WHAT IS RESEARCH ?
Research is a systematic process of collection and analysis of data and later on its interpretation so as to find solutions to a problem or any event around us (Fig.1.1).
TYPES OF RESEARCH
Basically research is of two types, i.e. empirical and theoretical (Flow chart 1.1 for the classification of research). Empirical approach is based upon observation and experience, while theoretical is based upon theory and abstraction. Both empirical and theoretical research complement with each other to develop an understanding of the phenomenon, predict future events and prevent harmful events for the general welfare of the population of interest.
Empirical research is further divided into qualitative and quantitative.
This type of research is context based. Here there is an inquiry with the goal to understand a social or human problem so build up a complex and holistic picture of the phenomena of interest. The researcher interprets the results of perspectives or information taken from subjects.
In logic, we often refer to the two broad methods of reasoning as the deductive and inductive approaches.
Deductive reasoning works from the more general to the more specific approach. Sometimes this is informally called a “top down approach”. Inductive reasoning works the other way, moving from specific observations to the broader generalizations and theories, called “bottom up” approach. Qualitative research is the inductive form.
There are three types of qualitative research, i.e. case studies, ethnographic studies and phenomenological studies.
Case study is a descriptive study of a single entity with respect to time and entity.
Ethnographic study is a study of a cultural group in a natural setting. A cultural group could be group of people who share a common location or any common social experience, e.g. prisons in jail or cultural group of Muslims.
Phenomenological study is a human experience of a small group of people over a long period of time.
In quantitative research reality is studied objectively by the researcher. Theory or hypothesis is tested by using numbers and analyzed by statistical methods. This type of research is based on deductive form of logic. Ultimately, the researcher develops generalization and contributes to theory.
Three different types of quantitative research are experimental, quasi-experimental and surveys.
In experimental type of research, there is random assignment of subjects to experimental conditions. The results are compared with controls.
Quasi-experimental studies are similar to experimental studies with the exception that there is nonrandomized assignment of subjects to experiments.
Surveys are cross-sectional studies using questionnaires or interviews with an intent of estimating the characteristics of a larger population based on a smaller group from that population. Health science research mostly deals with quantitative type of research approach.
STEPS TO CONDUCT RESEARCH
Research is a systemic process starting from selection of research topic and ends at reporting the research findings at local/international journals or scientific meeting. The Table 1.1 gives details about various steps and relevant purposes in conducting research.
SELECTION OF RESEARCH TOPIC
Main Criteria for Selecting a Research Topic
There are seven criteria for selecting a research topic.
Relevance: Here consider the prevalence of the problem in which you are interested. In other words, how big is the problem.
Innovation: It is good to look into a new problem but it is not always possible to work or search for new problems as you may have limited resources. Thus, you can work on the old problem but with a different perspective.
Feasibility: It means the availability of different resources that you may need to carry out the research project. It includes manpower, money, material, machinery, skills and time, etc.
Acceptability: It is important to consider whether your proposal will be supported by the local authorities or not. It also includes the acceptability of the procedure or the method that you are going to apply on the community as certain communities have certain social boundaries that may hamper in your research procedure.
Cost-effectiveness: Consider whether the resources which you are spending are worthwhile, for example, in terms of decline in morbidity/mortality rates or length of stay in hospital.
Ethical consideration: It includes informed consent, beneficence, nonmaleficence (do no harm), and confidentiality of information taken, etc.
Applicability of possible results and recommendations: Is it likely that the recommendations from the study will be applied? This depends not only on the blessing of the authorities but also on the availability of resources for implementing the recommendations. The opinion of the relevant stakeholders (i.e. potential clients and of the responsible staff) will influence the implementation of recommendations as well.
SCALE FOR RATING RESEARCH TOPICS
Every criterion that is mentioned above is graded from 1 to 3, 1 being low, 2 means medium, while 3 stands for high (Table 1.2). Hence, the maximum score that is possible for any topic is 21. The topic for which there is highest score should be chosen.
RESOURCES OF LITERATURE SEARCH
Relevant scientific literature could be searched through internet, medical journals, conference literature, newspaper or documents of government or nongovernment organizations. Usually internet is used as the process is quick, reliable and freely accessible.
Through internet one can link with library catalogues, online databases, like MEDLINE and a number of biomedical journals.
Researchers should give adequate time in conducting literature search as this will help in writing a good quality of synopsis and dissertation.
Before using internet for literature search, the researcher should set the keywords for the topic of interest.
Suppose a researcher wants to work on the complication nephropathy, among diabetic patients who are hypertensive. The keywords are diabetes, hypertension and nephropathy.
After opening the PubMed window by directly entering www.pubmed.com or http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/PubMed/, the first keyword (diabetes) in the search bar (for) is entered. Approximately 160000 research papers will be displayed which is not manageable (Fig.1.2).
After entering the second keyword (hypertension), the number of articles have also narrowed down to 16057 but still it is a very large figure (Fig.1.3).
After entering the third keyword (nephropathy), the number of articles will narrow down to just 3010 which is manageable (Fig.1.4).
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