Introduction to research

Research is the systematic collection, analysis and interpretation of data to answer a certain question or solve a problem

Research is a term derived from the combination of two words: “re” and “search.” “Re” is a prefix meaning “again” or “anew,” and “search” is a verb signifying a close and careful examination, testing, probing, or trying. When combined, research becomes a noun describing a meticulous, systematic, and persistent study and investigation in a specific field of knowledge, carried out to establish facts or principles.

Research can also be defined as;

Research is an investigative process aimed at finding reliable solutions to problems through a systematic selection, collection, analysis, and interpretation of data related to the issue at hand.

 It encompasses all activities that enable us to discover new knowledge about the world around us. The process of research involves defining and redefining problems, formulating theories or suggested solutions, collecting, organizing, and evaluating data, making deductions and reaching conclusions, and rigorously testing those conclusions against the formulated hypothesis or theory.

Can also be defined as;

  • A search for knowledge.
  • A careful investigation or inquiry especially through search for new facts in any branch of knowledge.
  • A systematized effort to gain new knowledge.
  • It is an organized investigation of a problem.
  • It is a planned, systematic search for information for the purpose of increasing the total body of man’s knowledge.
  • A careful inquiry or examination, seeking facts or principles, a diligent investigation to ascertain something.
Purpose of research
  1. Finding answers to questions or solutions to problems.
  2. Discovering and interpreting new facts.
  3. Testing theories to revise accepted theories or laws in the light of new facts.
  4. Formulation of new theories.
  5. To test existing knowledge and theories.
  6. To determine the frequency and associations of events or phenomena.
  7. To provide a reliable guide or framework for decision-making.
  8. To predict, explain, and interpret behavior or occurrences.
  9. To expand the existing knowledge base and add to the collective understanding.
  10. To propose and implement solutions to problems and challenges.
  11. To achieve academic qualifications and enhance expertise.


For research to be credible and valuable, it should possess the following characteristics:

  1. Clear purpose: The research must have a well-defined and specific objective.
  2. Transparent procedure: The methods and procedures used in the research should be described in sufficient detail to enable others to replicate the study.
  3. Objective design: The research design should be carefully planned to minimize bias and produce objective results.
  4. Honesty and truthfulness: Research findings should be reported with complete honesty and without distortion.
  5. Adequate data analysis: The data analysis should be appropriate and sufficient to reveal the significance of the findings.
  6. Validity and reliability: The data collected should be valid and reliable, ensuring the accuracy of the results.
  7. Generalizability: The research should be applicable and relevant beyond the specific study population.
  8. Limited and justifiable conclusions: Conclusions should be based solely on the data obtained from the research and should be well-supported.

Other characteristics include;

  • Directed towards the solution of a problem.
  • Emphasizes the generalizations of principles or theories
  • Demands accurate observations and description
  • Involves gathering new data from primary or first hand source or existing data for a new purpose.
  • Carefully designed
  • Requiring expertise
  • Striving to be objective and logical
  • Involves the quest for answers to unresolved problems
  • Involves patient and unharried activity
  • Carefully recorded and reported
  • Sometimes requiring courage


  1. Applied research
  2. Basic research
  3. Correlational research
  4. Descriptive research
  5. Ethnographic research
  6. Experimental research
  7.  Exploratory research
  8.  Grounded theory research
  9.  Historical research
  10. Phenomenological research

APPLIED RESEARCH: Refers to the scientific study that solves practical problems. Applied research is used to find solutions to every day problems, cure illness and develop innovative technologies, rather than to acquire knowledge for the knowledge’s sake. E.g. improve agricultural crop production, Treat or cure specific diseases

BASIC REASEARCH:  It is driven by a scientist’s curiosity or interest in a scientific question. The main motivation is to expand man’s knowledge, not to create or invent something.
There is no obvious commercial value to the discoveries from results from basic research E.g. How did the universe begin ?, What is the specific genetic code of a fruit fly ?

CORRELATIONAL RESEARCH: Refers to the systematic investigation or statistical study of relationships among two or more variables without necessarily determining the cause and effect. It seeks to establish a relation/association/correlation between two or more variables. E.g. testing whether listening to music lowers blood pressure levels i.e. assign the groups to experimental and control

DESCRIPTIVE RESEARCH:  Refers to research that provides an accurate portrayal of characteristics of a particular individual, situation, or group. It is also known as statistical research, these studies are a means of discovering new meaning, describing what exists, determining the
the frequency with which something occurs, and categorizing information. E.g Finding the most frequent disease that affects
children of a given town.

ETHNOGRAPHIC RESEARCH:  Refers to an investigation of culture through an in-depth study of the members of the culture; It involves systematic collection, description, and analysis of data for development of theories of cultural behavior


Refers to an objective, systematic, controlled investigation for the purpose of predicting and controlling phenomena and examining probability and causality among selected variables. E.g determining the efficacy of a particular drug in population

EXPLORATORY RESEARCH:  Is the type of research conducted for a problem that has not been clearly defined. Exploratory
research helps to determine the best research design, data collection method, and selection of subjects. The results of exploratory research are not usually useful for decision making by themselves, but they can provide significant insight into a given situation. It is not typically generalizable to the population
at large.

GROUNDED THEORY RESEARCH:  Is a research approach designed to discover what problems exist in a given social environment and
how persons involved handle them; It involves formulation, testing and reformulation of propositions until a theory is developed. Grounded theory is the research method operates almost in reverse fashion from
traditional research at first may appear to be in contradiction with to the scientific method.

HISTORICAL RESEARCH:  This is research involving analysis of events that occurred in remote or recent past. Historical research can show patterns that occurred in the past and over time which can help us to see where we came from and what kind of solutions we used in the past.

PHENOMENALOGICAL RESEARCH:  It is an inductive, descriptive research
approach developed from phenomenological philosophy; its aim is to describe an experience as it actually lived by the person. Phenomenology is concerned with the study of experience from the perspectives of the individuals.


Types of Research by Classification

Research can be classified into three main categories:

I. Classification by Purpose
  • Basic (Pure) research
  • Applied research
  • Action research
  • Evaluation research
Basic (Pure) Research
  • This is concerned with the production of results and findings which lead to the development of theory.
  • The primary motive is to expand one’s knowledge. This research is not involved in the creation and expansion of anything.
  • There are not any apparent commercial values to the discoveries that are associated with pure research.
Applied Research
  • This is conducted for the purpose of applying or testing theory and evaluating its usefulness in solving problems.
  • It is concerned with the usefulness of ideas or theories or practical situations.
  • The goal of the researcher is to bring about improvements and transformations within the human conditions.
  • In this research, it is the main duty of the researchers to investigate the ways that may bring about improvements and transformations, aiming at productivity and profitability.
Action Research
  • Advances the aims of basic and applied research to the point of utilization.
  • Concerned with the production of results for immediate application or utilization.
  • It improves practices and methods and generates technologies and innovations for application to specific technological situations.
  • Emphasis is here and now.
Evaluation Research
  • This involves the generation of results in research that help in decision making.
  • It looks at what was set to be done, what has been achieved, and thereafter makes a decision on what next steps need to be done.
II. Classification by Method
  • Historical research
  • Descriptive research
  • Analytical research
  • Correlational research
  • Experimental research
Historical Research
  • Historical research can show patterns that occurred in the past and over time, which can help us to see where we came from and what kinds of solutions we have used in the past.
  • Understanding this can add perspective on how we examine current events and educational practices.
Descriptive Research
  • Refers to research that provides an accurate portrayal of characteristics of a particular individual, situation, or group. Descriptive research, also known as statistical research.
  • These studies are a means of discovering new meaning, describing what exists, determining the frequency with which something occurs, and categorizing information.
  • In short, descriptive research deals with everything that can be counted and studied, which has an impact on the lives of the people it deals with. For example, finding the most frequent disease that affects the children of a town. The reader of the research will know what to do to prevent that disease thus, more people will live a healthy life.
Correlational Research
  • Refers to the systematic investigation or statistical study of relationships among two or more variables, without necessarily determining cause and effect.
  • Seeks to establish a relation/association/correlation between two or more variables that do not readily lend themselves to experimental manipulation.
  • For example, to test the hypothesis “Listening to music lowers blood pressure levels,” there are 2 ways of conducting research:
    1. Experimental – group samples and make one group listen to music and then compare the blood pressure levels.
    2. Survey – ask people how they feel? How often they listen? And then compare.
Analytical Research
  • Whereas as descriptive research attempts to determine, describe, or identify what is, analytical research attempts to establish why it is that way or how it came to be.
  • Analytical research looks at the association and the statistical significance of that occupancy.
Experimental Research
  • Is an objective, systematic, controlled investigation for the purpose of predicting and controlling phenomena and examining probability and causality among selected variables.
III. Classification based on the Approach
  • Qualitative research
  • Quantitative research
  • Mixed approach
Qualitative Research
  • Understanding of human behavior and the reasons that govern such behavior, involves analysis of data using words (e.g., from interviews), pictures (e.g., video), or objects (e.g., an artifact).
  • Qualitative research is research dealing with phenomena that are difficult or impossible to quantify mathematically, such as beliefs, meanings, attributes, and symbols.
  • Qualitative researchers aim to gather an in-depth understanding of human behavior and the reasons that govern such behavior.
  • The qualitative method investigates the why and how of decision making, not just what, where, when.
Quantitative Research
  • Involves analysis of numerical data and their relationship.
  • Quantitative research is generally made using scientific methods, which can include:
    • The generation of models, theories, and hypotheses.
    • The development of instruments and methods for measurement.
    • Experimental control and manipulation of variables.
    • Collection of empirical data.
    • Modeling and analysis of data.
    • Evaluation of results.
Mixed Method Approach
  • Qualitative + Quantitative.
  • Employs the use of numerical data and boosts them by the in-depth understanding of such occurrences.
  1. Promote basic knowledge for infrastructure management including drug treatment, nursing or medical management of disease or health care.
  2. Development of new tools e.g drugs, vaccines, diagnostic tools etc.
  3. Informs public regarding research findings to emulate in health practice and lifestyles to maintain their health.
  4. Effective planning. It provides data for better management.
  1. Molding the attitudes and intellectual competence and technical skills.
  2. Filling the gaps in the knowledge and practice
  3. Fostering a commitment accountability to clients
  4. Providing basis for professionalism
  5. Providing basis for professional accountability
  6. Identifying the role of nurse in changing society
  7. Discovering new measures for nursing practice
  8. Helping to take prompt decisions by the administration to relate problems
  9. Helping to improve standards in nursing education
  10. Refining existing theories and discovering new theories
Main benefits of research
  1. Development of a critical and scientific attitude
  2. Provides the chance to study a subject in depth
  3. Getting to know how to use library
  4. Learning to assess nursing/medical literature critically
  5. Development of special interest and skills
  6. Understanding the attitude of others whether in routine or research laboratories
  7. Academic awards.
Nurse’s responsibility in relation to research

All registered nurses should:

  • Read and interpret reports of research in their own nursing fields.
  • Identify areas of nursing where research is needed.
  • Collaborate intelligently with researchers.
  • Discuss with patients any research in which they are being asked to participate.


  • A clear statement of research aims, which defines the research question
  • Consenting all the respondents prior to research beginning
  • The methodology is appropriate to the research question
  • The research should be carried out in an unbiased fashion
  • The research should have appropriate and sufficient resources in terms of people, time, transport, money etc. allocated to it right from the start.
  • The people conducting the research should be trained in research and research methods
  • Those involved in designing, conducting, analyzing and supervising the research(supervisors) should have a full understanding of the subject area.
  • The researcher should have experience of working in the area
  • If applicable, the information generated from the research should inform the policy-making process.
  • All research should be ethical and not harmful in any way to the participants.

Research techniques

  1. Qualitative research
  2. Quantitative research

Qualitative research, refers to any research based on something that is impossible to accurately and precisely measure. For example, although you certainly can conduct a survey on job satisfaction and afterwards say that the percent of your respondents were very satisfied with their jobs, it is not possible to come up with an accurate, standard numerical scale to measure the level of job satisfaction precisely.

Quantitative research,  also called empirical research, refers to any research based on something that can be accurately and precisely measured. It deals with numbers i.e. data is presented in statistics like percentages like (heart rate, temperature, etc)

Differences between qualitative and quantitative research

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10 thoughts on “Research”

    1. God sent you to help Nurses in this world. Thank you so much for the tremendous work done.
      You have made it all.
      Be blessed forever

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