WANT TO KNOW THE MEANING OF RESEARCH AND PROJECT?

The purpose of this written article is to inform students who are in final year and undergraduates generally on the meaning and importance of research, proposal and project writing. Lying in the heart of proposal and project or project writing is the concept of research. This entails that no good understanding of the concept of proposal and project will be feasible without a forehand knowledge of what the term research is. Therefore, it is essential to have a clear understanding and knowledge of what research is before talking about project or proposal writing.
The word research originated as a French word “rechercher”, which means, “to look for again.” The word is made up of “re” which in the French language means “again” and then “chercher”, “to look for.”
It is then certain that before anybody starts looking for something, the person must know about no matter how little about what is been sought for, where and how to go about it. However, the researcher might not be successful due to one mistake or the other and therefore he starts another search. That is, he starts to search about the variables again; thus, the term research simply implies looking for something again in other different places; putting up new efforts, and taking nothing for granted. Research has been defined as the methodical search for knowledge or a methodical way of asking questions or a methodical approach of making inquiries.
A more inclusive approach to the definition of research explained research as a systematic, objective analysis and recording of controlled observations that may result in development of generalizations, principles, theories resulting in prediction and ultimate control of many events that may be consequences or causes of precise activities.
It therefore follows that an undergraduate student in its final year must have a full knowledge of the process of discovery which is generally based on scientific enquiry where available facts are closely examined or investigated that must follow certain rules of conducting investigations. Scientific research methods, is a course that teaches undergraduate students how to write research projects in the 200 level course curriculum of most Universities in Nigeria.
Identifying a problem, stating the purpose, collecting and analyzing valid data, and drawing valid conclusion should be the point of view of students writing project. This is clearly a process of finding out a solution or answer to problems. Consequently, this should be seen as a planning process towards seeking and getting desirable information resulting in the provision of reasonable answers to reasonable questions raised in the course of the research. This is with an aim to enabling people predict future incidences and carrying out efficient investigations to resolve the problems.
Research is carried out in a scientific way; research is a science of knowledge through inquiry that is concerned with efficient way of finding information on an issue, subject or object. From the various descriptions of research above, the following could be considered as the essential idea of carrying out research.
i. A process which is efficient and orderly rather than irregular.
ii. The existence and proper definition of a research problem to be analyzed.
iii. Collection, study and understanding of relevant data towards getting the solutions to research problems.
iv. Generalizing conclusion of results towards better handling of similar event (s) in the future.
It can be figured out that from the above conceptualizations of the term research, the characteristics of typical research project writing which is reviewed below:
1. That a typical research project must begin on the basis of a problem in mind for which purpose the research sets to resolve or proffer solutions to. Generally speaking, it is known that there cannot be a research project in the absence of a problem of curiosity.
2. That the results of a typical project should assist to develop generalizations, principles and theories, which, when put into use in other similar conditions in the future, could produce the same effects. That is, the methods used in tackling the problem should be reproducible and yield same results under varying conditions anywhere globally.
3. That the ways of conducting the research project must be essential, be as orderly and practical as possible, through the collection of significant data for the project.
4. To achieve number (2) and (3) stated above, there is the need for carefully and suitably selected research plan, otherwise known as design or method, serving as principle for the research measures.
5. Finally, the results of the finding of the research project should contribute something fresh and important to the expansion of knowledge in that field of study. Thus, every research project must help to expand further the present boundaries of knowledge.

THE PROCESSES INVOLVED IN A RESEARCH PROJECT

The processes involved in a typical research project have become scientific in nature. This scientific character of research projects has, in turn, brought about their practical approach to problem solving rather than guesswork. Therefore, there are well-defined phases involved in this scientific/practical approach to research undertakings, which are quite similar to the characteristics of a research project given above. These processes comprise: –
1. Identification of a Researchable Problem-Although it is expected that the research project should originate from real-life circumstances, it is equally significant to note that not all real-life situation problems are researchable. There must be a balance between these two.
2. Clear and Concise Statement of the Research Problem: – This is pretty important in view of the fact that it is just one thing to be able to detect the researchable challenges. It is however another, quite different thing to be able to put same down very precisely, concisely and clearly. The problem would stop to be researchable until and unless one has been able to affirm it so well and good as to be specific, straight to the point and lucid.
3. Creating Necessary Research Questions and/or Appropriate Research Hypotheses: – Note that there is a disparity between Research Question and Research Hypotheses. A research hypothesis is a specific statement whose supposed truth or practicability is testable through the scientific system. It is a form of statement, which declares one’s prediction on the subject matter planned to aid in clarifying certain ambiguities/doubts. On the other hand, a research question is intelligent questions throw up by the researcher, consequent upon the lucid statement of the problem. The research questions are set in such a way that once answers have been proffered to them, the research problems in question become resolved. Therefore, the research question forms the basis upon which the questions on the research questionnaire, otherwise known as “questionnaire items” are created. Although there are research projects, which have hypotheses and research questions shared, especially at the very complex stage of research, several other research conditions required only one of the two.
4. Collecting Required Data for the Research: – Due to the practical nature of the scientific method of research, data are to be composed on the subject of investigation. Instruments such as questionnaire, personal/direct observation, interviews and documentary sources are often used for the purpose of data gathering. The instruments are so planned that they seek certain information from respondents, which would help in providing important answers to the research questions and/or providing relevant data for testing the hypotheses. By the term “respondents”, we refer to the group of research subjects {people} from whom the researcher intends to gather useful data for the aim of his research project. This could be students in a class or group of classes, primary and post-primary institutions, farmers, technicians, medical doctors, patients, engineers, market women, etc. at a certain time.
5. Analysis presentation and Discussing the Data Collected: – Since the researcher will primarily be gathering raw data from the field of study, it is expected that such data are presented first, and then subjected to discussions and analysis.
There are so many ways of doing this; relying on such things as: –
i. The type of research being conducted.
ii. The type of instruments use in its data-gathering; and
iii. The types of data gathered at the end of the research.
Regardless of all these, nevertheless, it is important to note that tabular arrangement of data as well as diagrammatic representation in the forms of charts, histograms and frequency tables are frequently used. For hypotheses testing, the various but important arithmetical ways are employed and are so presented for necessary discussions and interpretations.
f. Drawing Inferences, Conclusions and Recommendations from the study: – This is where the many things are discussed and its contribution(s) to knowledge is made manifest and clearly stated. That is, what the inferences, conclusions and recommendations set out to do; and it is on this basis that generalizations, principles and theories would be drawn. Stakeholders are hereby assigned responsibilities with an aim of ensuring that the present conditions are well developed.

Why Research Project?

The question “Why Research Project” is a very basic one, which seeks to know the magnitude of research projects and/or proposal. Nonetheless, to answer the question effectively, there arises the need to observe briefly the issues surrounding the emergence of research itself. It is no exaggeration that we have always lived in a world full of so many facts-yet to be known and yet to be revealed.
Man was created curious and inquisitive to be able to rise above the obstacles posed by his environment. By nature, he sought after finding answers to the many confusing and yet-to-be answered questions in his surroundings. Due to the fact that he was always surrounded by this situation, man found himself being forced to search for answers to this wide range of “unknowns” as a requirement for his survival in his surroundings.
Even though, man had always been in this condition of ever searching for answers, it is astonishing to note that the approaches employed have also been primitive and random. It was only with the dawn of science that things changed for the better in this view. This is because science brought about a formalized and organized approach to this effort, such that there are new, common and indeed, widely accepted ways of conducting the research.
This is what is generally referred to as the “scientific method.” Thus, the significant of research to individuals, groups, corporate bodies and governments, in both private and public lives of any society cannot be exaggerated.
Research is important to the society and it’s considered as one of the most important tools for: –
(a) Advancing the Frontier of Knowledge: – The result of research projects is expected to contribute something new, however little, to knowledge in that specific area of study. By such a contribution, the present boundaries of knowledge in that field will be extended and expanded more. Most inventions and innovations made by man especially those of the scientists are direct products of research works.
(b) Promoting Progress in the Society: – This is related to the above in that progress in society is the direct result of the application of research results to addressing social, political and economic issues. Through such applications, the human society is made a better place for everyone to live in. This has had a great impact on the condition of our generation today when measured up to with those of our forefathers. Few examples of such research products include the computers and Internet.
(c) Enabling Man to Relate More Effectively with his Environment: – Due to the complex nature of man’s surroundings in which man had found himself, he has little or no choice than to subject the environment to his own whims and caprices if it must survive, the profit of such efforts in terms of research has helped man not only to better understand his surrounding but also to subject same to his deserves through conquest. By conquering his surrounding therefore, man has proven that he is in manage of what happens in and around his urgent and even distant surroundings.
No wonder that we all talk about the global village today in obvious reference to the world, which has now shrunken to the size of a typical village, as a result of breakthrough in the areas of telecommunications, and computer, which are products of research them.
(d) Assisting Man to accomplish his Purpose: – As a result of the exponential advances mentioned above, it goes without saying that individuals and groups who live today have had their lots much more enhanced when evaluated to those of the earlier times. This is for the fact that research effect naturally translates into great social, economic and political profits for the citizens. Individual goals become much easier to achieve; thereby making life more important and pleasing to the majority.
(e) Helping Man to Resolve his Conflicts: – It is a known fact that man lives in a state of continuous conflicts; if not between him and his surroundings; certainly, between him and his neighbors. This can be accounted for by the fact that what he needs to know far outweighed what he already knew. It is by constant commitment in this research process that he stands great chances of getting answers to his many problems; thereby managing his conflicts.

How is Project-Writing Different from Research?

Project is a course of action intended or considered possible; an organized planned undertaking. Research project can further be defined as a set of task for a class of school students in which, for a given period of time, subjects are taught with extraordinary reference to some chosen topics, and students are helped to make self-sufficient inquiries to supplement formal teaching.
Writing, on the other hand, is the process of assembling words in reasonable order which is carefully chosen so that a reader can appreciate what the writer means clearly and briefly. Writing skills usually include: –
(i) Choosing appropriate approach
(ii) Spelling correctly, punctuation, grammar and capitalization.
(iii) Ensuring appropriate headings and subheadings, sentencing and the way in which the paragraphed.
(iv) Editing and revising the manuscript appropriately.

It becomes obvious from the above that both project-writing and research points is the same thing but in slightly different in small ways. Although both refer to the process of carrying out an investigation, research tends to be connected more with the developed form of such investigations. For instance, it is common to take notice of research at the post-graduate and even post-doctoral levels mainly.
On the other hand, the term project-writing acquaints more with the undergraduate level with long essays intended to be written, supervised, bound and submitted to the researcher’s candidate’s department in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the award of certificates and degrees. Students in tertiary institutions like the polytechnics, colleges of education and universities are well known with this concept and hardly could any of such students graduate without fulfilling the rectitude of submitting a project work.
Thus, one can assume that research is the advanced form of project writing. Not only is it more difficult than project writing, sophistication and expertise with the involvement of professionals are readily and extensively deployed in its accomplishment. Whereas project-writing represents the basic form of research, it is the complex type of project-writing that is usually referred to as research. It is in an effort to distinguish between these two that such terms as project, thesis and dissertation have been used to indicate the level of which a particular research work concerns.
Even though these three terms can be used interchangeably, it remains a fact that the use of thesis dissertation applies more appropriately for postgraduate research than to undergraduate project writing. Whereas a project need not necessarily be defended, both thesis and dissertation undergo a number of defenses, bringing about a variety of input from many experts into the study. Hence, the rather higher quality of the research works as associated to that of project-writing.

This article is, however, targeted primarily at those who fall in the project-writing group for obvious reasons. As for the group of advanced researchers, numerous texts already exists to take care of their needs; while this can only serve as sample to them. The main aim here is to simplify the rather difficult subject of research undertaking, especially from a feasible approach point of view. This is with the hope that students would be better inclined to seeking a rather genuine understanding of this subject matter thereafter.

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