In simple terms, research is the process of finding new knowledge. It is often defined as a systematic collection and analysis of information designed to contribute to or develop general knowledge on that topic. What differentiates research from other forms of discovering knowledge is that it uses a systematic scientific process to organize data and make inferences.
No matter what topic is being studied, the value of the research will depend on how well it is designed and executed. Therefore, one of the most critical considerations in doing good research is to follow the design or plan developed for the study.
An introduction to research methods demonstrates that research methods are specific ways of collecting and analyzing data. Developing research methods is an integral part of any research design. There are two critical decisions to make when planning research methods:
- How will the data be collected?
The research method will depend on the data type needed to answer the research question. The researcher must consider whether the data to be collected is qualitative or quantitative, primary or secondary, or descriptive or experimental.
- How will the data be analyzed?
If the data is quantitative, statistical analysis methods can test relationships between variables. On the other hand, if the data is qualitative, methods like thematic analysis can be employed to interpret patterns and meanings in the data.
Further Readings: #
Bjärkefur, Kristoffer, Luiza Cardoso de Andrade, Benjamin Daniels, and Maria R. Jones. 2021. Development Research in Practice: The DIME Analytics Data Handbook. Washington, DC: World Bank. http://hdl.handle.net/10986/35594.
Dudwick, Nora, Veronica Nyhan Jones, Kathleen R. Kuehnast, and Michael Woolcock. “Analyzing Social Capital in Context : A Guide to Using Qualitative Methods and Data.” World Bank 1, (2005). Accessed August 15, 2023. https://documents.worldbank.org/en/publication/documents-reports/documentdetail/601831468338476652/analyzing-social-capital-in-context-a-guide-to-using-qualitative-methods-and-data.
Kielmann, Karina, Fabian Cataldo, and Janet Seeley. 2011. Introduction to Qualitative Research Methodology. DFID. https://www.rbfhealth.org/sites/rbf/files/Introduction%20to%20Qualitative%20Research%20Methodology%20-%20A%20Training%20Manual.pdf.
Ofir, Zenda, Thomas Schwandt, Colleen Duggan, and Robert McLean. “A Holistic Approach to Evaluating Research.” RQ+ Research Quality Plus, (2016). Accessed August 15, 2023. https://www.betterevaluation.org/sites/default/files/research-quality-plus-a-holistic-approach-to-evaluating-research.pdf.
Pasanen, Tiina , and Louise Shaxson. “How to Design a Monitoring and Evaluation Framework for a Policy Research Project.” Methods Lab, (2016). Accessed August 15, 2023. https://www.betterevaluation.org/sites/default/files/ML_-_How_to_Design_and_M%2526E_Framework.pdf.