We often associate the research process with formal research which is used to conduct research to discover new findings or to have new inventions. However, the research process can be applied to any problem that you are trying to solve. It is also a crucial part of a student final year examination. The research process can be broken down into the following stages:
- Literature Review
The first step in any research process is Hypothesis. It is defined as the proposed explanation for a phenomenon or a question. Scholars and researchers use the information to answer one or more questions inspired by a topic of interest. Usually, a scholarly question identifies a problem and a solution. Such questions are usually written in the form of a hypothesis, which is a statement about the relationship between two things that identify both a problem and an answer or solution.
An example of a hypothesis can be: Different genres of music influence the mood of the people listening to them. The questions asked to get to this hypothesis might be: Does music have an effect on mood? Do people listen to music to make them feel better? What kind of music is used as a way to energise the listener? Is there one type of music that is better than others for calming someone down?
Your hypothesis must reflect what is known about a research topic in such a way that your research project will add new knowledge and insight to what is already known. In order to arrive at a hypothesis that achieves this goal, you must learn as much as possible about your topic so you can narrow down your hypotheses to what you don’t know.
Then your research project will produce new knowledge. Your hypothesis is about what you don’t know. However, you might find that you can’t prove your hypothesis. You might find evidence that contradicts it, and you will have to reflect on why your hypothesis might have been wrong.
Methodology in any research process is the methods or processes that you use to conduct research to answer your questions or fulfil your hypothesis. The end product of the research process is education and discovery. This means that you need to learn how to question, evaluate, and determine worth, credibility, and relevancy. Thus, when doing research, you need that hypothesis to begin the rest of your research.
The next step is to come up with keywords that describe your topic. Start by preparing an outline. List the keywords (for instance, on the topic of music, some keywords might be music, instruments, genres, musicians, and so on). Then create a list of narrower terms, which are more specific things that you want to know about your topics, such as time frames, geography, population, and age groups.
Finally, you can list broader terms that are the larger subjects that include your keywords. For music, these could be a cultural expression, jazz, hip-hop, singers, and so forth. Your methodology will be a compilation of the sources you
decide to review. It is an orderly approach to problem-solving and gathering useful data, using such sources and
strategies as interviews, public documents, surveys, experiments, the Internet, and many more.
The kind of methodology you decide to use depends on the type of research you will be conducting. You could do exploratory research, which basically answers the question “Does something exist?” This “something” could be an
event, a thing, or an idea, such as a concert or music designed for relaxation. Or perhaps you want to do descriptive research, which is the kind of study that defines something by describing its characteristics, behaviours, or
For instance, you could describe a genre of music, how it was created, and what instruments are usually used to compose this type of music. The third type of research you may want to do is called prediction research, which involves identifying relationships that make it possible for us to speculate about one thing by knowing about something else. Music has taken many turns over time, and you might want to suggest that the next phase of music might all be electronically produced.
And finally, you could choose to do explanatory research. This type of research examines cause-and-effect relationships. For example, there is music created to tell a particular story in a specific manner. This might be true of rap music. To study this, you would use explanatory research to explain this phenomenon.
In research process, the literature in a particular field is its discourse, which is a conversation over time about a topic. When you do your literature review, you are inserting yourself in the middle of such a conversation and getting information only from that time and perspective. For instance, if you want to study the effects of music on children, you will find a wide variety of sources that will give you information about the topic.
You will discover that many people have been interested in the issue and have done studies trying to find out the answer. These studies have been done over many years, and the perspectives involved have changed accordingly. The discourse continues over time, and you can insert information into the conversation by conducting your own research. Therefore, a review of the literature finds, evaluates, and integrates past research. It is a critical synthesis of research literature that:
- shows how previous studies relate to one another
- shows similarities and differences between studies
- discriminates between relevant and irrelevant information
- identifies and discusses weaknesses in previous work
The purpose of doing a literature review is to synthesise many specific events and details into a comprehensive whole. Synthesise results from weaving together many smaller generalisations and interpretations into a coherent main theme. You will find that a literature review is a requirement for a research paper and can be required for assignments in a course.
The purpose is to enable you to critically analyse a segment of an already published body of knowledge. A comprehensive literature review encompasses the following elements:
- Start the introduction by describing the problem or issue you are addressing, then focus on your research hypotheses or questions.
- Explicitly state the significance of the topic in the introduction
- Present the review as an essay, not an annotated list
- Emphasise the findings of previous research you have found
- Point out the trends and themes in the literature
- Point out the gaps in the literature
- Express opinions about the quality and importance of the research you have found
- Use the review to suggest that there is a need for more study
Interpretation involves drawing inferences from the information and facts that you collect in your research. It is a search for the broader meaning of your research findings. This is where you try to make sense of what you discovered. In this part of your research, you should discuss the most important knowledge you gained about
your topic from your sources.
This is where you go back to your hypothesis and research questions to discuss your findings and whether or not your hypothesis is correct. This formalised approach to academic problems and questions, often seen at universities, combines different ways of thinking into a specific process that builds sturdy academic research. By following the structure of developing a hypothesis, methodology, literature review, interpretation and conclusion, you can meet research challenges with a reliable plan of attack.
A conclusion is where you summarise the main findings in your research or assignment. In this area, you do not introduce any new ideas. It is pretty much a straightforward summary of the key messages that you wish to convey and or reemphasise to your readers.
Thinking and problem-solving are core skills that are central to your ongoing learning at university and later in your career. University represents a unique opportunity to learn and test different approaches in a safe environment. The types of thinking discussed in this chapter and the research process described are a valuable guide to start thinking about how you think while studying