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What is Research? : Methods, Examples & Tips

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Research is defined as a group of methods used to create new knowledge or use the existing knowledge in newer creative ways in order to generate state-of-art concepts, methods, as well as understanding the existing theories in a new light. Research is also defined as a method of carefully considering studies regarding a specific concern or problems with the help of scientific methods. Research refers to the systematic inquiry for describing, explaining, predicting, as well as controlling an observable phenomenon. Research involves the use of both inductive as well as deductive methods.

Inductive research methods are used to analyse observable events. Deductive methods are used to verify the event that has been observed. Inductive research includes the use of qualitative research methods whereas deductive approach more commonly uses quantitative analysis.

Market research is conducted for the following purposes:

  • Identifying potential new customers.
  • Understanding the opinions and beliefs of existing customers.
  • Setting pragmatic and realistic goals for the company to achieve.
  • Developing strategies for the marketing of a new product.
  • Addressing the challenges in the business.
  • Organising and strategizing plans for business expansion.
  • Identifying new opportunities for the business.

What are the important characteristics of research?

  • A good market research follows pragmatic approaches to collect accurate data. Researchers need to ensure that they conduct the research by following ethics and guidelines while collecting data and drawing conclusions for the same.
  • The analysis of the research should be based on logic and it must involve both inductive and deductive methods to have a balanced view on the issue being studied.
  • Practical data and knowledge should be derived from the naturalistic observations made by the researchers.
  • In order to make sure there are no anomalies or biases affecting the research, researchers should engage in an in depth analysis of the collected data.
  • Good research always creates a path for researchers to generate new questions and explore the issue further by generating more research opportunities in the future.
  • Good research also makes use of all the available data in order to ensure accurate inferences from the analysis.
  • Good research is focused on accuracy. It is critical for the information collected for the research to be accurate and unbiased. To ensure accuracy, the tools used in the research, the calibrations of the same as well as the final results of the research all help in assessing the accuracy of the study.

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What is the purpose of research?

Research is conducted for three main reasons: 

  • Exploratory: Research that aims to explore a number of questions is known as exploratory research. As the name suggests, researchers conduct exploratory studies to explore a group of questions. Exploratory research does not provide a conclusion to the problem being studied. It is conducted to explore problem areas that have not been studied before. It lays down the foundation for future research. It is sort of a building structure for more exhaustive data collection and analysis for the future. 

Exploratory Research Example: 

For instance, a dating app company recently added a new feature in their app. The product developers will want to understand how well the users will receive the new feature. If the feature they have added in their app does not exist in any other dating app, the research method will be exploratory research. 

  • Descriptive: Descriptive research is data-driven and aims to expand the knowledge of current issues. Descriptive research focuses on describing the behavior of the respondents being studied. It requires only one variable under study. Descriptive research focuses on describing the phenomenon, explaining it, as well as validating the findings of the study. An example of It focuses on expanding knowledge on current issues through a process of data collection. Descriptive studies describe the behavior of a sample population. Only one variable is required to conduct the study. The three primary purposes of descriptive studies are describing, explaining, and validating the findings.Descriptive research is called an observational research method as none of the variables in the study are influenced during the process of the research.

Descriptive Research Examples: 

A company wants to develop and launch a new product in the market. Before the process begins, the company needs to understand how its target market will receive the new product. 

The company can conduct descriptive research to observe customers’ behavior to the similar product of a competitor. The company can use observation to determine how its target market will react to the product.  

  • Explanatory: Explanatory research design uses the ideas and thoughts of a researcher on one subject to be the guiding point for future studies, it is also used in exploring theories further. The research focuses on explaining the unexplored patterns of a phenomena and elaborate on the details pertaining to the research questions such as; what, why, and how. 

Explanatory Research Example:

When doctors want to understand why their patients are sick, the method they use is called Explanatory Research. The explanatory research will help the doctor determine whether the patient had some health history or unhealthy habits such as smoking, drinking, or others. 

The explanatory research will help determine what happened to the patient. 

The table below compares the three types of research:

Characteristics

Exploratory Research

Descriptive Research

Explanatory Research

Structure of the research

Unstructured

Structured

Highly structured

Method of Conduction

Research questions are used as the starting point

Research questions are used as the starting point

Research hypotheses are used as the starting point.

Time to Conduct the Research

Used in the early stages of decision making

Used in the later stages of decision making

Used in the later stages of decision making

Research is conducted through asking the correct questions and choosing accurate methods to investigate the issue at hand. After collecting data, which are generally the answers to the questions framed, one can analyze these observations in order to draw accurate conclusions.

When it comes to conducting research on customers or on the market, thorough questions tend to yield better analysis. These thorough research questions help in gathering insights on the brand perception and the product under study. They help in collecting thorough data with the use of surveys and questionnaires. One can then analyse the data to make appropriate decisions about their brand, for example, marketing strategies for the product.

What are the Primary Research Methods?

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Another way to classify research methods is as Qualitative and Quantitative. Both of these have their own distinctive properties and different methods of collecting data.

  • Qualitative methods

Qualitative research can be defined as a method used for market research which aims at obtaining data through open-ended questions and conversations with the intended consumers. This method aims at establishing not only “what” people think but “how” did they come to that opinion as well as “why” they think so. The various ways of collecting data for qualitative methods include:

  • Focus groups
  • Ethnographic studies or Human Observation
  • One to one in-depth interviews
  • Case Study

Qualitative Research Example: 

Say a psychologist wants to understand how social media bullying impacts self-perception. The psychologist can investigate the social media content on popular platforms to find out what language is used and how people respond. The method used to investigate is qualitative research. 

  • Quantitative methods

Quantitative research is referred to as the process of collecting as well as analyzing numerical data. It is generally used to find patterns, averages, predictions, as well as cause-effect relationships between the variables being studied. It is also used to generalise the results of a particular study to the population in consideration. Quantitative research is widely used in science; both natural and social sciences. Quantitative research provides actionable insights which are essential for the growth of the company. The data collection methods under Quantitative research are:

  • Survey research that can be conducted through mails, telephones, or self-administered
  • Experimental research
  • Correlational studies

A good research usually ensures minimum levels of bias in the data collection method to improve both the internal and the external validity of the research.

When you are conducting a research, it is important to ensure that your data is:

  • Unbiased and valid. 
  • Free from errors and includes all the required details. 
  • Reliable, i.e. other researches can also depict similar findings. 
  • Appropriate according to the time frame and current affairs.
  • Elaborate and complete. 

Quantitative Research Example: 

A principal wants to investigate how your school students feel about the yearly field trip. She distributes surveys with rating scales to the entire student body to understand their willingness about the field trip. 

In this case, using a rating scale makes it an example of quantitative research. 

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Tips for conducting accurate and valid research:

  1. The most important part of doing accurate research is to successfully identify the major trends and the problems areas that you want to study. It helps if you describe all the observed trends in a sentence or two. 
  2. Maintain a record of the number of times you find similar findings. 
  3. You can also make a list of the most common and rare findings. 
  4. You can identify the strengths and limitations of your research, the opportunities and threats to your business with the help of SWOT analysis.
  5. It’s also a good practice to outline the conclusions of your study and recommendations for the same. 
  6. You should also act on the strategies that have been outlined by the research.
  7. When you act on the strategies, you should look for gaps in the literature and reality and address it if necessary. 
  8. It’s also good practice to dissect the results when you are interpreting them and review them appropriately.
  9. Lastly, always make sure to review your goals prior to making any conclusions about the research. Keep an open mind and ask yourself if the study has revealed any insights that can prove to be beneficial. 

FAQs

The formal definition of Research is that it is a systematic investigation. Research involves gathering & analyzing the data and interpreting it to discover new knowledge. 

The research method is used to discover new information from existing knowledge or understand previously unknown concepts.

The purpose of research can be said to discover and understand – what we know and what we don’t know. The purpose is to understand everything happening around us and learn how the knowledge can be used to solve problems. 

Exploratory research: The researcher explores problem areas that have not been studied before. It lays the foundation for future research. 

Descriptive research: The researcher aims to expand their knowledge on a certain topic. 

Explanatory research: The researcher aims to explain the unexplored patterns of a phenomenon. It answers the questions – why, what, and how. 

Based on the type of data you use for your research study, there are two types of research methods – quantitative research & qualitative research. 

Quantitative Research: When you collect quantifiable data, i.e., in numerical or statistical format, the research method is Quantitative Research. 

The data is analyzed using statistical analysis or data analysis software to generate insights. 

 

Qualitative Research: When the data you collect is not quantifiable, the method used is called Qualitative Research. 

Qualitative research is subjective and is best suited to explore the “why.”

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