Research comprises "creative and systematic work undertaken to
increase the stock of knowledge, including knowledge of humans,
culture and society, and the use of this stock of knowledge to devise
new applications." It is used to establish or confirm facts,
reaffirm the results of previous work, solve new or existing problems,
support theorems, or develop new theories. A research project may also
be an expansion on past work in the field.
Research projects can be
used to develop further knowledge on a topic, or in the example of a
school research project, they can be used to further a student's
research prowess to prepare them for future jobs or reports. To test
the validity of instruments, procedures, or experiments, research may
replicate elements of prior projects or the project as a whole. The
primary purposes of basic research (as opposed to applied research)
are documentation, discovery, interpretation, or the research and
development (R&D) of methods and systems for the advancement of
human knowledge. Approaches to research depend on epistemologies,
which vary considerably both within and between humanities and
sciences. There are several forms of research: scientific, humanities,
artistic, economic, social, business, marketing, practitioner
research, life, technological, etc.
3 Forms of research
5 Historical research
7 Economic research
8 Steps in conducting research
11 Problems in research
11.1 Methods of research
11.3 Publication Peer Review
11.4 Influence of the open-access movement
11.5 Future perspectives
12.1 In Russia
15 See also
17 Further reading
18 External links
Aristotle, (384–322 BC), one of the early figures in the development
of the scientific method.
The word research is derived from the Middle French "recherche", which
means "to go about seeking", the term itself being derived from the
Old French term "recerchier" a compound word from "re-" + "cerchier",
or "sercher", meaning 'search'. The earliest recorded use of the
term was in 1577.
Research has been defined in a number of different ways.
A broad definition of research is given by Godwin Colibao: "In the
broadest sense of the word, the definition of research includes any
gathering of data, information, and facts for the advancement of
Another definition of research is given by John W. Creswell, who
states that "[r]esearch is a process of steps used to collect and
analyze information to increase our understanding of a topic or
issue". It consists of three steps: pose a question, collect data to
answer the question, and present an answer to the question.
The Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary defines research in more detail
as "a studious inquiry or examination; especially investigation or
experimentation aimed at the discovery and interpretation of facts,
revision of accepted theories or laws in the light of new facts, or
practical application of such new or revised theories or laws".
Forms of research
Original research redirects here. For the policy, see
Wikipedia:No original research
Original research is research that is not exclusively based on a
summary, review or synthesis of earlier publications on the subject of
research. This material is of a primary source character. The purpose
of the original research is to produce new knowledge, rather than to
present the existing knowledge in a new form (e.g., summarized or
Original research can take a number of forms, depending on the
discipline it pertains to. In experimental work, it typically involves
direct or indirect observation of the researched subject(s), e.g., in
the laboratory or in the field, documents the methodology, results,
and conclusions of an experiment or set of experiments, or offers a
novel interpretation of previous results. In analytical work, there
are typically some new (for example) mathematical results produced, or
a new way of approaching an existing problem. In some subjects which
do not typically carry out experimentation or analysis of this kind,
the originality is in the particular way existing understanding is
changed or re-interpreted based on the outcome of the work of the
The degree of originality of the research is among major criteria for
articles to be published in academic journals and usually established
by means of peer review. Graduate students are commonly required to
perform original research as part of a dissertation.
Scientific research is a systematic way of gathering data and
harnessing curiosity. This research provides scientific information
and theories for the explanation of the nature and the properties of
the world. It makes practical applications possible. Scientific
research is funded by public authorities, by charitable organizations
and by private groups, including many companies.
can be subdivided into different classifications according to their
academic and application disciplines.
Scientific research is a widely
used criterion for judging the standing of an academic institution,
but some argue that such is an inaccurate assessment of the
institution, because the quality of research does not tell about the
quality of teaching (these do not necessarily correlate).
Research in the humanities involves different methods such as for
example hermeneutics and semiotics.
Humanities scholars usually do not
search for the ultimate correct answer to a question, but instead,
explore the issues and details that surround it. Context is always
important, and context can be social, historical, political, cultural,
or ethnic. An example of research in the humanities is historical
research, which is embodied in historical method. Historians use
primary sources and other evidence to systematically investigate a
topic, and then to write histories in the form of accounts of the
past. Other studies aim to merely examine the occurrence of behaviours
in societies and communities, without particularly looking for reasons
or motivations to explain these. These studies may be qualitative or
quantitative, and can use a variety of approaches, such as queer
theory or feminist theory.
Artistic research, also seen as 'practice-based research', can take
form when creative works are considered both the research and the
object of research itself. It is the debatable body of thought which
offers an alternative to purely scientific methods in research in its
search for knowledge and truth.
Primary scientific research being carried out at the Microscopy
Laboratory of the Idaho National Laboratory.
Scientific research equipment at MIT.
German maritime research vessel Sonne
Generally, research is understood to follow a certain structural
process. Though step order may vary depending on the subject matter
and researcher, the following steps are usually part of most formal
research, both basic and applied:
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
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 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
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
A common misconception is that a hypothesis will be proven (see,
rather, null hypothesis). Generally, a hypothesis is used to make
predictions that can be tested by observing the outcome of an
experiment. If the outcome is inconsistent with the hypothesis, then
the hypothesis is rejected (see falsifiability). However, if the
outcome is consistent with the hypothesis, the experiment is said to
support the hypothesis. This careful language is used because
researchers recognize that alternative hypotheses may also be
consistent with the observations. In this sense, a hypothesis can
never be proven, but rather only supported by surviving rounds of
scientific testing and, eventually, becoming widely thought of as
A useful hypothesis allows prediction and within the accuracy of
observation of the time, the prediction will be verified. As the
accuracy of observation improves with time, the hypothesis may no
longer provide an accurate prediction. In this case, a new hypothesis
will arise to challenge the old, and to the extent that the new
hypothesis makes more accurate predictions than the old, the new will
supplant it. Researchers can also use a null hypothesis, which states
no relationship or difference between the independent or dependent
Main article: Historical method
Leopold von Ranke
Leopold von Ranke (1795–1886), considered to be one
of the founders of modern source-based history.
The historical method comprises the techniques and guidelines by which
historians use historical sources and other evidence to research and
then to write history. There are various history guidelines that are
commonly used by historians in their work, under the headings of
external criticism, internal criticism, and synthesis. This includes
lower criticism and sensual criticism. Though items may vary depending
on the subject matter and researcher, the following concepts are part
of most formal historical research:
Identification of origin date
Evidence of localization
Recognition of authorship
Analysis of data
Identification of integrity
Attribution of credibility
The controversial trend of artistic teaching becoming more
academics-oriented is leading to artistic research being accepted as
the primary mode of enquiry in art as in the case of other
disciplines. One of the characteristics of artistic research is
that it must accept subjectivity as opposed to the classical
scientific methods. As such, it is similar to the social sciences in
using qualitative research and intersubjectivity as tools to apply
measurement and critical analysis.
Artistic research has been defined by the University of Dance and
Circus (Dans och Cirkushögskolan, DOCH),
Stockholm in the following
manner - "
Artistic research is to investigate and test with the
purpose of gaining knowledge within and for our artistic disciplines.
It is based on artistic practices, methods, and criticality. Through
presented documentation, the insights gained shall be placed in a
Artistic research aims to enhance knowledge and
understanding with presentation of the arts. For a survey of the
central problematics of today's
Artistic Research, see Giaco
According to artist Hakan Topal, in artistic research, "perhaps more
so than other disciplines, intuition is utilized as a method to
identify a wide range of new and unexpected productive
modalities". Most writers, whether of fiction or non-fiction
books, also have to do research to support their creative work. This
may be factual, historical, or background research. Background
research could include, for example, geographical or procedural
The Society for
Research (SAR) publishes the triannual
Research (JAR), an international, online,
open access, and peer-reviewed journal for the identification,
publication, and dissemination of artistic research and its
methodologies, from all arts disciplines and it runs the Research
Catalogue (RC), a searchable, documentary database of
artistic research, to which anyone can contribute.
Patricia Leavy addresses eight arts-based research (ABR) genres:
narrative inquiry, fiction-based research, poetry, music, dance,
theatre, film, and visual art.
ELIA (European League of the Institutes of the Arts) launched
The Florence Principles' on the Doctorate in the Arts. The
Florence Principles relating to the Salzburg Principles and the
Salzburg Recommendations of EUA (European University Association) name
seven points of attention to specify the Doctorate / PhD in the Arts
compared to a scientific doctorate / PhD The Florence Principles have
been endorsed and are supported also by AEC, CILECT, CUMULUS and SAR.
Economics relies on scientific research.
Steps in conducting research
Research is often conducted using the hourglass model structure of
research. The hourglass model starts with a broad spectrum for
research, focusing in on the required information through the method
of the project (like the neck of the hourglass), then expands the
research in the form of discussion and results. The major steps in
conducting research are:
Identification of research problem
Specifying the purpose of research
Determining specific research questions
Specification of a conceptual framework, sometimes including a set of
Choice of a methodology (for data collection)
Analyzing and interpreting the data
Reporting and evaluating research
Communicating the research findings and, possibly, recommendations
The steps generally represent the overall process; however, they
should be viewed as an ever-changing iterative process rather than a
fixed set of steps. Most research begins with a general statement
of the problem, or rather, the purpose for engaging in the study.
The literature review identifies flaws or holes in previous research
which provides justification for the study. Often, a literature review
is conducted in a given subject area before a research question is
identified. A gap in the current literature, as identified by a
researcher, then engenders a research question. The research question
may be parallel to the hypothesis. The hypothesis is the supposition
to be tested. The researcher(s) collects data to test the hypothesis.
The researcher(s) then analyzes and interprets the data via a variety
of statistical methods, engaging in what is known as empirical
research. The results of the data analysis in rejecting or failing to
reject the null hypothesis are then reported and evaluated. At the
end, the researcher may discuss avenues for further research. However,
some researchers advocate for the reverse approach: starting with
articulating findings and discussion of them, moving "up" to
identification of a research problem that emerges in the findings and
literature review. The reverse approach is justified by the
transactional nature of the research endeavor where research inquiry,
research questions, research method, relevant research literature, and
so on are not fully known until the findings have fully emerged and
Rudolph Rummel says, "... no researcher should accept any one or two
tests as definitive. It is only when a range of tests are consistent
over many kinds of data, researchers, and methods can one have
confidence in the results."
Meno talks about an inherent difficulty, if not a paradox, of
doing research that can be paraphrased in the following way, "If you
know what you're searching for, why do you search for it?! [i.e., you
have already found it] If you don't know what you're searching for,
what are you searching for?!"
The research room at the New York Public Library, an example of
secondary research in progress.
Maurice Hilleman is credited with saving more lives than any other
scientist of the 20th century.
The goal of the research process is to produce new knowledge or deepen
understanding of a topic or issue. This process takes three main forms
(although, as previously discussed, the boundaries between them may be
Exploratory research, which helps to identify and define a problem or
Constructive research, which tests theories and proposes solutions to
a problem or question.
Empirical research, which tests the feasibility of a solution using
There are two major types of empirical research design: qualitative
research and quantitative research. Researchers choose qualitative or
quantitative methods according to the nature of the research topic
they want to investigate and the research questions they aim to
This involves understanding human behavior and the reasons that govern
such behavior, by asking a broad question, collecting data in the form
of words, images, video etc that is analyzed, and searching for
themes. This type of research aims to investigate a question without
attempting to quantifiably measure variables or look to potential
relationships between variables. It is viewed as more restrictive in
testing hypotheses because it can be expensive and time-consuming and
typically limited to a single set of research subjects.[citation
Qualitative research is often used as a method of exploratory
research as a basis for later quantitative research
Qualitative research is linked with the
philosophical and theoretical stance of social constructionism.
Social media posts are used for qualitative research.
This involves systematic empirical investigation of quantitative
properties and phenomena and their relationships, by asking a narrow
question and collecting numerical data to analyze it utilizing
statistical methods. The quantitative research designs are
experimental, correlational, and survey (or descriptive).
Statistics derived from quantitative research can be used to establish
the existence of associative or causal relationships between
Quantitative research is linked with the philosophical and
theoretical stance of positivism.
The quantitative data collection methods rely on random sampling and
structured data collection instruments that fit diverse experiences
into predetermined response categories. These methods
produce results that are easy to summarize, compare, and
Quantitative research is concerned with
testing hypotheses derived from theory or being able to estimate the
size of a phenomenon of interest.
If the research question is about people, participants may be randomly
assigned to different treatments (this is the only way that a
quantitative study can be considered a true experiment).[citation
needed] If this is not feasible, the researcher may collect data on
participant and situational characteristics to statistically control
for their influence on the dependent, or outcome, variable. If the
intent is to generalize from the research participants to a larger
population, the researcher will employ probability sampling to select
In either qualitative or quantitative research, the researcher(s) may
collect primary or secondary data. Primary data is data collected
specifically for the research, such as through interviews or
questionnaires. Secondary data is data that already exists, such as
census data, which can be re-used for the research. It is good ethical
research practice to use secondary data wherever possible.
Mixed-method research, i.e. research that includes qualitative and
quantitative elements, using both primary and secondary data, is
becoming more common. This method has benefits that using one
method alone cannot offer. For example, a researcher may choose to
conduct a qualitative study and follow it up with a quantitative study
to gain additional insights.
Big data has brought big impacts on research methods so that now many
researchers do not put much effort into data collection; furthermore,
methods to analyze easily available huge amounts of data have also
Non-empirical (theoretical) research is an approach that involves the
development of theory as opposed to using observation and
experimentation. As such, non-empirical research seeks solutions to
problems using existing knowledge as its source. This, however, does
not mean that new ideas and innovations cannot be found within the
pool of existing and established knowledge. Non-empirical research is
not an absolute alternative to empirical research because they may be
used together to strengthen a research approach. Neither one is less
effective than the other since they have their particular purpose in
science. Typically empirical research produces observations that need
to be explained; then theoretical research tries to explain them, and
in so doing generates empirically testable hypotheses; these
hypotheses are then tested empirically, giving more observations that
may need further explanation; and so on. See
A simple example of a non-empirical task is the prototyping of a new
drug using a differentiated application of existing knowledge; another
is the development of a business process in the form of a flow chart
and texts where all the ingredients are from established knowledge.
Much of cosmological research is theoretical in nature. Mathematics
research does not rely on externally available data; rather, it seeks
to prove theorems about mathematical objects.
Research ethics involves the application of fundamental ethical
principles to a variety of topics involving research, including
scientific research. These include the design and implementation of
research involving human experimentation, animal experimentation,
various aspects of academic scandal, including scientific misconduct
(such as fraud, fabrication of data and plagiarism), whistleblowing;
regulation of research, etc.
Research ethics is most developed as a
concept in medical research. The key agreement here is the 1964
Declaration of Helsinki. The
Nuremberg Code is a former agreement, but
with many still important notes.
Research in the social sciences
presents a different set of issues than those in medical research
and can involve issues of researcher and participant safety,
empowerment and access to justice.
When research involves human subjects, obtaining informed consent from
them is essential.
Problems in research
Methods of research
In many disciplines, Western methods of conducting research are
predominant. Researchers are overwhelmingly taught Western methods
of data collection and study. The increasing participation of
indigenous peoples as researchers has brought increased attention to
the lacuna in culturally-sensitive methods of data collection.
Non-Western methods of data collection may not be the most accurate or
relevant for research on non-Western societies. For example, "Hua
Oranga" was created as a criterion for psychological evaluation in
Māori populations, and is based on dimensions of mental health
important to the
Māori people – "taha wairua (the spiritual
dimension), taha hinengaro (the mental dimension), taha tinana (the
physical dimension), and taha whanau (the family dimension)".
Periphery scholars face the challenges of exclusion and linguicism in
research and academic publication. As the great majority of mainstream
academic journals are written in English, multilingual periphery
scholars often must translate their work to be accepted to elite
Western-dominated journals. Multilingual scholars' influences from
their native communicative styles can be assumed to be incompetence
instead of difference.
Publication Peer Review
This article needs to be updated. In particular: This subsection's
claims are potentially outdated in the "digital age" given that
near-total penetration of Web access among scholars worldwide enables
any scholar[s] to submit papers to any journal anywhere. Please update
this article to reflect recent events or newly available information.
Peer review is a form of self-regulation by qualified members of a
profession within the relevant field.
Peer review methods are employed
to maintain standards of quality, improve performance, and provide
credibility. In academia, scholarly peer review is often used to
determine an academic paper's suitability for publication. Usually,
the peer review process involves experts in the same field who are
consulted by editors to give a review of the scholarly works produced
by a colleague of theirs from an unbiased and impartial point of view,
and this is usually done free of charge. The tradition of peer reviews
being done for free has however brought many pitfalls which are also
indicative of why most peer reviewers decline many invitations to
review. It was observed that publications from periphery countries
rarely rise to the same elite status as those of North America and
Europe, because limitations on the availability of resources including
high-quality paper and sophisticated image-rendering software and
printing tools render these publications less able to satisfy
standards currently carrying formal or informal authority in the
publishing industry. These limitations in turn result in the
under-representation of scholars from periphery nations among the set
of publications holding prestige status relative to the quantity and
quality of those scholars' research efforts, and this
under-representation in turn results in disproportionately reduced
acceptance of the results of their efforts as contributions to the
body of knowledge available worldwide.
Influence of the open-access movement
The open access movement assumes that all information generally deemed
useful should be free and belongs to a "public domain", that of
"humanity". This idea gained prevalence as a result of Western
colonial history and ignores alternative conceptions of knowledge
circulation. For instance, most indigenous communities consider that
access to certain information proper to the group should be determined
There is alleged to be a double standard in the Western knowledge
system. On the one hand, "digital right management" used to restrict
access to personal information on social networking platforms is
celebrated as a protection of privacy, while simultaneously when
similar functions are utilised by cultural groups (i.e. indigenous
communities) this is denounced as "access control" and reprehended as
Even though Western dominance seems to be prominent in research, some
scholars, such as Simon Marginson, argue for "the need [for] a plural
university world". Marginson argues that the East Asian Confucian
model could take over the Western model.
This could be due to changes in funding for research both in the East
and the West. Focussed on emphasizing educational achievement, East
Asian cultures, mainly in China and South Korea, have encouraged the
increase of funding for research expansion. In contrast, in the
Western academic world, notably in the United Kingdom as well as in
some state governments in the United States, funding cuts for
university research have occurred, which some[who?] say may lead to
the future decline of Western dominance in research.
The examples and perspective in this section may not represent a
worldwide view of the subject. You may improve this article, discuss
the issue on the talk page, or create a new article, as appropriate.
(January 2014) (Learn how and when to remove this template message)
See also: Academic ranks, Academics, and Scientists
In several national and private academic systems, the
professionalisation of research has resulted in formal job titles.
In present-day Russia, the former
Soviet Union and in some post-Soviet
states the term researcher (Russian: Научный
сотрудник, nauchny sotrudnik) is both a generic term for a
person who carried out scientific research, as well as a job position
within the frameworks of the USSR Academy of Sciences, Soviet
universities, and in other research-oriented establishments. The term
is also sometimes translated as research fellow, research associate,
The following ranks are known:
Junior Researcher (Junior
Senior Researcher (Senior
Leading Researcher (Leading
Chief Researcher (Chief
Cover of the first issue of Nature, 4 November 1869.
Academic publishing is a system that is necessary for academic
scholars to peer review the work and make it available for a wider
audience. The system varies widely by field and is also always
changing, if often slowly. Most academic work is published in journal
article or book form. There is also a large body of research that
exists in either a thesis or dissertation form. These forms of
research can be found in databases explicitly for theses and
dissertations. In publishing, STM publishing is an abbreviation for
academic publications in science, technology, and medicine.
Most established academic fields have their own scientific journals
and other outlets for publication, though many academic journals are
somewhat interdisciplinary, and publish work from several distinct
fields or subfields. The kinds of publications that are accepted as
contributions of knowledge or research vary greatly between fields,
from the print to the electronic format. A study suggests that
researchers should not give great consideration to findings that are
not replicated frequently. It has also been suggested that all
published studies should be subjected to some measure for assessing
the validity or reliability of its procedures to prevent the
publication of unproven findings. Business models are different in
the electronic environment. Since about the early 1990s, licensing of
electronic resources, particularly journals, has been very common.
Presently, a major trend, particularly with respect to scholarly
journals, is open access. There are two main forms of open access:
open access publishing, in which the articles or the whole journal is
freely available from the time of publication, and self-archiving,
where the author makes a copy of their own work freely available on
Main article: Funding of science
Most funding for scientific research comes from three major sources:
corporate research and development departments; private foundations,
for example, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation; and government
research councils such as the
National Institutes of Health
National Institutes of Health in the
USA and the Medical
Research Council in the UK. These are managed
primarily through universities and in some cases through military
contractors. Many senior researchers (such as group leaders) spend a
significant amount of their time applying for grants for research
funds. These grants are necessary not only for researchers to carry
out their research but also as a source of merit.
Social Psychology Network provides a comprehensive list of U.S.
Government and private foundation funding sources.
European Charter for Researchers
List of words ending in ology
List of countries by research and development spending
Participatory action research
Psychological research methods
Timeline of the history of scientific method
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