What is Research?


Research is a systematic inquiry that investigates hypotheses, suggests new interpretations of data or texts, and poses new questions for future research to explore.

Research is a process to discover new knowledge. “A systematic investigation ( i.e., the gathering and analysis of information) designed to develop or contribute to generalizable knowledge.” The National Academy of Sciences states that the object of research is to “extend human knowledge of the physical, biological, or social world beyond what is already known.” Research is different than other forms of discovering knowledge (like reading a book) because it uses a systematic process called the Scientific Method.

The Scientific Method consists of observing the world around you and creating a hypothesis about relationships in the world. A hypothesis is an informed and educated prediction or explanation about something. Part of the research process involves testing the hypothesis , and then examining the results of these tests as they relate to both the hypothesis and the world around you. When a researcher forms a hypothesis, this acts like a map through the research study. It tells the researcher which factors are important to study and how they might be related to each other or caused by a manipulation that the researcher introduces (e.g. a program, treatment or change in the environment). With this map, the researcher can interpret the information he/she collects and can make sound conclusions about the results.

Research consists of:

  • Asking a question that nobody has asked before;
  • Doing the necessary work to find the answer; and
  • Communicating the knowledge you have acquired to a larger audience.

Research can be done with human beings, animals, plants, other organisms and inorganic matter. When research is done with human beings and animals, it must follow specific rules about the treatment of humans and animals that have been created by the U.S. Federal Government. This ensures that humans and animals are treated with dignity and respect, and that the research causes minimal harm.

No matter what topic is being studied, the value of the research depends on how well it is designed and done. Therefore, one of the most important considerations in doing good research is to follow the design or plan that is developed by an experienced researcher who is called the Principal Investigator (PI). The PI is in charge of all aspects of the research and creates what is called a protocol (the research plan) that all people doing the research must follow. By doing so, the PI and the public can be sure that the results of the research are real and useful to other scientists.

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Research Definition:

Systematic investigative process employed to increase or revise current knowledge by discovering new facts.

It is divided into two general categories:

  1. Basic research is inquiry aimed at increasing scientific knowledge, and
  2. Applied research is effort aimed at using basic research for solving problems or developing new processes, products, or techniques.

Research helps to foster faculty-student collaboration within and outside the university. You have the opportunity to share in a professional researcher’s work, to learn how he or she formulates a significant question, develops a procedure to investigate it, obtains research funding and other resources, gathers and examines evidence, follows hunches, and evaluates and shares results with the scientific community.

Getting involved in research allows you to draw together classroom learning and particular interests to contribute to the design and execution of a research project.

Explore this website to learn about workshops, funding, and other support available.

Aims of Research

The general aims of research are:

  • Observe and Describe
  • Predict
  • Determination of the Causes
  • Explain

Steps of Research Method:

Activities are involved in Research?

In practice, research methods vary widely, depending upon the academic discipline’s accepted standards, the individual researcher’s preferences, or a particular study’s needs. Research in science and engineering often involves conducting experiments in the lab or in the field. Research in the arts, humanities, and social sciences may include archival work in the library or on the internet, conducting surveys or in-depth interviews, and a wide range of creative and artistic projects- from costume design to playwriting to curating a fine arts exhibit.

Research is not a solitary activity –but an act of community. As a member of the research community, you build on the knowledge that others have acquired and provide a road map for those who follow. You add to a body of work that will never be complete. Research is an ongoing, collaborative process with no finish line in sight.

Should I opt for research as career?

To determine if research is right for you, consider the following:

  • Are you interested in a more thorough exploration of a subject you are already familiar with?
  • Are you interested in being introduced to a new subject?
  • What motivates you? Trying what others have never done? Getting to know faculty better? Exploring the real-world by undertaking research with an external organization?
  • What do you hope to gain from the research experience? Do you want to help create new information and knowledge? Practice or develop new skills?
  • Do you want to test your skill sets in a professional setting to determine your likes and dislikes?
  • Are you hoping this experience will help you decide whether to attend graduate or professional school?
  • Do you have time for a 10-15 hour/week commitment? Can you commit during the quarter, multiple quarters, or summer?
  • Do you wish to receive academic credit?
  • Do you want/need a salary/stipend/scholarship?
  • Are you willing to do volunteer work?

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