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Example Article: Research
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Research is “creative and systematic work undertaken to increase the stock of knowledge, including knowledge of humans, culture and society, and the use of this stock of knowledge to devise new applications.” It involves the collection, organization, and analysis of information to increase our understanding of a topic or issue. At a general level, research has three steps:
- Pose a question.
- Collect data to answer the question.
- Present an answer to the question.
This should be a familiar process. You engage in solving problems every day and you start with a question, collect some information, and then form an answer. Research is important for three reasons.
- Research adds to our knowledge: Adding to knowledge means that educators undertake research to contribute to existing information about issues
- Research improves practice: Research is also important because it suggests improvements for practice. Armed with research results, teachers and other educators become more effective professionals.
- Research informs policy debates: research also provides information to policy makers when they research and debate educational topics.
The word research is derived from the Middle French “recherche”, which means “to go about seeking”, the term itself being derived from the Old French term “recerchier” a compound word from “re-” + “cerchier”, or “sercher”, meaning 'search'. The earliest recorded use of the term was in 1577.
Research has been defined in a number of different ways, and while there are similarities, there does not appear to be a single, all-encompassing definition that is embraced by all who engage in it.
One definition of research is used by the OECD, “Any creative systematic activity undertaken in order to increase the stock of knowledge, including knowledge of man, culture and society, and the use of this knowledge to devise new applications.”
Another definition of research is given by John W. Creswell, who states that “research is a process of steps used to collect and analyze information to increase our understanding of a topic or issue”. It consists of three steps: pose a question, collect data to answer the question, and present an answer to the question.
The Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary defines research in more detail as “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”
Forms of Research
Generally, research is understood to follow a certain structural process. Though step order may vary depending on the subject matter and researcher, the following steps are usually part of most formal research, both basic and applied:
- Observations and formation of the topic: Consists of the subject area of one's interest and following that subject area to conduct subject related research. The subject area should not be randomly chosen since it requires reading a vast amount of literature on the topic to determine the gap in the literature the researcher intends to narrow. A keen interest in the chosen subject area is advisable. The research will have to be justified by linking its importance to already existing knowledge about the topic.
- Hypothesis: A testable prediction which designates the relationship between two or more variables.
- Conceptual definition: Description of a concept by relating it to other concepts.
- Operational definition: Details in regards to defining the variables and how they will be measured/assessed in the study.
- Gathering of data: Consists of identifying a population and selecting samples, gathering information from or about these samples by using specific research instruments. The instruments used for data collection must be valid and reliable.
- Analysis of data: Involves breaking down the individual pieces of data to draw conclusions about it.
- Data Interpretation: This can be represented through tables, figures, and pictures, and then described in words.
- Test, revising of hypothesis
- Conclusion, reiteration if necessary