A model of the research process

Published on April 30, 2023   12 min

Other Talks in the Series: Key Concepts - Academic Research Methodologies in Business

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Hello, my name is Dr. Christina Quinlan. I work at The Graduate Business School at the Technological University of Dublin in Ireland. I'm going to talk to you today about a model of the research process.
The focus of this talk is on the model of the research process. It's a model that I developed from my teaching practice. The model is useful in that it provides a simple and a clear overview of the research process. It allows you to understand all of the steps in the process and, in addition, you can see how the steps in the process fit together. Please note that while the model suggests that the research process is linear, that is that it's straight lined, that is not the case. The researcher moves over and back through the steps in the process throughout the lifetime of the research project.
In this slide, I'm showing you a model of the research process. This model features in my textbooks on research methods and there are references to the textbooks at the end of this presentation. You might find the textbooks useful. As you can see in the model, you begin with an idea. It's a hunch, I suppose, for a research project, an idea for a research project and then you refine that idea. When you have refined that idea, then you state the research project in one sentence so that that sentence is a question or a statement. The process of going from the idea, which is a very big idea, typically for a research project to the precise research project that you, the researcher going to undertake is a process of key concept analysis. We engage with each concept in the research project and we try to refine our idea for our research project using that process of key concept analysis. I'm going to talk to you more about that, at a later talk. When you have the research statement or question refined and defined, then you develop a specific aim and a series of objectives for the research project. A discipline that I impose on researchers, is that I ask the researchers to restate their research statement or question as an aim. The research statement or question becomes the aim of the research project, and that's a really good discipline because it helps the researcher maintain their focus in the research project. The objectives then, for the research project, are the steps that the researcher intends to undertake in order to accomplish the aim of the research. Typically, in a research project, we have no less than two objectives and no more than six. The next step in the model is the literature review. In undertaking, a literature review, the researcher is reviewing literature in their field. Literature is research that has already been carried out and published. That literature is published in journal articles, and books, in government reports, in the reports of NGOs, that's non-governmental organizations, and in the reports of industry. As I explained, it seems that the literature review is the fourth step in the model in the research process. But that's not the case. As soon as a researcher knows that they're going to undertake research, they begin reviewing literature, and they continue reviewing that literature until the research project is complete. The next step in the model is to select methodology. Methodology is the broad approach to the research project. When the researcher outlines the methodology that they're going to use to undertake the research project, they're signaling a great deal of information about the research, how the research was undertaken, and the kind of knowledge that is going to be created through this research project. The next step is to devise data collection methods. These are the means by which the researcher is going to gather data for the research project. The researcher can gather secondary source data and, or, the researcher can create primary source data. Secondary source data is data that somebody else created for their purposes, but the researcher intends to use in their research project. Primary source data is data that the researchers creates themselves. Perhaps through the use of a questionnaire, a series of interviews, a focus group or a series of focus groups, and so on. The next step then in the process is to actually gather data. Then the researcher analyses that data and then draws conclusions, makes recommendations, if that's appropriate, and then completes the research project. Writes up the dissertation, thesis, or the report of the research and that's the model of the research process. If you are very familiar with the model of the research process and the steps in the model of the research process, then you have real research skills.