Understanding the Research Process: A Beginner's Guide

Beth Bradford

October 28, 2022, 4:33:19 PM

This guide provides a high-level overview of the research process for beginners. It covers the basic steps involved in conducting research, from formulating a research question to writing a research paper.

Introduction

When you're looking for information, it's important to know where to start. The research process can seem daunting, but it doesn't have to be. Let us show you the basics.


The first step is to identify your topic of interest. Once you have a topic in mind, you need to find sources of information. This can be done in a number of ways, such as searching the internet, using library databases, or consulting experts in the field.


Once you have a few sources, it's time to start reading! Be sure to take notes as you go, and highlighted important passages. Once you've finished reading, it's time to analyze your sources and draw conclusions.


Finally, you need to present your findings. This can be done in a variety of ways, such as a research paper, presentation, or blog post.

What Is Research?

When you're starting out in any field, it's important to understand the basics. And research is no exception. So what is research, exactly?


Put simply, research is the process of gathering information. You might be researching a topic for a school project, or trying to gather data for a business proposal. But whatever the case may be, you need to know how to find the right information and how to use it effectively.


There are different ways to go about researching a topic, and it can take some time to figure out what works best for you. But with a little practice, you'll be able to find the information you need quickly and easily.

What Is the Scientific Method?

When you're conducting research, it's important to understand the scientific method. This is the process of objectively establishing facts through testing and experimentation.


The basic process involves making an observation, forming a hypothesis, making a prediction, conducting an experiment, and finally analyzing the results. The scientific method consists of five steps: making an observation, forming a hypothesis, making a prediction, conducting an experiment, and analyzing the results.


By understanding the scientific method, you'll be able to design experiments that will help you get to the bottom of things.

How Research Topics are Chosen

When you're starting out in your research journey, the first step is to identify and develop a topic. This involves doing some preliminary research to get a sense of what's already been written about the subject.


The next step is to narrow the focus and scope of the problem. This is where you'll do most of your digging, to make sure that your research is as specific as possible. The goal is to come up with a question that can be answered through empirical research.


So how do you go about doing that? It all comes down to asking the right questions and being willing to tackle complex issues. But more on that later...

What is a Hypothesis?

A hypothesis is a statement about what you expect to happen in a study. It is testable and allows for predictions to be made. For example, if you want to know whether watching television has an impact on academic performance, you would formulate a hypothesis statement such as this: "Watching television has a negative impact on academic performance."


Hypotheses can be derived from theories, but don't always have to be. In fact, many times hypotheses are generated through inductive reasoning, which is when you observe patterns and then form a hypothesis based on those observations. Exploratory studies don't require hypotheses, but they often do generate them.

What Constitutes an Experiment?

In scientific research, the experimental method is the most common way to study how variables are related. This approach involves changing one variable while keeping all other conditions constant. This allows researchers to determine if the change in one variable is actually responsible for any changes in another variable.


To do this, experimental research follows a specific scientific research design. This includes a hypothesis, which is a prediction about how two or more variables are related, and the controlled environment, which is essential for experimental research because it allows researchers to accurately measure the results.

How Do Researchers Analyze their Results?

When researchers analyze their results, they always start by reviewing their research goals. This is important for understanding the data results. After that, researchers need to display their data and results in a way that is easy to understand.

What Does It Mean When Results are Statistically Significant?

When you're looking at the results of a study, it's important to understand what "statistically significant" means.


Statistically significant findings show that there is an effect or relationship between variables being studied in a population, and that the results are unlikely to be due to chance. In other words, the findings are meaningful and not just a fluke.


A study result is statistically significant if the p-value of the data analysis is less than the prespecified alpha (significance level). This value is usually set at 5%, meaning that there's only a 5% chance that the findings could be due to chance.


Finding a statistically significant result is one way of determining that your data are worth paying attention to. But it's not the only thing you need to consider—you also need to look at the size of the effect.

What Happens if the Hypothesis isn't Supported?

So what happens if the hypothesis isn't supported?


Well, that's when things can get a bit tricky. If the data doesn't back up your hypothesis, it means you have to go back to the drawing board and rethink your project. This can be really frustrating, but it's all part of the learning process.


Without evidence, a scientific hypothesis is basically just a concept. It's not really considered proof until it's been tested and verified. And that's why it's so important to be rigorous in your research. You always want to be able to disprove your hypothesis, because that's the only way you can prove that your theory is correct.

What Does It Mean When a Study is Peer-Reviewed?

When you're looking at studies, it's important to know what kind of vetting process the research went through. One thing to look for is peer review.


This is when other experts in the same field are invited to take a look at the article and offer their opinion. The goal of peer review is to evaluate the paper's quality and academic scientific value.


Articles that have been peer reviewed are often considered the most reliable and reputable sources. So if you're looking for solid information, it's a good idea to stick to studies that have been through this process.

Conclusion

Congratulations on taking the first step in understanding the research process! This guide is designed to help beginners like you understand what goes into research, how to read and understand scientific papers, and how to ask scientific questions.


In future blog posts, we'll go over each step of the research process in more detail. For now, though, here's a quick overview:


The first step in any research project is to come up with a question to answer. This question can come from anything – your own observations, a problem you've seen in your community, or a question that's been puzzling you for years.


Once you've come up with a question, the next step is to gather information about it. This can be done in a variety of ways, but the most common is to read scientific papers on the subject.


Once you have a better understanding of the question, you can start designing experiments to answer it. These experiments can take many different forms, but the most common are lab experiments or surveys.


Once you have your data, it's time to analyze it and see what it tells you. This is where you start drawing conclusions about the question you asked.


Finally, you need to share your findings with the world. This can be done in a variety of ways, but the most common is to write a scientific paper.