While both of these are tools used during research, they are not sufficient for research.
These don’t represent some kind of linear plan, but are rather common characteristics shared by almost all legitimate research regardless of the venue by which that research was conducted.
The concept of “important” questions is subjective and will depend on who you ask as well as the purpose of the research. For instance, PhD students have a different “bar” than Masters students owing to the requirement that their research be “original and significant.”
The first case is really an exercise in data gathering and doesn’t contribute new knowledge. The same argument holds for the second case. The third case is a mathematical statement but doesn’t address the reasons for the correlation (which might lead to new knowledge). A similar argument applies to the fourth case.
If other researchers can’t confirm your results, you may be faced with having studied an anomaly. Similarly, without a solid plan, you might have inadvertently introduced errors into the experimental design which immediately calls your results into question.
There are very few “perfect” research designs where some flaws aren’t present. That’s normal. However, these flaws must be documented as well as their possible impact on the outcome. While this won’t stop reviewers from criticizing the work, it makes it clear that you are aware of the problems and their impact upon your work.
Many of us have professional experience which can lead to possible research. Always be careful to differentiate between research and self-enlightenment. A lot of computer literature, particularly research journals such as IEEE or ACM, show good research problems and possible sources of future work. Such future work can provide a good starting point for research projects. The same groups also host professional conferences. DePaul has a student chapter of the ACM that might provide a good source of inspiration for research. Many of the faculty here at DePaul have all kinds of problems that they’re trying to solve.
When documenting the proposed research, you should be as precise as you can. You’ll probably find yourself editing and revising many times to attain the necessary level of precision and clarity.
Documenting the delimitations is just as important as documenting the intended research. In essence, the problem and delimitations describe the scope of the project. Keep the delimitations in mind as you move forward. Current delimitations might provide avenues for valuable future work.
The accurate and consistent measurement of some phenomenon is called validity and reliability respectively.
Many times the ability of a researcher to justify the importance of their research topic is directly proportional to their ability to receive funding. This basically requires good salesmanship.
There are some basic variations on this theme, but all of these areas will be covered. This format serves to crystalize your thought process and to help ensure that no critical elements of your research have been neglected.
Some journals include IEEE and ACM. Be careful of trade journals; they’re often not peer reviewed which can call the content into question in terms of its reliability and quality. The bibliography could be a Word document, Excel spreadsheet, or bibliographic database. Even if the article doesn’t directly pertain to your current project, it might provide you with ideas.
We’ll try to give some guidelines as to how to choose starting and stopping points during your research work. Please keep in mind that the following steps don’t have to be slavishly followed in the sequence in which they are presented.
The literature review is often a good source for additional ideas. This is also a good place to go in conjunction with the prior step; there’s no point in wasting good brain cells coming up with hypotheses that solve a problem that has already been adequately addressed.
Keep in mind that just because you didn’t find a solution today, doesn’t mean that one won’t show up tomorrow. This is one of the reasons that researchers are always reading and trying to keep up to date with current trends.
A statement of causality is very difficult to demonstrate because there often many other confounding factors. For an example of this, do a quick bit of reading on the hoops researchers had to go through while trying to show a causal link between smoking and certain kinds of cancer.
The choice of methodology might be governed by the kind of research being conducted. For example, the hard sciences tend to favor quantitative methodologies whereas the social sciences often gravitate toward qualitative approaches. It’s quite common for both methodologies to be used during the course of a single research project.
These are some the differences in the intent and approaches between quantitative and qualitative research. There are other significant differences in approach as well, but these are some of the highlights. Keep in mind that research design is not a simple task.