TOPIC 1 INTRODUCTION TO RESEARCH METHODS.

TOPIC 1

INTRODUCTION TO RESEARCH METHODS.

BRIEF OVERVIEW

The managers of tomorrow will need to know more than any managers in history.  Research will be a major contributor to that knowledge.  Managers will find knowledge of research methods to be of value in many situations.  Business research has an inherent value to the extent that it helps the management make better decisions. Interesting information about consumers, employers or competitors might be pleasant to have but its value is limited if the information cannot be applied to a critical decision.  If a study does not help the management to select more efficient, less risky, or more profitable alternatives than otherwise would be the case, its use should be questioned.  The important point is that research in a business environment finds its justification in the contribution it makes to the decision maker’s task and to the bottom line.

At the minimum, one objective of this study material is to make you a more intelligent consumer of research products prepared by others, as well as be able to do quality research for your own decisions and those of others to whom you report.

Governments have allocated billions of dollars to support  research, driven by motivation to overcome disease or to improve the human condition.  Nations driven by threat of war and national pride have also played a major role in the advance of physical science.  Much of the findings of their research are in the public domain.

Business research is of much more recent origin and is largely supported by business organizations that hope to achieve a competitive advantage.  Research methods and findings cannot be patented, and sharing findings often results in a loss of competitive advantage; “The more valuable the research result is, the greater the value in keeping it secret.”  Under such conditions, access to findings is obviously restricted.  Even though there is a growing amount of academic business research it receives meager support when compared to research in the physical sciences.

Business research operates in a less favorable environment in other ways too.  Physical research is normally conducted under controlled laboratory conditions. Business research normally deals with topics such as human attitudes behavior, and performance.  People think they already know a lot about these topics and do not really accept research findings that differ from their opinions.

Even with these hindrances, business researchers are making great strides in the scientific arena.  New techniques are being developed, and vigorous research procedures are advancing rapidly.  Computers and powerful analytical methods have contributed to this movement but a greater understanding of the basic principles of sound research is more important. One outcome of these trends is that research-based decision making will be more widely used in the future than it has been in the past.  Managers who are not prepared for this change will be at a severe disadvantage.

Business research could encompass the study of human resource management, marketing research, entrepreneurship  etc. for example, in marketing research we could address issues pertaining to product image, advertising, sales promotions, packaging and branding, pricing, new product development.

HINTS.

  • Clear title ,A study of the Factors that Enhance the Organisational Commitment of Employees.
  • Avoid jargons.
  • Avoid using ambiguous words and sentences.
  • Avoid plagiarism-Anti plagiarism software exists in the market.
  • Always plan your work-Failing to plan,is planning to fail.
  • Conform to stipulated guidelines font,font size,spacing,header,footer
  • Tense to use when developing proposal and project.
  • Recommened sample is usually 10% from population.
  • Avoid using 1.0,2.0 instead use 1.1,2.1
  • Cover page-Centre your details.
  • Chapters-centre
  • Sub headings-Sentence case and prepositions should be in lower case.
  • Conform to APA 6th edition format ( American Psychological ) referencing style
  • No fullstop at the end.
  • Capture author sur-name.
  • 10 years down the line 2020-10=2010

Example

Kamau,J(2006) Methods of Research OR

Kamau,J(2006) Methods of Research(3rd ed.)Longhorn Publications Nairobi

  • Capture Appendices (Any detail that reinforces the body of the proposal and project can be included in an appendix)
  • Time schedule
  • Budget
  • Data collection instruments and any other document that the researcher may consider important for the readers

REPORT/PROJECT FORMAT

  • Preliminary information
  • Chapter One: Introduction
  • Chapter Two: Literature Review
  • Chapter Three: Methodology
  • Chapter Four: Data Analysis Presentation, and Interpretation
  • Chapter Five: Summary of Findings, Conclusions and Recommendations

References; names of authors of books reviewed. Use APA style.

 

INTRODUCTION

Definitions of research.

  • Research is a structured inquiry/enquiry that makes use of scientific method (step by step) of investigation to generate new knowledge and solve problems.
  • Kerlinger Fred N. has defined scientific research as a systematic, controlled, empirical and critical investigation of natural phenomena guided by theory and hypothesis about the presumed relations among such phenomena.
  • C Crawford defines research as a systematic and refined technique of thinking, employing specialized tools, instruments and procedures in order to obtain a more adequate solution to a problem.
  • Research can be defined as a careful and systematic means of solving a problem.
  • Research also involves critical analysis of existing conclusions or theories with regard to new existing facts.
  • Research is a process of arriving at effective solutions to problems through systematic collections, analysis and interpretation of data.

 

WHY STUDY RESEARCH?/IMPORTANCE/PURPOSE/USES OF RESEARCH STUDY/METHODS.

  1. To generate new knowledge-Through research we open up and acquire advanced knowledge by discovering new facts and even adding to existing ones on a given phenomenon.
  2. Development of theories-Through research, we are able to formulate concepts,laws and generalizations about a phenomenon. Research may also be done to test previous theories so as to affirm or refute them.
  3. Description of phenomena-We may wish to describe for example what happens when substance A is added to substance B. The aim of description is to answer the following questions;
  • Who
  • What
  • When
  • How
  • Where

For example, Factors leading to poor performance among primary school students in Nairobi county.

A phenomenon may be described in terms of size, weight, color, age, shape and change over time.

  • Explaining causality-Research tries to explain the cause and effect of relationship between or among phenomena, parameters or variables.
  • Generate data-Through research, we are able to gather data or information.Data can either be qualitative (in form of words) or quantitative (inform of statistics,facts and figures).
  • To make predictions-Information gained through research may be useful to predict a particular phenomenon e.g. Most time spent by a candidate watching TV may lead to poor performance and an alcoholic may experience marriage breakup.
  • Educational research is considered a problem oriented activity that aims at improving conditions or solving problems in education-REPORT WRITING.

Examples of key issues

  • Crowded/congested classes
  • Shortage of chairs
  • Constrained infrastructure.

8.Educational research can also aim at improving decision making and planning in education eg form 1&2 being served meals together and form 3& 4 or considering freshers in vocational, colleges and universities in connection to accommodation due to their unfamiliarity with the new environment.

9.Research can be undertaken to satisfy an individual curiosity.

10 Research enables control-In scientific research, control is concerned with ability to regulate phenomenon under study.

Example: In Laboratory, rats are subjected to drugs that support growth and normal diet without drugs.

HISTORICAL DEVELOPMENT OF RESEARCH.

Basically refers to the methods of getting knowledge or information to use in research. We usually have four main methods.

  1. METHOD OF TENACITY.

People hold firmly to the truth because they have always known it to be true.

  1. METHOD OF AUTHORITY.

Refers to means of established beliefs. Example, If the bible or Koran says it, then it is so. Information received from someone with expertise e.g. from library, doctor,engineer,teachers,administrators,pharmcists,architectures,surveyors,security officer, scholar, parent,peer,adult,clergy etc.

  1. PRIORI METHOD/INTUITION METHOD.

Based on logical reasoning and not mainly on experience.

  1. METHOD OF SCIENCE.

Forms the basis of current research studies. This method is based on development of truth that is independent of our opinions, beliefs and reasons.

SUMMARY OF HISTORICAL DEVELOPMENT OF RESEARCH-SOURCES OF KNOWLEDGE.

  1. Experience-Human beings learn through experiences in their own life.
  2. Authority-One may report according to information adopted from an expert in a specialized area e.g. a doctor emphasizing that one can’t get/ AIDS via handshake.
  3. Intuition-This is the perception or explanation of an instinct. Refers to unexplained feelings you have that something is true even when you lack evidence or proof of it.
  4. Tradition-All human beings inherit a culture. Culture is a reflection of an adopted system of rules, standards and values.
  5. Research itself.

CHARACTERISTICS OF SCIENTIFIC RESEARCH

  1. Purposiveness: The research must have a definite aim and purpose for achieving objectives.
  2. Rigor: The research must have a good theoretical base and sound methodology that enables collection of the right of information for data analysis.
  3. Testability: This means that hypothesis must be developed after a study of the problem.
  4. Replicability: The results of the research and hypothesis should be supported in subsequent studies conducted under similar circumstances for confidence in the research design.
  5. Precision and confidence: This refers to how close the findings based on a sample are to the reality. the closer the results are to the predicted phenomena, the higher the precision. Confidence refers to the probability that estimates are correct.
  6. Objectivity: Conclusions drawn through interpretation of results of data analysis should be objective and based on facts from actual data collected/
  7. Generalizability: This refers to the scope of applicability of the research findings. The wider the range of applicability of solutions by research, the more useful the research. It depends on the sampling design, instruments used for data collection and objectivity in the interpretation of data.
  8. Parsimony: This is the simplicity in explaining phenomena and challenges that occur in the application of solutions from research outcomes.
  9. Ethical-This is the most important characteristic in carrying out research.

CHARACTERISTICS OF GOOD RESEARCH

Good research generates reliable data and follows the standards of scientific methods, which include:

  1. Clear definition of purpose of the research and research problem. This should include its scope, limitations and definition of terms.
  2. The research process should be described in sufficient detail to permit other researchers to repeat the research.
  3. The research design should be carefully planned to yield objective results. The sample of a population should include evidence of the degree of representation of the sample.
  4. High ethical standards must be applied. A research design must include safeguards against mental or physical harm to participants, exploitation, invasion of privacy and loss of dignity.
  5. Limitations of the study that may arise from research design must be revealed in the research report.
  6. Data analysis should be sufficiently adequate for revealing the significance of the research. Data analysis should give rise to findings and conclusions.
  7. Findings must be presented in clear, precise assertions that are carefully drawn. Presentation of data should be comprehensive and easily understood. Findings should be presented unambiguously
  8. Conclusions must be justified by the data collected from the research, with detailed findings.
  9. The research report should contain information that gives the qualifications of the researcher for greater confidence in research reports.

 

TYPES OF RESEARCH.

CLASSIFICATION OF RESEARCH.

In business world there exists different kinds of problems. Consequently different types of research are also used. The following are the basic modes of classification:

  1. The field of study in which the research is conducted. i.e. Discipline; for example educational research, sociological research, marketing research etc.
  2. The place where the research is conducted. Hence we talk in forms of field research, laboratory research, community research etc.

3.Application of the research – the way/mode in which the findings of the research will be used eg, Action research(small scale and situational), service research etc A good example is census that is mainly used by the government to plan.

  1. Purpose of the research i.e. basic research (pure and fundamental research), action research, applied research and evaluation research(analyze data to make a decision).
  2. By methods of analysis, i.e., descriptive research(mean,mode,median,variance,standard deviation) and empirical research (practical rather than theory),
  3. Character of data collected i.e. qualitative research and quantitative research.
  4. Procedure/Design used – experimental research, survey research, observation or historical/documentary etc.

TYPES OF RESEARCH

  1. Basic research
  • It is also referred to as pure or fundamental research.
  • It is a type of research which is characterized by a desire to know or to expound the frontiers of knowledge.
  • It is research based on the creation of new knowledge.
  • It is mainly theoretical and for advancement of knowledge.
  • Basic researchers are interested in deriving scientific knowledge which will be a broad base for further research.

2.Applied Research

  • The type of research which is conducted for purpose of improving present practice, normally applied research is conducted for the purposes of applying or testing theory and evaluating its usefulness in solving problems.
  • Applied research provides data to support theory or suggest the development of new theories. It is the research done with the intention of applying the results of its findings to solve specific problems, currently being experienced in an Organization.

3.Action Research

  • This is a small scale intervention in the functioning of the real world and a close examination of the effects of such interventions.
  • Normally situational and it is concerned with diagnosing a problem in a specific context and attempting to solve it in that context.
  • Conducted with the primary intention of solving a specific, immediate and concrete problem in a local setting.
  • Not concerned with whether the results of the study are generalized to other settings, since its major goal is to seek a solution to a given problem.
  • Limited in its contribution to theory, but it is useful because it provides answers to problems that cannot wait for theoretical solutions.

Examples;

  • Studies done on new teaching programmes in mathematics for secondary schools
  • Effective ways of dealing with absenteeism in work place
  • Effective ways of dealing with absenteeism in schools
  1. Descriptive Research
  • Undertaken in order to ascertain and be able to describe the characteristics of variables in a situation.
  • Descriptive studies are undertaken in organizations in order to learn about and describe characteristics of employees. g. Education level, job status, length of service etc
  • The most prevalent method of gathering information in a descriptive study is the questionnaire. Others include: interviews, job analysis, documentary analysis etc.
  • Descriptive statistics such as the mean, standard, deviation, frequencies, percentages are used in the analysis of descriptive research.
  1. Correlational Research
  • Usually descriptive in that it cannot presume (not certain) a cause-and-effect relationship.
  • It can only establish that there is an association between two or more traits or performance.
  • Involves collecting data to determine whether a relationship exists between two or more quantifiable variables.
  • Main purpose of correlation research is to describe the nature of the relationship between the two variables.
  • Helps in identifying the magnitude of the relationship.
  1. 6. Casual Research
  • Refers to one which is done to establish a definitive ‘cause’ ‘effect’ relationship among variables.
  • The researcher is keen to delineating one or more factors that are certainly causing the problem.
  • The intention of the researcher conducting a casual study is to be able to state that variable X cause’s variable Y to change.
  • A casual study is more effective in a situation where the researcher has already identified the cause of the problem.

 Examples

  • Relationship of young and old employees in an organization.
  • Remuneration package
  • end month and mid moth performance
  • Facilitation e.g. transport.
  1. Historical Research (USE OF DOCUMENTS)
  • This is the systematic and objective location and synthesis of evidence in order to establish facts and draw conclusions about past events.
  • The act of historical research involves the identification and limitation of a problem of an area of study which is based on past events.
  • The researcher aims to:
  • Locate as many pertinent sources of information as possible concerning the specific problem.
  • Then analyze the information to ascertain its authenticity and accuracy, and then be able to use it to generalize on future occurrences.
  • Historical research is important because:
  1. It enables solutions to contemporary problems to be solved in the past.
  2. Throws light on present and future trends.
  • Allows for the revelation of data in relation to select hypothesis, theories and generalizations that are presently held about the past.
  • Ability of history to employ the past, to predict the future and to use the present to explain the past gives historical research a dual and unique quality which makes is exceptionally useful for all types of scholarly study and research.
  1. Experimental Research
  • The investigator deliberately controls and manipulates the conditions which determine the events to which he is interested in.
  1. Qualitative Research.(Human behaviors and aspects).
  • Includes designs, techniques and measures that do not produce numerical data.
  • Data is usually in form of words rather than numbers and this words are grouped into categories

 

THREE METHODS OF COLLECTING QUALITATIVE DATA.

  • Direct observation
  • Participant observation
  • Interview method.
  • Human behaviors are explained best using qualitative research.

10 QUANTITATIVE RESEARCH.

  • Includes designs, techniques and measures that produce discrete numerical or quantifiable data.
  • Radom sampling is usually done to ensure a representative of a sample is given.

ADVANTAGES OF USING BOTH QUALITATIVE AND QUANTITATIVE DATA.

  1. A researcher has several objectives of study, hence they can be assessed using both.
  2. No bias
  3. Both supplement each other.

DISADVANTAGES.

  1. Combining both methods can be expensive (time, energy and money)
  2. Researcher may not have been sufficiently trained in this method to be able to use them effectively.

HOW DOES RESEARCH BEGIN?/RESEARCH PROBLEM.

Research usually begins with clarification of a topic in which one has some interest or about which increased knowledge is clearly needed.

The term topic refers to subject issue or area under discussion. The topic is essential in success of research project. One’s interest in topic is mandatory in order to sustain the research.

Research problem refers to an area in any field where researcher would like to find an answer/solution.

CONDITIONS TO BE MET AFTER IDENTIFICATION OF THE PROBLEM.

  • There must be an individual, group or organization to which the problem can be attributed(sample)eg teachers,farmers,doctors,engineer,workers,students etc
  • There must be some environment which the problem pertains(place/location ie Nairobi county).
  • There must be some objectives to be attained.

FACTORS AFFECTING THE TOPIC SELECTION/POINTS TO OBSERVE WHEN SELECTING A RESEARCH PROBLEM

  1. Personal interest-Interest produces enthusiasm on what one is doing. It is the interest that makes the experience adequately rewarding.
  2. Topic one selects should be important-The topic selected should not be brought forward just because of personal interest but also because it will add to knowledge.
  3. Time-Due to time limitations, writers of academic research need to avoid complex topics as they may require large population samples. It is important to compare the time that topic will take against time available.
  4. Newness-It is always good to look at a new area so that, what one is doing is a little different from what others have done in past.
  5. Accessibility to material and respondents-A suitable topic is one which allows researcher to access the material. It is important to note that getting materials and respondents in some areas might not be an easy task.

Examples include

  • Senior government officials.
  • Vice chancellor of a university private or public.
  • Health officials.
  • National intelligence service.
  • Ethical consideration-It is both unethical and illegal to conduct research that may slander or do physical or psychological damage to subjects involved hence a researcher needs to take care of a subject in a very humane manner.
  • Subject /topic selected for research should be familiar.ie known to unknown or general to specific.
  • Costs involved
  • Selection of a problem must be pre-decided by a preliminary study.
  • Avoid the following;
  • A subject that have been overdone
  • Too narrow/fake problem
  • Controversial subjects.

STEPS IN TOPIC SELECTION.

  • Identify areas that puzzles an interest to you-Many issues may interest or puzzle a researcher and this may be social, economic, political, hr related issues, culture and religion.
  • Identify/select key words for the topic-Researcher should narrow  down to the real aspects that are puzzling or interesting him/her and express the in specific key words. Example in human resource management, researcher may be interested on how mergers and acquisitions affect company loyalty.
  • Define the topic-Researcher analyses selected key words and tries to put them together meaningfully.
  • Formulate the topic-After problem identification and definition it is important that reseacher comes up with a complete topic e.g. impact of mergers and acquisitions on company loyalty in a private sector.

QUALITIES OF AN EFFECTIVE RESEARCH TOPIC.

  1. Clear and an un ambiguous.
  2. Supported by credible evidence.
  3. Should captivate or interest researcher.
  4. Should be researchable.

WHERE TO GET RESEARCH TOPIC FROM/SOURCES OF RESEARCH PROBLEMS.

  • Current issues(Newspaper)
  • Observation of environment behavior.
  • Personal Experience
  • Course;lecturers,discussion groups and literature.
  • Lifestyle
  • Previous research work i.e. impact of microfinances on SMEs
  • Natural calamities
  • Review of related literature-Review of published literature eg textbooks,journals,magazines etc.Other sources in this categories include. Research bulletin,research projects,research thesis,journals of management research,dissertations and internet.
  • Consultation with experts and research institutions.
  • Participation in professional discussions-forums,seminars,workshops and conferences.
  • Social development –social changes and technological changes.
  • Media-news like alcoholism,drug abuse,addiction and immorality.

STEPS OF RESEARCH PROCESS.

  1. 1. 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.

  1. Formulating research objectives and questions/hypothesis.

To address research problem.

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

  1. Data collection.

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

  • Questionnaires
  • Interview schedules
  • Interview guides
  • Focused groups
  • Experiments
  1. 7. Sampling.

Select people who will be in your study as participants.

  1. 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.

  1. Data processing.

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

10 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.

 

STATEMENT OF PROBLEM

Refers to an

RESEARCH ETHICS

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.
  3. 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
  1. 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.
  2. 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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

 

RESEARCH METHODS TERMS

  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.

 

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  1. 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.
  2. 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).
  1. 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).
  2. 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).
  1. 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”.

RESEARCH PROPOSAL

A research proposal is a document written by a researcher that provides a detailed description of the proposed study.  It is an outline of the research process that gives a reader a summary of the researchers’   intention to carry out a study.

It is therefore a detailed work plan on how a research activity will be conducted. The research proposal is ones way of showing that one has an idea that is of value and can contribute important knowledge to the specific field.  A research proposal is intended to convince the readers that one has a worthwhile research study and that one has the competence and the work-plan to complete it.

The proposal should have sufficient information to convince readers that one has an important research idea, that one has a good grasp of the relevant literature and the major issues, and that methodology is sound. A research proposal should address the following questions:

  • What one plan to accomplish,
  • why one want to do it and
  • How you are going to do

To propose means to state an intention, suggestion. It indicates a researcher’s intention to carry out a study. A Research proposal is written in future tense since the study has not yet been carried out. A research study starts with a brief introductory section that narrows down to the specific problem to be studies.

FORMAT OF A RESEARCH PROPOSAL

A proposal is divided into the following sections

COVER PAGE

PRELIMINARIES

This is the first section of the proposal. However it is the last to be written. It includes  the following:

  1. Title page

It is often times referred to as the cover page, this section is where one indicates the title of the  research, name, institutional information . This section includes

  • The research title
  • Name and student number
  • Statement- A research proposal submitted in partial fulfillment for the degree of (insert the name of the Degree) of kenya Methodist University
  • Month and year of submission
  1. Declaration Page

This includes the declaration by the student and supervisor:

Declaration by student

I declare that this research s proposal is my original work and has not been presented for a degree or any other award in any other university

Name…………………Signed………………………….Date……………………….

Declaration by university supervisor (s)

This research proposal has been submitted for examination with our approval as university supervisors

Signed   ……………………..                                       Date……………………………

Name…………………………………………………………………………………..

Signed   ……………………..                                       Date……………………………

Name…………………………………………………………………………………..

  1. c) Dedication

This is not compulsory and may apply to an individual who has had a major impact on the researcher. It should not exceed 25 words

d)Acknowledgement

This refers to individuals who in one way or the other have contributed to the success of the study. It should not exceed 150 words

e)Abstract

This summarizes the major areas in the proposal. It should not exceed 500 words. It should be comprehensive with no paragraph.

  1. f) Table of contents

This indicates all the section in the proposal. The page numbers should be included

  1. g) List of tables
  2. h) List of figures
  3. g) Abbreviations and acronyms

The Research Process

The research begins with a selection of identification of a subject/problem to be studied. Once the subject has been identified, the researcher takes the following steps:

  • Formulating the research problem.
  • Defining the hypothesis.
  • Research design.
  • Determination of the type of data to be collected.
  • Data collection procedures and data analysis and generalizations

CHAPTER ONE:  INTRODUCTION TO THE STUDY

The first section of a research   proposal is referred to as the introduction. This is because it indicates how the study will flow. It is the opening /beginning of the study. The main purpose of the introduction is to provide the necessary background or context for the research problem. Its purpose is to establish a framework for the research. This section is divided into the following:

1.0 Introduction

  • Background of the study
  • Statement of the problem
  • Objectives of the study
  • Research questions
  • Significance of the study
  • Scope of the study
  • Operational definition of terms

1.1 Background of the study

This sections aims to create reader interest in the topic. It lays the broad foundation for the problem that leads to the study. It places the study within the larger context of the scholarly literature. (Creswell, 1994, p. 42). The background should be concise, interesting and written in language which is understandable to a well-informed but non-specialist audience. It should assist the readers to understand the dependent and independent variables.  It puts the topic into perspective. In writing this section one should

  • Provide the contemporary context in which the proposed research lies
  • Identify the key independent and dependent variables
  • specify the phenomenon one wants to study
  • Briefly describe the major issues and sub-problems to be addressed by the research.

This section gives a background of what should be studied. It puts the topic into perspective. It should be about three pages.

1.2  Statement of the problem

This is the issue of concern. It is the “why” of the study. It refers to what has propelled the need for the study. “A problem might be defined as the issue that exists in the literature, theory, or practice that leads to a need for the study”. It is important in a proposal that the problem stand out—that the reader can easily recognize it. One should state the problem in terms intelligible to someone who is relatively uninformed in the area of investigation. Effective problem statements answer the question “Why does this research need to be conducted.”

 

The following should be considered while formulating a problem

 

  • What is the problem one aims to solve and
  • Why is it important to be investigated?

The problem statement should be given in the clear and understandable form.

It indicates a gap between the actual and desired state. This is an essential and focal point of the proposal. Without a problem there is no study. Citations to justify the issue of concern should be included.

It should be precise, specific

Characteristics of a good research problem are as follows:

  1. It should be written clearly in a way that captures the reader’s interest.
  2. The specific problem identified is objectively researchable.
  3. The scope of the specific research problem is indicated.
  4. Importance of the study in adding new knowledge is clearly stated.
  5. The problem statement must give the purpose of the research

Research Problem

The research problem is formulated using the following criteria.

  1. Workability
    1. Is the research within the range of resources and time constraints?
    2. Is the necessary data accessible?
  • Can you come up with an answer to the problem?
  1. Is the required methodology manageable and understandable?
  1. Critical Mass
    1. Is the problem of sufficient magnitude to fulfill the motivation of the study?
    2. Are there enough variables?

 

  1. Interest
    1. Are you interested in the problem area?
    2. Does it relate to your background and career?
  • Will you learn useful skills from pursuing it?

 

  1. Theoretical Value
    1. Does the problem fill a gap in literature?
    2. Does it challenge previously held opinions?
  • Will others recognize its importance?
  1. Will it contribute to the advancement of knowledge?
  2. Is it publishable?

 

  1. Practical Value
    1. Will the solutions to the problem improve available knowledge?
    2. Are other researchers likely to be interested in the results?
  • Will your own research skills be improved as a result of the study?

 

Sources of Research Problems

  1. Existing theories that contain generalizations of hypothesized principles. This is suitable for theory based studies.
  2. Existing literature as a source requires systematic and extensive reading in the general area of interest. E.g. books, articles etc.
  3. Discussions with experts on general topics, in class or seminars.
  4. Previous research studies that indicate areas of further research.
  5. Replication, which involves carrying out a research project that has been done previously to establish if the findings hold over time and across regions.
  6. Media frequently reports issues that can form the basis of a research problem since the issues are discussed by the public and are important to the majority of people.
  7. Personal experiences, which include first hand observations and reflection on experiences lead to vivid images and intuition on the part of the researcher.

1.3 Objectives

This is the ultimate goal or aim of the study. It is what the researcher hopes to achieve by the end of the study. It should provide a specific and accurate synopsis of the overall purpose of the study”    What will be achieved at the end of the study. It is linked to the research Title.

Purpose of the Study

The researcher conveys the focus of the research study in one or two sentences. This is the purpose of the study. The purpose should be accurately expressed for the research process to be carried out with ease. The criteria used in formulating a purpose of the study are as follows:

  1. It must be clearly indicated, unambiguous and in a declarative manner.
  2. It should indicate the concepts or variables in the study.
  3. Where possible, the relationships among the variables should be stated.
  4. The purpose should state the target population.
  5. Variables and target population given in the purpose should be consistent with the variables and target population operationalized in the methods section of the study.

Specific Objectives

These are the measurable tasks that will assist meet the purpose of the study.

These are what the researchers hope to achieve by the end of the study.

Active verbs are used

  • To analyze……………..
  • To assess…………………
  • To find out………………
  • To examine……………
  • To evaluate……………..
  • To determine

At least 3 to 5 objectives

 

1.4 Research Questions

research question poses a relationship between two or more variables but phrases the relationship as a question. These are specific objectives in question form. When answered the research objectives will be addressed.

OR

(Research Hypothesis)

Formulating a Hypothesis

A hypothesis is a researcher’s prediction regarding the outcome of the study. They are derived from existing theories, previous research or personal experiences and observations. A study can have one hypothesis or where there are several variables, multiple hypotheses can be formulated. When a researcher analyzes collected data to determine whether the hypothesized relationship exists and the results fail to support a stated hypothesis, it does not mean that the study has failed. Such a situation implies that existing theories need revision or testing under different environments. Purposes of hypotheses are as follows:

  • They provide direction by bridging the gap between the problem and the evidence needed for its solution.
  • They ensure collection of the evidence necessary to answer questions in the statement of the problem.
  • They enable the investigator to assess information collected by examining the relevance and organization.
  • They sensitize the investigator in ascertaining aspects of the study that are relevant regarding the problem at hand.
  • They permit the researcher understand the problem with greater clarity.
  • They guide the collection of data and provide the structure for their meaningful interpretation.
  • They form the framework for the ultimate conclusions as solutions.

Formulating a sound hypothesis requires reviewing of literature or existing theories. This is carried out after the literature review but prior to data collection.

Characteristics of a Good Hypothesis

  1. Must be clearly and briefly define the expected relationship between the variables.
  2. Must be based on sound theory, previous research or personal experience.
  3. Must be consistent with common sense or generally accepted truths.
  4. Must be testable and within a reasonable time.
  5. Must be related to empirical phenomenon.
  6. Variables stated must be consistent with purpose statement, objectives and the operationalized variables in the method’s section.
  7. Must be simple and concise as much as the complexity of the concepts involved allow.
  8. Must be stated in a way that implications can be deduced in the form of empirical operations.

Types of Hypothesis

  1. Null hypothesis: also called a statistical hypothesis. It always states that no real relationship or difference exists between variables. E.g. there is no difference in maize productivity during rainy seasons or dry seasons. Mathematically expressed as:

H0: µ1= µ2

  1. Alternative hypothesis: also known as a research hypothesis. It usually states that there is a relationship or difference but the researcher does not know the nature of such difference or relationship. E.g. high rainfall increases maize productivity. Mathematically expressed as:

H1: µ1≠ µ2          Or        H1: µ1 > µ2         Or        H1: µ1 < µ2

There are statistical tests applied to hypothesis i.e. one tailed or two tailed tests. It is easier to obtain statistical significance with one tailed tests.

The alternative hypothesis takes several forms. In statistical form, directional hypothesis make use of the signs > or < in which case a one tailed test is applicable. In a non-directional hypothesis, a two tailed test is used.

1.5 Significance of the study

This section indicates who will gain from the study and how.  One should think about implications—how results of the study may affect scholarly research, theory, practice, educational interventions, curricula, counseling, and policy. The major issues to be addressed are:

  • What will be improved or changed as a result of the proposed research?
  • Why is the study important
  • How will results of the study be implemented, and what innovations will come about

1.6. Scope of the study

This refers to the parameters of the study, the area that the study will focus on. It is a general outline of what the study will cover. “This helps one to remember and keep within the accepted range of one’s study. This also reminds a researcher that this method of investigation should be centered around trying to solve the problem within the provide scope.

1.7  Operational Definition of Terms

In this section all terms assumed to have a unique meaning should be defined

 

CHAPTER TWO

LITERATURE REVIEW

  • Literature refers to the analysis of textbooks or manuscripts. “the term literature” means the works the researcher consulted in order to understand and investigate the research problem.
  • A literature review therefore is an account of what has been published on a topic by accredited scholars and researchers.
  • It is a critical look at the existing research that is significant to the work that the researcher will be carrying out. It involves examining documents such as books, magazines, journals and dissertations that have a bearing on the study being conducted.
  • Literature is the process of reading, analyzing, evaluating, and summarizing scholarly materials bout a specific topic. It is an analysis of textbooks and manuscripts related to ones area of study. Its purpose is to summarize, synthesize and analyze the arguments of others. In effect, a literature review compiles, outlines and evaluates previously established research and relates it to ones own study.   A literature review is a body of text that aims to review the critical points of current knowledge. Most are aware that it is a process of gathering information from other sources and documenting it

The section reviews the relevant studies upon which the research is based and introduces the conceptual framework. This section indicates the theoretical concepts used. This section provides relevant readings from previous works. The materials should be relevant to the topic of the research.  The literature review accomplishes the following

  • It shares with the reader the results of other studies that are closely related to the study being reported (Fraenkel & Wallen, 1990).
  • It relates a study to the larger, ongoing dialogue in the literature about a topic, filling in gaps and extending prior studies (Marshall & Rossman, 1989).
  • It provides a framework for establishing the importance of the study, as well as a benchmark for comparing the results of a study with other findings.
  • It “frames” the problem earlier identified.

Importance of Literature Review in Research

Literature review is essential in research. This is due to the following:

  • It sharpens and deepens the theoretical foundation of the research. Literature review enables the researcher to study different theories related to the identified topic. By studying these theories, a researcher gains clarity and better understanding of the specific objectives
  • It gives the researcher insight into what has already been done in the selected field, pinpointing its strengths and weaknesses. This information guides the researcher in the formulation of a theory that aims at addressing the identified gaps.
  • It enables the researcher to know the kind of additional data needed in the study. This helps avoid duplication of work.
  • An understanding of previous works helps the researcher to develop a significant problem which will provide further knowledge in the field of study. It also helps in delimiting the research problem. This is through portraying what has already been done and what would be useful to focus on in the current study.
  • Wide reading exposes the researcher to a variety of approaches of dealing with the research issue. This contributes to a well designed methodology. The researcher can avoid methods indicated in the literature to have failed and adopt new approaches. This will result in a significant study.

In general therefore the literature review serves the following:

  • Ensures that you are not “reinventing the wheel”.
  • Gives credits to those who have laid the groundwork for ones research.
  • Demonstrates ones knowledge of the research problem.
  • Demonstrates ones understanding of the theoretical and research issues related to your research question.
  • Shows the  ability to critically evaluate relevant literature information.
  • Indicates your ability to integrate and synthesize the existing literature.
  • Provides new theoretical insights or develops a new model as the conceptual framework for your research.
  • Convinces reader that the  proposed research will make a significant and substantial contribution to the literature (i.e., resolving an important theoretical issue or filling a major gap in the literature).

Qualities of an effective Literature Review

The following are qualities expected from an effective literature review.

  1. It is critical, organized and analytical in orientation:.
  2. It Justifies the need for the study:
  3. It highlights the relationship between the past and the current study: An effective literature review links the current study with past studies. It evaluates and shows the relationships between the work already done by other scholars and the researchers work. This link brings consistency and continuity in relation to the identified topic.
  4. It puts the research problem into perspective: By quoting and analyzing various studies related to the selected topic, the literature review helps define the research problem. It also acts as a guideline in assessment of the research questions.

 

Guidelines in formulating effective Literature Reviews

  1. Identify key issues to be addressed by the literature review:
  2. Identify sources of information: The researcher needs to identify books, articles, professional papers and other relevant publications that relate to the research title and the research problem. .
  3. Analyze critically the articles identified:
  4. Synthesize the information gathered: Select studies that relate most directly to the problem at hand
  5. Evaluation

After carrying out the review and writing, the researcher should reflect on the following:

Challenges faced in the formulation of a Literature Review

  1. Failure to connect the reviewed studies with the current study:
  2. Poor presentation:
  3. Lack of/poor referencing:
  4. Lack of critique:
  5. Failure to review current studies:

Reviewed literature may also be rejected due to the following:

  • Lacking organization and structure
  • Lacking focus, unity and coherence
  • Being repetitive
  • Failing to cite relevant studies
  • Failing to keep up with recent developments
  • Failing to critically evaluate cited papers
  • The reviewed literature should be stimulating.

 The References in the Body of the Text

The appropriate point at which to indicate the source of an idea is as soon as is convenient. When it is at the beginning or middle of a sentence, the researcher should indicate the surname of the author and year of publication. The year of publication should be enclosed inside brackets e.g. Orodho(2003)pointed out that…., Kombo (2004) indicated that …..At the end of a sentence or paragraph, one needs to enclose the surname of the author and year of publication in brackets. The name and year should be separated by a comma. For example (Orodho, 2003);  (Kombo, 2004).

Referencing Within the Text

There are 2 methods of accrediting a statement:

  • The authors last name and year of document publication are put after a paraphrased statement in a text. E.g.

Income has been found to be positively related with quality of life (Williams, 2011).

  • The authors name comes at the beginning of a sentence with the year following in brackets. E.g.

Williams (2011) found a positive relationship between income and quality of life.

According to William (2011), there is a positive relationship between income and quality of life.

References & Bibliography

References refer to a list of works the researcher read and cited in the text. A bibliography refers to a list of material read whether they are cited or not. There are various ways of writing references. The most commonly used in Kenyan universities is the American Psychology Association (APA) style.

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