A successful research should not be confused with a perfect one. A perfect research in my opinion is not possible. If the researcher achieves his motive, and has conveyed his ideas to others; he has been successful. But the accuracy and the authenticity of the work can be judged on various scales. There will always be those who agree with the work and those who contradict it. Understanding the research process will enable us to determine the weak links in any research. Research can be defined as organized study: methodical investigation into a subject in order to discover facts, to establish or revise a theory, or to develop a plan of action based on the facts discovered. All research begins with a question, a hypothesis or an idea that has to be explored than proven or rejected.
A research is only possible if the purpose of it is well defined. The agenda or the objective of the research determines the outcome. Asking the right questions will get the right answers. This process involves 3 basic steps
- Data collection (surveys, interviews, research material, facts and figures)
- Data categorization
- Data analysis
Funding for research comes from various sources such as government organisations, NGO's Universities and corporations. These funds are a crucial factor in determining the outcome of the research. In most cases it is a structured method, to get favoured results.
Accuracy and Perfection in Research
A good research is not necessarily one without flaws. There are various categories of research based studies from the social sciences to the applied sciences, yet perfection in either is equally unattainable. The results derived from it are in some cases biased, favoring the researcher's objectives and views. Defining the goals and objectives for any research is the first step and then all efforts are geared to achieve these goals.
Apart from chances of human error in all the 3 stages of research, there is also a possibility of manipulation of data. An example of which would be the research and surveys conducted by the world bank and Asian development bank in third world countries, which paint a very sorry picture and encourage huge loans for all development works etc. these researches justify huge loans with high interest rates . Although similar surveys and studies by NGO's and academicians draw different conclusions. At times governments and Ngo's researching the same issue or problem will arrive at different results. It is obvious that one party exaggerates the problem and one understates it depending on their objective. This issue of conflicting data does not only exist in socio economic studies but also in scientific research. Origin of the universe, the big bang theory, evolution of man, climate change etc have all been analyzed by specialists who have given conflicting opinions.
"I think and think for months and years. Ninety-nine times, the conclusion is false. The hundredth time I am right." Albert Einstein.
This above is the opinion of the greatest mind the world has known, and he admits to being wrong so often, and even after his admission to being right the hundredth time there were still some minute flaws in his theories. Einstein was right when he said "No amount of experimentation can ever prove me right; a single experiment can prove me wrong."
All through our years in education we have prepared numerous presentations, reports studies, research papers that have been well graded and accepted. But most of these researches have been an analysis of what we have read. The opinions we have formed are reflections of somebody else's ideas. "Copy from one, its plagiarism; copy from two, its research." Wilson Mizner (1876 - 1933)
A research carried out by this scribe, required a survey to determine the alteration in the buying pattern of consumers since the recession. We developed a simple questionnaire to put to people, but soon realized that even simple questions regarding their purchases made them uncomfortable. Although the questions were not rude or very direct but people were reluctant in answering them.
"Research! a mere excuse for idleness; it has never achieved, and will never achieve any results of the slightest value" Benjamin Jowett
I do not completely subscribe to this view of the famous British theologian but do accept that research is a term widely abused, and taken advantage of.
Another example is of the challenges that we encountered while conducting a density study of a low income neighborhood; a research attempting to study a population's socio economic background. The community that we visited was very introverted and private. Also they were very suspicious of our motive behind the survey. They were hesitant even to discuss the number of people in their family. Once again it was difficult to inquire about financial matters. Most people exaggerated or understated their incomes.
"Enough research will tend to support your theory." Murphy's law of research
A good research is most definitely a productive activity, beneficial to a group of people for a period of time. But it is by no means perfect. Those benefiting from it; are at times, one's who are sponsoring it and those who are conducting it, and to some extent the society. Research is never conclusive but is an evolutionary process that will continue throughout times.
- "What is research?" www.umdnj.edu. UMDNJ, n.d . Web. 22 Feb. 2010.
- "The Rise and Fall of Market Research." www.marketiq.biz360.com. Market IQ, Thursday, February 19th, 2009. Web. 22 Feb. 2010.