Problem identification.

Research problems can emanate from different sources i.e. area of interest, results from observation of phenomenon, issues being shared in media, practical problems shared in newspapers that require attention and area of specialization.

Formulating research objectives and questions/hypothesis

To address research problem.

Literature review.

After identifying research problem, research of related literature on research problem are conducted. This is the process of finding out what is already and not known about study.

Research design.

Researcher should come up with a design that will help him or her arrive at answers to research questions. The research design is basically mechanism employed for sampling population, data collection and analysis.

  1. Hypothesis formulation-Optional.
  2. Objectives and research questions(RQ)
  3. Objectives and hypothesis(HOs)

Its possible to carry out a research study without hypothesis in which case,RQ will be necessary.

Data collection.

Researcher selects instruments/tools for data collection. Data collection tools include:

  • Questionnaires
  • Interview schedules
  • Interview guides
  • Focused groups
  • Experiments


Select people who will be in your study as participants.

Data collection.

Researcher goes to field to gather data required for answering research questions. Data collection can be undertaken by administering questionnaires to students, focused group discussions and carrying out experiments.Data processing.

Data is usually collected in raw form and should be processed so that meaning can be made out of it.

 Report/project writing.

This is the last stage in research process where the researcher documents important details of research. The report should explain in detail the various stages of study and present results as well as the recommendations.


Refers to an


Ethics are guidelines that deal with the conduct on an individual. Ethical considerations must be kept in mind when dealing with respondents. Ethical research requires personal integrity from the researcher.

  1. Confidentiality and Privacy
    • Respondent’s anonymity request must be adhered to when promised.
    • Confidentiality must be kept where promised.
  2. Physical and Psychological harm
    • Asking embarrassing questions, expressing disgust when collecting data, using threatening statements, etc.

Voluntary and Informed consent.

    • Respondents must willingly participate in research. Researcher must disclose the real purpose of the research. Informed consent includes the following information.
  1. Purpose of the study
  2. Any unforeseen risks

A guarantee of anonymity and confidentiality

  1. Identification of the researcher
  2. An indication of the number of subjects involved
  3. Benefits and compensation or the lack of them

Use of vulnerable and/or special populations such as children, mentally disabled people, and sick people etc. permission must be obtained from those who care for these special populations.

Financial Issues and Sponsored Research

Sponsor of a research demands compromise on quality of research to save time and/or money. Sponsors may demand that research findings be distorted. An ethical research should never accept such compromise in order to protect their integrity. Unethical conduct also occurs when researchers divert research funds for other purposes. This affects the quality of research and may yield misleading data.

Dissemination of Findings

A research must not conceal research findings after conclusion of research. Where findings are sensitive, modalities of releasing results should be agreed on. It is a waste of resources to undertake research only to hide the findings.

Research Plagiarism and Fraud

Plagiarism is a situation where a researcher refers to another person’s work as theirs without acknowledging the author. Stealing ideas from another scholar is also considered plagiarism. This is a crime punishable by law. It erodes the integrity of the victim and has serious professional consequences.

Fraud occurs when a researcher fakes data that has actually not been collected. Fraud also includes false presentation of research methodology and results. It is a punishable crime.


  1. Concepts: a concept is a bundle of meaning or characteristics associated with certain events, objects, conditions or certain situations. Classifying and categorizing objects or events that have common characteristics beyond the single observation creates concepts. Concepts are acquired through personal experience. Some concepts are unique to a particular culture and not readily translated into another. For instance, we might ask respondents for an estimate of their monthly total income. We might receive confusing answers unless we restrict the concept by specifying the following:


  1. Time period. I.e. weekly, monthly or annually.
  2. Before or after income taxes.
  3. For the head of the family or all family members.
  4. For salary and wages only or also for dividends, interest and capital gains.

Constructs: this is an image or idea specifically invented for a given research or for theory building purposes. Constructs are built by combining simpler concepts especially when the idea or image we intend to convey is not directly subject to observation.

Definitions: words may have different meanings to parties involved. An operational definition is a definition stated in terms of specific testing criteria or operations. These terms must have empirical references. We must be able to count, measure or gather information through our senses. Whether the object being defined is physical, e.g. a machine or abstract, e.g. motivation, achievement, the definition must specify the characteristics to be studies and how they are to be observed. The specifications and procedures must be clear so that any competent person using them would classify the objects in the same way.

Variables: a variable is a measurable characteristic that assumes different values among the subjects. There are 5 types of variables that one is likely to find in a study.

Independent variable (IV): this is the variable the researcher manipulates in order to determine its influence on another variable. It influences the dependent variable either positively or negatively.

Dependent variable (DV): this variable attempt to indicate the total influence arising from the total effect of the independent variable.

Moderating Variable (MV): in typical situations and relationships, there is at least one IV and one DV. For simple relationships, all other variables are considered extraneous and ignored. E.g. in a typical office, we might be interested in studying the effect of the 4 day work week on the productivity. Our hypothesis will be: the introduction of the 4 day work week (IV) will lead to higher office productivity (DV). However, a simple one on one relationship needs revision to take other variables into account. The MV is the second IV that is included because it is believed to have a significant contributory effect on the original IV, DV relationship. Our hypothesis is; The introduction of the 4 day work week (IV) will lead to higher productivity (DV) especially among older workers (MV).

Extraneous Variable (EV): these are at times referred to as confounding variables because they confound the effect of the IV on the DV. They affect the outcome of a research study, either because the researcher is not aware of their existence or if the researcher is aware, there is no control for them. In routine office work (EV control), the introduction of a 4 day work week (IV) will lead to higher productivity (DV) especially among older workers (MV). For example Teaching methods are the IV, genes of students (EV) and performance (DV).

Intervening Variables (IVV): this is a conceptual mechanism through which the IV and MV might affect the DV. It is defined as that factor that theoretically affects the observed phenomenon but cannot be seen, measured or manipulated. It must be inferred from the effect of the independent MV on the observed phenomenon. E.g. Introduction of a 4 day work week (IV) will lead to higher productivity (DV) especially among older workers (MV) by increasing job satisfaction (IVV).

Research Theory: a theory is a systematic explanation of facts. A good theory is simple and free of jargon and has predictive accuracy. It should also be of importance to the society and discuss current issues. These are characteristics of an “elegant theory”.

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