CSIR study material - Research Methodology and Aptitude


Research - Definitions

Action research is a methodology that combines action and research to examine specific questions, issues or phenomena through observation and reflection, and deliberate intervention to improve practice.

Applied research is research undertaken to solve practical problems rather than to acquire knowledge for knowledge sake.

Basic research is experimental and theoretical work undertaken to acquire new knowledge without looking for long-term benefits other than the advancement of knowledge.

Qualitative research is research undertaken to gain insights concerning attitudes, beliefs, motivations and behaviours of individuals to explore a social or human problem and include methods such as focus groups, in-depth interviews, observation research and case studies.

Quantitative research is research concerned with the measurement of attitudes, behaviours and perceptions and includes interviewing methods such as telephone, intercept and door-to-door interviews as well as self-completion methods such as mail outs and online surveys.

Three basic types of questions that research projects:

When a study is designed primarily to describe what is going on or what exists. Public opinion polls that seek only to describe the proportion of people who hold various opinions are primarily descriptive in nature. For instance, if we want to know what percent of the population would vote for a BJP or Congress in the next election, we are simply interested in describing something.

Relational: When a study is designed to look at the relationships between two or more variables. A public opinion poll that compares what proportion of males and females say they would vote for a BJP or Congress candidate in the next election is essentially studying the relationship between gender and voting preference.

Causal: When a study is designed to determine whether one or more variables (e.g., a program or treatment variable) causes or affects one or more outcome variables. If we did a public opinion poll to try to determine whether a recent political advertising campaign changed voter preferences, we would essentially be studying whether the campaign (cause) changed the proportion of voters who would vote BJP or Congress (effect).

Time is an important element of any research design. The most fundamental distinctions in research design nomenclature: cross-sectional versus longitudinal studies. A cross-sectional study is one that takes place at a single point in time. In effect, we are taking a 'slice' or cross-section of whatever it is we're observing or measuring. A longitudinal study is one that takes place over time -- we have at least two (and often more) waves of measurement in a longitudinal design.

A variable is any entity that can take on different values. Anything that can vary can be considered a variable. For instance, age can be considered a variable because age can take different values for different people or for the same person at different times. Similarly, country can be considered a variable because a person's country can be assigned a value.

There is a distinction between an independent and dependent variable. In fact the independent variable is what you (or nature) manipulates -- a treatment or program or cause. The dependent variable is what is affected by the independent variable -- your effects or outcomes. For example, if you are studying the effects of a new educational program on student achievement, the program is the independent variable and your measures of achievement are the dependent ones.

A hypothesis is a specific statement of prediction. It describes in concrete (rather than theoretical) terms what you expect will happen in your study. Not all studies have hypotheses. Sometimes a study is designed to be exploratory.

CSIR study material - Research Methodology and Aptitude Part-2