Research Process


Researchers who are attempting to answer a research question employ the research process. Though presented in a liner format, in practice the process of research can be less straightforward. This said, researchers attempt to follow the process and use it to present their research findings in research reports and journal articles.

Identifying research problems
Research problems need to be researchable and can be generated from practice, but must be grounded in the existing literature. They may be local, national or international problems, that need addressing in order to develop the existing evidence base.

Searching the existing literature base
A thorough search of the literature using data bases, internet, text and expert sources should support the need to research the problem. This should be broad and in depth, showing a comprehensive search of the problem area.

Critical appraisal of the literature
A critical appraisal framework should be employed to review the literature in a systematic way.

Developing the questions/ and or hypothesis
A more specific research question and /or hypothesis may be developed from the literature review, that provides the direction for the research, which aims to provide answers to the question /hypothesis posed.

Theoretical base
The research may employ a theoretical base to examining the problem, especially seen in masters level research and in many research studies. In the health and social care field this might come from the social sciences, psychology or anthropology.

Sampling strategies
Sampling is the method for selecting people, events or objects for study in research. Non-probability and probability sampling strategies enable the researcher to target data collection techniques. These may need to be of a specific size (sometimes determined by a power calculation) or composition.

Data collection techniques
These are the tools and approaches used to collect data to answer the research question /hypothesis. More than one technique can be employed, the commonest are questionnaires and interviews.

Approaches to qualitative and quantitative data analysis
This component is more fully explored in the site, but can involve qualitative and quantitative approaches, dependent on the type of data collected.

Interpretation of results
The results are interpreted, drawing conclusions and answering the research question /hypothesis. Implications for practice and further research are drawn, which acknowledge the limitations of the research.

Dissemination of research
The research and results can be presented through written reports, articles, papers and conferences, both in print and electronic forms.


Further reading

Hek G, Judd M, Moule P (2002) Making Sense of Research. An introduction for health and social care practitioners. 2nd Edition. London : Continuum

Alston M and Bowles W (1998) Research for social workers : An introduction to methods. Australia: Allen and Unwin

Burns R (2000) Introduction to research methods. London : Sage

Polit D Beck C and Hungler B (2001) Essentials of nursing research: Methods, appraisal and utilization. 5th Edition. Philadelphia: J B Lippincott Co.

Denzin, N. and Lincoln, Y. (Eds) (2000) Handbook of qualitative research. 2nd Edition. London : Sage