Author: Phillip Mazzotta
A research methodology plan is a written detailed explanation and description of what the researcher plans to do to attain their objective. The plan consists of steps and procedures that the researcher needs to undertake as well as content related to the topic to be researched.
What is research?
Research is a process that involves the collection, analyzation, interpretation, and evaluation of data. It is a way of thinking and systematic examination of the observed information to arrive at a hypothesis. Undertaking a research study means to find an answer to a problem in a systematic process which involves a set of philosophies or approaches as well as procedures, techniques, and methods that have been tested for their validity and reliability. A research should be valid, reliable, unbiased, objective and philosophical. It means that a research should adhere to an academic discipline. It should apply correct procedures in search of answers to a question and the quality of instrument used is accurate and repeatable. The research should also be taken in an impartial manner without any intentional attempt to conceal or emphasize something and without introducing your own interest as well. Research consists of systematic and careful investigation of phenomena to arrive at a certain truth.
Characteristics of Research
Research is a systematic process of collection, interpretation, analyzation, and evaluation of data. However, for an activity to qualify as research, it must have certain characteristics. Research must, as far as possible, be:
- Controlled – The researcher must set up their study in such a way that the effects of other factors (internal or external) are minimized.
- Systematic -The research must follow a procedure that is systematic and logical.
- Rigorous – The researcher has to be meticulous to ensure that the methods used to find the answers are pertinent, appropriate and acceptable.
- Critical – Methods and procedures used must be critically scrutinized to ensure that it is infallible and free from drawbacks.
- Valid – This means that whatever conclusion found based on the research findings is correct and can be verified by you and others.
- Empirical – The conclusion drawn from the research is based on hard evidence, which means it must be collected from real, authentic experiences or observations.
Types of Research
Aside from these three, research can still be classified and condensed into 3 perspectives:
- Pure research – Research that may or may not have practical application at the present or future time, but is academically taxing to the researcher. The purpose of this research is to add information to existing research methodologies.
- Applied research – This type of research is done to solve particular, realistic questions or problems for the intention of understanding phenomena or formulating a formula.
- Descriptive – Attempts to describe analytically or provide information about a situation, phenomena or a problem
- Explanatory – Attempts to give explanation as to why and how there is a relationship between two or more variables
- Correlational – Attempts to discover the existence of a relationship between two or more variables
- Exploratory – Undertaken to investigate an area where there is little known or to explore whether there is a likelihood of undertaking a particular research study
- Structured approach – Classified as a quantitative research. In structured approach, everything that forms the research process is predetermined – the objectives, design and even the questions to be asked to respondents.
- Unstructured approach – Classified as qualitative. The research process in unstructured approach is flexible in all aspects.
The Research Process
The research process involves practical steps through which the researcher must pass to arrive at an answer to research questions. During the process of research, methodology and procedures are needed to attain the objectives of the research. The researcher’s knowledge when it comes to research methodologies plays a critical role in the process of research.
Steps in Research Process:
- The research problem – Formulating the research problem is the first and most crucial step in the research process. It will determine almost every step that will follow.
- Review of Related Literature – This is important for the researcher to accustom himself to available research materials related to the research problem. Literature can be books, journals, researchers, studies, bibliographies, and theses.
- Development of objectives – This involves the formulation of the goals your study should be anchored to. Objectives are important for they inform the reader what the study is for.
- Preparing of research design – The research design is the theoretical structure with which the research will be conducted. It functions as a guide for the collection of essential information related to the study with minimal expenditure of time, effort, and money.
- Collection of data – After formulating the research problem, developing a research design and identifying the methods and procedures to be used, the next step will be collecting sufficient data from which the researcher can draw their conclusions and inferences for the study.
- Analysis of data – This involves processing and analyzing the collected data then organizing in a manner where the information can answer the question or give solution to the problem.
- Generalization – Here, the researcher puts the summary of all the findings of the research. It is here where all the data the researcher has been able to gather and then the conclusion found after the data has been interpreted is made. Recommendations may also be included in this section of the research methodology plan.
- Presentation of results – The research will then be presented to a panel for the researcher to defend the relevance of the study conducted.
The P’s of Research
These are the factors/indicators where the research problems generally revolve around:
- People – The group of individuals where the study is anchored with – either they are the subject or the object of the study.
- Problems – Certain issues that the study is aimed for
- Programs – Attributes, outcomes or content that can be an intervention
- Phenomena – Cause and effect relationship that may affect the problem
The research’s objectives are one of the most important parts of research. Proper formulation of objectives is important in order to be able to clearly go on the topic that should be studied. They should be worded clearly and specifically as they will state the overall purpose of the research.
The objectives must be listed under two headings which are:
- Main objectives
The objectives should be worded clearly and specifically to be able to communicate easily to the intended reader of the research. When writing objectives, one should use only action-oriented words or verbs. How the objectives are written will determine the type of research design the researcher will need to attain.
- In the beginning of the research, the researcher does not know the conclusion, but he may have a hunch as to what will happen. That hunch is the hypothesis which the researcher will have to prove or not. The verification process of the hypothesis can have three possible results: correct, partially correct or wrong.
The hypothesis brings clarity and focus to the problem, but it is not important. A research can stand on its own even without formulation of hypothesis. Hypothesis, however, proves to have some functions for the study.
- Provides focus on what specific aspects of the study the researcher has to examine
- Enhances objectivity in a research
- It enables the researcher to explicitly conclude what is true and what is not.
- It tells the researcher what data to collect and not to collect.
The research design provides the structure for the collection of information relevant to the study. The following considerations are important in the preparation of research design:
- Objectives of the research
- Methods of data collection – There are 2 types of data:
- Primary data – Data collected for the first time
- Secondary data – Data that have been collected and analyzed by someone else
- Source of information
- Instrument to be used for data collection
- Quantitative and qualitative data analysis
- Observation method – Structured, unstructured, participant observation, non-participant observation and disguised observation
- Survey method – Structured surveys, unstructured surveys and direct approach
- Contact method – Telephone interviewing, mail questionnaire, group interviewing and personal interviewing
Researchers draw conclusions about large groups by taking a sample from them. The sample is a selected part of the whole which will represent the group. The researcher will have to call for three decisions to design the sample. Those are:
- The people to be surveyed (the sample)
- The kind of data needed, where it can be found and the population size of people to be surveyed (sample size)
- The process of choosing the sample when the population is too large (sampling) – The process of choosing can be random (probability sample) or selected (nonprobability sample).
- Types of Samples
- Probability samples
- Simple random sample
- Stratified random sample
- Nonprobability samples
- Convenience sample
- Judgment sample
- Quota sample
Instruments for Data Collection – The Research Instrument
Construction of research instrument is important because the conclusions or findings of the study depend on the type of data collected by the research instrument. As such, the tool to be used should effectively and specifically target the information needed. A good research instrument must be valid, reliable and usable.
Guidelines to Constructing Research Tool
- Define and clearly list all the objectives, hypotheses and research questions to be tested.
- List all questions that might be related to the research’s objectives, hypotheses, and questions.
- Find out all information needed to answer the listed questions related to the research problem.
- Develop questions that will give the information needed for the research.
- The Questionnaire
The questionnaire is a set of questions prepared to be answered by the respondents of the research. It should be carefully developed and tested before it can be used on a large scale. There are three basic types of questionnaire:
- Open-ended – This type of questionnaire allows the respondents to answer the questions on their accord. It usually has a blank section for answering instead of boxes to check.
- Close-ended – This includes all possible answers or response and the respondents are only asked to choose among them based on the question presented. This type of questionnaire is usually used to generate statistics in quantitative research.
- Combination of both – As the name suggests, the questions in this type of questionnaire are a combination of both open-ended and close-ended questionnaires. It typically begins with a sequence of close-ended questions and then ends with open-ended ones.
Measurement is integral in research. The greater the refinement of the unit of measurement, the greater the assurance the researcher will have on the findings of the research. Here are the basic types of measurement scale:
- Nominal scale – Allows for classifications of objects, individuals or responses into subgroups based on similar characteristics
- Ordinal scale – Categorizes objects, individuals, and responses into subgroups and organizes it in a specific order
- Interval scale – The same as the ordinal scale, but uses a unit of measurement that has arbitrary starting and terminating points
- Ratio scale – Has the characteristics of nominal, ordinal and interval scales plus a fixed starting point which is at zero point.
Processing and analyzing of data involves a series of operations performed to summarize the collected data and organize it in a manner that they answer the research questions or problems. The data processing operations include:
- Editing – Examining the data collected to identify errors, omissions, and inconsistencies and to correct it if possible
- Classification – Arranging the data in groups or classes based on similar characteristics. The data can be classified according to attributes, similarity or numerical.
- Tabulation – Organizing and summarizing of data using tables or graphs. Tabulation allows for easy display and explanation of data even without a descriptive statement. Tabulation may be classified into simple or complex tabulation.
Methods of Data Analysis
- Quantitative data analysis – This type of data analysis is most suitable for large well designed and well-administered surveys with a properly constructed questionnaire.
- Qualitative data analysis – The researcher will have to undergo content analysis where he has to identify the main themes that appear from the responses of the respondents in qualitative data analysis as it is a considered to be a special process for analyzing data.
- Manual data analysis – If the size of the respondents is relatively small and there are not many variables to be measured, manual data analysis can be used. This is only for simple tabulations and calculating frequencies though.
- Computer data analysis – The researcher can also employ the use of a computer when analyzing the data, but he should be able to identify the correct program to be used for correct data analysis.
The Research Methodology Plan Outline
- Review of Related Literature
- related literature
- related studies
- foreign and local literature
- Rationale of the Problem
- problem statement/objectives
- theoretical/conceptual framework
- significance of the study
- scope and limitations of the study
- Research Methodology
- research design
- determination of sample size
- sampling design
- the subjects
- the research instrument
- validation of the research instrument
- data gathering procedure
- data processing method
- statistical treatment
- Schedule of Activities
- Curriculum Vitae