Understanding research

By Priya Chetty on September 8, 2015

Research in common parlance refers to search for knowledge. One can also define research as a scientific and systematic search for pertinent information on a specific topic. In fact, it is an art of scientific investigation. Advanced Learner’s Dictionary of Current English, has defined as “a careful investigation or inquiry especially through search for new facts in any branch of knowledge”. Therefore, in simple terms it is a study undertaken by the researcher to gain new knowledge in their field of interest.

Different types of research

A study to gain knowledge and seek answers to questions with the application of scientific procedures and methods has specific objective which can be categorized into 4 main categories:

  1. Exploratory: To gain familiarity of the research phenomenon or to achieve new insights.
  2. Descriptive: To determine the characteristics of a situation, group of individuals, with respect to research phenomenon.
  3. Diagnostic: To determine the frequency with which something occurs individually or when it is associated with something else.
  4. Hypothesis testing: To determine the causal relationship between variables (independent and dependent variables) within the study.

General steps to follow while conducting a research

  1. Formulate problems.
  2. Conduct literature review.
  3. Identify key concepts and define them.
  4. Formulate research questions, objectives and hypothesis (if it is appropriate).
  5. Identify the methodology which will be adopted in order to carry out the study.
  6. Collect data.
  7. Analyse and discuss data.
  8. Draw appropriate conclusions.
  9. Write the research report.

In this article, we will focus on steps 5 and 6. Various methods used in research methodology and data collection will be discussed in detail. General outline of the research methods and tools have been outlined below in flow chart.

Research Methodology
Research Methodology

Each of these methods and procedures will be discussed in detail within this module. However, here I would also be discussing about things to keep in mind while writing methodology chapter.

  1. Rather than presenting definitions and explanations of the methods, emphasize more on justification as to why did you choose a particular method with respect to the particular research study.
  2. Draw conclusions from previous studies while developing the measuring instrument i.e. questionnaire, so that you have an explanation about why a particular question is included in the research questionnaire.
  3. During Literature review, identify factors which you will be testing in the primary analysis. These factors should be presented in the conceptual framework within Research methodology chapter.


  1. The Advanced Learner’s Dictionary of Current English, Oxford, 1952, p. 1069


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