Generally, research refers to a systematic study conducted by individuals or organizations. This is majorly a field in social sciences and is conducted to understand the various phenomena affecting human lives. Psychology, politics, economy, society, geography, etc., all follow dedicated research process steps to come out with path-breaking explanations for the social attributes of human beings.
Research is rigorous; only people with expertise can engage in fruitful research. However, you need to start somewhere if you wish to start a new research project and conclude it effectively.
Read on to learn the most crucial steps that help you streamline your research process.
Top Research Process Steps To Know
Decide the Topic of Research
Identifying the area of research is the first step involved in the research process. There are multiple topics on which a researcher can conduct research. The topic must be decided in advance to better plan the process.
- You first need to decide the nature of your research, i.e., the discipline of the research, political, economic, social, geographic, or multidisciplinary.
- Next, the subject of the research should be relevant and contemporary. You must understand the research process with example for better comprehension.
For instance, one cannot research the attitude of medieval kings in modern times. The research topic should also be narrowed down to the maximum limit so that specific attributes can concur. Generalizations based on the study of a small sample can prove to be drastically incorrect.
Decide the Mode of Survey
Researchers must first ascertain the general consensus on an issue before they may analyze it. For instance, asking people during an election would be necessary to learn how they vote. A variety of factors determines the method of choice like:
- Nature of study
- Availability of resources with the researcher
- Availability of resources with the respondents
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Prepare the Questionnaire
Once the survey mode is decided, the next step is to prepare the questionnaire. There will be slight changes in the formulation of the questionnaire depending on the mode of the survey. However, some characteristics need to be endemic to all questionnaires.
The questions should be short, crisp, and relevant to the study. They should not put the respondent or the enumerator in an uncomfortable situation. The language should be easy, and there is no harm in including local words to increase relatability.
Make sure to avoid double-barreled questions. There should be more and more close-ended questions. Besides the sequencing of the questions, ensure there are not too many questions.
Test the Questionnaire
A pilot survey should be conducted to test the efficacy of the questionnaire. A pilot survey is a mock survey that may occur by announcing or not announcing that it is just for testing purposes.
Evaluation of pilot surveys gives a researcher enough idea about whether the respondents understand the questions. If people are comfortable answering the questions, whether the question carries the same meaning across respondents, etc.
Train the Enumerators
Training the enumerator is one of the most significant research process steps. An enumerator is a person who conducts a field survey on behalf of a researcher. One wouldn’t need enumerators for telephonic or email-driven surveys, though. The enumerators need to be communicated the purpose of the study well.
Moreover, they need to be taught how to approach people and what kind of people they will be surveying. Enumerators should be well-versed in the local language and the language in which the questionnaire is prepared.
Also, they shouldn’t project their prejudices while a person is answering the questions and must themselves know how to fill in the questionnaire.
The next step has to sample the population. Sampling refers to selecting the target audience out of the whole population so that the survey can be conducted. To conduct a successful study, the sample must represent the target audience. This step needs to be done because it is only possible to interview some of the people in the population.
Then comes the primary plan of action, i.e., conducting the actual survey. A survey refers to reaching out to people and gathering their responses to the questionnaire.
Surveys can be conducted in a face-to-face interview where the enumerator goes to the sampled population, asks them the questions, and records their answers himself or online. There are other indirect ways of conducting surveys too.
Standardize the Results
Surveys for research are conducted by multiple people and at multiple locations. While close-ended questions will be standardized, it won’t be the case with open-ended questions.
Hence, once all the surveys are conducted, the results need to be standardized. Standardization promotes easier analysis of data because of its quantification.
Analyze the Results
Once the result is produced systematically, results need to be analyzed. It is fairly easy to analyze close-ended questions. One only needs to check the frequency of each response collected. If there is a clear winner among the options, it is easy to record the outcome as well as its reasons.
In other cases, researchers need to apply a more strategic approach. It is challenging to analyze open-ended or partially-closed questions quantitatively. For them, the researcher needs to analyze the received responses qualitatively.
After the whole study is conducted, presenting the results is often the last leg of the research process steps. You must project the frequency of certain kinds of responses using different elements. Tables and pie charts are the most common ways of data projection. However, more visually appealing options, such as bar graphs, can also be used.
Graphs and tables also need to be supplemented with explanations. The study should include open-ended questions so researchers can explain the plausible causes of a certain kind of result. And with this, the research is completed with a conclusive result drawn from the analysis.
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