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What is Research?

Research can be defined as the search for knowledge, or as any systematic investigation, with an open mind, to establish novel facts, solve new or existing problems, prove new ideas, or develop new theories, usually using a scientific method. The primary purpose for basic research (as opposed to applied research) is discovering, interpreting, and the development of methods and systems for the advancement of human knowledge on a wide variety of scientific matters of our world and the universe.

Scientific research relies on the application of the scientific method, a harnessing of curiosity. This research provides scientific information and theories for the explanation of the nature and the properties of the world around us. It makes practical applications possible. Scientific research is funded by public authorities, by charitable organizations and by private groups, including many companies. Scientific research can be subdivided into different classifications according to their academic and application disciplines.

Artistic research, also seen as 'practice-based research', can take form when creative works are considered both the research and the object of research itself. It is the debatable body of thought which offers an alternative to purely scientific methods in research in its search for knowledge and truth.

Historical research is embodied in the historical method.

The phrase my research is also used loosely to describe a person's entire collection of information about a particular subject.


Research Methods

The goal of the research process is to produce new knowledge. This process takes three main forms (although, as previously discussed, the boundaries between them may be obscure):

Exploratory Research
which structures and identifies new problems

Constructive Research
which develops solutions to a problem

Empirical Research
which tests the feasibility of a solution using empirical evidence


Research can also fall into two distinct types:

Primary Research
collection of data that does not exist yet

Secondary Research
summary, collation and/or synthesis of existing research


In social sciences and later in other disciplines, the following two research methods can be applied, depending on the properties of the subject matter and on the objective of the research:

Qualitative Research
understanding of human behavior and the reasons that govern such behavior

Quantitative Research
systematic empirical investigation of quantitative properties and phenomena and their relationships


Research is often conducted using the hourglass model Structure of Research. The hourglass model starts with a broad spectrum for research, focusing in on the required information through the methodology of the project (like the neck of the hourglass), then expands the research in the form of discussion and results.
 

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