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The 5 Steps of the Research Process | Helpfull

Knowing how each of the 5 phases of the research process work in tandem helps keep your project on track.

Adam R.
March 22, 2023

The 5 Steps of the Research Process | Helpfull

What is the Research Process?

Research Process

The research process outlines the key steps taken in order to complete a thorough and procedurally sound research project. Knowing how each of the 5 phases of the research process work in tandem helps keep the project on track.

The first step of the research process identifies the problem or topic that is going to be studied. From there, the proceeding steps take the researcher through various models and methodologies designed to bring about quality, valid data.

The 5 Steps of the Research Process

The research process can be broken down into 5 simple and clearly defined stages. Understanding how these steps flow will enable you to generate stronger results; make sure to review them before you develop your methodology. It will save you a lot of time and frustration down the line.

  1. Defining the Problem

This is where you state the issue. In the form of a hypothesis, researchers make a judgement about the world around them; trying to either improve an existing condition, streamline a process, or probe a question for deeper thought. 

A good research problem should seek to find answers for a clear and specific issue. Issues like:

“Do our customers have difficulty purchasing our product from our website?” or 

“Will changing our brand logo design improve customer favorability?” 

The more issues one question seeks to address, the less likely you are to collect quality research data.

Remember to keep your problem specific and concise. You can always run more tests if you need to address multiple research questions. This keeps your data organized, and is the best practice for ensuring the integrity of your results.

  1. Designing your Research Project

The next step in your research process is to develop a framework. This can involve creating a research plan, or developing a step-by-step methodology for how you plan to approach your research. These outlines will frame your work as you progress through the actual testing process; ensuring you’re getting all of the critical information you need to properly develop your data.

Generally, designing a research project involves completing many of these objective-driven activities:

  • Researching primary and secondary sources
  • Defining the scope of your research project
  • Selecting the right tools and applications for conducting and analyzing research
  • Designing surveys and questionnaires
  • Choose a target audience for your research
  • Plan for data analysis
  • Create a research deadline

Once your research project has been clearly defined and your audience has been selected, you’re ready to begin testing.

  1. Collecting the Data

This is where your research study officially begins. The data collection process is a crucial step in providing the information you need to address your research question. It begins with defining the concepts that will be researched; what happens next are the research collection steps you outlined in the previous step.

Oftentimes, researchers will invite participants to engage in their tests. These tests can be something as simple as a survey, or require activities as lengthy and complex as a one-on-one interview, or a user experience test.

Researchers will sometimes choose to passively observe a case, instead of actively involving themselves in a phenomenon. This type of observational study is useful in cases where researchers are resource-limited, or want to learn more about events that have happened in the past.

Remember to stick to the processes you’ve outlined in step 2, and you’re well on your way to success. 

Data collection method in Research Process
  1. Analysis

Data analysis begins when all results have been collected and the testing process is complete. This can often be the most lengthy and labor-intensive part of the research process. It requires careful thought and attention be paid to following the data analysis plan developed in step 2; as well as making accommodations to the plan where necessary.

After the data set has been properly reviewed, researchers measure their results against previous experiments and data sets - trying to establish a statistical significance. 

Data analysis in Research Process
  1. Data Visualization and Reporting

The final and perhaps most vital part of your research process involves taking your data and making it accessible to non-researchers. For the most part, you should have already synthesized your data into an answer that either rejects or supports your initial hypothesis. This conclusion can take the form of a blanket generalization, a new formula, or a recommendation for actions to take.

The way you choose to report your findings can have a tremendous impact on how your results are received. Scientific reports are often published in formal science journals as peer-reviewed studies; whereas business research may be reported in a video or presentation format.

Whenever you encounter a snag in your research process, remember to: plan ahead, get advice from your fellow researchers, and stick to your research plan.

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