Research, definition of -
Research is an activity to answer questions for which first new data have to be gathered and analyzed.
In many textbooks the author writes that researchers solve problems. However this is not an activity a researcher performs. A researcher collects and analyses (new) data so some else can solve the problem, or he presents a list of possible actions to solve the problem based on the gathered data, but he never solves the problem himself. The function of a researcher is much more an advisory.
Though problems are very often the starting point for a research, the research question is the guideline for the activities. Even a slight change in a research question will produce a totally different research and a totally different answer will be given.
In 1994 I created a schedule in which all activities of a researcher are visualized. Later on I wrote a book to explain every single detail based on this schedule. This book isn’t available anymore. Sorry. However the schedule is still there and most parts are explained in this dictionary.
In general all actions that should be taken to do (scientific) research are in accordance with this model:
1) Make clear what the problem is.
2) State a research question.
3) Describe the way to give an answer to this question by:
a) Describing the research design;
c) describing the instruments that will be used for gathering the information;
d) describing the way the data are going to be analyzed.
4) Gather the data.
5) Analyse the data.
6) Draw a conclusion.
7) Write it all down in a paper (or alternatives) and publish this information for general use.