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Introduction to Research Methodology


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This presentation material in PowerPoint is the first of an eleven-part package designed and used regularly for teaching research methodology to post-graduate students and research scholars. With a brief introduction to research and research methodology, the first part of the talk highlights what is research, the need for research, important terms used, the meaning and benefits of research methodology (especially to librarianship and project work of students). The talk enumerates scientific method and its basic postulates, qualities of good research, steps in conducting research, ethics of research and types of research/ research design. For part 2: Selection and formulation of research problem click

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Introduction to Research Methodology

  1. 1. Research Methodology PART 1 Introduction to Research & Research Methodology M S Sridhar Head, Library & Documentation ISRO Satellite Centre Bangalore 560017 E-mail: &
  2. 2. Preamble • Why did you choose research methodology ? • Understanding the concepts is important • Study materials are often incomplete & lack cohesiveness and integration • Suggested main reading : Kothari’s Research Methodology (see references at the end) M S Sridhar, ISRO Research Methodology 1 2
  3. 3. Synopsis 1. Introduction to Research & Research methodology 2. Selection and formulation of research problem 3. Research design and plan 4. Experimental designs 5. Sampling and sampling strategy or plan 6. Measurement and scaling techniques 7. Data collection methods and techniques 8. Testing of hypotheses 9. Statistical techniques for processing & analysis of data 10. Analysis, interpretation and drawing inferences 11. Report writing M S Sridhar, ISRO Research Methodology 1 3
  4. 4. Background Man coming to grips with his environment and to understand the nature through experience, reasoning and research 1. EXPERIENCE (Subsume a number of sources of information) Personal experience, i.e., body of knowledge and skills derived from encounters and acquaintance with facts and events in his environment Experience of others Sources beyond immediate circle, i.e., authoritative sources EXPERIENCE & AUTHORITY are richly fertile sources of hypotheses, but they are common sense knowing, often based on haphazard events and use loose & uncritical manner and hence not scientific Contd... M S Sridhar, ISRO Research Methodology 1 4
  5. 5. Background Contd. 2. REASONING Deductive (Aristotle) – From whole to part Inductive (Francis Bacon) – From number of observations Combined 3. RESEARCH Systematic, controlled, empirical & critical investigation of hypothetical propositions about the presumed relations among natural phenomena, I.e., Systematic & controlled Empirical Self-correcting Research is a combination of both experience & reasoning and must be regarded as the most successful approach to the discovery of truth (particularly in natural sciences) M S Sridhar, ISRO Research Methodology 1 5
  6. 6. Part I: Introduction to Research & Research Methodology Synopsis 1. Introduction to Research & Research • What is research ? methodology • Why research ? 2. Selection and formulation of • Terms used research problem Research Methodology 3. Research design and plan 4. Experimental designs Research Method 5. Sampling and sampling strategy or Research Technique plan • Research methodology 6. Measurement and scaling • Scientific method techniques 7. Data collection methods and • Benefits of research techniques methodology 8. Testing of hypotheses • Qualities of good research & 9. Statistical techniques for researcher processing & analysis of data • Research process 10. Analysis, interpretation and drawing inferences • Types of research 11. Report writing M S Sridhar, ISRO Research Methodology 1 6
  7. 7. What is Research ? 1. A voyage of discovery; A journey; An attitude; An experience; A method of critical thinking; A careful critical enquiry in seeking facts for principles 2. An art of scientific investigation • Scientific and systematic search for pertinent information on a specific topic • Process of arriving at dependable solutions to problems through the planned and systematic collection, analysis and interpretation of data 3. A systematized effort to gain new knowledge; A movement from the known to the unknown • Search for (new) knowledge/ facts through objective, systematic and scientific method of finding solution to a problem • Implicit question + Explicit answer + data to answer the question • Not synonymous with commonsense, but systematic, objective (purposeful), reproducible, relevant activity having control over some factors 4. An activity caused by instinct of inquisitiveness to gain fresh insight / find answers to question / acquire knowledge In a broad sense, everyone does research, but don’t write it up; Without trustworthy and tested published research available we are dangerously lost in the experience, opinions and hearsay M S Sridhar, ISRO Research Methodology 1 7
  8. 8. Why research ? 1. To get a degree 2. To get respectability 3. To face a challenge 4. To solve a problem 5. To get intellectual joy 6. To serve society • by increasing standard of living in case of S&T, and • by showing right path to society in case of Social and Behavioural Sciences M S Sridhar, ISRO Research Methodology 1 8
  9. 9. Terms Used 1. RESEARCH TECHNIQUE - Behaviour and instruments used in research operations Examples: Scales, recording techniques, content analysis, moving average, longitudinal / cross sectional collection of data, etc. 2. RESEARCH METHOD - Behavior and instruments used in selecting and constructing technique (a range of approaches used to gather data) Examples: Observation, questionnaire, interview, analysis of records, case study, etc. Methods are more general than techniques. Methods & Techniques are used in performing research operations, i.e.., Collection of data Statistical processing & analysis (tests) To evaluate the accuracy of the results obtained NOTE: Research techniques and research methods are almost interchangeably used M S Sridhar, ISRO Research Methodology 1 9
  10. 10. Research Methodology • A science of studying how research is done scientifically • A way to systematically solve the research problem by logically adopting various steps • Methodology helps to understand not only the products of scientific inquiry but the process itself • Aims to describe and analyze methods, throw light on their limitations and resources, clarify their presuppositions and consequences, relating their potentialities to the twilight zone at the ‘frontiers of knowledge’ M S Sridhar, ISRO Research Methodology 1 10
  11. 11. Benefits of Research Methodology 1. Advancement of wealth of human knowledge 2. ‘Tools of the trade’ to carry out research; Provides tools to look at things in life objectively 3. Develops a critical and scientific attitude, disciplined thinking or a ‘bent of mind’ to observe objectively (scientific deduction & inductive thinking); Skills of research will pay-off in long term particularly in the ‘age of information’ (or too often of misinformation) 4. Enriches practitioner and his practices; Provides chance to study a subject in depth; Enable us to make intelligent decisions; Understand the material which no other kind of work can match 5. As consumers of research output helps to inculcate the ability to evaluate and use results of earlier research with reasonable confidence and take rational decisions 6. Doing research is the best way to learn to read and think crically Contd... M S Sridhar, ISRO Research Methodology 1 11
  12. 12. Benefits of Research Methodology Contd... Additional benefits in case of librarianship: i. Helps to understand the ‘researcher’ as a user of library ii. Helps to learn how to use libraries & other information resources iii. Enables critical evaluation of literature iv. Develops special interests & skills v. Helps to understand attitude of others vi. Creates awareness of special needs of research process vii. Facilitates reference and information service M S Sridhar, ISRO Research Methodology 1 12
  13. 13. Benefits of Research Assignments to Students 1. Good assignments establish outcomes beyond a product to be evaluated 2. Good assignments help students to learn about their audience 3. Good assignments create scenarios that are rich in contextual information 4. Good assignments provide interim readers 5. As with any real project, good assignments give students time and a schedule of interim deadlines M S Sridhar, ISRO Research Methodology 1 13
  14. 14. Scientific Method • The method of all logically trained minds • The pursuit of truth as determined by logical considerations • Classifies facts, sees their mutual relation through experimentation, observation, logical arguments from accepted postulates • Tenets of scientific faith 1. DETERMINISM: Events have causes that events are determined by other circumstances (i.e.. Causal links can eventually be uncovered and understood) 2. EMPIRICISM: Verifiable by observation and ‘evidence’ (data) 3. PRINCIPLES OF PARSIMONY: Phenomenon should be explained in the most economical way possible 4. GENERALITY: More problematic in social & behavioral science than natural science M S Sridhar, ISRO Research Methodology 1 14
  15. 15. Basic Postulates of Scientific Method 1. Relies on empirical evidence (empiricism) 2. Utilizes relevant concepts 3. Committed to only objective considerations 4. Presupposes ethical neutrality 5. Results into probabilistic predictions 6. Methodology is made known to all for critical scrutiny and testing through replication 7. Aims at formulating most general axioms or scientific theories 8. Encourages rigorous, impersonal mode of procedure dictated by the demands of logic and objective procedure M S Sridhar, ISRO Research Methodology 1 15
  16. 16. Qualities of Good Research THE SCIENTIFIC METHOD EMPLOYED ENSURES: 1. Purpose/ objectives clearly defined in common concepts 2. Procedure enumerated to keep continuity 3. Carefully planned design leading to objective results 4. Complete frankness; flaws reported and their effect estimated 5. Adequate analysis of data with appropriate methods of analysis 6. Carefully checked data for validity & reliability 7. Conclusions confined to those justified by the data 8. Confidence, competence/ reputation, experience, honesty & integrity of researcher Note: 38% of papers in Nature and 25% of papers in BMJ contain one or more statistical errors; 4% of errors caused non-significant findings to be misrepresented as significant (The Economist, 5 June ’04, p 70-71) M S Sridhar, ISRO Research Methodology 1 16
  17. 17. Qualities of Good Research contd.. 1. SYSTEMATIC - Reject the use of guessing & intuition, but does not rule out creative thinking 2. CONTROLLED – Variables are identified & controlled, wherever possible 3. LOGICAL - Guided by rules of logical reasoning & logical process of induction & deduction 4. EMPIRICAL- Provides a basis for external validity to results (validation) 5. REPLICABLE - Verified by replicating the study 6. SELF CORRECTING - Built in mechanism & open to public scrutiny by fellow professionals contd.. M S Sridhar, ISRO Research Methodology 1 17
  18. 18. Research Process 1. Selection & formulation of Research Problem 2. Literature survey 3. Development of working hypotheses 4. Research design 5. Sampling strategy or sample design 6. Pilot (quick & dirty) study 7. Data collection 8. Processing & analysis of data 9. Testing hypotheses 10. Interpretation & generalisation 11. Preparation of the report NOTE: 1. Above steps are not exhaustive, nor mutually exclusive, but a series of closely related, continuously overlapping and interdependent nonlinear steps/ actions 2. What lies ahead is hard work as well as pleasure of the hunt; some frustration, but more of satisfaction; periods of confusion, but confidence that, at the end, it will all come together M S Sridhar, ISRO Research Methodology 1 18
  19. 19. Ethics of Research • As a profound social activity research connects us to those who will use it, to those whose research we used, through them, to the research that our sources used; Hence beyond technique, we need to think about ethics of civil communication • In addition to construction of bonds within any community, ethics deal with a range of moral and immoral choices; Research challenges us to define individual moral principles; Academic researchers are less tempted to sacrifice principle for a gain than commercial researchers Plagiarism, claiming credit for results of others, misreport sources or invent results, data with questionable accuracy, concealing objections that cannot be rebutted, caricaturing or distorting opposing views, destroy or conceal sources and data important for those who follow • Beyond simple moral Do not to what we should affirmatively do, i.e., concern for the integrity of the work of the community combined with narrow moral standards with the larger ethical dimension • Research done in the best interests of others is also in your own M S Sridhar, ISRO Research Methodology 1 19
  20. 20. Types of Research 1. DESCRIPTIVE/ SURVEY (EX- ANALYTICAL POST FACTO) • Uses facts or information already available and analyze to make a • Surveys & fact-finding critical evaluation enquiries • State of affairs as it exists • No control over variables • Try to discover causes (I.e., ex- post facto) FUNDAMENTAL (BASIC OR PURE) • Concerned with generalizations & 2. APPLIED formulation of theory • Finding a solution for an • Knowledge for knowledge’s sake immediate problem & not (I.e., pure or basic research) rigorous / flexible in application of the conditions contd…. M S Sridhar, ISRO Research Methodology 1 20
  21. 21. Types of Research contd… 3. QUANTITATIVE QUALITATIVE • Measured & expressed in terms of • Involves quality or kind quantity • Helps in having insight into • Expression of a property or problems or cases quantity in numerical terms • Quantitative research helps: i. Precise measurement ii. Knowing trends or changes overtime EMPIRICAL iii. Comparing trends or individual • Relies on experience or libraries / units observation alone, i.e.,data based research • Capable of being verified by 4 CONCEPTUAL observation or experiment • Related to some abstract idea or • Experimenter has control theory (for thinkers & over variables philosophers) contd… • Relies on literature M S Sridhar, ISRO Research Methodology 1 21
  22. 22. Types of Research contd… 5. OTHER TYPES i. One time/ Cross sectional vs Longitudinal/ Developmental & Trend or prediction studies (the time domain) ii. Field setting vs Lab / Simulation research iii. Clinical vs diagnostic studies iv. Exploratory vs Formulated (the degree of formulation of the problem) studies v. Historical studies (Greater part of it is quantitative) vi. Content Analysis is one such quantitative method – a multipurpose method developed specifically for investigating a broad spectrum of problems in which the contents of communication serve as a basis of inference. Example: word usage rates, word counts, etc. vii. Correlational research viii. Conclusion oriented or decision oriented research M S Sridhar, ISRO Research Methodology 1 22
  23. 23. Categorization of Research Design (Design Typology Criteria) 1. The degree of formulation of problem 6. The manipulation of the a. Exploratory or Formulated variables under study b. Descriptive, Diagnostic, Analytical a. Experimental (Hypothesis 2. The topical scope Testing ) b. Ex post facto a. Historical study b. Survey, Delphi 7. The nature of the Study c. Case study (History, Material), relationship among Accounts, Episodes, Story of experience variables d. Statistical study a. Causal/ Prediction b. 3. The search environment, I.e., the Descriptive/ Relational (i) field or lab setting Association (ii) Correlation a. survey or lab experiment 8. a. Conceptual ( Fundamental, 4. The time dimension Basic, Pure) b. Empirical (Applied, Action) a. Cross Sectional (One time) b. Longitudinal, Trend, Developmental 9. a. Conclusion oriented (Follow up or Cohort Studies in UK & b. Decision oriented Panel Studies in USA) 10. a. Qualitative b. Quantative 5. The mode of data collection a. Survey b. Observational M S Sridhar, ISRO Research Methodology 1 23
  24. 24. References 1. Anderson, Janathan, et. al. Thesis and assignment writing. New Delhi: Wiley, 1970. 2. Best, Joel. Damned lies and statistics. California: University of California Press, 2001. 3. Best, Joel. More damned lies and statistics; how numbers confuse public issues. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2004 4. Body, Harper W Jr. Marketing research: text and cases. Delhi: All India Traveler Bookseller, 1985. 5. Booth, Wayne C, et. al. The craft of research. 2 ed. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 2003. 6. Chicago guide to preparing electronic manuscripts: For authors and publishers. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1987. 7. Cohen, Louis and Manion, Lawrence. Research methods in education. London: Routledge, 1980. 8. Goode, William J and Hatt, Paul K. Methods on social research. London; Mc Graw Hill, 1981. 9. Gopal, M.H. An introduction to research procedures in social sciences. Bombay: Asia Publishing House, 1970. 10. Koosis, Donald J. Business statistics. New York: John Wiley,1972. 11. Kothari, C.R. Research methodology: methods and techniques. 2 ed., New Delhi: Vishwaprakashan, 1990. M S Sridhar, ISRO Research Methodology 1 24
  25. 25. References contd. 12. Miller, Jane E. The Chicago guide to writing about numbers. Chicago: the University of Chicago Press, 2004. 13. Rodger, Leslie W. Statistics for marketing. London: Mc-Graw Hill, 1984. 14. Salvatoe, Dominick. Theory and problems of statistics and econometrics (Schaum’s outline series). New York: McGraw-Hill, 1982. 15. Spiegel, Murray R. Schauim’s outline of theory and problems of statistics in SI units. Singapore: Mc Graw Hill , 1981. 16. Simpson, I. S. How to interpret statistical data: a guide for librarians and information scientists. London: Library Association, 1990. 17. Slater, Margaret ed. Research method in library and information studies. London: Library Association, 1990. 18. Turabian, Kate L. A manual for writers of term papers, theses, and dissertations. 6 ed. Chicago: The University of Chicago, 1996. 19. Young, Pauline V. Scientific social surveys and research. New Delhi: Prentice-Hall of India Ltd., 1984. 20. Walizer, Michael H and Wienir, Paul L. Research methods and analysis: searching for relationships. New York: Harper & Row, 1978. 21. Williams, Joseph M. Style: towards clarity and grace. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1995. M S Sridhar, ISRO Research Methodology 1 25
  26. 26. About the Author Dr. M. S. Sridhar is a post graduate in Mathematics and Business Management and a Doctorate in Library and Information Science. He is in the profession for last 36 years. Since 1978, he is heading the Library and Documentation Division of ISRO Satellite Centre, Bangalore. Earlier he has worked in the libraries of National Aeronautical Laboratory (Bangalore), Indian Institute of Management (Bangalore) and University of Mysore. Dr. Sridhar has published 4 books, 81 research articles, 22 conferences papers, written 19 course materials for BLIS and MLIS, made over 25 seminar presentations and contributed 5 chapters to books. E-mail:,, ; Phone: 91-80-25084451; Fax: 91-80-25084476. M S Sridhar, ISRO Research Methodology 1 26