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.