May, 13 2016 BY RAYMOND OWO
E-mail: owo_ ray @yahoo.com
Research ranks among the most abused concept in the academic circle. Often times, a student who went to the library in search of facts to back up his or her term paper or assignment comes back to announce that he or she almost died carrying out research in the library. In this case, mere flipping through the pages of some books and copying some portions of the books become a research effort.
Again, some people perceive checking for the meaning of a word or an historical fact in the encyclopedia as a research activity (Osuala, 2005).
Research, however, is much more than all these. It is hardly as simple as consulting a dictionary or an encyclopedia to ascertain the meaning of a word or a historical fact that is already there in the dictionary or encyclopedia as the case may be.
Research is highly systematic. It calls for thoroughness. It is procedural. It takes a lot of energy, time and money to execute.
What then is a Research?
Research is simply a systematic search for new knowledge, the aim of which is to discover what hitherto is not known. Research offers objective and verifiable interpretation of a given phenomena. It explains the nature of relationship existing between variables. As Osuala (2005:1) put it:
Research is simply the process of arriving at dependable
solutions to problems through planned and systematic
collection, and analysis, and interpretation of data
research is a most important tool for advancing knowledge,
for promoting process, and for enabling man to relate most
effectively to his environment, to accomplish his progress and
to resolve his conflicts.
Research Process: What it involves
The process starts with identifying a problem. Research is geared towards solving problems. Without a problem, there would be no need to carry out a research.
How does a researcher know that a problem is researchable? Two things are involved.
Under guidelines, we have:
Before one carries out a research, then such topic must be of interest to the researcher. Whenever a topic is imposed on a researcher, the interest may not be there and it would be difficult for such work to be completed.
If one must choose a topic, it must be original to some extent. Sometimes, a topic could be replicated but should not be duplicated so that the touch of originality would not be there. Again, if duplicated one may be sued for plagiarism.
Here, questions like: How feasible is the study? How researchable is the topic should be asked and answered by the researcher before he starts off. The researcher has to make sure, there are referents (materials and books he can consult) and once there are no referents, it is advised that he abandons such topic for another.
(iv) Topic must be significant enough
The aim of a research is to add to knowledge and the researcher should work towards that too. Once a research is not able to impact positively to knowledge, then the purpose of such study is defeated and at such point, the researcher should have a re-think.
(v) How much resource does the researcher have?
It is foolish to start a work you cannot complete or finish. The researcher before starting off his research study should put into consideration how much time and money he has to invest in it, so as to successfully complete his study within the stipulated time.
This is a step that basically deals with identifying the major variables and concepts in the work. As you determine, you specify the meanings of these variables and concepts. And as you define, you give operational meanings. Operational meanings has to do with how you intend to use these words in the context of the work.
Virtue of a Researcher
Can anyone be a good researcher? Do researchers possess specific virtues that make them succeed in the field of scientific inquiry? While every researcher is given the opportunity to carry out a research study, not all of them can really do it unless they possess the virtue required of a good researcher. Just like leaders, researchers can also be made, not just born. For a researcher to succeed in this challenging task, which requires a lot of imagination and perseverance, it is expected that he possess the following virtue:
(1)A good researcher should search for new information.
A good researcher shows an open mind about things. He does not just see things by himself but explores new grounds. He adopts the philosophy of “thinking beyond the box”, leaving out the conventional for something innovative. He treads the unknown frontier.
Evidence of this thirst for new information can be observed in people who do not stop learning and those who maintain an open mind for new possibilities to happen, even when everything appears to have been discovered or studied, or options exhausted. Two hundred years ago, had anyone ever thought that man could go to the moon? Or explore the depths of the sea? Or tap on the keys of the cell phone to communicate with another person so far away? Thanks to research that has made all these possible today.
(2) A good researcher has a keen sense of things around him.
Keenness is a virtue developed through an observant attitude. A good researcher sees something more out of common occurrence around him and sees them quickly.
(3) A good researcher likes to reflect or think about the things he encounters.
Researchers who pause and reflect about the knowledge they gained, either formally in school or through their experience, gain insights. Insights are a creative thought that makes one nod his head and say, “Aha! This is something I have been looking for” A creative idea was born.
(4) good researcher must be intelligent enough to express his ideas.
How can you express your thoughts if you cannot write? The point here is that, a good researcher must be adept (having a natural ability) in the written language.
How can people understand your point when you are the only one who can understand what you have written? This is actually those virtue(s) ingrained in individuals. But if you recognize your weakness in this realm, why not seek someone who can? After all, what is more important is the idea, but of course, better if you present it in such a way that others understand well what you want to say.
(5)good researcher applies a systematic approach in assessing situations.
Research requires systematic and objective thinking to arrive at something tangible. Logical reasoning therefore, is applied by a good researcher. He is able to analyze things, and meaning. He can break down complex situation into manageable bits that he can focus his attention into.
(6) He must be ready to adjust or shift grounds.
What could be a dissertation or thesis today can be anti-dissertation or anti-thesis tomorrow. Therefore, a good researcher must not be rigid.
He must not be judgmental and biased.
Be it in pure research, which seeks to gain knowledge for the sake of knowledge itself or applied research, which scientific investigation is undertaken to solve a specific problem, a communication researcher must know the objectives of such research study, so as to fulfill the demands of that particular study.
Communication studies involve different areas of knowledge. Therefore, every communication studies research is often based on societal phenomenon. It is expected that, the researcher must keep faith with his findings so long as the procedures and objectives of the study are followed systematically and empirically.
The following are the demands of communication studies research:
The researcher is expected to declare the subject and intention of the research being undertaken work governing the study, findings, recommendations, and a conclusion intention of the research being undertaken, helpful hints on the direction of the study, a theoretical frame governing the study, findings, recommendations and a conclusion. This is usually under the subheadâ€“abstract, which is the synopsis of the work with about 100 â€“ 175 words.
A thorough knowledge of research techniques which agrees with the problems posed by such studies is required. If a researcher uses a wrong technique/methodology, it would be quite difficult for him to successfully arrive at the acceptable result. Such demands could be addressed through seminars, workshops, symposia, and full blown research. Each of these demands a serious grounding in the knowledge of this technique.
Before this, the problems so envisaged must be properly articulated, that problems that necessitated the studies. This is usually stated scholarly in a question or declarative form in a manner that would tell anybody that would come in contact with the study to know what the study is all about.
Following the statements of the problem are few research questions which usually protects or guides the study for the researcher. It is usually referred to as objectives of the study. To make it fall in line with the demands of the scholarly exercise, some sort of research objectives must be re-phrased into perspective to form the research questions which is then followed by the research hypotheses.
Research hypotheses are usually presented as an alternate hypothesis, until proven otherwise. The research hypotheses guide the researcher in planning the course of his inquiry.
Justification of the study tells the reader the value of the study as well as those whom the study is meant for. Coming after that is the delimitation and limitations of the study.
Delimitation and limitations of the study clearly defines the researcher’s work in terms of scope, and set forth the boundaries of the topic being researched. While delimitation of the study “builds a fence”Â around a topic under study, limitations of the study are those factors inherent in the research situation that might affect the result or outcome of the study.Â Next, is the operational definition of terms.
Here, terms that are technical in nature are defined in a way the researcher intends to use for reader’s easy comprehension.
Review for related literature is usually found in Chapter two of the research work. According to Osuala (2005),review of related literature serves two purposes:
to set the theoretical base for the research and
to set the research into perspective. To show “the state-of-the art”. To select the theoretical base, it is expected that the researcher would have read and reviewed writings and researches in related areas in which his own studyÂ may be founded. The second type of review shows how the researcher’s work fits into the whole scheme of things. Again, in the words of Osuala, review of related literature surveys the research previously done on the problem, and evaluates what the research has and has not accomplished in solving the problems currently under study, and also points out similarities and differences between the two researches. The review of related literature should be done in an organized form. Under the following subheads: Review of Concepts, Review of Opinions, Review of Studies andÂ Theoretical Framework .
Chapter three of the communication studies research is usually known as Research Methodology.
According to Osuala (2005), “this procedure section is perhaps the crux of the research report; it is the background against which the reader evaluates the findings and the conclusionsâ€¦” This section is addressed under: Research Design, Population of the Study, Sample Size and Sampling Procedure, Description of Research Instruments, Validity of Research Instruments, Reliability of Research Instruments, Method of Data Collection & Method of Data Analysis.
Data Presentation, Analysis and Discussion of Findings is usually captured in Chapter four. Here, data are presented, analyzed and discussed objectively under appropriate sub-titles for easy comprehension. And are as follows: Data Presentation and Analysis, and Discussion of Findings.
Next to data presentations, analysis and discussion of findings is the summary, conclusion and recommendation which forms part of the research proposal that will eventually metamorphose into a dissertation.
The summary need not be a repetition of previous chapters, but a description of the procedures in general terms, with only enough details to enable the reader obtain a general picture of what was done.
The conclusion the researches draws, must be based directly on the findings, which in turn must be logically based on procedures which the researcher has deployed.
Recommendations must be derived directly from the conclusions the researcher arrived at.
Here, the researcher is at liberty in his writing. He speculates a bit and the recommendations allow him use his creative ability in pin-pointing the possible uses of the findings as well as in raising further questions for investigation. The researcher can make recommendations for the future in the area of his study, butÂ the recommendations should have as a base, the findings of the study.
According to Ashong (1993), “References refer to a full list of books and periodical articles cited or consulted in the process of writing a paper. The standard practice is to arrange the names of the authors (beginning with surnames) in alphabetical order”.Â Eyoh also defines, references including its application:
This concept refers to only a list of books and related
materials cited in books where APA style is used. The style
of listing here of course follows APA. No work that has not
been cited need be listed here.
Important to note is, there are two popular styles of writing the references mainly: Modern Language Association â€“ MLA and American Psychological Association â€“ APA. Over the years, the Department of Communication Arts, University of Uyo, Nigeria have adopted and maintained the American Psychological Association APA, as the standard style of referencing of every research work.
Then follow the appendix.
Appendix refers to materials related to the study, but which would make the body of the study bulky or awkward and are placed in the appendix. These include: cover letter, questionnaires, interview guides, detailed explanation of statistical tests used in the study and supplementary materials and related items.
Let us therefore conclude that, the above mentioned points are the demands of a communication studies research, and researchers are expected to adhere strictly to them. Recommendations The researcher recommends the following: (1) Postgraduate students should adopt and maintain the demands as stated as it is the acceptable guidelines universally. (2) Lectures should continue as they have also been doing in encouraging Postgraduate students to maintain these acceptable standard of presentation as this would help them tremendously. References Ashong, A. C. (1993). â€œThe Term Paperâ€, in David Eka (ed), Fundamentals of Communication in English, Calabar:BONUniversal Limited. Eyoh, L. (2000). Effective Use of English Volume 2. Uyo: Billy Printing and Publishing Company. Nwodu, L.C.(2006). Research In Communication and Other Behavioural Sciences -Principles, Methods and Issues. Enugu: Rhyce Kerex Publishers. Osuala, E. C. (2005). Introduction to Research Methodology. Onitsha: Africana â€“ Fep PublishersLimited. Osuala, E.C.(2001). Introduction to Research Methodology. Onitsha: Africana – Fep Publishers Limited. Udontre, E.(2000). The Basics of Research Methodology. Uyo: EMSEL Publishers.