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Research Project Preparation

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Introduction

"If we knew what we were doing, it would not be called research, would it?"(Einstein). Life is exciting, and it will be surprising to find many things that have been avoided in particular society, somehow become most loved in others. A simple example is vegemite, while there were 10 of 10 of American kids felt it was disgusting[1], for sure, many Australians and New Zealanders will argue. Even, Australian dairy company, Bega, has spent A$460 million to acquire the brand back to Australian hand.[2] From that example, some questions might arouse: why those kids hate vegemite?; Why Australians and New Zealanders love vegemite?; How vegemite can be accepted in USA markets?. In an academic environment, some of those questions might lead to research. This essay will discuss research process, in particular, the process of planning research. And within it, explaining the definition of research and research process, the relationship between research topic and research question, the importance of literature review, how the use of theory affect research approach/design, the goal of research a proposal and the importance of argument in academic writing.

O' Leary defines that "the process of developing new knowledge by gathering data that answers a particular question is called Research"[3]. So, what are those questions? For some, it is their concerns in issues encountered in life, for instance, poverty, famine, corruption, etc. For others, it will come from their passion for enjoying life. It is all the questions which relates to the need of new knowledge to solve our problems and curiosities[4]. Human curiosity is very diverse, from a question on how to have a beautiful delicacy to a dinner, to a complex idea on how to establish world peace. In some way, research is a means to contribute to options to fulfill curiosity, in which probably is the best practice to solve problems. However, there are, in some circumstances, many complexities to determine people behavior and their decisions, so, research needs plans, strategy, firm decision, and while at the same times, flexible to new changes to find the right knowledge to understand the problems, hence, be able to offer suitable recommendations for better future. As, O' Leary mentioned that "research is a creative and strategic process that involves continually assessing, reassessing, and making decisions about the best possible means for obtaining trustworthy information, carrying out appropriate analysis, and drawing credible conclusions"[5].

Research process is a journey full of challenges which needs strategy, plan, every strength and support available to make it succeed in times and end up with expected result[6]. Meticulously planned steps are essential in a research process, such as 1. Find Research topic. 2. Articulate research questions. 3. Navigate ways trough ethics. 4. Work with literature. 5. Develop methodological approach. 6. Design methods. 7. Construct a coherent proposal. 8. Find respondents. 9. Collect data. 10. Analyze data, and 11. Write research report[7]. Every step comes with challenges[8], which sometimes are not easy to cope with. It may come from environment, family, requirements, resources, social barrier. And many of them come internally from the researchers, in such, low motivation, lack of confidence, unconstructive habits, background, work ethics, etc. It needs commitment and strategies to use the best support available and also the best state of own capabilities. It is a journey to find answers that is different from traveling where it has certain sets of destination. Where in between, it is needed to come back and forth to asses and reassess to keep everything on track. And by the end, it will take to a point where another research is needed[9]. Why? As new questions will emerge, society develop, human have a never-ending curiosity, problem bound to happen anytime and anywhere. However, with all of the challenges, there some, like in most journey, that found wonderful experience by doing research[10]. Explore mystery, find the unknown, and satisfy curiosity, while contributing to a better world are a very nice start to spark passion in research.

The initial step in planning research is to find a well-thought research topic, and from those formulate a research question that structures a well-executed research. A research topic is an idea which will be the background of a research[11]. And as mentioned, with human curiosity, passions, issues, and problem surrounding, there will be no lack of idea. The challenge is on how to narrow down from so many interest surround, a remarkable idea that is feasible could come out[12]. O' Leary explained that there are three ways to obtain research topic: 1. Concept mapping, which offers enhancement of creativity by looking problems from many perspectives, and therefore, have a brainstorm for a research topic; 2. Turning to literature, to identify information, ideas, theories and problems for research topics from a different perspective; 3. Looking for inspiration, that might be drawn from, personal insight and experiences, observations, contemporary/timely issues, and, identifying stakeholders need[13]. After research topic confirmed, well-articulated research questions are important, as to indicate the level of understanding of the topics and to structure logical course of action, to define an investigation, to set boundaries, to provide direction and to act as a frame of reference for assessing progress[14]. It will be the milestones for research process, set as achievable goals that tell how far steps has been taken, and how far it is needed to the end point. However, it is in researcher discretion to assess and reassess the questions to appropriately stay on track, undertake another direction based on new information, and new interesting information found[15].

Next principle step to plan and to prepare good research is reviewing literature. For most, Literature review is not new research, it is a way to learn from past knowledge, which offers unlimited theories, methodology, and experiences, as a valuable starting point to design research[16]. Delving into literatures strengthens the level of understanding of research topic, defines and redefines research questions, uncovers gaps in research rationales for further identification, and compares past approaches from various researches that have previously been conducted to discover suitable approach for own research[17]. Argument occupies a very important place in writing Literature review as an initial part of research. Even literature review itself is 'a purposeful argument', a form of argument to inform audience of what is happening in the field, to establish credibility as a knowledgeable and capable researcher, to argue the relevance and significance of research question, to provide the context for own methodological approach and to argue the relevance and appropriateness of approach[18]. In doing so, it needs a strong evidence-based argument by compare and contrast own argument with past researcher's, then synthesize and make arguments in own perspective as a part of further research[19].

Having confidence needed to initiate a research from reviewing literature, the next step is to develop most appropriate research approach and design. Understand on how theory used within research gives an overview to develop an effective approach. Explained by Creswell that each approach has its unique way of using theory. In quantitative approach, a theory will be used deductively, placed in the initial part of the research to provide an explanation or prediction about the relationship between variables and how variables affect other. The theory will be tested throughout the process in order to prove the validity of researcher prediction of variables relationship in particular aspects and environments. In qualitative approach, there are four ways on how theory is used: 1. As a broad explanation for behavior and attitudes, it is much similar on how theory used in quantitative approach where a general description of behavior and attitudes will begin the research, and series of prepared hypothesis will be tested throughout; 2. As a theoretical lens or perspective; the perspective based on theoretical aspects such as race; gender; class, shapes research topics, questions, method and on how researcher position themselves that will obviously affect the written report and recommendations. 3. As an end point, in this case, theory will be the product of inductive thinking process of a research, where, collected bit of information will be developed into theory, generalizations, patterns, and then, compared with experience and existing literature to form researcher theory's; 4. In some qualitative study theory is not used, in these case researcher constructs a rich detailed description of a central phenomenon. In mixed method research, theory is used as a framework, social and transformative, that affect research methods in collecting, analyzing, processing quantitative and qualitative information[20].

The Last step in planning a research, as an expression of readiness to embark on the journey, is composing research proposal. Research proposal is a writing to convince other, a mean to argue that selected research questions are significance in obtaining results, a way to show that research methodology is effective, efficient and ethical to answers questions, and sometimes, it is the only opportunity to show potential as a researcher worthy for the job[21]. To construct convincing research proposal, all elements of research proposal; title; aims/objective; research questions/hypothesis; introduction; literature review; theoretical perspective; methods; limitations/delimitations; ethical considerations; timeline; budget/funding; and references should be written in a way to show clarity of thoughts, veracity of arguments and researcher potential[22]. The goal is to seek approval from admission boards, funding body or an ethic committee to initiate research, and by overcome the challenges and meet the requirements[23], research plan will be tested and perfected. However, following guidelines, drafting and then redrafting at the same time be confident and open will contribute significantly[24].

Another important factor to remember as part of research process is the role of argument in academic writing. In every step of research there is a need for writings, for example, literature review, research proposal, research report, writing summary to challenge rationale and many others. Where, the nature of an academic writing requires to really understand the depth of principles, theories, and concepts and put it as reasonable statements to explain more concepts, process and procedures[25], research and academic writing cannot be separated. Within research process to find answers to contribute to the body of knowledge[26], research topic, research questions, rationale will be tested, it will perfected, to come out with conclusions and recommendations. Therefore, those conclusions, recommendations, concepts need to be written convincingly, supported by evidence, considered from different perspectives, and reasonable[27], to prove that the "journey" worth the effort.

Conclusion

This essay has discussed that research process is a journey. It definitely needs a well plan, and meticulous preparation, however, it is significant to bear in mind that within the process, it is requisite to come back and forth, assess and reassess, in open mindset and use the best of capabilities. Initial step to plan a research is to generate an idea for research topic. The challenge is to focus on idea that feasible and satisfy curiosity, and from that idea formulate research question that structured a well-executed research. Next important step to plan and prepare good research is to review literature, to learn from past knowledge by compare, contrast, analyze and synthesize ideas, theories, and methodologies as an initial standing. Next principal step is to understand on how theory as a framework, shapes differences between research approach to plan own approach. Final step in planning a research is by composing research proposal to convince and seek approval needed to start research. Other important factor to remember, is that an academic writing and research process cannot be separated. Hence, to convince audience with strong evidence-based argument within research writings, to show that the journey worth the price is a must.

References

"Constructing an Argument." Massey University. June 19 2014. Accessed March 21, 2017. http://owll.massey.ac.nz/study-skills/constructing-an-argument.php.

Creswell, Jowhn W. 2014. Research Design. Washington DC: Sage Publication Inc.

Davison, R.M., Martinsons, M.G., Kock N. 2004. "Information Systems." Principles of Canonical Action Research 14.

Lee, Sally. 2014. "Is it the Australian version of Nutella?" Daily Mail. August 30. Accessed March 21, 2017. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2738265/American-kids-taste-test-Vegemite-reactions-priceless.html .

Miller, Jake. 2012. "Nurturing a Passion for Research." Harvard Medical School. July 24. Accessed March 21, 2017. https://hms.harvard.edu/news/nurturing-passion-research-7-24-12.

Niesche, Christopher. 2017. "Vegemite back in Aussie hands." NZherald.co.nz. January 22. Accessed March 21, 2017. http://www.nzherald.co.nz/business/news/article.cfm?c_id=3&objectid=11786765.

O' Leary, Zina. 2014. The Essential Guide To Doing Your Research Project. London: Sage Publication, Inc.

Webster, Jane, and Richard T Watson. 2002. "Analyzing the Past to Prepare for the Future: Writing a Literature Review." MIS Quarterly, Vol. 26, No. 2 xiv.

"What Is Academic Writing." Massey University. October 25 2012. Accessed March 21, 2017. http://owll.massey.ac.nz/academic-writing/what-is-academic-writing.php.


[1] Sally Lee, "Is it the Australian version of Nutella?," Daily Mail

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2738265/American-kids-taste-test-Vegemite-reactions-priceless.html

[2] C. Niesche, "Vegemite back in Aussie hands," NZherald.co.nz

http://www.nzherald.co.nz/business/news/article.cfm?c_id=3&objectid=11786765

[3] Zina O' Leary. 2014. The Essential Guide To Doing Your Research Project. (London: Sage Publication. Inc), 3.

[4] Ibid,2.

[5] Zina O' Leary. 2014. The Essential Guide To Doing Your Research Project. (London: Sage Publications, Inc),

[6] Ibid, 18-28.

[7] Ibid, 1.

[8] Ibid, 28.

[9] Davison, R. M., Martinsons, M. G., Kock N., "Principles of Canonical Action Research," Information Systems Journal (2004): 14

[10] Jake Miller, "Nurturing a Passion for Research", Harvard Medical School,

https://hms.harvard.edu/news/nurturing-passion-research-7-24-12

[11] Zina O' Leary. 2014. The Essential Guide To Doing Your Research Project. (London: Sage Publications, Inc), 32-33.

[12] Ibid, 33.

[13] Zina O' Leary. 2014. The Essential Guide To Doing Your Research Project. (London: Sage Publications, Inc), 33-34

[14] Ibid, 45

[15] Ibid, 45

[16] Jane Webster, Richard T. Watson. "Analyzing the Past to Prepare for the Future: Writing a Literature Review." MIS Quarterly, Vol. 26, No. 2 (2002) xiv.

[17] Locit, 86-88

[18] Ibid 99

[19] Ibid 98

[20] John W. Creswell, 2014. Research Design. (Washington DC: Sage Publication, Inc), 52-69.

[21] Zina O' Leary. 2014. The Essential Guide To Doing Your Research Project. (London: Sage Publications, Inc), 72-74.

[22] Ibid, 74-77.

[23] Ibid, 72.

[24] Zina O' Leary. 2014. The Essential Guide To Doing Your Research Project. (London: Sage Publications, Inc), 77-78.

[25] "What Is Academic Writing," Massey University,

http://owll.massey.ac.nz/academic-writing/what-is-academic-writing.php

[26] Locit,3

[27] "Constructing an Argument," Massey University,

http://owll.massey.ac.nz/study-skills/constructing-an-argument.php


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