In this article, we outline the research process, which we will relate to assessment in our next article. Research is a systematic and orderly collection and analysis of information with an ultimate purpose of making useful decision to solve a problem or generate a new knowledge.
The research starts with the title which tells the reader what the research is all about. It is important that it be both brief and descriptive of the research, written in simple language and tackles only one issue.
The introduction is the next step. It includes the literature review, problem statement or background, purpose, significance, and the research questions. The literature review evaluates literature of related studies and gives background to the area of research. It should reveal what is known, what has been done, how it was done, and the gaps within the body of knowledge to be able to situate the research.
Next is the research problem that describes why the research is conducted, who the problem affects, and how the research project will contribute to solving it. Research questions are subsequently formulated to address the research problem.
The methodology which includes the research design, sample, instrumentation, procedure and data collection is the next step. The research design is simply a plan for selecting subjects or participants, research sites, instruments, and data collection procedures to answer the research questions.
Although it is ideal to collect data from the population, it is practically impossible due to costs, and logistics. Consequently, data is collected from the sample, which is the proportion of the subjects, taken from the population using techniques to ensure representativeness. The population should have a common characteristic, for example, Maize Farmers in Boteti district.
Data is collected using instruments such as tests, questionnaire, or rating scales which should be piloted to ensure accurate data collection. Researchers must adhere to research ethics when collecting data which include informed consent, anonymity, voluntary participation, and confidentiality.
Data analysis is a way of reducing huge data collected into manageable proportions, using appropriate methods, without losing any information. In quantitative research, statistical methods are employed to analyse data descriptively and inferentially, while qualitative data is analysed by sorting, coding and thematically, then presented verbatim or in thick descriptions.
Analysed data is presented and interpreted in the results section. The results provide the summary details about what was found. Note that data analysis in qualitative research is intertwined with data collection. That is analysis is conducted simultaneously with data collection. So there is no distinction between the two steps.
Sometimes it is not easy to separate the discussion from result section, especially in the qualitative research. Otherwise in this section, discussion is limited to results reported above. The meaning of the results is explained and related to those of previous studies.
The conclusion serves to help the reader understand why the research should matter to them. The conclusion can address opposing viewpoints and explain why readers should align with the stated opinion. It should remind the readers of the strength and impact of the argument presented.
Finally, clear and conscience recommendations written using actionable words are made. Recommendations should display a solution-oriented approach and in some cases highlight the scope for further research. The inclusion of an action plan along with recommendation adds more weightage to the recommendations.
The references section lists all the consulted sources. There should be a one-to-one match between the references cited in the report and the references listed in the reference section. Sometimes appendices will be needed to provide additional information such as raw data or interview transcripts.
Yes, It’s possible!