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Research



Research




Research is a systematic, exhaustive, and intensive investigation and study of a topic, often employing hypothesis and experimentation, to discover new knowledge, facts, theories, principles, and laws.

Research comprises "creative and systematic work undertaken to increase the stock of knowledge, including knowledge of humans, culture and society, and the use of this stock of knowledge to devise new applications." It is used to establish or confirm facts, reaffirm the results of previous work, solve new or existing problems, support theorems, or develop new theories.

A research project may also be an expansion on past work in the field. Research projects can be used to develop further knowledge on a topic, or in the example of a school research project, they can be used to further a student's research prowess to prepare them for future jobs or reports. To test the validity of instruments, procedures, or experiments, research may replicate elements of prior projects or the project as a whole. The primary purposes of basic research (as opposed to applied research) are documentation, discovery, interpretation, or the research and development (R&D) of methods and systems for the advancement of human knowledge. Approaches to research depend on epistemologies, which vary considerably both within and between humanities and sciences. There are several forms of research: scientific, humanities, artistic, economic, social, business, marketing, practitioner research, life, technological, etc.¹





Contents


  • Etymology
  • Definitions
  • Need For and Purpose of Research
  • Types of Research
  • Research Process / Steps in Conducting Research
  • Current Library and Information Science Research Environment
  • Value of Studying Research Methodology for Library and Information Professionals
  • Research Quiz






ETYMOLOGY

Aristotle, (384–322 BC), one of the early figures in the development of the scientific method. The word research is derived from the Middle French "recherche", which means "to go about seeking", the term itself being derived from the Old French term "recerchier" a compound word from "re-" + "cerchier", or "sercher", meaning 'search'. The earliest recorded use of the term was in 1577.



DEFINITIONS

Research has been defined in a number of different ways, and while there are similarities, there does not appear to be a single, all-encompassing definition that is embraced by all who engage in it.

One definition of research is used by the OECD, "Any creative systematic activity undertaken in order to increase the stock of knowledge, including knowledge of man, culture and society, and the use of this knowledge to devise new applications."

Another definition of research is given by John W. Creswell, who states that "research is a process of steps used to collect and analyze information to increase our understanding of a topic or issue". It consists of three steps: pose a question, collect data to answer the question, and present an answer to the question.

The Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary defines research in more detail as "studious inquiry or examination; especially : investigation or experimentation aimed at the discovery and interpretation of facts, revision of accepted theories or laws in the light of new facts, or practical application of such new or revised theories or laws."

Webster’s Third International Dictionary of the English Language defines research as“studious inquiry or examination, especially critical and exhaustive investigation or experimentation, having for its aim the discovery of new facts, and their correct interpretation, the revision of accepted conclusions, theories, or laws in the light of newly discovered facts, or practical applications of new or revised conclusions, theories, or laws.”

According to the Random House Dictionary of the English Language, Research is a systematic inquiry into a subject in order to discover or revise facts, theories, etc.

Busha in his publication Research Methods in Librarianship says that Research is “a systematic quest for knowledge that is characterized by disciplined enquiry. Efficient and effective approach to expand knowledge is the conduct of special, planned and structured investigations.”

Ranganathan describes research to represent a critical and exhaustive investigation to discover new facts, to interpret them in the light of known ideas, theories and laws, to revive the current laws and theories in the light of the newly discovered facts to apply the conclusion to practical purpose.

The substance of all these samples of definitions of research can be broadly summed up. To restate, the substantive phrases that stand out in all these definitions of research are that research is an activity as characterized below:

  • An intellectual activity of a high order;
  • An investigation of a phenomenon, event or activity;
  • Aims to discover data and facts and their interpretations;
  • To arrive at conclusions to formulate new theories and laws or revise the already established theories and laws;
  • To communicate the results for peer review; and
  • To be accepted or rejected before adding this new knowledge to the already existing general pool of knowledge.



NEED FOR AND PURPOSE OF RESEARCH

As it has been mentioned earlier, knowledge is the primary and powerful resource that can provide scope for material prosperity of a society. New knowledge can be acquired only with the pursuit of research to extend the frontiers of knowledge. To accentuate the value of research, particularly with reference to scientific, technological and societal knowledge in the Indian context, Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru eloquently articulated the Scientific Policy Resolution (SPR) of the Government of India in 1958.

SPR states, ”the dominating feature of the contemporary world is the intense cultivation of science on a large scale and its application to meet a country’s requirements. It is this which for the first time in man’s history, has given the common man, in countries advanced in science, a standard of living and social and cultural amenities which were confined to a very small and privileged minority of the population. It is only through scientific approach and method and use of scientific knowledge that reasonable material and cultural amenities and services can be provided for every member of the community and it is out of the recognition of this possibility that the idea of the welfare state has grown.”

The implications and policy directions of this farsighted SPR are quite clear, namely:

Recognition of the vital role of science and technology for socio-economic development as a fundamental approach.

Another important point of note, particularly beginning from the middle of the last century, is the increasing emphasis on the organising principle for all socio-economic development as a mix of science, technology and societal knowledge (STSK). This mix is a complex and multidimensional process, involving science, technology and societal knowledge. Societal knowledge combines political, economic, sociological, demographic, occupational, health, legal, regulatory and environment information and knowledge to comprise a complete knowledge universe. Again development is not merely cultivating physical resources, but also very much on building up human resources. Any imbalance in these development approaches weakens the overall capacity of a State to transform itself into a welfare state.

As a result of this policy direction in India, in the last half a decade, a number of R & D complexes have been set up in science, technology, social sciences, and humanities. Educational and training institutions of higher learning, centers of advanced studies in many disciplines, acquisition and cultivation of technological and management skills through institutions of technology and management have also been established. Creation of learned societies and professional associations, publication of primary and secondary sources for dissemination of information and knowledge, information systems and services through libraries and information centers, consultancy organisations to bridge research and industrial development, multimedia communication through Internet and websites, and many others are undoubtedly oriented towards building up our knowledge base. Research plays the vital role in this process.

For the business and industrial community world over, knowledge management has become a crucial area for combating competition. This is a big challenge, which has made them to invest very heavily on research on new knowledge creation. This trend is also visible in the Indian context although somewhat blurred at present.

Accessibility and availability of information and knowledge through Internet is another very important development, supporting research activities.

Thus the need for research is to build up an infrastructure for creating new knowledge to develop a knowledge reservoir. The application of this knowledge for socioeconomic and cultural development of a country to provide material well being of societies, is the purpose.



TYPES OF RESEARCH

Types of research have been described by different authors in different ways.

According to Rajendra Kumbhar³ types of research are given below:

Types of research by purpose:
  • Exploratory Research
  • Descriptive Research
  • Explanatory Research

Types of research by its use:
  • Basic Research
  • Applied Research
  • Action Research
  • Evaluative Research

Types of research by time-span of data collection:
  • Cross Sectional Research
  • Longitudinal Research
  • Time Series Research
  • Panel Study
  • Cohort study

Research by type of data:
  • Quantitative Research
  • Secondary Analysis
  • Qualitative Research

Other research approaches / methods / types:
  • Comparative Research Method
  • Operations Research
  • System Analysis
  • Model Development Research
  • Product / Tool Design Research
  • Delphi Research Method
  • Technology-Based Research Methods
  • Bibliometrics
  • User Study
  • Use Study
  • Field Study



RESEARCH PROCESS / STEPS IN CONDUCTING RESEARCH

According to Rajendra Kumbhar the major steps in conducting research are:

1. Identification and Formulation of Research Problem

2. Preparing Research Design / Preparing Research Synopsis

3. Selecting Sample

4. Constructing Tools for Data Collection

5. Data Collection

6. Analysis and Interpretation of Data

7. Writing Research Report


According to Wikipedia the major steps in conducting research are:
  • Identification of research problem
  • Literature review
  • Specifying the purpose of research
  • Determining specific research questions
  • Specification of a conceptual framework, sometimes including a set of hypotheses
  • Choice of a methodology (for data collection)
  • Data collection
  • Verifying data
  • Analyzing and interpreting the data
  • Reporting and evaluating research
  • Communicating the research findings and, possibly, recommendations



CURRENT LIBRARY AND INFORMATION SCIENCE RESEARCH ENVIRONMENT 

Lynn Connaway and Marie Radford in their book Research Methods in Library and Information Science write: Undoubtedly there are many challenges and obstacles to overcome for those embarking on library research, and also for the larger world of higher education and social science academics. According to Connaway: These include reduced funding opportunities because of more restricted national, international, and federal research initiatives; difficulty of articulating the scholarly value of the research based on a theoretical framework; not making the connection between the implications of research results and findings to the practical profession of LIS; limited relationships with scholars and research in other disciplines; the communication of research and outputs to traditional dissemination channels such as scholarly and professional presentations and publications and limited utilization of blogs, social media, and webinars; and inconsistent quality of the research data collection methods and analysis. These challenges are indeed numerous and represent a long list of grievances many have had with LIS research in the past. The past research record for LIS is not exemplary. It has been easier to find criticism than praise of library research. Zweizig called for improvements in research methodologies, especially as they relate to users of library services. Busha and Harter stated that “a large proportion of librarianship’s research has been uneven in quality and demonstrably weak methodologically.” Shaughnessy has been even more critical, contending that traditionally the field has permitted much of what is not actually research to be called research. Cuadra identified shortcomings in the purpose of LIS research. He noted “a failure to ask the right questions and to establish a proper theoretical foundation for later research or application.” More recently, Julien, Pecoskie, and Reed conducted a content analysis of information behavior research and found that there still is a gap between the quality and quantity of research published by practitioners and academic faculty. However, they also discovered signs of improvement, including “an increasingly interdisciplinarity reflected in the information behavior research literature. This suggests a maturing field and may encourage scholars in the area to expand their explorations of literature outside LIS for relevant work and theory.”²



VALUE OF STUDYING RESEARCH METHODOLOGY FOR LIBRARY AND INFORMATION PROFESSIONALS

The value of studying research methodology for students of library and information science⁴ is not only to conduct research in their professional field to contribute new knowledge but also be of great help and assistance to researchers in general.

Clifford Hawkins and Marco Sorgi list a series of values from research as given below:

  • A critical or scientific attitude is likely to be developed;
  • Research gives the chance to study a subject in depth;
  • A researcher gets to know how to use a library and its resources; and also effectively exploit all the secondary and tertiary resources in general, using the Internet facilities and other database networks;
  • A researcher knows to assess critically the literature in the subject of his study;
  • Research helps to develop special interests and skills in the researcher; and
  • Helps in understanding the attitude of others whether in routine interactions or research laboratories.


Specifically for a library and information professional, research would enable them to offer a higher degree of efficient and thoughtful services to users in general and more particularly to fellow researchers.

Research studies are pursued by students in most cases to earn higher academic degrees to enhance their chances to move to higher professional positions in their careers. In addition, it also prepares them to partake in research projects of research institutions where team research is carried out. Studies in research methodology would give opportunities to take part in discussions of research problems and to suggest appropriate methods to find solution to them. They are likely to get opportunities to help the research team in report writing, evaluate other research reports and suggest new problems for research in light of the experiences obtained in the course of time.



RESEARCH QUIZ

Research Quiz -- List of questions, answers, and quizzes on Research from Library and Information Science Questions Answers Quizzes. Please visit this collection and locate questions given below under the heading "Unit IX - Research Methodology" where you will also find their URLs having answers and further explanations.

  • What is research? [(a) A method to obtain the solution of the problem (b) A descriptive method to obtain the solution of the problem (c) A systematic method to obtain the solution of the problem (d) A systematic method to obtain a tentative solution to the problem]
  • Research is an effort? [(a) To discover knowledge (b) To discover and develop knowledge (c) To verify the knowledge (d) To discover, develop, and verify knowledge]







SEE ALSO



REFERENCES

1. Research. Wikipedia. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Research (accessed May 2, 2020).

2. Lynn Connaway and Marie Radford, Research Methods in Library and Information Science, 6th Edition (Santa Barbara, California: Libraries Unlimited, 2017). 

3. Rajendra Kumbhar, Library and Information Science Research (Pune: Universal Prakashan, 2014).

4. IGNOU MLIS coursework.



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