Research Methodology: a step-by-step guide for beginners.
Research methodology is a field that is rapidly growing in importance. Research with a shaky methodology is a recipe for producing unusable findings and unhappy clients. It is, therefore, in the best interest of both the researcher and the user that every research study follows a sequential and structured path called the research methodology. Moreover, research methodology should be properly designed as it takes into consideration the logic behind the methods used. Despite the need and significance of research methodology, very few good books are available on the subject.
Research Methodology: a step-by-step guide for beginners: Sage South Asia Edition (2011) by Ranjit Kumar is an attempt to theoretically look at research. As the title suggests, the book is organized into steps each step further divided into chapters. The book in its third edition has been revised and updated to include an extended coverage of qualitative research methods.
The book is organized into eight steps comprising of eighteen chapters. Chapter One throws light on the meaning and types of research. The chapter explains the types of research based on various perspectives and also introduces the concept of Evidence Based Practice (EBP). Chapter Two provides a quick glance at the 3-phase research model comprising of eight steps. The process is beautifully explained with the help of three concise and simple Figures. Next, the book starts explaining Step I (Formulating a Research Problem). This step consists of (i) Reviewing the Literature, (ii) Formulating a research problem, (iii) Identifying variables, and (iv) Constructing hypotheses. Literature review is the backbone of a good research study and the process of writing about the previous studies reviewed is presented in this chapter with the help of examples and samples. Chapter four lists the formulation the research objectives with the help of three excellent examples. Chapter five throws light on the difference between a variable and a concept besides explaining various types of measurement scales with examples. Chapter six explains the meaning, function, characteristics, types and errors in testing of Hypothesis.
Step II explains how to Conceptualize a research Design. This step consists of (i) Research Design, and (ii) Selecting a study design. Chapter seven outlines the importance of a research design and the role of theory of causality. Chapter eight throws light on different types of research design including experimental designs, non-experimental designs and quasi experimental designs, cross-over comparative experimental designs, replicated cross-sectional designs, cohort studies, panel studies amongst others.
Step III deals with Constructing an Instrument for Data Collection comprising of (i) Selecting a Method of Data Collection, (ii) Collecting Data Using Attitudinal Scales, (iii) Establishing the Validity and Reliability of a Research Instrument. Chapter nine explains different methods of data collection in quantitative and qualitative research the chapter explains in the detailed manner different aspects of data collection including how to formulate the questionnaire with examples. Likert scale, Thurstone scale and Guttman scale to deal with qualitative data are explained in chapter ten. Validity and reliability of research instruments are of prime importance in any study. Chapter eleven throws light on various issues related to these two concepts.
Step IV (chapter twelve) throws light on the various aspects of sampling. Step V deals with How to Write a Research Proposal. The various steps involved in writing a research proposal are explained with the help of examples in chapter thirteen. Step VI (Collecting Data) focuses on Ethical Issues in Data Collection. Step VII explains how to Process and Display Data though editing and coding. Chapter sixteen explains how to display data using tables and charts/graphs. The last step deals with Writing a Research Report and evaluation. Chapter seventeen explains that for a good research report an outline or chapterisation is essential. The chapter also goes on to explain different sections of the report with the help of examples. The chapter ends with explaining the referencing and writing a bibliography.
Although the material presented in the book is not enough to handle the complexity and technological advancements that have taken place in the area, it is an excellent book for beginners who have no prior experience or knowledge of research. The writing style is simple and clear and has the ability to make the reader comfortable.
However, the book appears to have become obsolete and redundant in the current scenario since simple picharts and bar charts are no longer sufficient. The book has no mathematical (modeling) orientation. Further, the book has not been written with business problems in mind. There are no case studies. The book does not have any chapter on the latest trends in research methodology. It also does not have any end of chapter questions (objective and subjective), cases and problems. The book does not have a companion CD or website for additional information pertaining to the text book and its contents.
The book can be improved by giving balanced blend of theory, techniques and illustrations/examples to enhanced value in terms of its utility for business managers.
FORE School of Management