2 Research Process

Learning Objectives

After completing this session, you will be able to:

  • explain the research process.

The research process involves a series of steps that systematically investigates a problem that an organization is facing. The research process involves translating that research idea into an answerable question.

The steps in the research process are


The initial step is identification of the problem or the opportunity. As business today operate on high volatile situations governed by various factors. So, management need to constantly asses their relative position and identify various problem areas that they need to work upon in order to sustain in the market.

Well defined problem always give researcher a proper direction for conducting research and utilize the resources effectively. If a company wants to find out the reason for declining revenue it needs to explore their research problem through exploratory research.

It is under taken in the initial stages of research process which is an informal method that helps in defining the problem. It involves evaluating the existing studies on related topics. The exploratory research is done using the following methods secondary data, previous research, experience survey and case study methods

is a data that has previously been collected and may be tabulated by other sources. It is an effective means of research where collection is too costly or infeasible, and secondary data is available at a level of analysis suitable for answering the researcher’s questions.

Previous research is a research to see whether other researchers have already addressed similar problems. A search of published work is called literature review. There is tremendous amount of information available in libraries, online sources, or even commercial databases. Sources can include newspapers, magazines, books from library, documents from government agencies; specific topic related articles, literature, Annual reports, published statistics from research organizations etc.

Pilot study is a small scale research project that collects data from respondents similar to those to be used in the full study.

Case research is an in-depth investigation of a problem in one or more real-life settings (case sites) over an extended period of time. Data may be collected using a combination of interviews, personal observations, and internal or external documents.

research is a type of research that involves bringing in a small group of subjects (typically 6 to 10 people) at one location. The discussion is moderated and led by a trained facilitator, who sets the agenda and poses an initial set of questions for participants, makes sure that ideas and experiences of all participants are represented, and attempts to build a holistic understanding of the problem situation based on participants’ comments and experiences.

Experience surveys are important for the researchers to find the new ideas. Hence, research is usually conducted by interviewing people who have an interest in the subject being researched. The experienced person will give the necessary direction for the researchers to focus on.

Define Research Problem

A well-defined problem is half solved. A research project without defining the right problem is as meaningless as journey. Once the research problem is identified and defined clearly, a formal statement containing the research objectives must be developed.

Research Objectives

The objectives of the research should be in a formal research statement. Objectives act as guidelines for various steps in research process and therefore they have to be developed by analyzing the purpose of research thoroughly. They should be very brief and specific with limited number.

Developing the Hypothesis

For a research question some hypotheses are developed. A hypothesis is a statement on some presumption about the existence of a relationship between two or more variables that can be tested through an empirical data. Hypothesis may not be developed for every question.

To understand the above stated steps the following examples is illustrated

Problem Identification – Lack of students in distance classes

Define the Problem – To study why students do not attend distance education classes at a college

Research Question – Does the use of web technology in the classroom deter students from enrolling in a distance education class?

Research Objectives

To find the students’ reasons for attending sessions

To find students’ reasons for not attending sessions

To find the necessary actions that the university or its instructors should take that would motivate students to increase their attendance in the online sessions

Research Hypothesis

Attendance in online sessions is associated with usage of various web technologies in the classroom.


Research design can be defined as the plan and structure of enquire, formulated in order to obtain answers of research questions. A good research design results in good results with minimum time, cost ad effort. A well formulated research design acts as a bridge between the methods of study to achieve the final objectives. In research design the methods to carry out the research are qualitative and quantitative methods or both the methods

use Inductive research approach. It is most common method that is used as there is no theory to test. It is developed on the following steps with an example

Observation – Metro train is delayed

Pattern – It is observed that another 30 metro trains are delayed

Theory– Metro trains are always delayed

The drawback of this method is it is it is not proven but it can be invalidated. Example we observed 200 metro trains. All of them experience a delay, which is in line of theory which was developed above. However, it can never prove that metro train 201 will also be delayed. so the larger the dataset, more reliable conclusions can be drawn.

Qualitative Research use Deductive research approach

Deductive research start with a theory as deductively means testing these theories. If there is no theory it is not possible to conduct deductive research.

Theory– Metro trains are always delayed

Hypothesis– Passengers travel with metro train will always experience delays

Observation – Collect metro trains’ data (Collect data to test the hypothesis)

Theory– 39 out of 200 metro trains is not delayed – reject hypothesis (Analyze the results to test whether does the data reject or support the hypothesis)

Both inductive and deductive research

Most researchers conduct a larger research projects with an inductive study (developing a theory) and is followed up with deductive research to validate or invalidate the conclusion.


After developing an appropriate research design or a plan it is important for the researchers to select the proper research method. The four basic research methods are

a) Surveys – It is a method used to gather the information from a sample of respondents by employing questionnaire

b) Experiments- In research, experiments are conducted for studying cause and effect relations.

c) Secondary data studies- It is concerned with already existing data that is related to the research topic or question.

d) Observation technique- It is the process where the respondents are observed without any interruption by the observers.

e) Some of the common qualitative research methods are

    1. Focus Group Interviews- small group discussions leas by a trained moderator
    2. Depth Interviews- one-on one probing interview between trained researcher and a respondent
    3. Grounded Theory- It is an inductive investigation in which researcher poses questions about the information provided by the respondents or taken from a historical record. The questions are asked to the respondents to arrive for deeper explanations.
    4. Case studies- The documented history of particular person, group, organization or an event
    5. Conversations- Unstructured dialogue recorded by a researcher.
    6. Semi structured Inter views- open-ended questions often in writing, which asks for short essay-type answers from respondents.
    7. Projective Method- These techniques help the respondents to project his own attitude and feelings unconsciously on the subject under study (indirect and unstructured methods).

a) Word Association: An individual is given a clue or hint and asked to respond to the first thing that comes to mind. The association can take the shape of a picture or a word.

b) Completion Technique: In this the respondents are asked to complete an incomplete sentence or story. The completion will reflect their attitude and state of mind.

c) Construction Technique: A picture is given to the respondent to write a story about it. Even cartoons are given and a dialogue is to be written.

d) Expression Techniques: In this the people are asked to express the feeling or attitude of other people. Example Role play


Sampling is a part of research design but it is considered separately in the research process. Sampling is a small portion of the populations to draw the conclusions on the whole population. Another important aspect of sampling is to deice the sample size. In sampling depending on the objective probability or non should be used.


After selecting a suitable sample the researcher collects the data using different methods like survey method, observation etc. It s is important that the data should be collected without errors. Data collection is done in two stages pretesting and the main study. This helps the research to minimize the errors that may occur during the main study.


The most important aspect of data evaluation is to convert the data collected into a format which will facilitate the manager in effective decision making. Statistical models are used to conduct the data analysis. Now a day’s different software’s are used in analyzing the data ad to draw meaningful conclusions thus eliminating the scope for errors which may arise due to conventional methods.


The most important phase is preparing the research report. The research report should contain brief description of objectives, summary of the research design adopted, major findings and conclude with limitations and recommendations.


The Research process is a frame work for the entire topic of the business research. It involves the following steps identification and defining the problem, planning the research design, selecting the research method, selecting the sampling procedure, data collection, evaluating the data and finally preparing and presenting the report.


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