Meaning and definitions of Research


Meaning of Research

Popular dictionaries define research as careful search, systematic investigation towards increasing the sum of knowledge. To research is to search again, to take another, more careful look, to find out more. We take another look because something may be wrong with what we already know.

The Webster's International Dictionary proposes a very inclusive definition of research as a careful, critical inquiry or examination seeking facts or principles; diligent investigation in order to ascertain something.

For the purposes of this discussion, research is considered to be the more formal, systematic, and intensive process of carrying on a scientific method of analysis. Scientific research is a systematic, controlled, empirical, and critical investigation of hypothetical propositions about the presumed relations among natural phenomena.

Research is the process of systematic and in-depth study or searches for any particular topic, subject, or area of investigation, backed by collection, compilation, presentation, and interpretation of relevant details or data. It is a careful search or inquiry into any subject or subject matter, which is an endeavor to discover or find out valuable facts, which would be useful for further application or utilization. Research may involve a scientific study or experimentation, and result in discovery or invention, which would aid either scientific development or decision-making. It may be concerned with general, abstract, or concrete subjects.

There cannot be any research, which does not increase knowledge or improve scientific knowledge. Research that involves scientific analysis would result in the formulation of new theories, the discovery of new ideas or techniques, modification of old concepts, or knocking off an existing theory, concept or technique. It may develop a hypothesis and test it. It may also establish relationships between variables and identify the ways and means for problem-solving.

Research in common parlance refers to a search for knowledge. Curiosity or inquisitiveness is a distinctive feature of human beings like us. We are curious to know about our institutions, our environment, our planet, other planets, the universe, and ourselves Questions go on arising in our mind. What are the parameters of the sound health of a person? How do problems of health arise? What are the remedies? What is the shape of the earth? How do solar and lunar eclipses arise? How is rain formed? Why are places like Kathmandu and Pokhara cooler than Biratnagar and Nepalgunj? Is there any life on other planets? What are stars? Why day and night alternate? Why the mode of life and activities of human beings vary from place to place? Why more than two hundred thousand people died by the tsunami in different 12 countries on December 26, 2019? Why there is absolute poverty in some countries like Nepal? Why does the performance of similar organizations vary? Why are the causes of various business problems like recession or industrial unrest? And so on. Whenever questions arise we seek answers to them. Whenever we encounter problems, we try to find solutions to them. Such seeking answers and solutions are as old as human civilizations. Research is a way of thinking. Research is a more systematic activity that is directed toward the discovery and the development of an organized body of knowledge.

Research is a more systematic activity that is directed toward the discovery and the development of an organized body of knowledge. A summary of some of the basics of research may help to clarify its spirit and meaning.

1. Solution of a problem
Research is directed toward the solution of a problem. The ultimate goal is to discover cause-and-effect relationships between variables, though researchers often have to settle for the useful discovery of a systematic relationship because the evidence for a cause-and-effect relationship is insufficient.

2. Research is more than information
Research emphasizes the development of generalizations, principles, or theories that will be helpful in predicting future occurrences. Research is more than information retrieval, the simple gathering of information. Although many university research departments gather and tabulate statistical information that may be useful in decision making, these activities are not properly termed research.

3. Empirical evidence
Research is based upon observable experience or empirical evidence. Certain interesting questions do not lend themselves to research procedures because they cannot be observed. Research rejects revelation and dogma as methods of establishing knowledge and accepts only what can be verified by observation.

4. Qualitative and Quantitative measuring devices
Research demands accurate observation and description. A researcher may choose to use quantitative measuring devices when possible. When this is not possible or appropriate to answer the researchers' question, they may choose from a variety of qualitative, or non-quantitative, descriptions of their observations. Good research utilizes valid and reliable data gathering procedures.

5. New data
Research involves gathering new data from primary or first-hand sources or using existing data for a new purpose. The students are expected to read a number of encyclopedias, books, or periodical references and synthesize the information in a written report. It is not research, which does not have updated data.

6. Trial and error
Research is more often characterized by carefully designed procedures that apply rigorous analysis. Although trial and error are often involved, research is rarely a blind, shotgun investigation or an experiment just to see what happens.

7. Research requires expertise
Research requires expertise. The researcher knows what is already known about the problem and how others have investigated it. He or she has searched the related literature carefully and is also thoroughly grounded in the terminology, concepts, and technical skills necessary to understand and analyze the data gathered.

8. Objective and logical
The research strives to be objective and logical, applying every possible test to validate the procedures employed, the data collected, and the conclusions reached. The researcher attempts to eliminate personal bias.

9. Replication
Research involves the quest for answers to unsolved problems. Pushing back the frontiers of ignorance is its goal, and originality is frequently
the quality of a good research project. Replication is always desirable to confirm or to raise questions about the conclusion of a previous study.

10. Patience and unhurried activity
Research and researchers are characterized by patience. It is rare and spectacular, discouragement as they pursue the answers to difficult questions.

11. Recorded and reported
Research is carefully recorded and reported. Each important term is defined limiting factors are recognized procedures are described in detail, references are carefully documented results are objectively recorded, and conclusions are presented with scholarly caution and restraint.

12. Courage
Research sometimes requires courage. The history of science reveals that many important discoveries were made in spite of the opposition of political and religious authorities. The Polish scientist Copernicus (1473-1543) was condemned by church authorities when he announced his conclusion concerning the nature of the solar system. His theory, in direct conflict with the older Ptolemaic theory, held that the sun, not the earth, was the center of the solar system.

Some Scientific definitions of Research:

In recent times with the rise of a scientific approach and the declining status of common sense knowledge, the resistance to behavioral science research is gradually disappearing. With the aid of its scientific approach, behavioral science research is playing an increasingly important role in different settings of our societies. The term "research" in itself means "search again" or "take another look" so as to find out something more accurate.

Fortunately, it is easier to define scientific research than it is to define science and theory. It would not be easy, however, to get scientists and researchers to agree on such a definition. Even so, we attempt a few here:

Kurt Lewin- Social research is a systematic method of exploring, and conceptualizing social life in order to extend, correct, or verify knowledge, whether that knowledge aid in the construction of a theory or in the practice of an art.

John W. Best- Research may be defined as the systematic and objective analysis and recording of controlled observations that may lead to the development of generalizations, principles, or theories, resulting in prediction and possibility ultimate control of events.

George A. Theodorson and A. G. Theodorson- Research is a systematic and objective attempt to study a problem for purpose of deriving general principles.

James A. Black and Dean J. Champion- Scientific research consists of obtaining information through empirical observation that can be used for the systematic development of logically related propositions attempting to establish causal relations among variables.

Robert Burns- Research is a systematic investigation to find solutions to a problem.

Frederic Le Play- Research is thinking through the process.

Fred N. Kerlinger- Scientific research is a systematic, controlled, empirical, and critical investigation of hypothetical propositions about the presumed relations among natural phenomena.

Pauline V. Young- The systematic method of discovering new facts or verifying old facts, their sequences, interrelationships, causal explanations, and the natural laws which govern them.

Uma Sekaran- Research is a systematic and organized effort to investigate a specific problem that needs a solution.

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