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Practical Research Methods. A Guide for Post-Secondary Researchers

©2019 Hausarbeit 32 Seiten


Business research can influence any part of the business, including marketing, operations, finance, and so on. It is therefore of great interest to corporations, public sector agencies, consulting firms, research institutes, independent researchers, non-profit organizations and non-governmental organizations.

This document is a comprehensive guide for young researchers wishing to pursue different forms of research. It presents the research, its different forms and its main stages of process. While the second chapter presents a step-by-step procedure for formulating a research problem, the third chapter concerns the review of the literature and its current practices. The document also presents research methodologies and research design, as well as measurement tools. While the seventh chapter is devoted to data management, the last part of this work details the practice of data analysis. In its most basic form, research involves collecting, analyzing and interpreting information to answer questions and creating a report summarizing some readily available data.



1.1. Definition
1.2. Research: Process
1.3. Difference between research and non-research activity
1.4. Characteristics of Research
1.5. Objectives of Research
1.6. Motivation in Research
1.7. Types of Research
1.7.1. Application of research study
B. Applied research
1.7.2. Viewpoint of objectives
1.7.3. Inquiry Mode
1.8. The Research Process

2.1. Sources of research problems
2.2. Aspects of research study
2.3. Considerations in Selecting a Research Problem
2.4. Steps in Formulation of a Research Problem

3.1. Overall Strategy
3.2. Types of Literature Review
3.3. Critical Evaluation
3.4. Thematic Structure
3.5. Common problems to avoid



6.1. Designing a questionnaire
6.2. Testing the tools

7.1. Data capture
7.2. The tools
7.3. Identifiers
7.4. Data Entry and Validation Schemes
7.5. Adding Comments to Cells
7.6. Saving and Protecting Files
7.7. Data Archiving
7.8. Backups
7.9. Storage and access
7.10. Data ownership
7.11. Data Management Strategy

8.1. Analysis Objectives
8.2. Data analysis
8.2.1. Exploring and describing the data
8.2.2. Confirmatory Analysis
8.3. Regression



Research is a vital component of business decision making and has an important role in research exploring broader issues that apply to various businesses. Good business research has two primary constituent parts. It must use rigorous research methods and address the right questions.

According to Denis (1753,1999), there are three principal means: observation of nature, reflection, and experiment. Observation gathers the facts, reflection combines them, and experiment verifies the results of the combination. It is essential that the observation of nature be assiduous, the reflection be profound, and that experimentation be exact. Rarely does one see these abilities in combination. And so, creative geniuses are not common.

1.1. Definition

According to Martin (2010), research refers to any gathering of data, information and facts for the advancement of knowledge or a process of steps used to collect and analyze information to improve our understanding of a subject or question. It consists of three steps: asking a question, collecting data to answer the question, and presenting an answer to the question (Pajares, 2007; Creswell,1994). A 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 (The Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary).

Other different definitions have been given by various authors such as careful investigation or inquiry specially through search for new facts in any branch of knowledge(Shruti,2015); a systematized effort to gain new knowledge (KKHSOU,2011); a movement from the known to the unknown ( Catherine and Jason Byrne, 2014); It is actually a voyage of discovery; A way of examining your practice (Dabell,2019) ; Habit of questioning what you do; Systematic examination of the observed information to find answers or way of thinking: examining critically the various aspects of your professional work or an art aided by skills of enquiry, experimental design, data collection, measurement and analysis, by interpretation, and by presentation. A further skill, that you can learn and develop, is creativity or invention (Ranjit Kumar 1999, 2005, 2011) Research is, thus, an original contribution to the existing stock of knowledge making for its advancement (Christine &Jonathan, 2008). It is the pursuit of truth with the help of study, observation, comparison and experiment. In short, the search for knowledge through objective and systematic method of finding solution to a problem is research.

1.2. Research: Process

Research is undertaken within a framework of a set of philosophies (approaches); using procedures, methods and techniques that have been tested for their validity and reliability. It is designed to be unbiased and objective. The below terms are applicable in research:

- Philosophies means approaches e.g. qualitative, quantitative and the academic discipline in which you have been trained.
- Validity means that correct procedures have been applied to find answers to a question.
- Reliability refers to the quality of a measurement procedure that provides repeatability and accuracy.
- Unbiased and objective means that you have taken each step in an unbiased manner and drawn each conclusion to the best of your ability and without introducing your own vested interest.
- Adherence to the three criteria mentioned above enables the process to be called ‘research’.

1.3. Difference between research and non-research activity

The first different may be based on the way answers are found: the process must meet certain requirements to be called research. We can identify these requirements by examining some definitions of research two syllables, re and search. re is a prefix meaning again, anew or over again and search is a verb meaning to examine closely and carefully, to test and try, or to probe. Together they form a noun describing a careful, systematic, patient study and investigation in some field of knowledge, undertaken to establish facts or principles. Research is a structured enquiry that utilizes acceptable scientific methodology to solve problems and create new knowledge that is generally applicable. Scientific methods consist of systematic observation, classification and interpretation of data (Cram, 2019; Thiru and Leduyen, 2018; Sam, 2013) Although we are part of this process in our daily lives, the difference between our relaxed everyday generalization and the conclusions generally accepted as a scientific method lies in the degree of formality, rigor, verifiability and general validity of the latter.

1.4. Characteristics of Research

As defined above, Research is a process of collecting, analyzing and interpreting information to answer questions. it must, as far as possible, be controlled, rigorous, systematic, valid and verifiable, empirical and critical.

- Controlled- in exploring causality in relation to two variables (factors), you set up your study in a way that minimizes the effects of other factors affecting the relationship.
- Rigorous- you must be scrupulous in ensuring that the procedures followed to find answers to questions are relevant, appropriate and justified
- Systematic- the procedure adopted to undertake an investigation follow a certain logical sequence
- Valid and verifiable- this concept implies that whatever you conclude on the basis of your findings is correct and can be verified by you and others.
- Empirical- this means that any conclusions drawn are based upon hard evidence gathered from information collected from real life experiences or observations.
- Critical- critical scrutiny of the procedures used and the methods employed is crucial to a research enquiry. The process of investigation must be foolproof and free from drawbacks. The process adopted and the procedures used must be able to withstand critical scrutiny

1.5. Objectives of Research

The purpose of the research is to find answers to questions by applying scientific procedures. Its main purpose is to discover the truth that is hidden and has not yet been discovered. Although each research study has its own specific purpose, Researchers (Kothari, 2004; Dr. Prakash, 2008) taught that the research objectives fall into the following groups:

1. To gain familiarity with a phenomenon or to achieve new insights into it (studies with this object in view are termed as exploratory or formulative research studies);
2. To portray accurately the characteristics of a particular individual, situation or a group (studies with this object in view are known as descriptive research studies);
3. To determine the frequency with which something occurs or with which it is associated with something else (studies with this object in view are known as diagnostic research studies);
4. To test a hypothesis of a causal relationship between variables (such studies are known as hypothesis-testing research studies).

1.6. Motivation in Research

Researchers may be motivated by different things, such as the desire to obtain a researcher's degree and its consequent benefits; The desire to take up the challenge of solving unresolved problems, that is to say, to worry about practical problems, launches the research; Desire to obtain the intellectual joy of doing creative work; Desire to be at the service of society or Desire to obtain respectability, etc.

1.7. Types of Research

To identify the types of research, three perspectives can be considered: the application of the research, the objectives of the research and the mode of inquiry used.

1.7.1. Application of research study

Based on the application of research study, two broad categories of research:

A. Pure research and Pure research consists of developing and testing theories and hypotheses that pose an intellectual challenge to the researcher, but may or may not have practical application now or in the future (Atlassian, 2018; Paul, Rajiv & I-Chant; 2019). Knowledge from pure research is sought to add to all existing research methods.

B. Applied research Applied research is conducted to solve specific and practical questions; for policy formulation, administration and understanding of a phenomenon. It may be exploratory research, but it is usually descriptive and almost always done on the basis of basic research. It can be realized by academic or industrial institutions. Often, an academic institution such as a university will have a specific applied research program funded by an industrial partner interested in this program

1.7.2. Viewpoint of objectives

- Descriptive research: attempts to describe systematically a situation, problem, phenomenon, service or programme, or provides information about, say, living condition of a community, or describes attitudes towards an issue.
- Correlational research: attempts to discover or establish the existence of a relationship/ interdependence between two or more aspects of a situation.
- Explanatory research: attempts to clarify why and how there is a relationship between two or more aspects of a situation or phenomenon.
- Exploratory research: is undertaken to explore an area where little is known or to investigate the possibilities of undertaking a particular research study (feasibility study / pilot study).

1.7.3. Inquiry Mode

Two approaches are: Structured approach and Unstructured approach

C. Structured approach:

The structured approach to research is generally classified in quantitative research. The research process (objectives, design, sample and questions you plan to ask respondents) is predetermined more appropriate to determine the magnitude of a problem, problem or phenomenon by quantifying the variation. For example, how many people have a particular problem? How many people have a particular attitude?

D. Unstructured approach:

This type of research is ranked in qualitative research and allows flexibility in all aspects of the research process. It is considered more appropriate to explore the nature of a problem, problem or phenomenon without quantifying it and its main purpose is to describe the variation of a phenomenon, a situation or an attitude. e, g, description of an observed situation, historical enumeration of events, account of different people's opinions about a problem, description of working conditions in a given sector, etc.(Yilmaz,2013)

1.8. The Research Process

Like Kumar (1999, 2005, 2011) explains, research process is similar to undertaking a journey. For a research journey there are two important decisions to make:

i. What you want to find out about or what research questions (problems) you want to find answers to;
ii. How to go about finding their answers.

You must follow practical steps in your search path to find answers to your research questions. The path to finding answers to your research questions is a research methodology. At each operational stage of the research process, you must choose from a multitude of methods, procedures, and research methodology models that will help you achieve your goals.

1. Formulating the Research Problem
2. Extensive Literature Review
3. Developing the objectives
4. Preparing the Research Design including Sample Design
5. Collecting the Data
6. Analysis of Data
7. Generalisation and Interpretation
8. Preparation of the Report or Presentation of Results-Formal write ups of conclusions reached.

The final report of the research project is written in the form of a scientific journal article. It will include the following sections: summary, introduction, methods, results (with tables and figures), discussion, conclusion, acknowledgments and documentation cited.

Abbildung in dieser Leseprobe nicht enthalten

Source: Busetto, Wick, & Gumbinger (2020)


This is the first and most crucial step in the research process, and its main function is to decide what you want to discover. The way you formulate a problem determines almost every step that follows.

2.1. Sources of research problems

According to Jain and Singh (2014), Research in social sciences revolves around four Ps:

- People- a group of individuals
- Problems-examine the existence of certain issues or problems relating to their lives; to ascertain attitude of a group of people towards an issue
- Programs- to evaluate the effectiveness of an intervention
- Phenomena- to establish the existence of regularity.

2.2. Aspects of research study

1. Study population:

- People: individuals, organizations, groups, communities (they provide you with the information or you collect information about them)

2. Subject area:

- Problems: issues, situations, associations, needs, profiles
- Program: content, structure, outcomes, attributes, satisfactions, consumers, Service providers, etc.
- Phenomenon: cause-and-effect relationships, the study of a phenomenon itself

2.3. Considerations in Selecting a Research Problem

According to Kumar (1999, 2005, 2011) and Gabriel (2019), the following considerations help to ensure that your study will remain manageable and that you will remain motivated

- Interest: a research is time consuming, hard work and possibly unforeseen problems. One should select topic of great interest to sustain the required motivation.
- Magnitude: select a topic that you can manage within the time and resources at your disposal. Narrow the topic down to something manageable, specific and clear.
- Measurement of concepts: Make sure that you are clear about the indicators and measurement of concepts (if used) in your study.
- Level of expertise: Make sure that you have adequate level of expertise for the task you are proposing since you need to do the work yourself.
- Relevance: Ensure that your study adds to the existing body of knowledge, bridges current gaps and is useful in policy formulation. This will help you to sustain interest in the study.
- Availability of data: Before finalizing the topic, make sure that data are available.
- Ethical issues: How ethical issues can affect the study population and how ethical problems can be overcome should be thoroughly examined at the problem formulating stage.

2.4. Steps in Formulation of a Research Problem

- Step 1 Identify a broad field or subject area of interest to you.
- Step 2 Dissect the broad area into sub areas.
- Step 3 Select what is of most interest to you.
- Step 4 Raise research questions.
- Step 5 Formulate objectives.
- Step 6 Assess your objectives.
- Step 7 Double check

So far we have focused on the basis of your study, the research problem. But every study in social sciences has a second element, the study population from whom the required information to find answers to your research questions is obtained. As you narrow the research problem, similarly you need to decide very specifically who constitutes your study population, in order to select the appropriate respondents.


Literature is in fact a simple piece of information presented by other individuals or institutions. It includes textbooks, journal articles, graduate theses, working papers, occasional papers and briefings, Internet articles and datasets. It also includes unpublished reports, file documents, brochures, research projects and notes. Published literature is one that other readers can access. "Grey" literature is that which is available only directly from the author or institution that produced it and is not available for public orders. Handbooks for reputable publishing houses and journal articles will normally have more credibility than unpublished reports or brochures. Indeed, the published work will have been peer-reviewed and the data collection and analysis techniques will have been scrutinized. Unpublished work may be based on poor data or analysis, or may be deliberately biased towards a particular outcome.



ISBN (eBook)
ISBN (Paperback)
2021 (Juli)
practical research methods guide post-secondary researchers

Titel: Practical Research Methods. A Guide for Post-Secondary Researchers