Typically, histories focuses on particular individuals, social issues and links between the old and the new.  Some historical research is aimed at reinterpreting prior historical works by revising existing understandings and replacing them with new, often politically charged ones. The main emphasis in historical research is on interpretation of documents, diaries and the like.  Historical data are categorized into primary or secondary sources.  Primary sources include firsthand information, such as eyewitness reposts and original documents.  Secondary sources include secondhand information, such as a description of an event by someone other than an eyewitness, or a textbook author’s explanation of an event or theory.  Primary sources may be harder to find but are generally more accurate and preferred by historical researchers.  A major problem with much historical research is excessive reliance on secondary sources.

Documentary Research

Documentary research, serving as both a complement to and extension of biographical inquiry, takes on different meanings in the field of education. In one sense, documentary research becomes synonymous with archival research and addresses issues related to the role and use of documents and public and private records. In another sense, documentary research produces artifacts and material culture through artistic representation, moving and still imagery, and sound recordings. Documentary research involves the use of texts and documents as source materials: government publications, newspapers, certificates, census publications, novels, film and video, paintings, personal photographs, diaries and innumerable other written, visual and pictorial sources in paper, electronic, or other `hard copy' form. Along with surveys and ethnography, documentary research is one of the three major types of social research and arguably has been the most widely used of the three throughout the history of sociology and other social sciences. It has been the principal method - indeed, sometimes the only one - for leading sociologists. The development of the documentary method is closely associated with the Division of Qualitative Research on Human Development. This methodology was first put forward in the 1920s by Karl Mannheim and then taken up again in the 1960s through ethnomethodology, especially by Harold Garfunkel. In its current form, the documentary method first became fruitful for empirical research in the social sciences in 1983, and then especially in 1989, through the work of Ralf Bohnsack at the Institute of Sociology at the University of Erlangen-Nuremberg, originally in connection with the group discussion process. With this as the basis, the documentary method was then further developed, starting in 1991, at the Division of Qualitative Research on Human Development at Freie Universidad Berlin, especially in the context of larger research projects on youth and deviance. This method now applies in a broad field throughout the social sciences and education, even extending as far as information technology and medicine. Its applications range from research into childhood, youth, and gender and adult education to medical sociology, research on policy and organizational cultures, and research on rituals and media use analysis.

Types of Data Collection in Research

There are two types of data – primary and secondary. Primary data is a type of data which never existed before; hence it was not previously published. Primary data is collected for a specific purpose, i.e. they are critically analyzed to find answers to research question(s). Secondary data, on the other hand, refers to a type of data that has been previously published in journals, magazines, newspapers, books, online portals and other sources. Dissertations can be based solely on the secondary data, without a need for the primary data. However, the opposite is not true i.e. no research can be completed only using primary data and secondary data collection and analysis is compulsory for all dissertations. Primary data collection methods can be divided into two categories: qualitative and quantitative. Firstly, the concepts in quantitative research methods are usually expressed in the forms of variables, while the concepts in qualitative research methods are expressed in motives and generalizations. Secondly, quantitative research methods and measures are usually universal, like formulas for finding mean, median and mode for a set of data, whereas, in qualitative research each research is approached individually and individual measures are developed to interpret the primary data taking into account the unique characteristics of the research. Thirdly, data in quantitative research appears in the forms of numbers and specific measurements and in qualitative research data can be in forms of words, images, transcripts, etc. Fourthly, research findings in quantitative research can be illustrated in the forms of tables, graphs and pie-charts, whereas, research findings in qualitative studies is usually presented in analysis by only using words.

Observational Method of Research

With the observational method (sometimes referred to as field observation) animal and human behavior is closely observed.  There are two main categories of the observational method — naturalistic observation and laboratory observation. The biggest advantage of the naturalistic method of research is that researchers view participants in their natural environments.  This leads to greater ecological validity than laboratory observation, proponents say. Ecological validity refers to the extent to which research can be used in real-life situations. Proponents of laboratory observation often suggest that due to more control in the laboratory, the results found when using laboratory observation are more meaningful than those obtained with naturalistic observation.  Laboratory observations are usually less time-consuming and cheaper than naturalistic observations.   Of course, both naturalistic and laboratory observation are important in regard to the advancement of scientific knowledge.

Survey Method of Research

In survey method research, participants answer questions administered through interviews or questionnaires.  After participants answer the questions, researchers describe the responses given. In order for the survey to be both reliable and valid it is important that the questions are constructed properly.  Questions should be written so they are clear and easy to comprehend. Another consideration when designing questions is whether to include open-ended, closed-ended, partially open-ended, or rating-scale questions. Advantages and disadvantages can be found with each type: Open-ended questions allow for a greater variety of responses from participants but are difficult to analyze statistically because the data must be coded or reduced in some manner.  Closed-ended questions are easy to analyze statistically, but they seriously limit the responses that participants can give.  Many researchers prefer to use a Liker-type scale because it’s very easy to analyze statistically. (Jackson, 2009, p. 89) In addition to the methods listed above some individuals also include qualitative (as a distinct method) and archival methods when discussing descriptive research methods.

Problems in Research

As a marketing researcher, you must work closely with your team of researchers in defining and testing environmental variables. This will help you determine whether the findings of your project will produce enough information to be worth the cost. Research problems range from simple to complex, depending on the number of variables and the nature of their relationship. Sometimes the relationship between two variables is directly related to a problem or questions, and other times the relationship is entirely unimportant. If you understand the nature of the research problem as a researcher, you will be able to better develop a solution to the problem.  Marketing plans often focus on creating a sequence of behaviors that occur over time, as in the adoption of a new package design, or the introduction of a new product. Such programs create a commitment to follow some behavioral pattern or method in the future.

Studying such a process involves:

  1. Determining which variables affect the solution to the research problem.
  2. Determining the degree to which each variable can be controlled and used for the purposes of the company.
  3. Determining the functional relationships between the variables and which variables are critical to the solution of the research problem.