Researching

					        Researching
   “For all knowledge and wonder
(which is the seed of knowledge) is an
  impression of pleasure in itself.”
            - Francis Bacon
• The term research has been used in so
  many contexts and with such a variety
  of meanings which are not but mere
  misconceptions.
• Advertisements on television proudly
  boast that research has revolutionized
  a product when in reality a small
  change is made in the product
  designed for the appeal of customers.
• An assignment called “research paper”
  involves gathering information from
  books and encyclopedias and
  reorganizing & regurgitating it on a
  student-authored paper.
• These and other activities have been
  mislabeled as research.
• In order to understand what research
  is, let’s first know what research is not.
• Research is not just gathering information
  from books, encyclopedias and internet. A
  student going to the library and reading about
  behaviorism is not research.
• Research is not rearranging or regurgitating
  facts. A student writing a report on behavior
  of students in ESL class is not research.
• Research is not a sales pitch. A new improved
  toothpaste developed after years of research
  is rarely if ever real research.
• True research is a quest, driven by a
  specific question which needs an
  answer.
        What is Research
• Research requires the collection and
  interpretation of data in attempting
  to resolve the problem that initiated
  the research.
         The Research Process:
• The research process is the step-by-step
  procedure of developing one's research.
  However, one can seldom progress in a
  step-by-step fashion as such.
• Writing a research paper frequently
  requires continuous, and sometimes
  extensive, re-evaluation and revision of
  both one's topic and the way it is
  presented.
      Purpose of Research
1. To find out about a particular subject
  that has significance for you.
   The significance is the importance of the
  subject to you or your community.
  – Will the new method of recycling plastics
    make a profit for your company?
  – Will that new photocopier make the office
    run more smoothly?
2. To solve or eliminate a problem (why
  does the photocopier breakdown?)
3. To answer a question (what differences
  are there in photocopier technologies?)
• Two strategies that can be used:
   –Talking to the people (Primary
    sources)
   –Searching through printed
    information (Secondary sources)
      Questioning: the basic skill of
              researching
• Asking questions is fundamental to research.
• The answers are the facts you need.
• To learn about any topic, formulate questions.
  That will
  – help you investigate the situations effectively
  – Provide a basis for your report.
  For instance, the question “In what ways does our staff
    use the photocopier?” will not only produce
    important data but will also be the basis for a section
    on “Usage Patterns” in a report.
     How to discover questions
• There are several strategies for
  discovering helpful questions:
  1. Ask basic questions (lead you to the
    essential information about the topic)
     • What are the appropriate terms and their
       definitions?
     • What mechanisms are involved?
     • What materials are involved?
     • What processes are involved?
2. Ask questions about significance
 (help you “get the big picture” and
 grasp the context of topic)
  • Who needs it and why?
  • What is its end goals?
  • What controversies exist?
  • What alternatives exist?
  • What are the implications of those
    alternatives?
3. Consult the right sources (people or printed information
  that has the facts you need)
    • People who are involved in the situation can answer
      your basic questions and questions of significance.
       – They can give basic facts and identify their needs.
       – Facts can come from experienced users.
       – Information about needs come from people who
         use the product.
    • Printed information also answers basic questions and
      questions of significance, often more thoroughly than
      people.
       – Printed information includes everything printed:
         sales brochure, encyclopedias, reviews, etc.
  Collecting information from people

There are a number of ways to collect
  information from people:
1. Interview
2. Survey
3. Observe
4. Test &
5. Read
           1. Interviewing
To conduct an effective interview
   1. Prepare carefully
      • List several questions you think will produce
        helpful answer (structured interviews).
      • This will help you focus on the issue and
        discourage you and the respondent from
        digressing.
      • To generate list, brainstorm questions
        based on the basic and significance
        questions.
2. Maintain a professional attitude
  • Schedule an appointment for the
    interview, explaining why you need
    to find out what the respondent
    knows.
  • Make sure he/she knows that the
    answers you seek are important.
  • Most people are happy to answer
    questions for people who treat their
    answers seriously.
3. Probe
    • Most people know more than they say in their
      initial answers.
    • You must be able to get at the material that’s left
      unsaid.
    • Four common probing strategies are as follows:
        – Ask open ended questions.
        – Use the echo techniques (“Red really misses up
          a print run,” you respond with “Messes up?”)
        – Reformulate (repeat in your own words what
          the interviewee just said: “I seem to hear you
          saying…”)
        – Ask for a process description
4. Record
  • Write down answers in a form you can use
    later.
  • Record the answers legibly; avoid listing
    terms and abbreviations.
  • Ask people to repeat if you didn’t get the
    whole answer written down.
  • After the session, review your notes to
    clarify them so they will be meaningful
    later and to discover any unclear points
    about which you must ask more questions.
                  Surveying
• To survey people is to ask them to supply written
  answers to your questions
• It is used to receive answers from many people,
  more than you could possibly interview in the
  time allotted for the project.
• It has three elements:
  – A context setting introduction (why you chose this
    person to survey, what is your goal to collect info and
    how you will use the info)
  – Closed or open-ended questions (answers to close
    questions are easy to tabulate while answers to open
    questions can give you more insight) &
 Criteria for Writing Research Reports
Like all types of technical writing, writing
  from research requires you to
  1. Recognize your audience
  2. Use an effective style, appropriate to your
    reader and purpose
     • If your opinion is requested, you can provide it
       subjectively
     • If you are asked for the facts- and nothing but
       facts- your writing style should be more
       objective.
3. Use effective formatting techniques for
  reader-friendly ease of access
  • Highlighting techniques: bullets, numbers,
    headings, subheadings and graphics (tables &
    figures).
  • Overall organization (Introduction, Discussion &
    Conclusion).
  • Internal organization (various organizational
    patterns like problem/solution,
    comparison/contrast, analysis).
  • Parenthetical source citations
  • Works cited – alphabetical documentation of
    sources.
  4. Document your sources correctly
• Your readers need to know where you found
  your information and from which sources you
  are quoting and/or paraphrasing.
• Do not plagiarize. Plagiarism is the
  appropriation of some other person’s words
  and ideas without giving proper credit.
• Writers are often guilty of unintentional
  plagiarism. Cite your sources correctly to avoid
  intentional or unintentional plagiarism.

				
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