After the researcher has collected the data, the next step in the research process is the execution of the project (i.e., implementation phase of the project). This step is very important in the research process as it ensures that the research is being executed systematically and in time. If the execution of the research proceeds on correct lines, then the collected data would be adequate and dependable. If structured questionnaires are to be used for the survey, then data, i.e., both questions and the possible answers, may be machine-coded for easy and convenient usage. If interviewers are to collect data, then they should be accordingly selected, and proper training should be given to them. The researcher should ensure that the survey is under statistical control, i.e., the collected information is in agreement with the pre-defined standard of accuracy.
A sample is a small portion or unit of something that is measured to make a general statement about the whole thing. Technically speaking, items that researchers collect for performing their research work are known as samples. These units or samples represent the larger group from which they are selected. The basic process of selecting samples is called sampling. Sampling makes studying different characteristics of a large, heterogeneous population possible. It reduces the study population to a reasonable size, thus, greatly reducing the research expenses and speeding up the research process. It helps to finish any research within a reasonable period of time. Sampling provides true, valid, accurate and reasonable data. It also saves the consumption of all data resources. Sampling targets a specific small population and provides precise and typically accurate results.
The study of research methodology gives the student the necessary training in gathering material and arranging or card-indexing them, participation in the field work when required, and also training in techniques for the collection of data appropriate to particular problems, in the use of statistics, questionnaires and controlled experimentation and in recording evidence, sorting it out and interpreting it. In fact, importance of knowing the methodology of research or how research is done stems from the following considerations:
1. For one who is preparing himself for a career of carrying out research, the importance of knowing research methodology and research techniques is obvious since the same constitute the tools of his trade. The knowledge of methodology provides good training especially to the new research worker and enables him to do better research. It helps him to develop disciplined thinking or a ‘bent of mind’ to observe the field objectively. Hence, those aspiring for careerism in research must develop the skill of using research techniques and must thoroughly understand the logic behind them.
2. Knowledge of how to do research will inculcate the ability to evaluate and use research results with reasonable confidence. In other words, we can state that the knowledge of research methodology is helpful in various fields such as government or business administration, community development and social work where persons are increasingly called upon to evaluate and use research results for action.
3. When one knows how research is done, then one may have the satisfaction of acquiring a new intellectual tool which can become a way of looking at the world and of judging every day experience. Accordingly, it enables us to make intelligent decisions concerning problems facing us in practical life at different points of time. Thus, the knowledge of research methodology provides tools to look at things in life objectively.
4. In this scientific age, all of us are in many ways consumers of research results and we can use them intelligently provided we are able to judge the adequacy of the methods by which they have been obtained. The knowledge of methodology helps the consumer of research results to evaluate them and enables him to take rational decisions.
Research methodology has many dimensions and research methods do constitute a part of the research methodology. The scope of research methodology is wider than that of research methods. Thus, when we talk of research methodology we not only talk of the research methods but also consider the logic behind the methods we use in the context of our research study and explain why we are using a particular method or technique and why we are not using others so that research results are capable of being evaluated either by the researcher himself or by others. Why a research study has been undertaken, how the research problem has been defined, in what way and why the hypothesis has been formulated, what data have been collected, what particular method has been adopted, why a particular technique of analyzing data has been used and a host of similar other questions are usually answered when we talk of research methodology concerning a research problem or study.
Research methodology is a way to systematically solve the research problem. It may be understood as a science of studying how research is done scientifically. In it we study the various steps that are generally adopted by a researcher in studying his research problem along with the logic behind them. It is necessary for the researcher to know not only the research methods/techniques but also the methodology. Researchers not only need to know how to develop certain indices or tests, how to calculate the mean, the mode, the median or the standard deviation or chi-square, how to apply particular research techniques, but they also need to know which of these methods or techniques are relevant and which are not, and what would they mean and indicate and why. Researchers also need to understand the assumptions underlying various techniques and they need to know the criteria by which they can decide that certain techniques and procedures will be applicable to certain problems and others will not. All this means that it is necessary for the researcher to design his methodology for his problem as the same may differ from problem to problem. For example, an architect, who designs a building, has to consciously evaluate the basis of his decisions, i.e., he has to evaluate why and on what basis he selects particular size, number and location of doors, windows and ventilators, uses particular materials and not others and the like. Similarly, in research the scientist has to expose the research decisions to evaluation before they are implemented. He has to specify very clearly and precisely what decisions he selects and why he selects them so that they can be evaluated by others also.