Wednesday, 31 October 2012





The word research is used in everyday speech to cover a broad spectrum of meaning, which makes it a decidedly confusing term for many people especially graduate students who must learn to use the word in its specialized denotation. Much that students have learned they must suddenly unlearn; many of the false concepts they had previously learned they must discard.

Unfortunately, many students have been taught misconceptions about the nature of research. From elementary school to college, they have heard the word research used loosely and given multiple, misleading meanings. On one hand, the word connotes the finding of an item of information or the making of notes and the writing of a documented paper. On the other hand, it is used for the act of informing oneself about what one does not know or of rummaging through available sources to retrieve a bit of information. Merchandisers use the word to suggest the discovery of a revolutionary product when, often, the truth is that only a minor alteration has been made to an existing product, with the purpose of enhancing the product's sales appeal. All these activities have been called research but should have been called by their appropriate names: information gathering, library skills, documentation, self-enlightenment, and an attention-getting sales pitch.

The word research has a certain mystique about it. It suggests to many people an activity that is exclusive and removed from everyday life. Researchers are sometimes regarded as esoteric individuals who seclude themselves in laboratories, in scholarly libraries, or within the precincts of an academic environment. The public generally is not aware of their daily activity or of the important contributions their work frequently makes to people's comfort and general welfare. Many people, therefore, regard research as a way of life dissociated from the common activities of the everyday world.

Although this conception of research may seem somewhat remote and academic, many people rely on a truncated form of it each day to solve smaller problems than those resolved by the more elaborate methodology of formal research.

The purpose of this paper is to dispel these myths and misconceptions and to present an accurate understanding of what is research. In simple terms I define research here as the systematic process of collecting and analyzing information (data) in order to increase our understanding of the phenomenon with which we are concerned or interested.

However since research is a very broad concept this paper will try to define and explore it by breaking the concept into different components that make up research. This is the only way to explore the true meaning of research and provide a clear understanding and guideline towards what is research and what constitute the whole process of research.





In order to understand clearly the concept of research, it is very important that its meaning is clearly defined and understood. Therefore the following are some definition of research;  

§  Research is a systematic, formal rigorous and precise process employed to gain solutions to problems and/or to discover and interpret new facts and relationships. (Waltz and Bausell, 1981: 1).

§  Research is the process of looking for a specific answer to a specific question in an organised objective reliable way (Payton, 1979: 4)

§  Research is systematic, controlled, empirical and critical investigation of hypothetical propositions about the presumed relations among natural phenomena (Kerlinger, 1973: 1).

§  Research is defined as human activity based on intellectual application in the investigation of matter. ...(

§  Diligent inquiry or examination to seek or revise facts, principles, theories, applications, et cetera; laborious or continued search after truth (

§   Research is a key feature of most university courses. Research involves collecting information about a subject from a variety of sources including books, journals and the Internet or by carrying out experiments or talking to people and analysis of this information. (

§  1 : careful study and investigation for the purpose of discovering and explaining new knowledge 2 : the collecting of information about a subject(

§   A systematic investigation, including research development, testing, and evaluation, designed to develop or contribute to generalizable knowledge. ...

§   Diligent and thorough inquiry and investigation into a subject. This includes using ALL appropriate print and electronic sources, asking the reference librarian for help, and making use of bibliographies given by other authors.

§  A systematic study directed toward fuller scientific knowledge or understanding of the subject studied. ...(

§   diligent and systematic inquiry or investigation into a subject in order to discover or revise facts, theories, applications, etc.( )

§   The application of the scientific approach (observation, hypothesis, experimentation, communication) to the study of a problem or question.

§    means investigation or academic study that may lead to publication of the results of such study or investigation, conducted by a researcher for the purposes of the researcher’s employment with, or enrolment in, one of the instituions listed in the definition of Researcher, and such Research ...

§    means investigation or experimentation aimed at the discovery of new theories or laws and the discovery and interpretation of facts or revision of accepted theories or laws in the light of new facts.

§    is the process of finding facts. These facts will lead to knowledge. Research is done by using what is already known. Additional knowledge can be obtained by proving (or falsifying) existing theories or systems, and by trying to better explain observations. ...(

§   Investigation intended to extend the limits of human knowledge.(

§    Inquiry into a topic to discover or revise facts or add to knowledge about the topic. (

§   A carefully planned and performed investigation, searching for previously unknown facts. (


The function/purpose of research is to either create or test a theory. Research is the instrument used to test whether a theory is good or not. It is the process by which data is gathered to generate a theory or used to test a theory. There are different ways of conducting research. However any method you use will be based on the systematic collection and analysis of data. The emphasis here is on the word systematic. This means you have to collect your data in an ordered manner, with a purpose in mind, and following certain rules about your mode of collection.


Research is a process through which we attempt to achieve systematically and with the support of data the answer to a question, the resolution of a problem, or a greater understanding of a phenomenon. This process, which is frequently called research methodology, has eight distinct characteristics:

1. Research originates with a question or problem. The world is filled with unanswered questions, unresolved problems. Everywhere we look, we observe things that cause us to wonder, to speculate, to ask questions. And by asking questions, we strike the first spark igniting a chain reaction that terminates in the research process. An inquisitive mind is the beginning of research. There is so much that we do not know that we do not understand! The hope of mitigating our ignorance lies in the questions we ask and the information we gather and in whose collective meaning we may find insight. (Berg et al, 1995:4)

Look around you. Consider the unresolved situations that evoke these questions: Why? What's the cause of that? What does it all mean? These are everyday questions. With questions like these, research begins. The problem and its statement are important because they are the point of origin of formal research. Write a question that would promote research on this problem.


2. Research requires a clear articulation of a goal. A clear, unambiguous statement of the problem is critical. As clearly and concisely as possible, articulate a goal for a solution to this problem. This statement is an exercise in intellectual honesty. It cannot brook vagueness, welshing, or the avoidance of an obligation to set forth clearly and in a grammatically complete sentence precisely what the ultimate goal of the research is. The statement asks the researcher, "What precisely do you intend to do?" This is basic and is required for the success of any research undertaking. Without it, the research is on shaky ground indeed.

3. Research requires a specific plan of procedure. Research is not an excursion into happy expectation, of fondly hoping that the data necessary to solve the problem will somehow fortuitously turn up. It is, instead, a carefully planned attack, a search-and-discover mission explicitly planned in advance. Consider the title of this text: Practical Research: Planning and Design. The last three words are the important ones. The overall research effort must be explicitly planned and logically designed. Researchers plan their overall research design and specific research methods in a purposeful way -- that is, to yield data relevant to their particular research problem. Depending on the specific research question, different designs and methods will be more or less appropriate.

In the section immediately preceding this one, you considered the goal for research; that was what you intended to do. Here, you state the plan, the design; this is how you propose to reach that goal. You must not wait until you're chin deep in the project to plan and design your strategy; In the formative stages of the research project, much can be decided: Where are the data? Do any existent data address themselves to the research problem? Even if the data exist, is it reasonable that you have access to them? Presuming that you have access to the data, what will you do with them after they are in your possession? I might go on and on. These questions merely hint that planning and design cannot be postponed. Each of the questions above must have an answer early in the research process. (Berg et al, 1995:4)

 4. Research usually divides the principal problem into more manageable subproblems. The whole is composed of the sum of its parts. That is a universal natural law; that is also a good precept to observe in thinking about one's principal goal in research. We break down principal problems much more frequently than we realize.

Let's take an everyday problem to see how it breaks down into a number of subproblems. Suppose you want to get from your town to a town 50 miles away. Your principal goal is to get from one location to the other as expeditiously as possible. You soon realize, however, that at the outset some subproblems must be considered. Here is a structuralization of the problem and its attendant subproblems:

Main problem:
How do I get from Town A to Town B?
  1. What is the most direct route?
  2. How far do I travel on the thruway?
  3. What is the number of the exit I take in leaving the thruway?

What seems like a simple primary question can be divided into at least three other questions before the principal question can be resolved. So it is with most research problems. To proceed logically, one should closely inspect the principal problem because research will soon cause the appropriate and, in fact, necessary subproblems to float to the surface. By resolving them, we finally resolve the main problem. (Berg et al, 1995:4)

If researchers don't take the time or trouble to isolate the lesser problems within the major problem, their research projects become cumbersome and unwieldy. From a design standpoint, therefore, it is expedient to reduce the main problem to a series of logical subproblems that, when resolved, will resolve the main problem.

5. Research is guided by the specific research problem, question, or hypothesis. Having stated the problem and the attendant subproblems, each subproblem is then viewed through a construct called a hypothesis. A hypothesis is a logical supposition, a reasonable guess, an educated conjecture. It may direct your thinking to the possible source of information that will aid in resolving the research problem through the resolution of each attendant subproblem. (Berg et al, 1995:5)

Hypotheses are nothing new. They are constant, recurring features of every day life. They represent the natural working of the human mind. Something happens. Immediately, you attempt to account for the cause of the happening by constructing a series of reasonable guesses. In so doing, you are hypothesizing.

6. Research accepts certain critical assumptions. In research, assumptions are equivalent to axioms in geometry-self-evident truths, the sine qua non of research. The assumption must be valid or else the research cannot proceed. For this reason, careful researchers -- certainly in academic research -- set forth a statement of the assumptions as the bedrock upon which the study must rest. In your research, therefore, it is important that others know what you assume with respect to your project. For, if one is to judge the quality of your study, then the knowledge of what you assume as basic to the very existence of your study is vitally important. (Berg et al, 1995:6)

Assumptions are usually so self-evident that, many times, we consider it unnecessary to mention them; but, careful researchers do, so that those inspecting the research procedure may see every component and evaluate it accordingly. For the beginning researcher, it is better to be overexplicit than to take too much for granted.

7. Research requires the collection and interpretation of data in attempting to resolve the problem that initiated the research. Having now isolated the problem, divided it into appropriate subproblems, posited reasonable questions or hypotheses, and recognized the assumptions that are basic to the entire effort, the next step is to collect whatever data seem appropriate and to organize them in meaningful ways so that they can be interpreted. (Berg et al, 1995:7)

Data, events, happenings, and observations are of themselves only data, events, happenings, and observations -- nothing more. But all these are potentially meaningful. The significance of the data depends on the way the human brain extracts meaning from those data. In research, data unprocessed by the human brain are worthless.


8. Research is, by its nature, cyclical; or more exactly, helical.The research process follows a cycle and begins simply. It follows logical, developmental steps:

a. A questioning mind observes a particular situation and asks, Why? What caused that? How come? (This is the subjective origin of research.)

b. The answer to those questions becomes formally stated as a problem. (This is the overt beginning of research.)

c. Data are gathered that seem to bear on the problem.

d. The data seem to point to a tentative solution of the problem. A guess is made; a hypothesis or guiding question is formed.

e. The quest for more data continues.

f. The body of data is processed and interpreted.

g. A discovery is made; a conclusion is reached.

h. The tentative hypothesis is either supported by the data or is not supported; the question is partially / completely answered or not.

i. The cycle is complete.

The resolution of the problem or the tentative answer to the question completes the cycle.  



Research can be directed or non-directed. Non-directed research is finding out things for the sheer fun of finding them out. Reading a newspaper or the entire Encyclopedia Britannica, or asking several people how they feel about something is non-directed research. It has no specific purpose beyond increasing your store of knowledge about the world (or everything in general). Watching television is non-directed research, as is reading a magazine, science fiction, mysteries, historical fiction, or anything else. Everything you don't think of yourself contains information you don't have, and is thus research.

However (Taflinger, 1996: 2) at ( argued that directed research, on the other hand, is done with a specific purpose in mind. The purpose could be to make a point, write a paper or speech, or simply know more about a specific thing. It is directed since it deals with something specific, and someone decides what to try next. It simply doesn't have a specific outcome in mind. For example, directed research in microelectronics is not trying to achieve a specific goal. It does, however, deal specifically with microelectronics, be it the conducting properties of alloys and compounds, electron etching, or dual bonding. It does not concern itself with anthropology. There is also a researcher or project director who decides what is worth pursuing and what is not.

Directed research is what you want to do when you are preparing a report. You have a specific goal in mind, to communicate what you want your audience to know about your topic. Thus, you direct your research toward finding what you can about your topic, not to find out what there is to know about whatever you come across.


There are three types of research, pure, original, and secondary. Each type has the goal of finding information and/or understanding something. The difference comes in the strategy employed in achieving the objective.

Pure Research

(Taflinger, 1996: 2) at ( stated that pure research is research done simply to find out something by examining anything. For instance, in some pure scientific research scientists discover what properties various materials possess. It is not for the sake of applying those properties to a nything in particular, but simply to find out what properties there are. Pure mathematics is for the sake of seeing what happens, not to solve a problem.

The fun of pure research is that you are not looking for anything in particular. Instead, anything and everything you find may be joined with anything else just to see where that combination would lead.

Original Research

Original or primary research is looking for information that nobody else has found. Observing people's response to advertising, how prison sentences influence crime rates, doing tests, observations, experiments, etc., are to discover something new. (

Original research requires two things: 1) knowing what has already been discovered, having a background on the subject; and 2) formulating a method to find out what you want to know. To accomplish the first you indulge in secondary research. (Taflinger, 1996: 3).

For the second, you decide how best to find the information you need to arrive at a conclusion. This method may be using focus groups, interviews, observations, expeditions, experiments, surveys, etc.

For example, you can decide to find out what the governmental system of the Hittite Empire was like on the basis of their communication system to determine how closely the empire could be governed by a central bureaucracy. The method to do this original research would probably require that you travel to the Middle East and examine such things as roads, systems of writing, courier systems without horses, archeological evidence, actual extent of Hittite influence (commercial, military, laws, language, religion, etc.) and anything else you can think of and find any evidence for. (Taflinger, 1996: 3).

Secondary Research

Secondary research is finding out what others have discovered through original research and trying to reconcile conflicting viewpoints or conclusions, find new relationships between normally non-related research, and arrive at your own conclusion based on others' work. This is, of course, the usual course for college students.

An example from recent years was the relating of tectonic, geologic, biologic, paleontologic, and astronomic research to each other. Relating facts from these researches led to the conclusion that the mass extinctions of 65 million years ago, including the dinosaurs, was the result of an asteroid or comet striking the earth in the North Atlantic at the site of Iceland. Later research based on the above has found a potential crater for the impact on the Yucatan Peninsula. (

Secondary research should not be belittled simply because it is not original research. Fresh insights and viewpoints, based on a wide variety of facts gleaned from original research in many areas, has often been a source of new ideas. Even more, it has provided a clearer understanding of what the evidence means without the influence of the original researcher's prejudices and preconceptions. (Taflinger, 1996: 3).



What is qualitative research?

Qualitative research seeks out the ‘why’, not the ‘how’ of its topic through the analysis of unstructured information – things like interview transcripts and recordings, emails, notes, feedback forms, photos and videos. It doesn’t just rely on statistics or numbers, which are the domain of quantitative researchers. ( Qualitative Research is collecting, analyzing, and interpreting data by observing what people do and say. Whereas, quantitative research refers to counts and measures of things, qualitative research refers to the meanings, concepts, definitions, characteristics, metaphors, symbols, and descriptions of things.

Qualitative research is used to gain insight into people's attitudes, behaviours, value systems, concerns, motivations, aspirations, culture or lifestyles. It’s used to inform business decisions, policy formation, communication and research. Focus groups, in-depth interviews, content analysis and semiotics are among the many formal approaches that are used, but qualitative research also involves the analysis of any unstructured material, including customer feedback forms, reports or media clips. (

It attempts to get an in-depth opinion from participants. As it is attitudes, behaviour and experiences which are important, fewer people take part in the research, but the contact with these people tends to last a lot longer. Under the umbrella of qualitative research there are many different methodologies.

Qualitative research is much more subjective than quantitative research and uses very different methods of collecting information, mainly individual, in-depth interviews and focus groups. The nature of this type of research is exploratory and open-ended. Small numbers of people are interviewed in-depth and/or a relatively small number of focus groups are conducted.

Participants are asked to respond to general questions and the interviewer or group moderator probes and explores their responses to identify and define people’s perceptions, opinions and feelings about the topic or idea being discussed and to determine the degree of agreement that exists in the group. The quality of the finding from qualitative research is directly dependent upon the skills, experience and sensitive of the interviewer or group moderator.

This type of research is often less costly than surveys and is extremely effective in acquiring information about people’s communications needs and their responses to and views about specific communications.

What is Quantitative Research?


Quantitative research is the systematic scientific investigation of quantitative properties and phenomena and their relationships. The objective of quantitative research is to develop and employ mathematical models, theories and/or hypotheses pertaining to natural phenomena. The process of measurement is central to quantitative research because it provides the fundamental connection between empirical observation and mathematical expression of quantitative relationships. ( methods).

Quantitative research is widely used in both the natural sciences and social sciences, from physics and biology to sociology and journalism. It is also used as a way to research different aspects of education. The term quantitative research is most often used in the social sciences in contrast to qualitative research.

Quantitative research is often contrasted with qualitative research. In general terms, quantitative research is concerned with numbers and measurement, rather than words, in the collection and analysis of data. Quantitative research usually seeks to establish causal relationships between two or more variables, using statistical methods to test the strength and significance of the relationship. For example, research has established a consistent and strong relationship between smoking tobacco and developing lung cancer.
Quantitative social research is rooted in a natural science model of research which sees the social world as amenable to scientific investigation through experimental and statistical processes. ( The data produced is numerical data which can be analysed in a variety of ways.

Quantitative research is generally made using scientific methods, which can include:

·         The generation of models, theories and hypotheses

·         The development of instruments and methods for measurement

·         Experimental control and manipulation of variables

·         Collection of empirical data

·         Modeling and analysis of data

·         Evaluation of results

Quantitative research is often an iterative process whereby evidence is evaluated, theories and hypothieses are refined, technical advances are made, and so on. Virtually all research in physics is quantitative whereas research in other scientific disciplines, such as taxonomy and anatomy, may involve a combination of quantitative and other analytic approaches and methods.


Research is a very broad concept that can’t be isolately defined and explored. Therefore this paper has explored research in that manner by discussing different characteristics of research, purpose of research, different components and types of research. This is the only way to explore the true meaning of research and provide a clear understanding and guideline towards what is research and what constitute the whole process of research. In simple terms research can be defined as the systematic process of collecting and analyzing information to increase our understanding of the phenomenon under study. Furthermore Research is a step by step process that involves collecting and examining information. It is the function of the researcher to contribute to the understanding of the phenomenon and to communicate that understanding to others.

The function of research is to either create or test a theory. Research is the instrument used to test whether a theory is good or not. It is the process by which data is gathered to generate a theory or used to test a theory. There are different ways of conducting research. In this modern world of research the two main types of research are qualitative and quantitative research. Basically, quantitative research is objective; qualitative is subjective. Quantitative research seeks explanatory laws; qualitative research aims at in-depth description whereas Qualitative research measures what it assumes to be a static reality in hopes of developing universal laws. Qualitative research is an exploration of what is assumed to be a dynamic reality. It does not claim that what is discovered in the process is universal, and thus, replicable. However any method you use will be based on the systematic collection and analysis of data. The emphasis here is on the word systematic. This means you have to collect your data in an ordered manner, with a purpose in mind, and following certain rules about your mode of collection.

Everywhere, our knowledge is incomplete and problems are waiting to be solved. We address the void in our knowledge and those unresolved problems by asking relevant questions and seeking answers to them. The role of research is to provide a method for obtaining those answers by inquiringly studying the evidence within the parameters of the scientific method.













Czaja, R. & Blair, J. (1995) Selecting the Method of Data Collection. in: Designing Surveys. London: Sage. pgs, 31-49.

Ereaut, G, 2008, ‘What is Qualitative Research?’, viewed 10 March 2009,


Kerlinger, F.N. (1973). Foundations of Behavioural Research. New York: Holt, Reinehart and Winston.

Mutchnick, R. J., & Berg, B. L. (1995). Research methods for the social sciences: Practice and applications. Needham Heights, MA: Allyn & Bacon.

Payton, O.D. (1979). Research: The Validation of Clinical Practice. Philadelphia: F.A. Davis.

Richard F. Taflinger. 1996, ‘Introduction to Research’, viewed 10 March 2009, <>


Waltz, C. and Bausell, R.B. (1981). Nursing Research: design, Statistics and Computer Analysis. Phil.

Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia, 2009, ‘Quantitative Research’ viewed 9 March 2009,



World Web, 2009, ‘Definition of Research’, viewed 6 March 2009, < >





Huawei to do Bio-merics for Papua New Guinea

The Papua New Guinea Planning Minister Mr.Charlse Abel has announce that Huawei has been closely looked by the Papua New Guinea government as the potential company to do the Bio-merics biodata for Papua New Guinea.This means Huawei will do bio-merics for all Papua New Guineans in rural and urban areas.This data will be useful in planning as well as in election time.