Research Methods Knowledge Base

by Prof William M.K. Trochim hosted by Conjointly

The Road to Research

Remember all those Bob Hope and Bing Crosby films? The Road to Singapore? Of course you don’t – you’re much too young! Well, I thought it might be useful to visualize the research endeavor sequentially, like taking a trip, like moving down a road – the Road to Research. The figure above shows a very applied way to view the content of a research methods course that helps you consider the research process practically. You might visualize a research project as a journey where you must stop at certain points along your way. Every research project needs to start with a clear problem formulation. As you develop your project, you will find critical junctions where you will make choices about how you will proceed. Consider issues of sampling, measurement, design, and analysis - as well as the theories of validity behind each step.

In the end, you will need to think about the whole picture, or “What can we conclude?” Then you might write-up your findings or report your evaluation. You even might find yourself backtracking and evaluating your previous decisions! Don’t forget that this is a two-way road; planning and evaluation are critical and interdependent. The asphalt of the road is the foundation of research philosophy and practice. Without consideration of the basics in research, you’ll find yourself bogged down in the mud!