Research is a systematic process to describe, explain or predict an observed event. The research method involves collecting and documenting information, analyzing the information and interpreting the data. Researchers evaluate knowledge around a topic, test whether a question or hypothesis is correct, share that information with others and use data to generate new questions and advance science.
Research should be:
- Valid – based in logic and impartial.
- Accurate – detailed, complete, striving to be error-free.
- Reliable – information and conclusions should be able to be reproduced by others.
- Timely – information is current and collected within a given time frame.
The Research Process
The basis of a scientific research study follows a common process. This provides the general format for scientists to communicate and share results of their research studies with one another through scientific presentations and publications.
- Identify and define the problem. Why is this study important? What is the problem or question being examined?
- Gather information. Review resources and literature about the topic. What do we already know about the problem or situation?
- Form a hypothesis. Generate an idea or assumption to propose an explanation to answer a question based on current available information. This is the starting point for further investigation. The hypothesis is generated before any research experiments have been conducted.
- Perform experiments and collect data. Determine what data will help support or reject the proposed hypothesis. What data should be collected and how should the study be conducted? Define the methodology and perform the experiments (i.e. procedures, instrumentation, participants).
- Analyze the data. What are the results? What does the data show?
- Interpret the results. What conclusions can be drawn from the results? What are the implications of the data? How do the data agree or disagree with previous research studies? What are the limitations of the study? What questions remain? What new questions result from the research?
- Communicate the results. Research study results are reported and shared with others through scientific presentations and publications including communication with the general population.