A research project is the preliminary stage of good research, the absolute basis. When drawing up a research project, which can involve many pages depending on the case, attention is paid to all factors, even the most basic ones. It is important not to ignore or neglect anything, so as not to incur subsequent criticism and doubts about the quality of your research. A good practice is to draw up checklists to make sure that you have not forgotten anything crucial to the production of good research.
By completing the research project, the researcher chooses the strategies and methods that will be most functional for the topic and highlights the circumstances in which the research will be conducted. This task will take place before the work plan, which will be drawn up later and in a less explicit manner.
One of the problems in reading research reports is the terminology. Researchers use terms and jargon that might be incomprehensible to people who lack the knowledge of the topic at hand. It is the same in any field, where a specialized language is developed to facilitate communication between professionals.
How to develop a research project:
- The specific parameters of the object to be studied and the goal desired from the project are established;
- The instruments and methods by which the various stages of the process will be carried out are specified;
- The methodological choices made in each phase of the project are systematically justified and explained.
The approach adopted and the methods of data collection selected will depend on the nature of the survey and the type of information required.
Possible approaches used:
- Quantitative: used to test objective theories, variables can be measured with instruments and the analysis procedures are statistical. Data analysis in a deductive way: from axioms and postulates to derive demonstrations and explain phenomena.
- Qualitative: the researcher uses open-ended questions to explore and understand the meaning that individuals attribute to a social or human problem, so participants can share their opinions. Data analysis is inductive: the researcher will then interpret the meaning of the data, starting from details to general topics.
- Ethnographic: observation and detailed description of a certain environment and/or individuals, of certain experiences (e.g. rituals, ceremonies), daily events, behaviors, perceptions, and meanings related to them. It is about making sense of critical events.
- Survey: it aims to generalize from a sample to a population so that deductions can be made about some characteristics, attitudes, and behaviors of this population.
- Research-action: in general, it can be defined as an approach in which the researcher enters the field of study and together, with members of a social context, collaborates in the diagnosis of a problem and the development of a solution. For example, the researcher can be hired by a client to work on the diagnosis and solution of a problem in business and management contexts. Research may involve the collection of both qualitative and quantitative data.
- Mixed methods: the collection of both quantitative and qualitative data will provide a more complete understanding of a problem.
Each approach has its strengths and weaknesses, and each is particularly suitable for a particular context; once an approach is selected, the researcher can still move away from the methods normally associated with that style.
Bell, J., & Waters, S., (2014). Doing Your Research Project_ A Guide For First-Time Researchers (6th edn). Open University Press. Bryman, A., (2016). Social Research Methods (5th edn.). Oxford University Press. Creswell, J. W., (2014). Research design. Qualitative, quantitative and mixed methods approaches (4th edn.). Denscombe, M., (2014). The Good Research Guide. For small-scale social research projects (5th edn.). Open University Press. Hamid, M. E., (2013). How to Write a Research Proposal and a Thesis: A Manual for Students and Researchers (2nd edn.).