Thursday, March 18, 2010


Assistant Professor
Department of Architecture and Planning
NED University of Engineering and Technology



The first and foremost step of any research initiative is writing a research proposal. In this regard a researcher is required to have some theoretical knowledge regarding contents of the research study undertaken. After carrying out the basic preparatory work i.e. identification of the area of interest and an initial literature review for the research the researcher put together all the contents of proposed research. It includes the topic on which research would be conducted, the objectives and methodology of work and the expected outcomes of the research. This can also be termed as an overall plan which tells the reader regarding research problem and how the researcher has planned to investigate it? Or “It is the detailed practical plan of obtaining the answers to research questions in which the reader would be assured about the validity of the methodology to obtain accurate answers. It is necessary to mention that each institution, discipline & supervisor has different requirements regarding the contents of a research proposal however majority of the institutions or supervisors requires checking three items within a research proposal.
i) First what the researcher has proposed to do?
ii) Second how the researcher has planned to proceed?
iii) Third why the researcher has selected his / her proposed strategy?

Therefore for every researcher it is highly recommended that the research proposal must contain ten basic ingredients.
I. First, what are the objectives of proposed study?
II. Second, the statements of hypothesis if the researcher intends to test any.
III. Third research design or study design proposed for research.
IV. Fourth the study area physical setting or the context of study.
V. Fifth the research instrument to be used i.e. questionnaire, interview or any other.
VI. Sixth the selected sample size or sampling design.
VII. Seventh the method of analysis or data processing procedures.
VIII. Eighth table of contents or proposed chapters for the report.
IX. Ninth scope & parameters or the problems & limitations of the study.
X. Tenth the work schedule or time table or time frames for the research.
If any research proposal contains all these contents there is a better chance for approval of the research project because this information would satisfy an evaluator or supervisor of the research regarding the research whereas for a researcher this proposal would be a detailed guide line for proceeding on his / her research endeavor.



It is a grave reality that research is taught as a supporting subject in many academic disciplines and in each discipline there are specific spheres of influence on which research is conducted. These specific spheres of influence give birth to different paradigms of research. However; there are quite similar activities in each research process. For instance the substance & contents of each research would be different however the broad approach of researcher in making inquiries about the research and incorporating his or her opinion in a research are the commonalities of all researches. Thus there is a need to understand a broad research methodology followed by each researcher in his or her research. This generic process of research can be outlined as a broad based research methodology.


The initial thought behind every research process is to know that, what the problem is? Why this research? What is the issue on which research is to be done? Thus formulating a research problem is based on the intensions of an author & prevailing situation. Basically the research problem develops with two basic determinants. One is the area of interest of researcher & other is the initiator of research or client of researcher. For the formulation of research problem of any research the basic issue is the understanding of the subject matter & that emerges from the review of the literature or physical observation of any context. Then there are various constrains which compel the researcher to formulate the research problem for instance, financial resources, availability of time, expertise of the supervisor, and knowledge of the allied subjects, i.e. computer, statistics etc. Basically formulating a research problem means to answer the question what?

The research design is again a very significant issue which develops on the basic of chosen research method. Therefore conceptualizing a research design means develop the concept that how the research would be conducted. The research design would describe that, what are the parameters of research, what its indicators are? And how the process of data collection & analysis would be comprehended & practically applied? It is the detailed method of research variable analysis and conducting the practical steps of research. The research design is again based on some ground realities of the researcher. For example, what type of research method is intended by a researcher? How this research method would be valued? What is the level of knowledge & skills of analysis possessed by a researcher? It again requires a literature review and number of measurement procedures known, by a researcher on the basis of which analysis & evaluation would be done & conclusions would be drawn. Or more appropriately it can be said that, research design permits a researcher to predict accurate outcomes of research in any given set of conditions. Secondly it identifies all the gaps in knowledge of a researcher. Another important aspect in research is that, the validity of “what” one finds out as an answer of research question is mainly based upon “how” it was found. Therefore basically a research design defines about this how of all the findings or answers of research questions.
Conclusively a research design consists of six basic ingredients, i.e.
a) Study design per se
b) Logistical arrangements
c) Measurement procedures
d) Sampling strategy
e) Framework of analysis
f) Timeframe


The third operational step of any research is the construction of an instrument for data collection. At this step the required theoretical knowledge is about methods & tools of data collection where as the required intermediary knowledge is about the validity and reliability of the research tool. Thus the basic issue which needs explanation here is that, what is meant by a research tool or research instrument. The research tool or instrument can be anything which becomes the means of collecting information for the study undertaken by a researcher.
These include:

i) Note Book
ii) Sketch Book
iii) Camera / Audio Visual Recorder
iv) Observation Form
v) Map of the Area
vi) Plans of the Building
vii) Interview Schedules
viii) Questionnaires
ix) Interview guides
x) Checklist of issues
Thus constructing a data collection instrument is the first practical step of carrying out a research / study. However before constructing a data collecting instrument a researcher needs to decide about the process of collecting data for proposed study and then construct that tool. Basically there are various methods of data collection. Broadly they are categorized as primary and secondary data collection process. For primary data collection a researcher either construct an instrument or select from already constructed tool. However if the researcher wants use secondary data which is already obtained for other purposes; then an analytical form is developed to extract the required data from secondary data. One of the integral parts of constructing an instrument for data collection is the Field Testing which is a prerequisite for constructing an appropriate data collection tool. However if the researcher is using computer for data analysis then the coding space is provided on the research instrument.


Another significant aspect of any research is selecting a sample. Because; it in not possible to study a whole universe due to constraints of time and money. For selecting and designing a sample the required intermediary knowledge is of sampling theory and sampling designs. Basically the selection of sample determines the accuracy of the estimates made by a researcher. The main reason of sampling design is to minimize the limitation of cost and obtain those values which are prevalent in the larger population. The good sampling design is that which reduces the gap between the value obtained through sample and actual characteristics of total population. Secondly the basic premise of sampling is to select those minor units of community which can provide a sufficiently high degree of probability or a true reflection of complete community. As discussed earlier that, a researcher must have intermediary knowledge about sampling theory and sampling design. So what does it mean? Basically sampling theory gives us two basic principles i.e. avoid any bias in sample selection and attain the maximum precision in given layout of resources or in other words the researcher must clearly think about his / her available resources and select sample without any preconceived assumption. As far as sample design is concerned there are various options of sampling design available to a researcher. However, there are three basic categories of sampling design i.e. Random probability sampling designs, or random sampling, Non random probability sampling design or non random sampling and Mixed sampling design. The details of sampling shall be discussed later however it is necessary to mansion here that, a researcher must acquaint him / herself with maximum no. of sampling designs, the strengths & weaknesses of sampling and selection of most appropriate sampling design for the research study undertaken. Because the type of sampling strategy that a researcher use in a research and the type of statistical tests performed on the data determines the ability of researcher regarding generalizing from a sample to total population.

The sixth operational step of any research is the collection of data. Once a research proposal is approved the next step for researcher is data collection through designed research instrument. At this operational step the researcher requires five types of intermediary knowledge.
I. First the field test of the research tool.
II. Second the process of editing the data.
III. Third, the development of a code book.
IV. Fourth, the process of encoding.
V. Fifth the ethical issues in data collection.
At this operational step the researcher actually collect the data from the context through his / her devised data collection tool i.e. mail survey, questionnaire, interview, focus group discussion, physical observation, photographic visual survey, map making etc.

The seventh operational step of any research is the processing of data. At this step a researcher requires a theoretical knowledge of data processing methods computer application and statistics. The process of data analysis or data processing in a research mainly depends upon two basic premises.
I. One the type of collected information
II. Two the way a researcher intends to write his / her research report.
As far as the type of collected information is concerned it may be descriptive, qualitative or attitudinal and quantitative. Whereas the way of writing a report varies as per researcher’s writing skills and intellect. Another skill which is required in the processing of data is displaying techniques or presentation skills. Because the best presented data is also necessary for the audience to understand the research. This presentation & display of data is the final step for data processing. Thus for a researcher it is necessary to make data analysis with qualitative & quantitative distinction i.e. manual or computer analysis. For example in order to analyse qualitative data a researcher review his / her field notes and manually analyse his / her observations. Whereas for quantitative analysis use of computer is must. Where, a researcher decides about required type of statistical analysis. Such as: frequency distribution, cross tabulations or statistical procedures such as regression analysis, factor analysis or analysis of variance.

The final & most difficult aspect of any research is the writing of a research report. At this step the required theoretical knowledge is of scientific writing principles. The basic considerations for report writing are those, where a researcher inform the world what is being done? What is discovered and what conclusions are drawn from the research findings. If a researcher is clear about the whole research process he / she will also be clear about the way of writing a report. It’s like a buffet party with eight tables each with different dishes but the dishes are made with similar ingredients and the researcher would select the dish which he / she like the most from each table. And fill his / her plate & present it to others. As mentioned earlier that a researcher must have the theoretical knowledge of scientific writing so what is that scientific writing? Basically science depends upon logical hierarchy. Similarly a research report follows a logical sequence with different sections & chapters based upon different themes of study. Where chapter to chapter, topic to topic, paragraph to paragraph and sentence to sentence there shall be complete hierarchy or logical sequence.
Conclusively a research report consist six basic chapters i.e.
I. Introduction
II. Literature review,
III. Research design,
IV. Data Presentation and Analysis i.e. Contextual realities / Case Studies
V. Research Findings i.e. Design Brief or Problem Statement
VI. Conclusions and Recommendations
VII. Research Appraisal.


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