Before you begin thinking about your research, you should ask yourself a few questions.
Why did I decide to conduct some research?
If you answered this question because you were told to, either by your tutor or your boss, you should consider how you will stay motivated throughout your project. Research can be a time-consuming process. It is critical to maintain interest in what you are doing if you are to complete your project successfully. However, if you want to conduct research because something has piqued your interest or you have discovered a gap in the research literature, you are in luck and should not struggle with motivation.
How can I maintain my interest in my research?
The obvious answer is to pick a topic that interests you. Most of you have this option within the constraints of your subject – be creative and think about something that interests you. However, if you have been assigned a topic, try to select a research method that interests you.
How do I select a research method?
As you go on to read you will become more familiar with the different methods and should be able to find something in which you are interested.
You can begin by considering the following questions:
- Have you enjoyed school math? If so, maybe you would like to delve more deeply into statistical software or other types of data analysis?
- Have you ever participated in or interviewed a market researcher in a focus group? Would it be worthwhile to conduct your own focus groups or interviews?
- Was there a particular group of people who fascinated you? Do you want to dive into and learn more about their culture?
- Would you like to complete questionnaires? You want to design and perhaps carry out a mail or Internet survey your own questionnaire?
What are my personal characteristics that could help me finish my research?
When planning your research, consider your personal qualities, likes and dislikes, strengths and weaknesses.
The questions you have to ask are as follows:
- Do you get along well with others?
- Do you prefer face-to-face interaction or written communication?
- Do you like or dislike mathematics and statistics?
- Are people at ease with you and willing to confide in you?
- Do you enjoy calculating numbers?
- Do you enjoy conducting internet research?
What skills and experiences do I have that could be useful in my research?
If your research will be based on your employment, chances are you will have work experience that will be useful when conducting your research project. This is valuable experience, and you should capitalize on it when planning your research.
Even if your project is not related to employment, you will all have other skills and experience that will be useful. For example, if you’ve been a student for three years, you’ll have developed good literature search skills that will come in handy during the research process. Some of you may have honed your committee skills, organizational abilities, and time management abilities. All of these will come in handy during your research.
It is critical to consider your existing skills in relation to your proposed project because it will help you determine whether your knowledge, experience, and skills will assist you in addressing the problem you have identified.
Thinking About Your Project
Many research projects fail because people do not take enough time to consider the issues before diving into the work. It is critical to spend time thinking about your project before moving on to the planning stage. As your research progresses, careful thought should prevent you from wasting time and energy on ineffective methods. Consider the following scenario:
Westmann Amoeba was curious about his university town’s students’ housing experiences. He created and distributed a survey to 1,000 students. When the responses began to arrive, he realized that the questionnaires were not yielding the information he desired. When he discussed his concerns with his tutor, it became clear that Westmann Amoeba was particularly interested in attitudes toward, and experiences with, rented housing. Instead, he was only interested in how many students lived in private rented housing and whether they had “good” or “bad” experiences. The questionnaire prevented him from delving deeper into what these experiences were, how students dealt with them, and how these experiences influenced their attitudes toward private rented housing. His questionnaire was poorly designed and was not yielding this type of information.
To obtain more detailed information, Westmann Amoeba had to scrap the questionnaire and create a new one, which he combined with a number of one-on-one interviews. He’d spent three months designing and administering a questionnaire that hadn’t yielded the results he needed. He could have saved himself a lot of time and energy if he had spent more time thinking about the research, particularly understanding the difference between qualitative and quantitative research.