We hear and read it all the time: “research has concluded,” “research has shown,” “new studies have found.” This might leave you wondering, just where and how is research conducted? How do the pros do research? Here’s some insight into the techniques and processes around research.
Scientific research is the foundation of most approaches to research. This is the process of observation and information gathering. You then use that information to draw a conclusion. Good scientific research tests that new conclusion even further. A hypothesis is the tentative assumption that a researcher is trying to test during an experiment. Testing might be conducted in a lab or in the field while results are published in the news, scientific journals, and/or presented at conferences.
Business research involves looking at every aspect of a company, from its internal processes to its customers to its industry competitors. This assists business owners or stakeholders make decisions, like when to open a new location or hire more staff. This research might be conducted internally, or by an outside consultant or firm. Findings might be shared through strategic initiatives, announcements, or in reports and presentations.
Education research examines not only human learning processes, but the unique characteristics of a person and the elements of an environment that impact learning outcomes. There are many organizations involved in the pursuit and oversight of education research, including the National Center for Education Research and the Amercian Education Research Association. These findings often make the news and are applied in classrooms nationwide.
A clinical research study wants to answer a certain type of scientific or health question. This research begins in animals and moves to humans during clinical trials. This research might test how to use existing products in new ways or determine if new medicines or devices are effective. The Center for Information and Study on Clinical Research Participation is a nonprofit dedicated to public education about this research. Clinical trials in the U.S. are regulated and overseen by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) but conducted by the National Institutes of Health.
Sociological research is the process of identifying a topic, reviewing existing literature and findings, forming a hypothesis, and then conducting research. In the social realm, controlling variable and maintaining objectivity in sampling can be more challenging than in the hard sciences. The National Institutes of Health maintains ethical oversight and regulation of this research in the U.S.
Psychological research is the analysis of behaviors or experiences to identify correlations and descriptions or learn more about the mind. Well-controlled conditions are essential to the success and validity of this research. The American Psychological Association is the leading publisher of this research in the U.S.
All these kinds of research are grounded in the scientific method, but each plays its own unique role in advancing human knowledge. Where and how research is conducted is essential to determine if it is viable information.