University of Chester

Department of Computer Science & Information Systems

MSc Information Systems

 

Research Methods 1,
Professional Standards and Issues

CO7101

Task 1

 

“Everywhere, our knowledge is incomplete and problems are waiting to be solved.”

For the open, inquisitive mind, the world is full of wonder. Our knowledge and understand, although being at the pinnacle of human understanding is really just scratching the surface. Research is one method we use to extend and expand our understanding, and it is this, [research], that we are going to investigate. So we can start by defining what research is, one favoured definition is: “A contribution to knowledge”. Now things start to get interesting, we have the elaboration of criteria, added by those that came lately - as all knowledge is valuable for the information it contains alone whatever the source, for this contribution to the knowledge request, in that: the knowledge must be logically sound, well written and presented and built upon solid foundations with sound methods.

“We address the void in our knowledge and those unresolved problems by asking relevant questions and seeking answers to them.”

Our element of mankind strives to increase and improve our knowledge base, to this end we endeavour to create questions and hypothesis to explain not only our world but in broader terms “life, the universe and everything” as Douglas Adams so aptly described mankind’s thirst for knowledge; or looking at it another way: we have way too much time on our hands and need stuff to do, so we invent problems and set about solving them and in the process learn things, which we then share with our peers.

So what is research? As a noun it is defined as: The systematic investigation into and study of materials and sources in order to establish facts and reach new conclusions. The word research is derived from the Middle French "recherche", which means "to go about seeking". The earliest recorded use of the term was in 1577. “…the definition of research includes any gathering of data, information and facts for the advancement of knowledge…” It is used to establish or confirm facts even reaffirm the results of previous work, solve new or existing problems, support theorems, or develop new theories.

These steps should be viewed as an ever-changing process rather than a fixed set of steps. So we get to: research is: a planned, systematic investigation of a problem or premise with the aim of answering a question.

Research can also be ad hoc, unplanned and unstructured; history has proven despite the most diligent scientific research some of the greatest discoveries have been made through accidents.

Figure 1 an example of steps within the Scientific Method

Research is not a meaningless search for nothing. It is not, typically, chaotic, unplanned and ad hoc. Nor is it the exclusive role of: the academic or scientist.

Table 1 Some more examples of what Research is not

Research isn’t teaching

Teaching itself is generally regarded as the synthesis and transfer of existing knowledge. Generally, the knowledge has to exist before you can teach it.

Research isn’t scholarship

Scholarship (the process of being a scholar) generally describes surveying existing knowledge

Research isn’t encyclopaedic

Encyclopaedias, by and large, seek to present a synthesis of existing knowledge.

Research isn’t just data-gathering

Data-gathering is a vital part of research, but it doesn’t lead to new knowledge without some analysis, some further work.

Research isn’t just about methodology

However, if you are using the same method, on the same data, exploring the same question, then you will almost certainly get the same results. And that is repetition, not research.

Research isn’t repetition, except in some special circumstances

If you are doing the same thing that someone else has already done, then generally that isn’t research unless you are specifically trying to prove or disprove their work.

 

“Our knowledge remains little more than guesswork or at best intuition” (Somers, 2012)

We have used terms in this essay such as: knowledge and wisdom with gay abandon. But what do they actually mean? Data is the raw units of facts and figures, with datum being the individual fact or figure; it is given meaning and becomes information with the understanding of relationships between the data sets. This information is then transformed into knowledge with the understanding of patterns within the relationships. Wisdom, the aim of the philosopher, is achieved through the application of hindsight and the comprehension of principles.

“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.”

This introduces the concept of academic rigour: for all research to be considered as valuable we must conduct that research within a recognised framework. Our research can be pure/fundamental or applied. As a process we question our knowledge and improve our understanding, which requires documentation to a standard together with the use and application of methods and tools.

Research is understood to follow a certain structural process.

Observations and Formation of the topic: Consists of the subject area of one’s interest and following that subject area to conduct subject related research. The subject area should not be randomly chosen since it requires reading a vast amount of literature on the topic to determine the gap in the literature the researcher intends to narrow. A keen interest in the chosen subject area is advisable. The research will have to be justified by linking its importance to already existing knowledge about the topic.

Hypothesis

A testable prediction which designates the relationship between two or more variables.

Conceptual definition

Description of a concept by relating it to other concepts.

Operational definition

Details in regards to defining the variables and how they will be measured/assessed in the study.

Gathering of data

Consists of identifying a population and selecting samples, gathering information from and/or about these samples by using specific research instruments. The instruments used for data collection must be valid and reliable.

Analysis of data

Involves breaking down the individual pieces of data in order to draw conclusions about it.

Data Interpretation

This can be represented through tables, figures and pictures, and then described in words.

Test

revising of hypothesis

Conclusion

reiteration if necessary

 

“The definition of the scientific method, even amongst many scientists, is seen as some holy grail of science that achieves absolute and unarguable proof.” (Experiment-Resources.com, 2012)

Is the scientific method is verses creationism?

Science and its’ quest for clarity and definitions looks at the nature of research in three different ways:

1.       deductive reasoning

2.       inductive reasoning

3.       abductive reasoning

By far the simplest explanation of these classifications of reasoning is pictorially with an example, see figures 1 to 3.

Figure 2 Deduction Reasoning

As an example of deductive reasoning: from Thomas Jefferson’s statement: “all men are equal”. I am a man. And, therefore I must be equal.

Figure 3 Induction Reasoning

As a figurative example of inductive reasoning, When the letter box rattles: the post has arrived. The letter box rattles…

 

Figure 4 Abduction Reasoning

Abductive reasoning is often considered a lesser form of logic and is by far the more abstract forms of reasoning, but is tremendously useful when knowledge is incomplete: it is classically illustrated by: if it rains the streets get wet. The streets are wet, therefore it has been raining. Although in itself a good answer to the state of the streets is being wet, it is not the only answer, more information and data is required to form a more accurate or more specifically defendable statement as to why the streets may be wet.

So in conclusion, research has a nature which is taxonomically classified into three categories. The categories have methodologies. The methodologies have tools. These are combined into a thorough, planned, systematic and focused investigation into a knowledge area, or more accurately domain, with the objective of answering a question. The answer to the question must be presented in a well written, logically sound presentation of the facts substantiating the argument or position.

Figure 5 Sometimes it's all been done for us.

Description: http://boeklog.info/pics/a-revisionist-autobiography.png

 (Watterstone, 1994)

We research because our knowledge is incomplete and our minds are enquiring. We endeavour to answer questions, even if have to make them up first.


 

Bibliography

Experiment-Resources.com. (2012, 10 11). Definition of the Scientific Method. Retrieved 10 11, 2012, from Experiment-Resources.com: http://www.experiment-resources.com/definition-of-the-scientific-method.html

Experiment-Resources.com. (2012, 10 11). What is Research? Retrieved 10 11, 2012, from Experiment-Resources.com: http://www.experiment-resources.com/what-is-research.html

O'Donnell, J. (2012, 09 18). What is research? Retrieved 10 11, 2012, from The Research Whisperer: http://theresearchwhisperer.wordpress.com/2012/09/18/what-is-research/

Saeed, M. (2012, 10 2). Research Methods 1 Professional Standards and Issues. (M. Saeed, Performer) Binks 104, University of Chester, Chester, Cheshire, UK.

Somers, H. (2012, 10 11). What is Research? Manchester, Greater Manachester, UK. Retrieved 10 11, 2012

Watterstone, W. B. (1994). Homicidal Psycho Jungle Cat (First ed.). Riverside, New Jersey, USA: Andrews McMeel Publishing, LLC.