The conceptual phase consists of formulation of research problem, extensive literature survey, theoretical frame work and developing the hypothesis.
1. Use of computers in extensive literature review: computers help for searching the literatures (for review of literature) and bibliographic reference stored in the electronic database of the worldwide webs. It can thus be used for storing relevant published articles to the retrieved whenever needed. This has the advantage over searching the literatures in the form of books, journals and other newsletters at the libraries which consume considerable amount of time and effort.
2. Role of Computers in Design and Planning Phase
This phase consists of research design preparation and determining sample design. Design and planning phase also consists of population, research variables, sampling plan, reviewing research plan and pilot study. Role of Computers for Sample Size Calculation: Several software‘s are available to calculate the sample size required for a proposed study. The standard deviation of the data from the pilot study is required for the sample size calculation.
3. Role of Computers in Data collection phase
This Empirical phase consists of collecting and preparing the data for analysis: In research studies, the preparation and inputting data is the most labor-intensive and time consuming aspect of the work. Typically the data will be initially recorded on a questionnaire or
record for suitable for its acceptance by the computer. To do this the researcher in conjunction with the statistician and the programmer, will convert the data into Microsoft word file or Excel spreadsheet or any statistical software data file. These data can be directly opened with statistical software‘s for analysis. Data collection and Storage: The data obtained from the subjects is stored in computers in word files or excel spread sheets or any statistical software data file. This has the advantage of making necessary corrections or editing the whole layout of the tables if needed, which is impossible or time consuming in case of writing in papers. Thus, computers help in data entry, data editing, Data management including follow up actions etc. computers also allow for greater flexibility in recording the data while they are collected as well as greater ease during the analysis of these data. Examples of editors are WordPad, SPSS data editor, word processors, others like ultra edit etc.
Data exposition: Most researchers are anxious about seeing the data: what they look like; how they are distributed etc. you can also examine different dimension of variables or plot them in various charts using a statistical application.
4. Role of Computers in Data Analysis
This phase consist of the analysis of data, hypothesis testing and generalisations and interpretation. Data analysis phase mainly consist of statistical analysis of the data and interpretation of results.
Data analysis: many software‘s are now available to perform the mathematical part of the research process i.e. the calculations using various statistical methods. Software‘s like SPSS and spreadsheets are the widely used. They can be like calculating the sample size for a proposed study, hypothesis testing and calculating the power of the study. Familiarity with any one package will suffice to carry out the most intricate statistical analysis. Computers are useful not only for statistical analysis, but also to monitor the accuracy and completeness of the data as they are collected. These software‘s also display the results in
graphical chart or graph form.
5. Role of Computer in Research Publication
This phase consists of preparation of the report or presentation of the results, i.e., formal write-up of conclusions reached. This is the research publication phase. The research article, research paper, research thesis or research dissertation is typed in word processing software and converted to portable data format (PDF) and stored and/or published in the world wide web. Online sites are available through we can convert our word file into any format like html, pdf etc. Various online applications are also available for this purpose. Even we can prepare our document using online word processing software and can store/edit/access it from anywhere using internet.
6. Role of computers in scientific research
There are various computer applications used in scientific research. Some of the most important applications used in scientific research are data storage, data analysis, scientific simulations, instrumentation control and knowledge sharing.
Experimentation is the basis of scientific research. Every experiment in any of the natural sciences generates a lot of data that needs to be stored and analyzed to derive important conclusions, to validate or disprove hypotheses. Computers attached with experimental
apparatuses, directly record data as it’s generated and subject it to analysis through specially designed software. Data storage is possible in SPSS data file, lotus spreadsheet, excel spreadsheet, ASCII/DOS text file etc.
Analyzing tons of statistical data is made possible using specially designed algorithms that are implemented by computers. This makes the extremely time-consuming job of data analysis to be a matter of a few minutes. In genetic engineering, computers have made the sequencing of the entire human genome possible. Data from different sources can be stored and accessed via computer networks set up in research labs, which makes collaboration simpler.
One of the prime uses of computers in pure science and engineering projects is the running of simulations. A simulation is a mathematical modeling of a problem and a virtual study of its possible solutions. Problems which do not yield themselves to experimentation can be studied through simulations carried out on computers. For example, astrophysicists carry out structure formation simulations, which are aimed at studying how large-scale structures like galaxies are formed. Space missions to the Moon, satellite launches and interplanetary missions are first simulated on computers to determine the best path that can be taken by the launch vehicle and spacecraft to reach its destination safely.
Most advanced scientific instruments come with their own on-board computer, which can be programmed to execute various functions. For example, the Hubble Space Craft has its own onboard computer system which is remotely programmed to probe the deep space. Instrumentation control is one of the most important applications of computers.
Knowledge Sharing Through Internet
Lastly, in the form of Internet, computers have provided an entirely new way to share knowledge. Today, anyone can access the latest research papers that are made available for free on websites. Sharing of knowledge and collaboration through the Internet has made international cooperation on scientific projects possible. Through various kinds of analytical software programs, computers are contributing to scientific research in every discipline, ranging from biology to astrophysics, discovering new patterns and providing novel insights. When the work in neural network based artificial intelligence advances and computers are granted with the ability to learn and think for themselves, future advances in technology and research will be even more rapid.
In spite of all this sophistication we should not forget that basically computers are machines that only compute, they do not think. The human brain remains supreme and will continue to be so for all times. As such, researchers should be fully aware about the following limitations of computer-based analysis:
1. Computerised analysis requires setting up of an elaborate system of monitoring, collection and feeding of data. All these require time, effort and money. Hence, computer based analysis may not prove economical in case of small projects.
2. Various items of detail which are not being specifically fed to computer may get lost sight of.
3. The computer does not think; it can only execute the instructions of a thinking person. If poor data or faulty programs are introduced into the computer, the data analysis would not be worthwhile. The expression ―garbage in, garbage out‖ describes this limitation very well.