“All progress is born of inquiry. Doubt is often better than over-confidence, for it leads to inquiry, and inquiry leads to invention.”
The word research is one which challenges easy definitions. It is defined as diligent inquiry or examination to seek or revise facts, principles, theories, or applications. It has to be systematic process of collecting, collating, analyzing and interpreting information to increase our understanding of the phenomenon under study. In simple terms, research is a serious mental adventure which is driven by intellectual curiosity. Research is a way of thinking.
Research methods are the methods which are used in performing research operations. There is mainly two research philosophies- Positivistic and Phenomenological approach. Positivistic approaches are founded on a belief that the study of human behavior should be conducted in the same way as studies conducted in the natural sciences. This approach uses methods like surveys, experiments etc. Phenomenological approaches are particularly concerned with understanding behavior from the participants’ own subjective frames of reference. Case studies, ethnography and action research is preferred method is this approach.
Broadly, research methods are classified under the following types:
The survey is a non-experimental, descriptive research method. Surveys involve selecting a representative and unbiased sample of subjects drawn from the group under consideration. Surveys can be classified as: descriptive survey (identifying and counting frequency of response for example how many vehicles use toll ways in a month) or analytical survey (analyze relationship between different variables for example which routes toll ways are most preferred). Surveys can also be classified as structured or unstructured and qualitative (open-ended questions) or quantitative (closed ended questions) depending on the list of questions. Survey research may be direct (questions about behaviors and thoughts) or indirect (questions revealing not the number of people but type of people).
Surveys can be conducted by following methods:
Advantages of using mail questionnaires are:
- Large amounts of data can be collected at a low cost per respondent.
- Honest answers can be expected on condition of anonymity.
- No bias involved from interviewer side as well as respondent side.
- Good way to reach people who are not always accessible.
- Takes lot of time.
- Response rate is often very low.
- Flexibility is less.
- Quick response using this method.
- Flexible as interviewer can explain the incomprehensible questions.
- Allows greater control on sample population.
- Response rate is high.
- Cost per respondent is comparatively higher.
- Getting response to personal questions is difficult.
- Interviewer’s way of talking influences respondent’s answers.
- Interpretation of response also varies with interviewers.
- Very flexible and large amounts of information can be collected.
- Trained interviewers are can hold the respondent’s attention and are available to
clarify difficult questions.
- Interviews can be guided and responses can be effectively recorded.
- Can be conducted fairly quickly.
- Reactions and behaviors can be recorded.
It can be conducted in two ways:
For Individual- Intercept interviewing
For group – Focus group interviewing
Intercept interviewing: This allows researcher to reach known people in a short period of time. It involves talking to people at office, home, shopping malls, on streets etc. The time involved ranges from a few minutes to several hours.
Focus Group Interviewing: It is usually conducted by inviting a group of people together for a few hours with a trained moderator to talk about the topic of research. It is an effective tool to understand people’s thoughts and feelings. The moderator should have objectivity, knowledge of the subject and industry, and some understanding of group and consumer behavior.
This method is used primarily to study behavioral sciences. Data is collected by investigator’s own direct observation of relevant people, actions and situations. The researcher observes the conditions in their natural state. Actual behavior of people is usually the observed one not the one which is judged by surveys. For example, In a survey many people can accept that they are health- conscious but this data can be believed only when they are observed doing exercise or eating healthy food. Following type of Observation methods are there:
1. Direct or indirect
2. Structured (for descriptive research) or Unstructured (for exploratory research)
3. Participant or Non- participant observation
4. Disguised observation
5. Obtrusive or non-obtrusive
This method of research is also called Empirical Research or Cause and Effect Method. It is a data-based
research, which comes up with conclusions which can be verified with observation or experiment. It is appropriate when proof is sought that certain variables affect other variables in some way. Example increase in volume of traffic has increased air pollution – this can be easily proved through experimental research.
The experimenter controls the variables under study and manipulates one of them to study its effects.
In such a research, it is necessary to get at facts first hand, at their source, and actively go about doing certain things to stimulate the production of desired information.
-Researcher must provide self with a working hypothesis.
– Then , he/she should work to get enough facts (data) to prove or disprove the hypothesis.
-Experimental designs are set up which he thinks will manipulate the persons or the materials concerned so as to bring forth the desired information.
Usually, evidence gathered through experimental and empirical studies are considered to be the most powerful support possible for a given hypothesis.
The various research methods discussed above are used for research depending on the situations. Each set of methods has its own flaws and its own advantages. The researcher must take a wise decision regarding methodology to reach to a informative and constructive conclusion.
– Submitted By: Anuradha Srivastava(13PGP065)