Research… We all wonder about things, so how do we go about answering these questions? Aside from obtaining fundamental knowledge, research can help guide additional understanding in a field, answer practical questions, provide solutions, and guide further research. Almost everyone is familiar with some type of research whether it’s formal or informal, basic or applied.
So you’ve decided to do some research… but where do you start? Most areas of formal research require a fair bit of planning, funding, organization, even an ethics review or permission from government for example. How do you decide what to research? What is the purpose of your research and what do you hope to gain? First, you will need a good research question.
Some common themes emerge when we look at developing a research question:
- Is the question clear and logical?
- Is it testable or reproducible?
- Is it free of bias?
- Will it produce quality evidence?
When we develop research strategies, these qualities are important in developing and carrying out quality research. The goal is to produce strong evidence that answers your research question. Research is not about “proving” a theory, rather building evidence in support of a theory. If the research question is ill defined it will be difficult to reproduce. If the research question has bias it will not produce quality evidence. Research is about exploration of knowledge. When thinking about a research question, keep in mind the road to discovery may not lead where you expect. Keep an open mind and focus on obtaining quality evidence to answer the question.