Analyzing the steps in a scientific research process

Analyzing the steps in a scientific research process

Introduction

The research process refers to a plan or method to carry out a study with the aim of answering a particular question(s) about a phenomenon. The research process involves various steps that are termed as cyclic. In healthcare, following the steps in the process is essential to obtain credible, objective and replicable results. The steps include selecting the problem and formulating the research question, formulating the hypothesis, designing the experiment and data collection, analyzing the data and interpreting the findings.

 

Problem selection and formulating the question

In this step, the researcher makes observations and defines the topic of interest which s/he wishes to research on. After this, the researcher has to perform a thorough review of available literature on the topic which may comprise reviewing books as well as academic journals. The researcher may also seek assistance from colleagues, faculty, and supervisors for opinions on topics to research.Through the review, the researcher can obtain invaluable information that guides them on what has been answered on and the areas that are yet to be researched with relation to the topic (Neutens&Rubinson, 2014). The researcher is then able to formulate a question that he seeks to answer through his/her research project. The question may be as simple as “What is the role of nurses in patient advise and counseling?” the question acts as a compass for the researcher by offering the direction which the researcher should pursue. It defines to him/herthe next courses of his/her actions.

Formulating the hypothesis

A hypothesis is a concise and clear statement that is an educated or an informed guess as to what the answer to the research question might be. To formulate a proper hypothesis, the researcher must define all the variables pertaining to the research as the hypothesis defines the relationship between the variables. The hypothesis may be a precise cause-and-effect clause about the various variables or a generalized statement on the variables. A good hypothesis should be testable, falsifiable, show a clear relationship between the research variables and offer a logical explanation for the predicted outcome (Neutens&Rubinson, 2014). The research findings will aim to prove or disprove the hypothesis.

Designing the experiment and data collection

The experiment is a crucial part of the research as it defines the process through which the data is going to be collected. The design of the experiment must be appropriate for the research question at hand as it will determine the quality and quantity of data that is collected. Designing the experiment involves defining the methods of data collection, the target population;the sample size and how samples will be obtained (Neutens&Rubinson, 2014). Besides, it involves determining the dates and times for the experiments to be carried out, defining and testing the instruments to be used for data collection and defining any controls that will be used. Moreover, the researcher also defines the best methods to use for analysis of data after collection. The methods of analysis depend on the type of experiment and the type of data collected about the research question

After designing the experiment, the researcher has to go to the field and collect all the relevant data according to the sample size desired. The researcher must stick to the plans defined during the design of the experiment. Moreover, s/he must take measures to ensure that the data collected should be authentic, accurate and free from bias. Additionally, s/he must adhere to all the ethical standards that are relevant to the type of research s/he is conducting.


 

Analyzing the data

In this stage, the researcher converts the raw data obtained into meaningful information that is in line with the objectives of the research. The data is broken down and evaluated thoroughly and transformed into a form that the end users can understand (Neutens&Rubinson, 2014). The researcher must adhere to the plans and analytical methods that were defined during experiment design. The plans must define what information the data should reveal to confirm the hypothesis. Analysis can be done through the use of statistical tools which may be either inferential or descriptive. Inferential statistics consists of carrying out tests of significance that can either prove or disprove the hypothesis. On the other hand, descriptive statistics will describe the data collected through measures such as means, data distribution and standard deviation.

Interpreting the findings

After analysis, the information obtained is used to draw conclusions and make decisions. In scientific research, the findings are evaluated against the hypothesis as well as conclusions obtained from experiments by previous researchers if they exist. The researcher explains his findings in detail and how they relate to the real world. If the findings confirm the hypothesis to be true, then the researcher has succeeded in answering his research question. If the results disprove his hypothesis, the researcher may continue with the inquiry and forms another hypothesis and tests it.

The researcher then publishes his findings and shares it with other scientists so that they can verify the findings and to be used as reference material that will assist in future research endeavors.  It is important to note that this is not the final stage in research as it generates valuable data that will be applied by another researcher who will incorporate the data into the first step of his research process (Neutens&Rubinson, 2014). Hence, the scientific research process is termed as cyclic.

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