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Unformatted text preview: Research Methodology Unit 2 Unit 2 Selection and Formulation of a Research Problem Structure 2.1 Meaning of Research Problem Objectives 2.2 2.3 2.4 Choosing the problem Review of Literature Formulating the problem 2.4.1 Internal Criteria 2.4.2 External Criteria 2.5 2.6 2.7 Objective of Formulating the Problem Techniques involved in Formulating the Problem Criteria of Good Research Problem Self Assessment Questions I 2.8 2.9 2.10 Summary Terminal Questions Answers to SAQs and TQs 2.1 Meaning of Research Problem
Research really begins when the researcher experiences some difficulty, i.e., a problem demanding a solution within the subject-are of his discipline. This general area of interest, however, defines only the range of subjectmatter within which the researcher would see and pose a specific problem for research. Personal values play an important role in the selection of a topic for research. Social conditions do often shape the preference of investigators in a subtle and imperceptible way. Sikkim Manipal University Page No. 16 Research Methodology Unit 2 The formulation of the topic into a research problem is, really speaking the first step in a scientific enquiry. A problem in simple words is some difficulty experienced by the researcher in a theoretical or practical situation. Solving this difficulty is the task of research. R.L. Ackoffs analysis affords considerable guidance in identifying problem for research. He visualizes five components of a problem. 1) Research-consumer: There must be an individual or a group which experiences some difficulty. 2) Research-consumer’s Objectives: The research-consumer must have available, alternative means for achieving the objectives he desires. 3) Alternative Means to Meet the Objectives: The research-consumer must have available, alternative means for achieving the objectives he desires. 4) Doubt in Regard to Selection of Alternatives: The existence of alternative courses of action in not enough; in order to experience a problem, the research consumer must have some doubt as to which alternative to select. 5) There must be One or More Environments to which the Difficulty or Problem Pertains: A change in environment may produce or remove a problem. A research-consumer may have doubts as to which will be the most efficient means in one environment but would have no such doubt in another. Objectives: After studying this unit you should be able to understand: The meaning of Research Problem Choosing the problem Review of Literature Criteria for formulating the problem
Page No. 17 Sikkim Manipal University Research Methodology Unit 2 Objective of Formulating the Problem Techniques involved in Formulating the Problem Criteria of Good Research Problem 2.2 Choosing the Problem
The selection of a problem is the first step in research. The term problem means a question or issue to be examined. The selection of a problem for research is not an easy task; it self is a problem. It is least amenable to formal methodological treatment. Vision, an imaginative insight, plays an important role in this process. One with a critical, curious and imaginative mind and is sensitive to practical problems could easily identify problems for study. The sources from which one may be able to identify research problems or develop problems awareness are: Review of literature Academic experience Daily experience Exposure to field situations Consultations Brain storming Research Intuition 2.3 Review of literature
Frequently, an exploratory study is concerned with an area of subject matter in which explicit hypothesis have not yet been formulated. The researcher’s task then is to review the available material with an eye on the possibilities of developing hypothesis from it. In some areas of the subject matter,
Sikkim Manipal University Page No. 18 Research Methodology Unit 2 hypothesis may have been stated by previous research workers. The researcher has to take stock of these various hypotheses with a view to evaluating their usefulness for further research and to consider whether they suggest any new hypothesis. Sociological journals, economic reviews, the bulletin of abstracts of current social sciences research, directory of doctoral dissertation accepted by universities etc afford a rich store of valuable clues. In addition to these general sources, some governmental agencies and voluntary organizations publish listings of summaries of research in their special fields of service. Professional organizations, research groups and voluntary organizations are a constant source of information about unpublished works in their special fields. 2.4 Formulating the problem
The selection of one appropriate researchable problem out of the identified problems requires evaluation of those alternatives against certain criteria, which may be grouped into: 2.4.1 Internal Criteria Internal Criteria consists of: 1) Researcher’s interest: The problem should interest the researcher and be a challenge to him. Without interest and curiosity, he may not develop sustained perseverance. Even a small difficulty may become an excuse for discontinuing the study. Interest in a problem depends upon the researcher’s educational background, experience, outlook and sensitivity. 2) Researcher’s competence: A mere interest in a problem will not do. The researcher must be competent to plan and carry out a study of the problem. He must have the ability to grasp and deal with int. he must possess adequate knowledge of the subject-matter, relevant methodology and statistical procedures.
Sikkim Manipal University Page No. 19 Research Methodology Unit 2 3) Researcher’s own resource: In the case of a research to be done by a researcher on his won, consideration of his own financial resource is pertinent. If it is beyond his means, he will not be able to complete the work, unless he gets some external financial support. Time resource is more important than finance. Research is a time-consuming process; hence it should be properly utilized. 2.4.2 External Criteria 1) Research-ability of the problem: The problem should be researchable, i.e., amendable for finding answers to the questions involved in it through scientific method. To be researchable a question must be one for which observation or other data collection in the real world can provide the answer. 2) Importance and urgency: Problems requiring investigation are unlimited, but available research efforts are very much limited. Therefore, in selecting problems for research, their relative importance and significance should be considered. An important and urgent problem should be given priority over an unimportant one. 3) Novelty of the problem: The problem must have novelty. There is no use of wasting one’s time and energy on a problem already studied thoroughly by others. This does not mean that replication is always needless. In social sciences in some cases, it is appropriate to replicate (repeat) a study in order to verify the validity of its findings to a different situation. 4) Feasibility: A problem may be a new one and also important, but if research on it is not feasible, it cannot be selected. Hence feasibility is a very important consideration. 5) Facilities: Research requires certain facilities such as well-equipped library facility, suitable and competent guidance, data analysis facility,
Sikkim Manipal University Page No. 20 Research Methodology Unit 2 etc. Hence the availability of the facilities relevant to the problem must be considered. 6) Usefulness and social relevance: Above all, the study of the problem should make significant contribution to the concerned body of knowledge or to the solution of some significant practical problem. It should be socially relevant. This consideration is particularly important in the case of higher level academic research and sponsored research. 7) Research personnel: Research undertaken by professors and by research organizations require the services of investigators and research officers. But in India and other developing countries, research has not yet become a prospective profession. Hence talent persons are not attracted to research projects. Each identified problem must be evaluated in terms of the above internal and external criteria and the most appropriate one may be selected by a research scholar. 2.5 Objective of Formulating the Problem
A problem well put is half-solved. The primary task of research is collection of relevant data and the analysis of data for finding answers to the research questions. The proper performance of this task depends upon the identification of exact data and information required for the study. The formulation serves this purpose. The clear and accurate statement of the problem, the development of the conceptual model, the definition of the objectives of the study, the setting of investigative questions, the formulation of hypothesis to be tested and the operational definition of concepts and the delimitation of the study determine the exact data needs of the study. Once the exact data requirement is known, the researcher can plan and execute the other steps without any waste of time and energy. Thus formulation
Sikkim Manipal University Page No. 21 Research Methodology Unit 2 gives a direction and a specific focus to the research effort. It helps to delimit the field of enquiry by singling out the pertinent facts from a vast ocean of facts and thus saves the researcher from becoming lost in a welter of irrelevancies. It prevents a blind search and indiscriminate gathering of data which may later prove irrelevant to the problem under study. It helps in determining the methods to be adopted for sampling and collection of data 2.6 Techniques involved in Formulating Problem
The problem selected for research may initially be a vague topic. The question to be studied or the problem to be solved may not be known. Hence the selected problem should be defined and formulated. This is a difficult process. It requires intensive reading of a few selected articles or chapters in books in order to understand the nature of the problem selected. The process of defining a problem includes: 1. Developing title: The title should be carefully worded. It should indicate the core of the study, reflect the real intention of the researcher, and show on what is the focus e.g., “Financing small-scale industries by commercial banks.” This shows that the focus is on commercial banks and not on small-scale industries. On the other hand, if the title is “The Financial Problem of Small-scale industries”, the focus is on small-scale industries. 2. Building a conceptual model: On the basis of our theoretical knowledge of the phenomenon under study, the nature of the phenomenon, its properties / elements and their inter-relations should be identified and structured into a framework. This conceptual model gives an exact idea of the research problem and shows its various properties and variables to be studied. It serves as a basis for the formulation of the objectives of the study, on the hypothesis to be tested. In order to
Sikkim Manipal University Page No. 22 Research Methodology Unit 2 workout a conceptual model we must make a careful and critical study of the available literature on the subject-matter of the selected research problem. It is for this reason; a researcher is expected to select a problem for research in his field of specialization. Without adequate background knowledge, a researcher cannot grasp and comprehend the nature of the research problem. 3. Define the Objective of the Study: The objectives refer to the questions to be answered through the study. They indicate what we are trying to get through the study. The objectives are derived from the conceptual model. They state which elements in the conceptual modelwhich levels of, which kinds of cases, which properties, and which connections among properties – are to be investigated, but it is the conceptual model that defines, describes, and states the assumptions underlying these elements. The objectives may aim at description or explanation or analysis of causal relationship between variables, and indicate the expected results or outcome of the study. The objectives may be specified in the form of either the statements or the questions. 2.7. Criteria of Good research Problem
Horton and Hunt have given following characteristics of scientific research: 1. Verifiable evidence: That is factual observations which other observers can see and check. 2. Accuracy: That is describing what really exists. It means truth or correctness of a statement or describing things exactly as they are and avoiding jumping to unwarranted conclusions either by exaggeration or fantasizing. Sikkim Manipal University Page No. 23 Research Methodology Unit 2 3. Precision: That is making it as exact as necessary, or giving exact number or measurement. This avoids colourful literature and vague meanings. 4. Systematization: That is attempting to find all the relevant data, or collecting data in a systematic and organized way so that the conclusions drawn are reliable. Data based on casual recollections are generally incomplete and give unreliable judgments and conclusions. 5. Objectivity: That is free being from all biases and vested interests. It means observation is unaffected by the observer’s values, beliefs and preferences to the extent possible and he is able to see and accept facts as they are, not as he might wish them to be. 6. Recording: That is jotting down complete details as quickly as possible. Since human memory is fallible, all data collected are recorded. 7. Controlling conditions: That is controlling all variables except one and then attempting to examine what happens when that variable is varied. This is the basic technique in all scientific experimentation – allowing one variable to vary while holding all other variables constant. 8. Training investigators: That is imparting necessary knowledge to investigators to make them understand what to look for, how to interpret in and avoid inaccurate data collection. Self Assessment Question I 1. ––––––––––––––––– is the first step in research. 2. Journals are ––––––––––––– of research problems. 3. Internal criteria of research problem consist of –––––– and –––––– . Sikkim Manipal University Page No. 24 Research Methodology Unit 2 2.8 Summary
Research really begins when the researcher experiences some difficulty, i.e., a problem demanding a solution within the subject-are of his discipline. The formulation of the topic into a research problem is, really speaking the first step in a scientific enquiry. The selection of one appropriate researchable problem out of the identified problems requires evaluation of those alternatives against certain criteria, which may be grouped into internal criteria and external criteria. A problem well put is half-solved. The primary task of research is collection of relevant data and the analysis of data for finding answers to the research questions. The problem selected for research may initially be a vague topic. The process of defining a problem includes: Developing title Building a conceptual model Define the Objective of the Study Horton and Hunt have given following characteristics of scientific research: Verifiable evidence Accuracy Precision Systematization Objectivity Recording Controlling conditions 2.9 Terminal Questions
1. How is a research problem formulated? 2. What are the sources from which one may be able to identify research problems?
Sikkim Manipal University Page No. 25 Research Methodology Unit 2 3. Why literature survey is important in research? 4. What is the classification of research problems? 5. What are the criteria of good research problem? 2.10 Answers to SAQs and TQs
SAQ 1. Selection of a problem 2. Sources of problem 3. Researcher’s interest and competence TQs 1. Section 4 2. Section 2.3 3. Section 2.3 4. Section 2.6 5. Section 2.7 Sikkim Manipal University Page No. 26 ...
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This note was uploaded on 04/15/2010 for the course MBA mba taught by Professor Smu during the Spring '10 term at Manipal University.
- Spring '10