The process of research can be painstakingly time consuming. It can involve the overcoming of many obstacles and may unfortunately need to be revised several times as you progress through the steps. By completing your study in the correct order and making sure you don’t forget important tasks, your progression from theory to publication will occur much more smoothly. For this reason, most graduate programs require that you work under the supervision of an experienced researcher for a number of years before beginning your own independent study. The final project in any Ph.D. program will be a dissertation, which is a culmination of your knowledge in the subject matter and your ability to do research that adds to the knowledge base in your field.
This book will look at each of the areas discussed in this chapter in more detail and provide an overview of research methods. The goal is to give you a solid understanding of the different types of research, ideas for completing your own research, and a method for avoiding a tragic ending to a graduate career. Studies have shown that a large percentage of doctoral students complete their coursework but leave school prior to completing the required research. The reasons include running out of time, failing to progress in a logical order, becoming discouraged with obstacles, and simply fearing the research process.
By having a solid understanding of research methods and statistical inference, your chances of completing a research project are greatly enhanced. Remember that nobody knows everything about doing research and that asking questions and getting advice along the way is not only accepted, it is highly recommended. Look at research as a global phenomenon and prepare for the whole gestalt of your project but always make sure you are proceeding in a logical and organized fashion. If you work hard and work smart, you’ll soon be published and will be adding to the knowledge base in your specialty area. Once published, you are considered an expert and your research may someday appear in a college textbook or as a resource in someone else’s research publication.
Because this text is designed to focus on the methods of research, a basic understanding of statistics is assumed. As a refresher, however, and to better critique the results section of a research report, a discussion of descriptive and inferential statistics is included. During the course of reading this text, it may be wise to refer to these sections to clarify any statistical information presented in earlier chapters. By the end of this text, you should have a solid understanding of research methods and be able to intelligently analyze and critique a research report.