Handbooks of Research Methods and Applications series
Edited by Robert Stimson
Chapter 4: Approaches to conducting research
As discussed in Chapter 1, research is about generating new information to improve our understanding about social and economic phenomena, events and situations and human behaviours, and to help explain their occurrence. It is about explaining why, when, where and how those things occur. To do that we need data about those things we are investigating. What we need to ensure is that we have confidence that the data we are using to generate information is accurate, valid and reliable, and that the results of our analysis will be meaningful vis-à-vis the research question being investigated. As an information-generating process, research tends to be goal-oriented. When undertaking research, the aim is not to wander at random or chaotically, but to proceed towards an objective. The path may be direct or indirect. Research activities designed to generate information includes those concerned with: · formulating the research question; · developing a research design; · gathering existing and collecting new data; · testing hypotheses relating to data sets; · analysing data; · creating, testing or evaluating problems; · generating, testing or evaluating theory; · understanding interactions; and · making predictions.
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