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Research Methodology by Dr Joginder Singh

Contents

I. An introduction to Research Methodology: What is research? Research methodology, Research


methods/techniques, Research method and Scientific Method

II. Types of Research: Descriptive vs. Analytical Research, Applied vs. Basic/ Fundamental
Research, Quantitative vs. Qualitative Research, Quantitative vs. Qualitative research,
Conceptual vs. Empirical Research, One-time research and longitudinal research, Field-setting
research or laboratory research or simulation research, Clinical or diagnostic research,
Conclusion-oriented and decision-oriented

III. Major research designs: Exploratory research, Descriptive or diagnostic research, Experimental
research, Significance and objectives of Research, Criteria of Good Research, Problems
Encountered by Researchers in India, Some research improprieties

IV. The Research Process: Specifying the research problem, Review of existing literature
Preparing the research design, Data collection, Data compilation, Analysis of data, Report
writing, Questions

V. Census and Sampling: Non-probability or Purposive or Deliberate sampling, Probability


sampling

VI. Tests of significance: Z-Test, T-test, Chi-Square Test (χ2)

VII. Correlation and Regression

VIII. Time series analysis & business forecasting


IX. Experimental Designs: Completely randomized design (CRD), Randomized Block Design
(RBD), Latin Square Design, Factorial Design

X. Measurement and scaling techniques

Some Research Topics


Sample questionnaires/ Schedules
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What is research?

The search for knowledge through objective and systematic method of finding solution to a
problem is called research. Research means we are searching for what already exists in nature. Research
is thus, an original contribution to the existing stock of knowledge making for its advancement. Also it
may be a search for extension/verification/authentication of knowledge through scientific investigation.
As a process of researching, it is required to be systematic process of planning, collecting,
organising and evaluating the data, making it meaningful, reaching at general or specific conclusions.
Carefully testing the conclusions to determine whether they fit the formulating hypothesis in order to
improve our understanding of phenomenon or event is also a component of research process.

Research methodology

For solving the researchable problem in a more meaningful way, the use of systematic
methodology is essential. Therefore, Research methodology may be called as a science of studying
research efforts methodologically, logically and stepwise. It is not necessary that every researcher has to
follow the same path of methodology. But it is necessary for the researcher to design the methodology for
his problem as the same may differ from problem to problem.

Research methods/techniques

Research methods/techniques are a component or a part of research methodology. Researchers


not only need to know how to work out depreciation by different methods, calculate arithmetic mean, use
of the measures of disparity, apply the tests of significance, regression models etc which are termed as
research techniques. But they also need to know other methodologies as to which and why this specific
method or a technique is most relevant and how these would be interpreted, assumptions underlying each
technique for arriving at meaningful inferences and meeting the objectives of research under process.
To illustrate the distinction between research method and research methodology more clearly the
research methodology, apart from providing knowledge about research methods, addresses to how, why,
where and when part of research aspect. For example, a farmer wants to know what economical farm size
he should have, should not only know his financial capacity to purchase land but also have has to
consciously evaluate the basis of his decisions i.e., availability of other resources such as labour, different
forms of machinery and other capital and his own managerial capacity, law of ceiling of holdings, type of
production system possible, market availability etc. Thus the scope of research methodology is much
wider than that of research methods. Why a research study has been undertaken, how the research
problem has been defined, in what way and why the hypothesis has been formulated, what data have been
collected and what particular method has been adopted, why particular technique of analysing data
concerning a research problem has been used and numerous other similar questions are usually answered
in research methodology.

Research method and Scientific Method


Since a researcher is interested in more than particular results but the philosophy common to all
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research methods and techniques is usually given the name of scientific method. In scientific method,
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logical propositions are formulated so that their possible consequences are assessed clearly through
experimentation or survey investigations. But the conclusions drawn on the basis of this may be evaluated
in the light of assumptions, design of experiments and execution of experiments. As such the researcher
must pay all possible attention while developing the experimental design and must state only probable
inferences. The purpose of survey investigations may also be to provide scientifically gathered
information to work as a basis for the research. Therefore, in broader sense, the scientific method is
logical and systematic collection of data, classification and interpretation efforts.

Types of Research

Based on a number of parameters, research studies carried out so far can be categorized into
different types which are described under:

(i) Descriptive vs. Analytical Research: Descriptive research includes fact-finding enquiries or
surveys- ex post facto research - the researcher has no control over the variables; he can only
report what has happened or what is happening, example, frequency of shopping, preferences of
people. In analytical research, the researcher has to use facts or information already available,
and analyze these to make a critical evaluation of the material.
Example: How is the municipal solid waste managed, is a descriptive research.
Why the components of solid waste not used in other alternative ways? This is the analytical
aspect of research.

(ii) Applied vs. Basic/ Fundamental Research: Applied research is need based and aims at finding
a solution for an immediate problem facing a society, whereas fundamental research is mainly
concerned with generalisations and with the formulation of a theory. Gathering knowledge for
knowledge sake or filling the gap in theory is termed ‘pure’ or ‘basic’ research.”
Example: Newton’s laws of motion are fundamental, pure or basic research areas. Minimizing
fraction of moving wheels by smoothening roads is applied research.
Law of diminishing utility is fundamental research while its application for maximizing social
welfare in the economy is applied research.

(iii) Quantitative vs. Qualitative Research: Quantitative research is based on the measurement of
quantity or amount. It is applicable to phenomena that can be expressed in terms of quantity in
number, weight, measurement etc. Qualitative research, on the other hand, is concerned with
qualitative phenomenon, i.e. reasons for human behavior. Generally efforts are made to make
qualitative research quantifiable through scoring the responses.
Example: Studying size and composition of population, income level, prices etc are quantitative
while analysing human behaviour, consumers’ preferences etc are qualitative studies.

(iv) Conceptual vs. Empirical Research: Conceptual research is that related to idea(s) or theory. It is
generally used by philosophers and thinkers to develop new concepts or to reinterpret existing
ones. On the other hand, empirical research relies on experience or observation alone, testing of
hypothesis often without due regard for system and theory. It is data-based research, coming up
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with conclusions which are capable of being verified by observation or experiment. All
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experimental research is empirical.


(v) From the point of view of time, we can think of research either as one-time research or
longitudinal research. In the former case the research is confined to a single time-period,
whereas in the latter case the research is carried on over several time-periods. Associated with it
is Historical research. Historical research is that which utilizes historical sources like documents,
remains, etc. to study events or ideas of the past, including the philosophy of persons and groups
at any remote point of time.
Example: Analysis of budget of a year is called one time research while trends in income and
expenditure overtime are longitudinal research.

(vi) Research can be field-setting research or laboratory research or simulation research,


depending upon the environment in which it is to be carried out. Lab research is done under
controlled conditions while the field setting research is done under practical field situations for
which the same is planned to be applied. Under simulation research, the conditions controlled in
the lab are simultaneously relaxed to make it more applicable under the field environment.
Example: Testing a machine in the workshop under controlled conditions may not give same
result when tested its working in the field. For simulation research, we identify the gap between
lab and field and relax conditions one by one to make the field like situation.

(vii) Research can as well be understood as clinical or diagnostic research. Such research follows
case-study methods or in-depth approaches to reach the basic causal relations.

(viii) The research may be exploratory or it may be formalized. The objective of exploratory research
is the development of hypotheses rather than their testing, whereas formalized research studies
are those with substantial structure and with specific hypotheses to be tested.

(ix) Research can also be classified as conclusion-oriented and decision-oriented. While doing
conclusion oriented research, a researcher is free to pick up a problem, redesign the enquiry and is
prepared to conceptualize as he wishes. Decision-oriented research is always for the need of a
decision maker and the researcher in this case is not free to embark upon research according to
his own inclination. Operational research is an example of decision-oriented research since it is a
scientific method of providing executive departments with a quantitative basis for decisions
regarding operations under their control.

Major research designs

1. Exploratory research
It is done to explore or get insight into new ideas or problems pinpointing the feasibility of
researchable areas, hypotheses and alternative possible approaches to carry out research. It is more or
less developing ideas, relevance of study, structure to be followed before carrying out research so that
work is done systematically and in more effective manner. Therefore, it has to be based on secondary
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data and other available information in the literature, expert surveys (interacting with experts for their
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opinions) and referring to case studies for more getting more insight into the problem.
Example: For study of causes of crimes, before interacting with criminals, it has to be well planned
about various methodological aspects through exploratory research.

2. Descriptive or diagnostic research


It is to describe characteristics of a group. After exploratory research, it is normally planned as to
with what objectives, the study is to be carried out, what population is to be taken, time of study,
place of study, sample size to be taken and how it is to be selected.

3. Experimental research
It is generally done for establishing or verifying or modifying the cause and effect relationships
under controlled conditions. The basic principles of experimental research are replication (repeated
experiments), randomization (minimizing sampling bias), local control of conditions and following
statistical approaches to authenticate the results.
For example; seeds of red, yellow and white flowers mixed thoroughly may be sown to test their ratio
in the mixture.
Testing the quality parameters of a consignment in the laboratory may be done.

Significance and objectives of Research


Research is generally carried out to gain new insights into a phenomenon which is termed as
exploratory or formulative research, to portray accurately the characteristics of a particular individual,
situation or a group a descriptive research is done and to determine the causal relationship between
variables is called diagnostic research. There could be serious negative and disastrous implications of
research depending upon its use but major positive implications are summed up as below:

1. Economic development: Increased amounts of research make progress and development of


society possible. The role of research in several fields of applied economics, whether related to
business or to the economy as a whole, has greatly increased in modern times. For instance, the
theories of business cycles show the way to get out of recessions.
2. Logical thinking: Research inculcates scientific and inductive thinking and it promotes the
development of logical habits of thinking and organization in any field.
3. Solving operational problems: The increasingly complexities of business propositions and
government has focused attention on the use of research in solving operational problems.
Research has its special significance in this respect through planning problems of business and
industry efficient policies for purchasing, production and sales, business problems of attaining
economic efficiencies and social justice.
4. Proper direction to government policies: Research provides the basis for nearly all
government policies in our economic and social system- planning and execution of budgetary
measures is based on the analysis of the needs and desires of the people and on the collection of
public revenues. Similarly price policies, subsidies and other programmes from time to time
have to be based on the pulse of the public, estimated through research.
5. Planning market behaviour: Production efforts in the economy may be of little use if the pulse
of the consumer is not realized. Therefore, determination of the consumer or market behavior
not only local or domestic but also export market for present and future as well are of high
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relevance.
6. Social aspects: Research is of great importance about the social parameters in studying social
relationships and in seeking answers to various social problems. The ultimate objective of any
society is to maximize social welfare. Whatsoever economic, technological and market
developments may take place, if social problems have attained high altitude, all our efforts go
waste. Researches on social problems, their trend, intensity, causal factors, policy requirements
and other means to solve such problems are of utmost necessity.
7. An educational tool: In addition to what has been stated above, the significance of research is
that it is a most powerful educational tool for the students and the professionals, intellectuals and
philosophers/ thinkers and as a source of their livelihood.

Criteria of Good Research


Whatever may be the types of research works and studies, they all have the common ground of scientific
method employed for exploring, describing, diagnosting and establishing cause-effect relationships. The
scientific research should satisfy the following criteria:
1. It should have systematic procedure and design, carried out stepwise and clearly defined
pinpointed topic.
2. Information used should be logical and not spurious and the data should be sufficiently adequate
to authenticate the outcome.
3. To the possible extent, the empirical and concrete data should be employed rather than
hypothetical imaginations to be employed.
4. The results should have reliability such that it may be replicable by others or other times and
verification possible.
5. It should get enough feedback from various quarters, typically stakeholders and there should be
complete frankness in results.
6. Applicable of results should have for the benefit of humanity- adds to economical production,
effectiveness should be confined to some targeted group.
7. Should be done within means/resources of the researcher. Incomplete research is mere wastage.

Problems Encountered by Researchers in India


Researchers in India, particularly those engaged in empirical research, are facing several problems, some
of which are as under:

1. The lack of a scientific training in the methodology of research due to which the research is not
done systematically.
2. Interaction amongst research working on the same or similar areas should meet on common
forums by symposium, seminars, conferences etc. There is insufficient interaction in this regards
which results in overlapping research and leaving gaps.
3. Secrecy seems to be sacrosanct to business organisations in the country. The data collected from
respondents should be kept highly confidential without his/her permission. Possibility of
information likely to be misused is a serious problem.
4. Research studies sometimes overlapping one. The reason is that lack of coordination resulting in
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duplication and wastage of resources.


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5. There is lack of ethics or code of conduct for researchers. The lack of effective copyright laws
and proper sequencing and indexing of researches is the cause for cut and paste being done by
many.
6. Library management –Documentation is lacking for developing research methodology more
systematically.
7. There is also the difficulty of timely availability of published data. Delay and non-publication of
reports and data sources, updating of portals etc creates hurdles in research work.
8. There may, at times, take place the problem of conceptualization and also problems relating to
the process of data collection and related things. For example; in some areas, area is expressed in
acres, in other areas as bighas, in hectares etc which has to be properly understood before
recording or tabulation of data.
9. Gap between lab research outcome and application in the field needs to be minimized to make it
more practicable.
10. Bias, carelessness, omissions in sampling and non-sampling processes is some other common
problems encountered by the researchers.

Some research improprieties


1. Bias
2. Omission of important factors
3. Carelessness
4. Non-comparable data: Exports of India vs Sri Lanka in percentage are not comparable due to
variation in the size of countries.
5. Confusion of illogical associations
6. Insufficient data: Sample size or questionnaire formation
7. Unrepresentative data
8. Definition of units
9. Poorly designed experiments
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