Research is the process of a systematic and in-depth study or search of any particular topic, subject or area of investigation, involving collection, compilation, presentation and interpretation of relevant details or data. It is a careful search or inquiry into any subject matter, which is an endeavor to discover to find out valuable facts which would be useful for solving problems or improving existing solutions to problems. The research that involves scientific analysis would result in the formulation of new theories, the discovery of new techniques, modification of old concepts or a knocking-off an existing theory, concept or technique.
Research has proved to be a powerful tool in driving the mankind towards development. That is why, the terms Research and Development (R and D) are now used as twins as Research & Development (R&D). John W.Best observes that, “the secret of our development has been research pushing back the areas of ignorance by discovering new truths, which, in turn, lead to better ways of doing things and better products”. Today’s emphasis in almost all fields of life is ‘creativity and innovation’. Any creative and innovative mind, is actually a research mind. There is no development without research.
There are many reasons for carrying out research. Research serves many purposes. They are:
- Progress and good life: The purpose of all research in progress and good life. Progress results if the space of ignorance is occupied by knowledge and wisdom. The latter are the results of good research. Knowledge and wisdom drive the mankind to live an orderly good life.
- Development of scientific attitude: One of the purposes of research is to develop scientific attitude. Scientific attitude is one that asks ‘Why’ and ‘How’ and answers are found. This ‘Know-why’ and ‘Know-how’ attitude nurtures talents and such intellectual talents are the great assets of society.
- Creativity and innovativeness: One of the purposes of research is encouragement to creativity and innovation. New products, new processes and new uses are the means through which the world goes dynamic. A dynamic world is not possible without newness introduced every now and then in every walk of life. And this is possible only through creativity and innovation. Research kindles the creativity and innovative instincts of people and thus experiments on the possibility of new things instead of waiting for the accidental and slow experience path to creativity and innovation.
- Testing hypothesis and establishing theories: A very important/ purpose of research is testing of hypothesis and establishing theories. As was already pointed out knowledge is power. That knowledge comes from testing hypotheses and establishing new theories. Proven hypotheses become theories.
- Prediction and Control: Applied research has a great say in prediction and control-in almost all walks of human endeavor Prediction is jumping into the future and the theories constitute the launch pad. Control looks for deviation between actual happening and predicted happening. In the process, the theories get reevaluated and redefined.
- Purposive development: Development = Growth + Change, Growth is uni-scaled while change is multi-scaled. In the natural process development does take place through trial and error through casual observations, through actual exposure and the like. But this is evolutionary and time consuming. Revolutionary development takes fourth through discontinuous change. Research is the seed of such dichotomous charge or even disruptive change which contributes to purposive development.
- Problem Solving: The purpose of any research is problem solving. What is a problem? Problem is deprivation or depreciation of something. Knowledge deprivation, efficiency deprivation, productivity depreciation, etc exist. How can these be solved? Research into the forces that cause deprivation and measures to contain them from causing deprivation is needed. Thus, problem solving is a great purpose of research.
- Schematic Evaluation: Research is also carried, out to systematically evaluate a process or practice or an organisation to know its strengths and weaknesses so that areas for improvement process can be identified.
- Impact Analysis: Research is undertaken to assess the impact of certain measures or change introduced on relevant variables. Impact studies are useful for biological, social, business, economic and other areas of decision making.
- Methodological Improvement: Another purpose of research is improving research methodology itself. Developments in the field of measurement and scaling are immense. Whether these can be appropriately used in the case of particular research areas? To answer the question research needs to be done. Validation, revalidation and devalidation of methodological aspects thus constitute good piece of research. And this is one of the purposes of research. In fact, any research has a responsibility towards contribution to methodological enrichment.