Research process consists of series of actions and steps needed for conducting scientific research, if the researcher follows certain steps in conducting the research, the work can be carried out smoothly with least difficulty. These steps are described as beneath—
Step-I: Identification of the Problem
The first and most important step for identifying a problem is asking a question or identifying a need that arises as a result of curiosity and to which it become necessary to find an answer. The psychological studies are focused on one or many of the following kinds of questions:
What are the events that cause or determine a given behaviour or response?
What is the nature of behaviour or action (i.e., its structure) and how it is linked with other actions and behaviours?
What are the relationships of internal psychological processes with behavioural phenomenon?
The research question determines the direction of study and researchers have to struggle a lot in identifying and articulating the same. Essentially two steps are involved in formulating the research problem, viz, understanding the problem thoroughly, and rephrasing the same into meaningful terms. The main function of formulating a research problem is to decide what you want to find out about. It is extremely important to evaluate the research problem in the light of funds, time and expertise and knowledge available at your disposal. It is equally important to identify any gaps in your knowledge of relevant disciplines, such as statistics required for analysis.
Step-II: Formulating a Hypothesis
When the researcher has identified the problem and reviewed the relevant literature he formulates a hypothesis which is a kind of suggested answer to the problem Hypothesis plays the key role in formulating and guiding any study.
The hypotheses are generally derived from earlier research findings existing theories, and personal observations and experiences. From a careful examination of relevant theory and previous findings, the psychologist would be able to state one or more prepositions whose validity could be tested. Ideally these hypotheses would be based on a deductive theory but they may simply be new hypotheses or hypothesis based on previous research findings. Hypothesis may be defined as a tentative statement showing a relationship between variables under study. It is stated in the form of a declarative sentence.
Step-III: Identifying, Manipulating and Controlling Variables
While talking about the hypothesis you will encounter this word i.e. variable in the scientific literature in the psychology. Variables are defined as those characteristics which are manipulated, controlled and observed by the experimenter. At least three types of variables must be recognised at the outset – the dependent variable, the independent variable and the extraneous variable. The dependent variable is one about which the prediction is made on the basis of the experiment. In the other words the dependent variable is the characteristics or condition that changes as the experimenter changes the independent variables. The independent variable is that condition or characteristics which is manipulated or selected by the experimenter is order to find out its relationship to some observed phenomena. A extraneous variable is the uncontrolled variable that may affect the dependent variable. The experimenter is not interested in the changes, produced due to the extraneous variable and hence, he tries to control it as far as practicable. The extraneous variable is known as the relevant variable.
Step-IV: Formulating a Research Design
A research design may be regarded as the blueprint of those procedures which are adapted by the researcher for testing the relationship between the dependent variable and the independent variable. There are several kinds of experimental designs and the selection of any one is based upon the purpose of the research, types of variables to be controlled and manipulated as well as upon the conditions under which the experiment is to be conducted. The main purpose of experimental design is to help the researcher in manipulating the independent variables freely and to provide maximum control of the extraneous variables so that it may be said with all certainty that the experimental change is due to only the manipulation of the experimental variable. The main function of a research design is to explain how you will find answers to your research questions. The research design sets out the logic of your inquiry.
Step-V: Data Analysis and their Interpretation
After making observation the data collected are analysed with the help of various quantitative / statistical and qualitative techniques .Careful scrutiny of the data is a critical aspect of scientific method. The purpose of the analysis is to make sense of the data and see what light they throw on the problem and the hypotheses of the study and draws conclusion accordingly. Data analysis can be done by using univariate analysis in which research deals with a single characteristics of interest, bivariate analysis in which researcher deals with two characteristics of interest and by using multivariate analysis in which more then two characteristics are involves.
Step-VI: Drawing Conclusions
The investigator, after analysing the results, draws some conclusions. In fact the investigator wants to make some statement about the research about the research problem which he could not make without conducting his research. Whatever conclusion drawn, researcher generalises it to the whole population. During this phase, hypotheses are accepted or rejected. At the same time the conclusions of the study are related to the theory or research findings from which the hypotheses originally came. Depending on the new findings the original theory may have to be modified.
Step-VII: Preparation of Report and Publication
This is the last step in most of the research studies. The researcher documents all the steps of his or her research in clear terms this report inform that what you have done, what you have discovered and what conclusion you have drawn from findings. If you are clear about the whole process you will also be clear about the way you want to write in your report. This helps the reader to understand the study and use it for various purposes. It allows one to replicate the study. The publication of study in scientific journals or books and in public domain makes the work available for wider dissemination.