The Research Process
Research methods outline the whole process that a researcher undertakes in collecting, analyzing, presenting and interpreting findings about a phenomena. Scientific methodology guides the researcher when carrying out research. The systematic approach provides a logical sequence for a researcher to follow when seeking to obtain objective data that can form the basis for authentic conclusions. Research methods in scientific research provides a step-by-step process comprising of seven steps.
- Identifying the research problem
Research starts with identifying the problem to be investigated. Identifying the research problem not only highlights the gap to be filled, but also the research methods, approaches, and techniques suitable to collect data for solving the research problem.
- Reviewing literature
Literature review provides a basis for foundational knowledge about problem area. It also identifies the research methods that were used in previous studies and the suitability of those research methods to the studies.
- Defining Terms and Concepts
It is necessary to define terms and concepts to enhance the clarity of the phenomenon under investigation. Defining the terms and concepts makes the scope more manageable. This enhances the ease of collecting data using the predetermined research methods.
- Defining the Population
The research problem and purpose are crucial in identifying the specific group of people, objects and organizations that will be involved in the study. The necessity of defining the population is to ensure that the researcher maintains focus on a particular context of the study. The nature of the population is also critical in identifying the research methods and tools to be adopted.
- Developing the research design
The research design is the overall plan of the study. As a road map for the entire study, the research design specifies who will participate in the study, how, when, and where data will be collected. To carry out the study effectively, there is need to carefully think through all steps of the study and outline a clear plan of research methods. The research design has several elements that must be explained in the research methods section.
- Collecting data
This stage involves engaging in actual collection of data that will help the researcher answer the research questions. Based on the research methods guidelines commonly referred to as the research onion, there are various strategies and data collection instruments that can be adopted depending on the nature of the research question, target population, and context of study.
- Analysis data
The foregoing six steps culminate in this final stage of data collection. Data collected must be analyzed to make meaning of it. Research methods section of the study specifies how data will be analyzed. Data analysis can take the qualitative or quantitative approach. Qualitative data can be analyzed thematically through coding and theming. Quantitative data may require use of some statistical software such as SPSS, R, and Eviews. Hypotheses are rejected or not rejected depending on the statistical significance of the findings while research questions are answered from the themes created from qualitative data.