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What is Research?
Research is an initiative that can be as large or as small as you make it. One thing that can be said, is that a lot of good research goes a very long way, particularly when used to fuel knowledge associated with making organizational decisions.
That said, research rears itself in many forms and is executed in a variety of ways. To truly understand the research methodology that’s right for projects and goals, it’s best to just dive right in and learn all about the ways in which it can provide supportive insight.
The Purpose of Research
The definition of research is a rather basic one; to collect and evaluate data about a particular subject. Typically, this involves a researcher looking to answer specific questions or looking to form concrete conclusions.
Research is used in just about every area of daily life. From a shopper analyzing different products to researchers in a lab conducting high-stakes trials.
One area where research is prominently present is in consumer behavior and in the market. Market research is some of the most valuable research out there, as it can help brands pilot their products and services into new directions to better meet consumer needs.
Types of Research
While there are quite a few different research methodologies, they all tend to fall into two general categories –– qualitative and quantitative.
According to The SAGE Handbook of Qualitative Research, Qualitative research is defined as “the studied use and collection of a variety of empirical materials,” which may include “case study, personal experience, introspection, life story, interviews, artifacts, [and] cultural texts and productions.” Qualitative research focuses more on examing the ‘why’. It’s qualitative research that can answer questions such as “Why are users dropping off at this web page?” and “Why aren’t shopping cart items being converted to sales?” Examples of qualitative data are user interviews, field studies, usability testing, and customer calls.
In regards to market research, it’s qualitative research that aggregates subjective data such as user’s attitudes, collective behaviors, and opinions. When it’s successfully paired with the qualitative research data, it can help researchers paint a clear picture.
Quantitative research is a lot more systematic and objective. In quantitative research, the data collected is more numerical and heavily concrete.
While qualitative research focuses more on the “why?”, Quantitative research focuses more on “what?” Questions that could be answered through quantitative research could be or example, “How many people eat at our restaurant each week?” or “What percentage of users drop off at this page?”. Quantitative research examines large samples of data to discover emerging trends and patterns. Examples of quantitive research include surveys, data analysis, and A/B testing.
The Framework of Research
Producing the richest, most insightful data to make critical market decisions means following a specific framework to yield optimal results.
Define Your Research Question – Ensure your research question is clear, concise, and effectively communicated throughout the entire team.
Ask For Help – Where applicable, always use your network of resources to assist and support in the research process.
Develop A Research Strategy And Locate Resources – As with anything, it helps to formulate a course of action and go into it with a clear strategy.
Use Effective Search Techniques – Not all research methodologies are right for every project. Take the time to discover the methodology that’s right, and spend the time locating valuable data sources.
Read Critically, Synthesize, And Seek Meaning – It not just enough to gather data. Opt for immersing yourself in the experience, asking questions, and uncovering rich, specific, details.
Understand The Scholarly Communication Process And Cite Sources – There are clear processes and guidelines involved with collecting, analyzing, and presenting research. Take the time to familiarize yourself with them.
Critically Evaluate Sources – Research data is only as good as the sources from which it comes from. Take extra precautions to ensure that data isn’t bias, skewed, or otherwise.
The Research Process
There are five, concise stages in the research process as outlined by Gall, Borg, and Gall in their 1996 scholarly article titled Educational Research: An Introduction. They iterate:
- Identify A Significant Research Problem
- Prepare A Research Proposal
- Conduct A Pilot Study
- Conduct A Main Study
- Prepare A Report
When paired with the framework of research, these steps will help researchers successfully execute their research methodologies to produce favorable research results.
- The definition of research is a rather basic one; to collect and evaluate data about a particular subject. Typically, this involves answering specific questions or forming concrete conclusions. While qualitative research answers the “why”, quantitative research answers the “what?”
- There’s a specific framework to follow to ensure optimal results: define your research question, ask for help, develop a research strategy and locate resources, use effective search techniques, read critically, synthesize and seek meaning, understand the scholarly communication process and cite sources, critically evaluate sources.
- The research process has five stages: 1) Identify A Significant Research Problem, 2) Prepare A Research Proposal, 3) Conduct A Pilot Study, 4) Conduct A Main Study, 5) Prepare A Report
- Following the research framework and effectively executing the five stages can yield rich, insightful data that can be used organization-wide to make critical decisions.