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Paper No.

: 13 Research Methods and Fieldwork

Module : 02 Research: Process and Design

Development Team

Principal Investigator Prof. Anup Kumar Kapoor

Department of Anthropology, University of Delhi

Dr. P. Venkatramana
Paper Coordinator
Faculty of Anthropology, School of Social Sciences,
IGNOU, Delhi

Mr. Laishram Ibohal Meitei

Content Writer Department of Anthropology
Manipur University, Manipur – 795003

Dr. Rashmi Sinha

Content Reviewer Faculty of Anthropology, School of Social Sciences,
IGNOU, Delhi

Research: Process and Design

Description of Module

Subject Name Anthropology

Paper Name Research Methods and Fieldwork

Module Name/Title Research: Process and Design

Module Id 02

1. Introduction
2. Research
2.1 Definition
2.2 Types of Research
3. Research Process
3.1 Methods of Data Collection
4. Research Design
4.1 Types of Research Design

Learning Objectives:
 To understand the concept of research and its purpose;
 To discuss the types of research;
 To enlighten the process of research and
 To highlight the conceptual structure of a research design.

Research: Process and Design

1. Introduction
Challenge to solve an unsolved problem is human nature. Man cannot tolerate facing an unknown
stimulation which subjects to affect his existence for long, he or she always tries to find a solution for
the problem which he or she meets. Any kind of scientific effort to find a solution for a problem is a
part of research and the whole effort of searching, gathering and analyzing for finding solution of
problem is a research. Research always begins with a question and the question usually arises from
known unsolved problem. Some people consider research as a movement, a movement from the known
to the unknown. It is actually a voyage of discovery. Collection and analysis of relevant data to answer
the question for unsolved problem are the fundamentals of research.

2. Research
2.1 Definition
There are various definitions of “Research” presented by various scholars and authors. Some of the
definitions of research are given below –
(i) Clifford Woody (1927) - Research comprises defining and redefining problems, formulating
hypothesis or suggested solutions; collecting, organizing and evaluating data; making deductions and
reaching conclusions; and at last carefully testing the conclusions to determine whether they fit the
formulating hypothesis.
(ii) Redman and Mory (1923) - Research is defined as a “systematized effort to gain new knowledge.”
Research is, thus, an original contribution to the existing stock of knowledge making for its
(iii) Creswell (2002) – “Research is a process of steps used to collect and analyze information to
increase our understanding of a topic or issue”.
Research consists of three steps such as
 pose a question,
 collect data to answer the question, and
 present an answer to the question.

Research: Process and Design

The purpose of research is to discover answers to questions through the application of scientific
procedures. The main aim of research is to find out the truth which is hidden and which has not been
discovered as yet.
2.2 Types of Research
Various research works are being taken up across the globe of today’s world. Some of the basic types
of research are discussed as follows:
i. Descriptive Research: Descriptive research includes surveys and fact-finding enquiries of
different kinds. The major purpose of descriptive research is to make description of the state of
affairs as it exists at present and the researcher has no control over the variables. Researchers can
only report what has happened or what is happening.
ii. Analytical Research: It uses facts or information already available, and analyze these to make a
critical evaluation of the material. It does not include any surveys or fact-finding enquiries of
different kinds.
iii. Applied Research: Applied research aims at finding a solution for an immediate problem facing a
society or an industrial/business organization. It tries to discover a solution for some pressing
practical problem.
iv. Fundamental (Basic or Pure) Research: Fundamental research is mainly concerned with
generalizations and with the formulation of a theory. It is also defined as “Gathering knowledge
for knowledge’s sake is termed ‘pure’ or ‘basic’ research” (Pauline V. Young, 1966). Research
concerning some natural phenomenon or relating to pure mathematics are examples of
fundamental research.
v. Quantitative Research: Research carried out through measurement of quantity or amount is
known as quantitative research. Those phenomena that can be expressed in terms of quantity are
tested or verified by the quantitative research.
vi. Qualitative Research: It is concerned with qualitative phenomenon, i.e., phenomena relating to
or involving quality or kind. For example, qualitative research is especially important in the
behavioural sciences where the aim is to discover the underlying motives of human behaviour.

Research: Process and Design

Motivation Research is an important type of qualitative research which aims at discovering the
underlying motives and desires, using in depth interviews for the purpose.
vii. Conceptual Research: It concerns with abstract, idea(s) or theory. It is generally used by
philosophers and thinkers to develop new concepts or to reinterpret existing ones.
viii. Empirical Research: Empirical research relies on experience or observation and it is data-based
research, coming up with conclusions which are capable of being verified by observation or
experiment. It is also known as experimental type of research.


Empirical Conceptual

Applied Research Qualitative

Analytical Quantitative

Figure 1: Types of Research

3. Research Process
All the actions involved in finding solution of problem or actions involve in answering a research
question can be divided into different steps. Such systematic series of steps that are necessary for
carrying out a research effectively can be termed as “Research Process”. Hence, research process
consists of series of actions or steps necessary to effectively carry out the research. An illustration of
research process is shown in Figure 2.

Research: Process and Design

Figure 2: Chart showing a Research Process
(Adapted from Kothari, 2012)

(i) Identification of Problem

In every research, the first and foremost step is to identify a problem that he or she wants to
study. Area of interest or aspect of a subject-matter is identified and there are two essential
steps involved in formulating the research problem, viz.,
understanding the problem thoroughly, and
rephrasing the same into meaningful terms from an analytical point of view.
(ii) Review of Literatures
It is the examination of available literatures related with the research problem. Critical review
of relevant literatures are made to present the documentation of the existence of the problem
and to know how it is manifested, who it affects and involves, what roles and interests the
involved actors have, the historical background to the problem (including what has led to the
actual situation), and the problem’s complexity (what it consists of and what it is a part of)

Research: Process and Design

(Dahl et al., 1999). Review of literature are made from the available data such as abstracting
and indexing journals, published or unpublished bibliographies, conference proceedings,
government reports, books and so on.
(iii)Framing of Objectives
Objectives of the study are made after critically reviewing the relevant literatures. The choice
of objectives should be relevant and justified to the research problem. Moreover, the
objectives of the research should focus on concepts and problems mentioned in the literature
review or problem analysis.
(iv) Formulation of Hypothesis
Hypothesis of the research study are formulated in order to draw out and test the logical or
empirical consequences of the research problem. It is the statement of prediction, tentative
guesses and assumptions. The role of the hypothesis is to guide the researcher by delimiting
the area of research and to focus on the important facets of the problem. Hypothesis also helps
in indentifying the type of data required and the type of methods of data analysis to be used.
(v) Data Collection
Sample designing are done before the commencement of data collection to obtain a sample
from the given population. It is a definite plan determined to select the sample before any data
are actually collected. Samples can be either probability samples or non-probability samples.
The probability samples are those with each element has a known probability of being
included in the sample. Such samples are base on simple random sampling, systematic
sampling, stratified sampling, cluster or area sampling. In contrast, non-probability samples
do not allow the researcher to determine the probability of being included in the sample and it
is based on convenience sampling, judgment sampling and quota sampling techniques.
(vi) Data Analysis
The analysis of data requires a number of closely related operations such as coding of the raw
data, establishment of categories, tabulation, and drawing statistical inferences using well
defined statistical formulae. In the process of analysis, findings should be subjected to tests of
significance to come up with significant conclusion.

Research: Process and Design

(vii) Hypothesis-testing
The hypotheses may be tested through various tests such as Chi square test, t-test, or F-test
depending upon the nature and object of research inquiry. Hypothesis-testing will result in
either accepting the hypothesis or in rejecting it.
(viii) Generalizations and interpretation
Generalization is to build a theory from the findings after testing the hypothesis. As a matter
of fact, the real value of research lies in its ability to arrive at certain generalizations. On the
other hand researchers might also seek to explain the findings on the basis of other available
theory. Such explanation is known as interpretation. The process of interpretation may quite
often trigger off new questions which in turn may lead to further researches.
(ix) Preparation of the report
A report has to be prepared after generalizations and interpretation of the findings.
Preparation of a report requires careful considerations keeping in view the following points:
 Layout of the report – it includes the preliminary pages; the main text, and the end
portion. Preliminary page of the report should include research title, time and duration,
acknowledgements, foreword table of contents followed by a list of tables and list of
graphs and charts, if any, given in the report. The main text of the report may be divided
into the following parts viz. introduction, materials and methods, summary of findings,
discussion and conclusion. At the end of the report, appendices, reference or
bibliography (i.e. consulted list of books, journals, reports, etc.) and index should be
enlisted in the end of the report..
 Report should be written in a concise and objective style in simple language avoiding
vague expressions such as ‘it seems,’ ‘there may be’, and the like.
 Charts and illustrations in the main report should be used only if they present the
information more clearly and forcibly.
 Calculated ‘confidence limits’ must be mentioned and the various constraints
experienced in conducting research operations may as well be stated.

Research: Process and Design

(x) Submission of Report
Submission of report is the final step in research process. The final report is to be submitted to the
concerned authorities or agencies for necessary action. On the other side, the final findings can also
be communicated for publication in newspapers, magazines or journals.

3.1 Methods of Data Collection

Methods of data collection depend on the type of data to be collected that is either primary or
secondary or both. Mostly, primary data are collected through field work (surveys) and
experiments whereas secondary data are obtained from earlier records. Usually in field survey
(Field work), data can be collected by any one of the following ways -
i. Observation: This method implies the collection of information by observation, without
interviewing the respondents. The information obtained relates to what is currently happening
in the studied population. Only limited information can be obtained by this method and it is not
suitable in inquiries where large samples are concerned.
This observation method of data collection can be approached in two ways such as participant
observation and non-participant observation. In participant observation method the researcher
observes and collects data from issues or events or occasions by directly participating as a
member of the society or an agent of the issues. On the other hand researcher observes and
collects data from the issues of society without participating as a member of the society. Data
obtained from participant observation are much more reliable than that of non-participant
ii. Personal interview: This method follows a rigid procedure and seeks answers to a set of pre-
conceived questions through personal interviews. This method of collecting data is usually
carried out in a structured way where output depends upon the ability of the interviewer to a
large extent.
iii. Telephone interview: This method of collecting information involves contacting the
respondents on telephone itself. This is not a very widely used method but it plays an important

Research: Process and Design

role in industrial surveys in developed regions, particularly, when the survey has to be
accomplished in a very limited time.
iv. Mailing of questionnaires: In this method, questionnaires are mailed to the respondents with a
request to return after completing the same. It is the most extensively used method in various
economic and business surveys. Questionnaire are prepared very carefully and pretested to
understand its weakness (if any) before applying this method to get relevant information.
v. Schedules: In this method, information is collected by filling up the schedules containing
relevant questions by the investigators on the basis of replies given by respondents.

4. Research Design
A research design is the set of methods and procedures used in collecting and analyzing measures of
the variables specified in the research study. It is a plan that specifies the sources and types of
information relevant to the research problem. Research design is a strategy specifying which approach
will be used for gathering and analyzing the data. It also includes the time and cost budgets since most
studies are done under these two constraints. The design of a study defines the study type such as
descriptive, co-relational, experimental, descriptive-longitudinal case study, experimental design and
so on. Moreover, research design also defines the data collection methods and a statistical analysis plan
according to the nature of the research problem or hypothesis. It is the framework or blue print for
conducting research in an efficient manner that has been created to find answers to research questions
According to Claire Selltiz and others (1962), “A research design is the arrangement of conditions for
collection and analysis of data in a manner that aims to combine relevance to the research purpose with
economy in procedure.” The function of research design is to provide the collection of relevant
evidence with minimal expenditure of effort, time and money. Some important characteristics of a
good research design are flexibility, adaptability, efficiency, appropriate, economical and so on. The
research design which minimizes bias and maximizes the accuracy and reliability of the collected data
and analyzed to have minimum errors as possible is considered a good research design. The most
important requirement of a good research design is that it should provide adequate information so that

Research: Process and Design

the research problem can be analyzed on a wide perspective. Some of the major questions that one
should keep in mind while designing a new good and well planned research includes – appropriate type
of study design, objective of the study, type of data, sample size, method of data collection, time-place-
duration of the study, appropriate analysis of the collected data, interpretation, expected outcomes and
its application, expenditure and feasibility of the study etc. In brief, a research design must, at least,
contain a clear statement of the research problem; procedures and techniques to be used for gathering
information; the population to be studied; and methods to be used in processing and analyzing data.

4.1 Type of Research Design

(i) Descriptive
Descriptive research designs provide answers to the questions of who, what, when, where, and how
associated with a particular research problem. However, it is not able to give a definitive answer. It is
used to obtain information concerning the current status of the phenomena and to describe what exists
with respect to the variables. It includes case study, observation and surveys.
(ii) Correlation
It is a specific type of non-experimental design used to describe the relationship between or among
variables. It provides empirical evidence suggesting two or more variables are – or are not – related.
(iii) Cross Sectional and Longitudinal
Cross sectional study design measure different subjects only once at a particular time period to
understand the process of change in a short time period. On the other hand, longitudinal studies follow
the same subject over time and makes repeated observations. Cross sectional study design provides a
clear snapshot of the outcome and characteristics associated with it, whereas, longitudinal study design
describe patterns of change and establish the direction and magnitude of causal relationships.
(iv) Experimental
It is concerned with examination of the effect of independent variable on the dependent variable where
the independent variable is manipulated through treatment or intervention(s) and the effect of those
interventions is observed on the dependent. It consists of three important characteristics such as
manipulation, control, and randomization.

Research: Process and Design

(v) Semi-Experimental
It involves the manipulation of independent variable to observe the effect on dependent variable.
However, it lacks at least one of the two characteristics of the experimental research design that is
randomization or a control group.

Research Design

[Case-study, naturalistic observation, survey]

[Case-control study, observational study]

Cross Sectional & Longitudinal

[Experiment with random assignment]

[Field experiment, quasi-experiment]

Metal Analytic
[Meta analysis]

[Literature Review, Systematic Review]

Action Research Design

Figure 3: Types of Research Design

(vi) Meta Analytic

It is an analytical methodology designed to systematically evaluate and summarize the results from a
number of individual studies, thereby increasing the overall sample size and the ability of the
researcher to study effects of interest. It is not simply summarize existing knowledge but to develop a
new understanding of a research problem using synoptic reasoning. The main objectives of meta-


Research: Process and Design

analysis include analyzing differences in the results among studies and increasing the precision by
which effects are estimated.
(vii) Review
It is a systematic and explicit method to identify, select and critically analyses relevant research
studies. It helps in providing comprehensive summary of literatures relevant to a research question.
(viii) Action Research Design
Action research design is a collaborative and adaptive research design that is directly applied in the
society. It focuses on pragmatic and solution-driven research outcomes rather than testing theories.

Research is a systematic scientific searching, gathering and analyzing for finding solution of a
problem. It is a movement from the known to the unknown. Actually it is a voyage of discovery. It
consists of three steps such as to pose a question, collect data to answer the question, and present an
answer to the question. The purpose of research is to discover answers to questions through the
application of scientific procedures. The main aim of research is to find out the truth which is hidden
and which has not been discovered as yet. Research has been classified into different types based on
the nature of data as well as the research problem viz. descriptive, analytical, applied, fundamental,
quantitative, qualitative, conceptual, and empirical research. The above researches are carried out
effectively through systematic series of steps called research process. Such series of steps in research
process includes identification of problem, review of literatures, framing of objectives, formulation of
hypothesis, data collection, data analysis, hypothesis-testing, generalization and interpretation,
preparation of report and submission of report. Research needs to be plan and design before carrying
out the work. A research design is a set of methods and procedures used in collecting and analyzing
measures of the variables specified in the research problem. It constitutes the blueprint for the
collection, measurement and analysis of data. The function of a research design is to ensure that the
evidence obtained enables effectively address the research problem logically and as unambiguously as


Research: Process and Design