Research Methodology

By: Anamitra Roy

“Research is creating new knowledge.”

Neil Armstrong

Research refers to a systematic and objective investigation of a subject or a problem with the objective of finding an answer or solution. Research methodology refers to the methods by which the research is being carried out. It’s the research design which governs all decisions from identifying relevant sample, data to be collected, data collection and analysis techniques. More concretely, research methodology can be referred as the skeleton of the research. It is the research method which makes the finding of a research relevant, valid and universally acceptable. Research methodology provides a rationale for the method of enquiry, which in turn makes the outc2ome of the research scientific.

According to Paul E. Green, Donald Tull and Gerald Albaum (2004) research is broadly of two types, viz. basic research and applied research.

 

Basic research is done for the enhancement of knowledge. It is also called pure or fundamental research. The main objective of this type of research is to increase the boundary of knowledge. The outcome of basic research is not a readily saleable commodity. Mostly the researcher connected with this type of research is the first person to do so. Example of topics on which basic research can be carried out are how the universe came into existence, how the idea of religion came to human minds, how the theory of making a state came to human minds etc.

 

One of the advantages of basic research is that it helps to create a base for the topic on which the research is being carried out. This type of research contributes towards enhancement of knowledge.

But apart from this, basic research also has some disadvantages. This type of research does not have a base. It is the researcher who has to create a base and then carry on with the research.

Moreover, the outcome of basic research does not have any market value.

The outcomes of basic research are applied in reality to solve the complex everyday problems and this is done through applied research, sometimes also referred as decisional research. Applied research tests and validates a proposed theory discovered through basic research and underlines its limitation or may further refine it with necessary changes to overcome application challenges in different situations. The essence of the applied research is to refine, further investigate or solve a particular problem. It can only be commenced when some of basic facts so far discovered are reasonably correct.

Applied research has a base and is easier than basic research. Many a times it is seen that a problem has more than one solution. In this type of approach it is the researcher’s duty to not find out the solution but the best/ most viable solution. The outcome of this type of research has a market value.

Applied research cannot be done on a small scale. This is because applied research requires a huge amount of money. This research approach requires a detailed analysis of the real life problems which can be a complex job.

One of the common points of both basic and applied research is information on the basis of which this will be done. That’s why; information/ collection and utilization of it occupy a very important area of research. Information refers to a recorded experience that is useful for decision making. The recording of the experiences help the researchers to reduce the uncertainty while taking a decision. Authenticity of information also plays a crucial role in the quality of decision made.

Characteristic features of information are as follows:

  1. Accuracy: Accuracy is the degree to which the information reflects reality.
  2. Time: It is essential to take into consideration the time of collection of information as it is bound to change with time.
  3. Sufficiency: Information should be adequate enough to be able to take a decision.
  4. Availability: Information must be available to the decision maker when decision is being made.
  5. Relevance: Information must be relevant enough for the decision maker to take decision on the basis of it.

A reference drawn from “Research for Marketing Decisions” by Paul Green, Donald Tull and Gerald Albaum (2004) for classification of information, classifies it into primary and secondary.

Primary information is that which is collected from sources directly, eg. Information from surveys, filling of questionnaires etc. and secondary information is that which is collected indirectly, eg. Information collected from magazines, newspapers etc.

On the basis of sources, primary information was classified into internal and external. Brief discussions on these are as follows:

  1. Internal Information:
  2. Information extracted from within is internal information. Such information may be extracted from internal reports, purchase and sales documents, books of accounts, management reports etc.
  3. External Information:
  4. Information extracted from outside is called external information. Such information may be extracted from surveys, interviews, questioning respondents, natural and controlled experiments, observations, hidden investigations etc.

In conclusion it may be pointed out that like any other activity research is also a journey, the success of which depends on the passion, zeal and interest level of the researcher. Moreover, many scholars prefer to believe that research is just not a science. It is an art as well and hence, application of it depends on the person pursuing it i.e. the researcher. So although effort has been made to frame theories and guidelines about research methodology, it actually varies from time to time, place to place and case to case. There cannot be fixed rules and regulations about research methodology. It is due to this varying nature of research methodology that there is always a degree of uncertainty involved with research which makes it so interesting for study and understanding purposes.

“Research is to see what everybody else has seen, and to think what nobody else has thought.”

Albert Szent Gyorgyi

 

Bibliography:

  • Green, Paul E., Tull, Donald S. & Alabaum, Gerald (2004). Research for Marketing Decisions, 5th Edition, United States, Prentice – Hall.
  • Gupta, S.P. (2011). Statistical Methods, 4th Edition, Delhi, Sultan Chand & Sons.
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