Research: v. investigate; study; explore; delve into; examine; inquire; seek; look into. n. careful search; systematic investigation aimed at increasing the store of knowledge. We all do research every day: research is just finding something out. Go to the train enquiries website and look up the time of your train – that’s research. There’s nothing difficult about research. But when you do research at university something else is involved. The research has to be about something more significant than train times: it’s about finding out something new. You should be curious to find out an answer. In exploring your subject you have to base your inquiry not only on the information you collect, but also on what is already known about the subject. And your inquiry has to be thorough and balanced – in other words, you can’t just find out what you want to find out by ignoring any inconvenient facts that you uncover. All this, from beginning to end – from the first question to reading around to conducting your own inquiries ‘out in the field’ – is research. And why do you need this book? You need this book because students often, too often, begin by ploughing straight into interviews or questionnaires or whatever, without really being sure why they are doing them or what they are going to end up with. Good research design helps you to join the dots and end up with a meaningful piece of research: a piece of research that will get you an ‘A’.
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