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Researchers do not simply observe a phenomenon or an issue and then out of thin air conjure wild ideas and inferences. Rather the process of research is a deliberate and careful observation, quantification, and analysis of data. In doing this process, the researcher draws upon several research tools to help him pursue his research project and push through to its conclusion. The following tools can assist a researcher in analyzing the data he will collect and enable him to merge them together into a coherent whole through the framework of the study that he established. These tools have been arranged according to the order of their usefulness in relation to the dissertation.
The Library and Its Resources
The library is a very important resource for the researcher. This is the first stop consulted by this researcher to understand the research topic. Through a careful and systematic searching of books and other materials, the dissertation’s introduction, review of literature and framework will be established.
Throughout history, people who became curious over the issues and phenomena in their societies have written down their ideas. For any serious writer who has already identified the topic that he wants to investigate, the library is the place where the researcher can check what has been written about the topic and how other researchers approached the research problem (Mann, 1998). In addition to that, he will learn the conflicting views and the prevailing issues in the research topic he has chosen.
In the library, the most important resources are the books that provide both general and specific information about the topic. Secondly, there are journals and periodicals that provide information about the recent undertakings in the field of study. By the time that this researcher finished studying what has been written in the library, he shall have been able to understand the major issues and point of views regarding the topic and would know how he can contribute to the better understanding of the phenomenon under study (Mann, 1998).
Techniques of Measurement
As mentioned earlier, research involves careful observation and measurement. Hence, there should be good techniques for the measurement of these observations, lest the research degenerate into guesswork and half-baked concepts and ideas. There are two broad categories of measuring observable phenomena: quantitative and qualitative techniques. Quantitative techniques usually target a large number of sample to have breadth while qualitative tends to delve more deeply into the phenomenon being considered (Creswell, 2003). One of the foremost quantitative analysis methods is the use of Statistics. These may be construed in either of two ways. Statistics make use of surveys or the researcher may also use published statistics. These statistics abound based from the studies conducted by governments and other private entities conducting research all over the world. As much as possible, it is best to use primary data so that the findings would be fresh and would serve as a kind of validation of previous research conducted on the same issue (Argyrous, et. al., 2005).
The Computer and Various Software
The next tool that will be used for the dissertation is the computer. Prior to the coming of the computer, people had to write either in longhand or by typing the rickety keys of the typewriter. Thankfully, the computer has made things easier. Hence, researchers are able to type and key in their ideas and outputs faster. In this generation, word processing has become very efficient and effective. Through the computer, there is now an easier way to input data and retrieve them readily. Because of the advent of the Internet, it has also become easier to gather information. E-mails, websites and other facilities of information technology has become easier to gather information and data (Dyke, Harding, & Lajeunesse, 2006). An example of this has been used by Bliven, Kaufman, & Spertus (2001) in analyzing health-related quality of life. Statistical analysis will be conducted using computer software.
The Human Mind and Language
The human mind and facility of language is not the last set of tools to be used by the researcher. Rather, they need to be used all throughout the study. The human mind is a great tool for processing information and analyzing the relationship between various factors and variables in the immediate environment of the researcher. Even at the face-value of observations, the human mind can form various connections, inferences, and assumptions about certain things.
When aided by great tools and techniques, the human mind is a great tool to understand phenomena and contribute to knowledge. This can be further enhanced by facility in language. Because the researcher would have to read tons of literature, studies and other materials relevant to the research, mastery and skillful use and understanding of language is imperative in conducting research. Furthermore, the researcher would have to deal with language in dealing with people and gathering data—survey questionnaires, content analysis and other types of measurement. There will be nuances and shades of meaning in these responses and data gathered. Facility with language is therefore a great help in detecting these nuances and understanding the data. These tools for research are indispensable for the researcher. The methodology for the dissertation will use all of these facilities with the exception perhaps of statistics as the dissertation will use a more qualitative approach to the study. All of these tools, if used effectively and discriminately, will contribute to a better result for the dissertation.
Research Tools and Methodology
These research tools enable the researcher to collect and handle the information that gathered. These tools help the researcher collect these data and present them in a format that would prepare them for analysis. The library, the computer and various software, as well as the techniques of measurement enable the researcher to handle and manipulate data. In addition, these tools also assist the researcher in the process of analyzing the data. Statistics software, data entry, and databases: all make the job of the researcher more manageable. However, such tools cannot help the researcher integrate these data into a coherent whole towards an answer to the research question. Data, together with the analyses derived from them, are still disconnected and cannot answer the questions posed by the research study. This is where methodology comes in. Methodology specifies the manner of the collection, handling and analysis of data. But more than that, the methodology enables the researcher to connect these data together. It helps the researcher identify relationships and trends among these data. In simplified language, the research tools are like the gardener’s tools to help prepare the soil and the plants. But the methodology specifies the design—the placement of the plants and other ornamental items. In the same way, the researcher uses research tools
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