INTRODUCTION TO RESEARCH METHODS

INTRODUCTION TO RESEARCH METHODS

Definitions of research.

  • Research is a structured inquiry/enquiry that makes use of scientific method (step by step) of investigation to generate new knowledge and solve problems.
  • Kerlinger Fred N. has defined scientific research as a systematic, controlled, empirical and critical investigation of natural phenomena guided by theory and hypothesis about the presumed relations among such phenomena.
  • C Crawford defines research as a systematic and refined technique of thinking, employing specialized tools, instruments and procedures in order to obtain a more adequate solution to a problem.
  • Research can be defined as a careful and systematic means of solving a problem.
  • Research also involves critical analysis of existing conclusions or theories with regard to new existing facts.
  • Research is a process of arriving at effective solutions to problems through systematic collections, analysis and interpretation of data.

 WHY STUDY RESEARCH?/IMPORTANCE/PURPOSE/USES OF RESEARCH STUDY/METHODS

  1. To generate new knowledge-Through research we open up and acquire advanced knowledge by discovering new facts and even adding to existing ones on a given phenomenon.
  2. Development of theories-Through research, we are able to formulate concepts, laws and generalizations about a phenomenon. Research may also be done to test previous theories so as to affirm or refute them.
  3. Description of phenomena-We may wish to describe for example what happens when substance A is added to substance B. The aim of description is to answer the following questions;
  4. Who
  5. What

When

  1. How
  2. Where

For example, Factors leading to poor performance among primary school students in Nairobi county.

A phenomenon may be described in terms of size, weight, color, age, shape and change over time.

  1. Explaining causality-Research tries to explain the cause and effect of relationship between or among phenomena, parameters or variables.
  2. Generate data-Through research, we are able to gather data or information. Data can either be qualitative (in form of words) or quantitative (inform of statistics, facts and figures).

6 To make predictions-Information gained through research may be useful to predict a particular phenomenon e.g. Most time spent by a candidate watching TV may lead to poor performance and an alcoholic may experience marriage breakup.

  1. Educational research is considered a problem oriented activity that aims at improving conditions or solving problems in education-REPORT WRITING.

Examples of key issues

  • Crowded/congested classes
  • Shortage of chairs
  • Constrained infrastructure.

8.Educational research can also aim at improving decision making and planning in education eg form 1&2 being served meals together and form 3& 4 or considering freshers in vocational,colleges and universities in connection to accommodation due to their unfamiliarity with the new environment.

9.Research can be undertaken to satisfy an individual curiosity.

10 Research enables control-In scientific research, control is concerned with ability to regulate phenomenon under study.

Example: In Laboratory, rats are subjected to drugs that support growth and normal diet without drugs.

HISTORICAL DEVELOPMENT OF RESEARCH.

Basically refers to the methods of getting knowledge or information to use in research. We usually have four main methods.

METHOD OF TENACITY.

People hold firmly to the truth because they have always known it to be true.

METHOD OF AUTHORITY.

Refers to means of established beliefs. Example, If the bible or Koran says it, then it is so. Information received from someone with expertise e.g. from library, doctor,engineer,teachers,administrators,pharmcists,architectures,surveyors,security officer, scholar, parent, peer, adult, clergy etc.

PRIORI METHOD/INTUITION METHOD.

Based on logical reasoning and not mainly on experience.

METHOD OF SCIENCE.

Forms the basis of current research studies. This method is based on development of truth that is independent of our opinions, beliefs and reasons.

SUMMARY OF HISTORICAL DEVELOPMENT OF RESEARCH-SOURCES OF KNOWLEDGE

  1. Experience-Human beings learn through experiences in their own life.
  2. Authority-One may report according to information adopted from an expert in a specialized area e.g. a doctor emphasizing that one can’t get/ AIDS via handshake.
  3. Intuition-This is the perception or explanation of an instinct. Refers to unexplained feelings you have that something is true even when you lack evidence or proof of it.
  4. Tradition-All human beings inherit a culture. Culture is a reflection of an adopted system of rules, standards and values.
  5. Research itself.

CHARACTERISTICS OF SCIENTIFIC RESEARCH

  1. Purposiveness: The research must have a definite aim and purpose for achieving objectives.
  2. Rigor: The research must have a good theoretical base and sound methodology that enables collection of the right of information for data analysis.
  3. Testability: This means that hypothesis must be developed after a study of the problem.
  4. Replicability: The results of the research and hypothesis should be supported in subsequent studies conducted under similar circumstances for confidence in the research design.
  5. Precision and confidence: This refers to how close the findings based on a sample are to the reality. the closer the results are to the predicted phenomena, the higher the precision. Confidence refers to the probability that estimates are correct.
  6. Objectivity: Conclusions drawn through interpretation of results of data analysis should be objective and based on facts from actual data collected/
  7. Generalizability: This refers to the scope of applicability of the research findings. The wider the range of applicability of solutions by research, the more useful the research. It depends on the sampling design, instruments used for data collection and objectivity in the interpretation of data.
  8. Parsimony: This is the simplicity in explaining phenomena and challenges that occur in the application of solutions from research outcomes.
  9. Ethical-This is the most important characteristic in carrying out research.

CHARACTERISTICS OF GOOD RESEARCH

Good research generates reliable data and follows the standards of scientific methods, which include:

  1. Clear definition of purpose of the research and research problem. This should include its scope, limitations and definition of terms.
  2. The research process should be described in sufficient detail to permit other researchers to repeat the research.
  3. The research design should be carefully planned to yield objective results. The sample of a population should include evidence of the degree of representation of the sample.
  4. High ethical standards must be applied. A research design must include safeguards against mental or physical harm to participants, exploitation, invasion of privacy and loss of dignity.
  5. Limitations of the study that may arise from research design must be revealed in the research report.
  6. Data analysis should be sufficiently adequate for revealing the significance of the research. Data analysis should give rise to findings and conclusions.
  7. Findings must be presented in clear, precise assertions that are carefully drawn. Presentation of data should be comprehensive and easily understood. Findings should be presented unambiguously
  8. Conclusions must be justified by the data collected from the research, with detailed findings.
  9. The research report should contain information that gives the qualifications of the researcher for greater confidence in research reports.
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