UNDERSTANDING THE BASIC CONCEPTS OF A RESEARCH PROCESS

Just like every significant product is a function of due process, research findings are results of rigorous due process. After you have decided on a research problem to solve or answers to provide, the research process should be the next thing on your mind. 

In the tertiary institutions, this process is taught as a course to enable the final year students to carry out fruitful research.

Research process/methodology is an essential part of the research that must not be overlooked. 

This is because the reliability and usefulness of research are dependent on its process. A research methodology is simply saying the research process. It is simply saying this is how this study was carried out. Or this is how I arrived at my findings.

If you can assimilate this easy meaning of research methodology, then you are on your journey of mastering the processes of good research.

In this article, I will be explaining some of the basic concepts of the research process. We will look at their meanings, why they are important, when and how to use them in research.

You need to know the basics of research methodology. 

This is because it will guide your choices of research tools to adopt and drive a smooth research study.

Some of the basic concepts of a research process/methodology include:

Research design

A research design simply means types of the research process. Like I mentioned earlier, research methodology is simply a process. Research design is, therefore, a type of process. 

For example, when you shop for a house fan, you decide if you would need a standing fan, wall fan or a ceiling fan. All of them are types of fans. Research design is simply a type of research process. 

There are lots of research designs. I will give you the major ones. 

These are descriptive, survey, case study, doctrinal or library method and critical analysis. There are more, but these are the major ones. Each of these processes can be used alone or combined. 

This means a study can be purely descriptive while another study could be a case study and descriptive. Another study can be a descriptive, case study and doctrinal. 

The choice of using one or combining both is dependent on the objectives of the research problem. Hence a researcher must understand what best fits his/her research topic and be ready to adopt the best research design.

Research settings

A research setting is simply a research location. Just like during a movie shoot, the characters are taken to certain locations. The same thing applies here.

 A research setting is simply asking, where was this study carried out? You need to indicate where a study was conducted. 

It could be a geographical location, or organizational location or an object location. 

The importance of this is because the research audience have varying needs and so when you indicate a research setting, the audience will be able to know the relevance of the study to his/her need. 

You must indicate the location of your study in your research no matter the research design adopted.

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Data Sources

Sourcing data for research is important in the reliability of research. Sources of data are simply telling the research users where you obtained the information you have documented in your research study.

You could source your information from textbooks, internet, magazines, social media, discussion, interview and also the use of the questionnaire. 

Whatever is the origin of your information, it must be well stated and referenced properly. Therefore, the concept of data sources is simply telling the origin of your information. 

Take note of including this in your research methodology chapter.

The population of the study

A study population is a group of elements/things or individuals as the case may be, who share similar characteristics. 

These similar features can include location, gender, age, sex or specific interest. The emphasis on the population of the study is that it constitutes individuals or elements that are homogeneous in the description. 

For example, if you are conducting a study concerning a university, your population should be members of the university, not the hospital. 

This is because members of the university share similar interests which are academics. Unlike members of the hospital that have similar interests in health and diseases.

For location-based population, if you are conducting a study in Nigeria, your population should be made up of Nigerians and not Ghanaians. 

This is because a Ghanaian may not be knowledgeable about the facts you seek in Nigeria. 

If your study is gender-based and your focus is on the female gender, then only females should form your population, not men.

Sample size

The sample size is simply a part of your population. This is because in research it is assumed that most times due to time and resources a researcher may not be able to reach out to all the members of the population. 

Therefore, it became ideal to select a part of the whole to work with. This is what I mean if you intend to carry out a study on public perception of Coronavirus in Lagos state, Nigeria. 

You may not have the time and resources to reach out to every resident of Lagos state. 

You can simply select Ikeja and in Ikeja, you can decide to reach out to 200-500 residents. Ikeja is in Lagos and Lagos state as part of your population. but your sample size is 200-500 residents of Ikeja in Lagos state. 

From their responses, you can conclude the perception of Lagos state residents about Corona-virus. 

Selecting a sample size makes your research easy and precise. Some tools will help you determine the right sample size for your study.

Sample size technique

The sample size technique or determination concept is simply telling how you were able to select the sample size. What were your criteria for selection? Are the criteria a standard in research? Who proposed the criteria? 

There are various sample size techniques a student can use. However, the technique must be a standard in research or generally accepted by users.

 The sample size technique is an important concept in the research process.

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Instrumentation 

Another research concept is the instrumentation concept. This concept is popular, pertinent and almost the mightiest in all research process concepts. This is because it validates the study. 

A student should be able to get his/her research instrument right as his findings depend on how appropriate this tool is constructed, administered and utilized. 

What is instrumentation? 

It is simply a tool used/employed or adopted in conducting research. This instrument could be the questionnaire, it could interview, it could be direct and regular observation (of events, animals or situations), it could be using some biological tools in the laboratory and conducting some tests. 

Whatever it is that you employed to gain more understanding about your research problem that is not from you is an instrument.

Reliability

The concept of reliability is a concept of consistency. This concept is applied to the research instrument. It is initiated by the students and controlled by the research supervisor. 

When a researcher decides to use a particular tool to conduct a study, he is faced with the challenge of determining how reliable is the tool. 

For example, if the student decides to use the questionnaire as a tool for research. He is faced with the challenge of determining the reliability of the questionnaire to assist him to get the right answers. 

Most times, he may have to submit his structured questionnaire to the project supervisor for scrutiny.

 After a careful review, he would have to conduct a pilot test to ensure it can serve the purpose and then go ahead and use it.

If the student chooses to use the interview method, the project supervisor would like to see the questions. 

This will help them understand if the content is right if the tone is okay and if it adheres to privacy guidelines.

Any instrument intended for research must be certified reliable either by the project supervisor or committee or through a scientific reliability tool. The essence is to enhance the consistency of results.

Pilot Test Concept

The pilot test concept can be likened to a cook preparing a meal. 

Before serving the meal, the cook tastes the meal to ensure that all ingredients are adequate and the desire satisfaction is achieved. 

A pilot test is a meal taste. 

Before a researcher goes to the right field to administer a questionnaire or conduct an interview or whatever tool, he should as a necessity, administer the questionnaire to a different smaller group.

This will help the student or researcher identify how the respondents perceive the questions. He will also understand their reactions to specific questions. 

The importance of a pilot test is that the researcher would have to see his research tool from the perspective of the respondents. 

This will aid him to make necessary adjustments before heading to the right field for the survey. On the other hand, in sciences, a researcher, for example, tests a vaccine on an animal before a human being.

Validity

The Validity concept refers to the degree of measurement to which an adopted research instrument or method represents reasonably and logically the reality of the study.

Data Collection 

This is simply stating the way and manner the data for your research was obtained. You can simply state that the data for your study was collected through the use of questionnaires, interviews, or that it was obtained from the bulletin, magazines, annual reports and memo. 

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So the concept of data collection is the concept of where your research data was obtained from.

Note that your data could be primary data or secondary data.

Data Analysis

The concept of data analysis is simply stating the data analysis technique you choose in analyzing your results. 

You could analyze your results manually with formula or you could choose to use software such as the Microsoft Excel spreadsheet, the SPSS, the E-view or the Bi-power tool. 

Whatever is the tool you consider best for your study, you should be able to state so in your study. 

This is simple, isn’t it? 

For example, you could say: this study adopted the regression method of data analysis using the SPSS software.

 Alternatively, you could say, this study adopted the chi-square statistical tool to test the relationship between variable A and variable B and the formula is thus. 

That is if you intend to run a manual analysis.

Ethical consideration

The ethical consideration research process concept is simply the concept of respect for privacy and authority. 

What this means is that for a researcher to carry out a study outside his jurisdiction, he must obtain permission from relevant authorities to do so. 

First from his school or faculty and then from the place of study. 

Also, if it is a survey or a case-specific study, the student cum researcher must obtain the permission of the respondents before enrolling them in the study.

 The researcher must also ensure that the privacy of the respondents is protected and his findings are solely used for academics. 

This is necessary because, during the study, the researcher may be aware of some sensitive information in which a public consumption may jeopardize the personality of the people involved.

Therefore, the ethical consideration concept is the concept that empowers the researcher to conduct a study and also protects the privacy of study participants.

Conclusion

These are a few basics research concepts that will equip you in carrying out fruitful research. When next you intend to conduct research ensure that you have crossed all the t’s and the best way to start this process is to get acquainted with these concepts at the tips of your fingers. 

You can hire a professional project research writer to assist you in making the right research method choice. 

Your project research is a treasure you should be proud of and hiring a writer to get the best of your research is a gift your academics won’t say no.

Follow me on the next article: Comparing research questions and research hypotheses. 

Learn how to formulate your research questions, what is the difference between research questions and research hypothesis? How do you determine the best tool to use for your research questions and research hypothesis?

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