The Purpose of Research

purpose of researchResearch is the cornerstone of building a case, or a story. It’s the center, the hub, and the well upon which you can draw your knowledge. While the word research can conjure up images of stacks of books, toiling over papers with highlighters and digging until the underneath of your fingernails are dirty and raw, there’s a beautiful part of research that is often overlooked; experience.

Research can come in various different forms depending on the researcher, the subject and the desired outcome. Whether you’re in a library, or wandering the streets of Argentina, both forms of experience are research.

The Purpose of Research

Research is what gives the researchers, storyteller, student or scientist the means to make a conclusion. When you’ve done proper research, you’re then able to spend time analyzing all of the moving parts, the variables and thus make an informed observation or conclusion on the subject.

When you’re exploring the topic, you want to gather as much evidence, experience and observation for you to begin building your theories. By familiarising yourself as much as possible with the subject you’re researching you begin to have objective and subjective observations. Exploration is the first phase of the research. The exploration aspect stokes the curiosity of the researcher, which then brings up questions that spur into further discovery, digging and study. The second part is built upon the desire to better understand the subject. For the researcher, they must have a deep yearning to find the answers, or the research can become dull and cumbersome.

Without the passion, research can suffer or the researcher can begin to come to final conclusions, without diving deeper into the exploration of more. The depth of the research is imperative to finding the proper answer. Even with depth and understanding, there is often more research to be done.

Beyond curiosity and desire, is extensive study and examination. Often this phase of research means conducting case studies, experiments, interviews and deep analysis. The hope of research is to break new ground and find insight, answers and theories that have yet to be tapped into or discovered. Often, with exploratory research in particular, it can be difficult to settle on definitive answers as subjects shift, change and evolve periodically. Exploratory studies themselves are often rarely definitive because the people, subject or place studied in exploratory research may not be typical of the larger population of interest.

Presenting the Facts

Once the information is gathered, the description and presentation of the conclusion has to be laid out. This means everything from the smallest detail on the environment, gender, race, sex and circumstances needs to be taken into consideration when describing and analyzing the presentation of facts. With all of these aspects in mind you can backup your opinion and better explain your findings and where your conclusion came from.

Within the description of your research, the focus while may be based heavily on facts is dependant on the explanation of why. Why did you come to the conclusion that you did? Why did you conduct the research to begin with? Why did you focus on the particular group/gender/place that you did? Why did the analysis of the facts bring you to this particular answer or theory? All of your descriptions have to be based upon the facts linking to one another, thus explaining the thought process behind the “why,” of your conclusion.

Descriptive studies attempt to answer the what, when, where, and how. Explanatory studies attempt to answer the why. Depending on the nature or purpose of your research, you can base these factors into your description. When people are digesting the information from your research, keep in mind that depending on what you’re delivering you want to weave in as many facts as possible. The explanation on why and how teenagers are struggling with depression, vs. how many people are Catholic within a twenty mile radius of a town will come up with vastly different facts, descpritions and presentations. The latter may involve more hard numbers, graphs, years and analysis of surrounding areas. While exploring a topic like “why,” something is the way that it is is based on a broader spectrum that can involve subjective opinion and conclusions based around a number of hard facts.

Types of Research

Just as we’ve covered above, every subject has a different type of research that may align in a more proper manner. The various types of research can be broken down as so:

Practical Research: The practical approach consists of the empirical study of the topic under research and chiefly consists of hands on approach. This involves first hand research in the form of questionnaires, surveys, interviews, observations and discussion groups.

Theoretical Research: A non empirical approach to research, this usually involves perusal of mostly published works like researching through archives of public libraries, court rooms and published academic journals.

Research Methods

  • Descriptive/Qualitative– This type of research methods requires quantifiable data involving numerical and statistical explanations
  • Correlation/Regression Analysis– This research methodology involves determining the strength of the relationship between two or more variables
  • Quasi-Experimental– This research involves the comparison of two groups, one which is influenced by an external source and another which is not.
  • Experimental- Involves the use of random assignment to place participants in two groups: an experimental group which receives intervention, and another control group without any intervention.
  • Meta-Analysis- This research method is useful for finding out the average impact of several different studies on a hypothesis

The Conclusion

From the various types of research you can conduct you can see that there’s a very clear purpose to the digging and the analysis. The most important part is to take the time to do the work. The research period is often the most tedious and daunting. Once you’ve gathered the facts, however, you simply have to explain the conclusion. Your conclusion will weigh heavily on the type of research you’ve done, the history and of course that aspect that is hard to explain, which is your gut analysis of what you feel and know to be true based upon everything from inception, curiosity, study and analysis. The conclusion can be complicated and may take anywhere from months to several years to come to. There is no proper timeline to find the proper answers. Often, the more you know, the more you realize there’s more to research. In your conclusion be sure to cite all of your resources, review any main key points, summarize the overall study, discuss the implications of your findings and also be clear about any limitations you may have encountered during the research process. Repeat the why, the how, the purpose and if the research feels incomplete further explain how you’ll extend your study beyond the current conclusion.

No matter the topic or the restrictions and roadblocks you may come up with in your research, it is most importantly keep and share a keen sense of curiosity, passion and excitement. With those three things, you’ll be able to stay the course!