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Research Project

Mumbai, Maharashtra, India
November 12, 2017

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Ethical research becomes extremely important when dealing with human subjects. Research is the systematic process of collecting and analyzing information (data) in order to increase our understanding of the phenomenon about which we are concerned or interested and communicating what we discovered to the larger scientific community.

The history of the development of the field of ethics in research, unfortunately, has largely been built on egregious and disastrous breaches of humane ethical values. A journey through this history can provide valuable insights into the state of contemporary research ethics institutions and codes that currently guide social science and biomedical research.

Researchers have ethical obligations to take into account when conducting interviews, case studies, focus groups (6-10 people), or observations. Researchers must use a systematic process to collect data without interfering or harming the subjects. The following are a list of Ethical concerns to take into consideration when performing research on human subjects.

Integrating ethics into the entire research process, from selecting the research problem to carrying out research goals and interpretation and reporting research findings, is critical to ensuring that the research process is guided by ethical principles beyond informed consent. Following points be noted by the researcher while conducting the research study i social sciences:

1.Informed consent of the subjects from whom information is collected for the research study is very important. Subjects should be clearly and formally aware of the research study being conducted in which they are participating as subjects.

2.Privacy is one of the most important aspects with regard to ethics. Never should a researcher breech anyone's privacy.

3. Another ethical concern is misrepresentation. Researchers are not to suggest false interest, say one thing but study another, or mask the identities of your subjects.

4.Under no circumstance are they to ever harm or distress, (physically or psychologically) their research subjects.

5.Throughout their research process they must leave their bias thoughts out. Whether it is subjective or objective it does not belong in the research, they must only include the facts.

6.And finally there is the danger of invisibility. Researchers should never ever put their subjects in a compromising position where there is a potential for danger.

An important step beyond securing informed consent lies in the researcher engaging in self-reflexivity by asking,

• What is your ethical standpoint on the research process?

Following checklist of questions useful in uncovering your own ethical perspective on the research process:

• What type of ethical principles guide your work and life, beyond the professional code of ethics you are bound by through a given discipline or professional association?

• Where do your ethical obligations to the researched start and end?

Six Key Principles of Ethical Research

1.Research should be designed, reviewed and undertaken to ensure integrity, quality and transparency.

2.Research staff and participants must normally be informed fully about the purpose, methods and intended possible uses of the research, what their participation in the research entails and what risks, if any, are involved.

3.The confidentiality of information supplied by research participants and the anonymity of respondents must be respected.

4.Research participants must take part voluntarily, free from any coercion.

5.Harm to research participants must be avoided in all instances.

6.The independence of research must be clear, and any conflicts of interest or partiality must be explicit.

Research should be designed in a way that the dignity and autonomy of research participants is protected and respected at all times.

Ethics review should always be proportionate to the potential risk, whether this involves primary or secondary data.

Whilst the secondary use of some datasets may be relatively uncontroversial, and require only light touch ethics review, novel use of existing data and especially data linkage, as well as some uses of administrative and secure data will raise issues of ethics.

Research involving primary data collection will always raise issues of ethics that must be addressed.

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Steps in Formulation of a research problem

The research problem or the research questions should be formulated in a sequential manner. This will reduce the chances of ambiguities to a minimum. There is no hard and fast rule for formulating the research problem. One can adopt a logical manner to reach the desired research problem, objectives and research questions.

Before deciding about the research area or the research problem in specific the researcher should ask two questions for him/herself: does he have the desired knowledge in the particular research area or not and does he have interest in conducting research on that particular area. Knowledge is necessary in order to deal with the research justly and clearly. On the other hand interest enables the researcher to give proper concern, time and energy in the accomplishment of the research.

Distinguish the subject area of interest:

The first step in the formulation of the research problem is to decide on a broad subject area on which you have thorough knowledge. Your knowledge in that particular subject area will enable you to decide about the research problem. It will also help you to carry out the overall research. The subject area can be selected with the help of your adviser if you are a student. When you are doing an independent research you can consult some senior researchers in your particular field. Distinguishing or selecting the subject area is the first step in the research problem formulation.

Dissect the subject area into sub-areas:

The subject area of your interest will be broad and you need to dissect it into small areas. In this way you will be able to select one of your interest and convenience. You can get help of an experienced person in this regard.

Decide about an area:

Select an area among all the sub-areas, one that interests you most. This will help you in creating the research problems among which you have to choose one. During all these steps you need to constantly look at the possibilities of further narrowing down the subject area in order to become more specific.

Generate research questions:

Generate as many research questions as possible, from these questions you have to choose those questions that you want to answer through your research. You should take as much time as possible to generate many questions so that you have plenty of choices. Research questions should be such that can be answered using scientific techniques and research procedures. Suppose does God exists is a question that you want to be answered but this question cannot be answered using current scientific techniques therefore such questions should be avoided.

Decide about the objectives:

Objectives are the possible answers to the research question or the research problem that you have formulated. They should be formulated in a clear manner. Objectives make you specific, as you conduct your study around the objectives that you have decided. The objectives need to be specific in nature but you can also generate general objectives. General objectives and specific objectives both will have their own importance in the research.

In the last step you need to analyze your research questions and objectives again so as to minimize any confusion. Take as much time as you have to create the research problem and objectives, you should become fully satisfied before starting your research. You can get assistance from someone who has experience in conducting research. You can also get help from a statistician to know whether the research problem and hypothesis is one that can be statistically analyzed or not.

Finding and defining a research problem

In order to carry out research, you need to start by identifying a question that demands an answer, or a need that requires a resolution, or a riddle that seeks a solution, which can be developed into a research problem: the heart of the research project.

Students starting their research degree course, and practitioners wishing to become involved in research, tend to come from widely different backgrounds, and are equipped with varied amounts of knowledge and degrees of experience in their chosen field of study. While most are fairly sure of the subject they want to research, many are uncertain of the exact problem they wish to address.

One of the first tasks, therefore, on the way to deciding on the detailed topic of research is to find a question, an unresolved controversy, a gap in knowledge or an unrequited need within the chosen subject.

This search requires an awareness of current issues in the subject and an inquisitive and questioning mind.

Although you will find that the world is teeming with questions and unresolved problems, not every one of these is a suitable subject for research.

Features of a suitable research problem

1 It should be of great interest to you. You will have to spend many months investigating the problem. A lively interest in the subject will be an invaluable incentive to persevere.

2 The problem should be significant. It is not worth time and effort investigating a trivial problem or repeating work that has already been done elsewhere.

3 The problem should be delineated. Consider the time you have to complete the work, and the depth to which the problem will be addressed. You can cover a wide field only superficially, and the more you restrict the field, the more detailed the study can be. You should also consider the cost of necessary travel and other expenses.

4 You should be able to obtain the information required. You cannot carry out research if you fail to collect the relevant information needed to tackle your problem, either because you lack access to documents or other sources, and/or because you have not obtained the cooperation of individuals or organizations essential to your research.

5 You should be able to draw conclusions related to the problem. The point of asking a question is to find an answer. The problem should be one to which the research can offer some solution, or at least the elimination of some false ‘solutions’.

6 You should be able to state the problem clearly and concisely. A precise, well thought out and fully articulated sentence, understandable by anyone, should normally clearly be able to explain just what the problem is.

Common mistakes when choosing a research problem

1 Making the choice of a problem an excuse to fill in gaps in your own knowledge. We all welcome the chance to learn more for ourselves, but the point of research is not just personal enlightenment, but making a contribution to public knowledge. Anyone can find a problem that involves the gathering and duplication of information, but it requires an additional effort to find one that requires data to be analysed and conclusions to be drawn which are of wider interest.

2 Formulating a problem that involves merely a comparison of two or more sets of data. A comparison of sets of data or records might fill up many pages (e.g. the average age of marriage through the centuries), but without any effort to reveal something new from the information, there is no research activity. The problem should clearly state the objectives behind making the comparison.

3 Setting a problem in terms of finding the degree of correlation between two sets of data. Comparing two sets of data to reveal an apparent link between them (e.g. the average age of marriage and the size of families) might be interesting, but the result is only a number, and does not reveal a causal connection. This number, or coefficient of correlation, reveals nothing about the nature of the link, and invites the question – so what?

4 Devising a problem to which the answer can be only yes or no. In order to improve on our knowledge of the world we need to know why things are as they are and how they work. A yes–no solution to a problem skirts the issues by avoiding the search for the reasons why yes or no is the answer, and the implications which the answer has.

Qualities of a Good Research Proposal

A research is a comprehensive task and it requires great effort as a researcher on your part. The first thing that determines the success of your research is your research topic. A good research topic should have the following qualities.

1.Clarity is the most important quality of any research topic. The topic should have to be clear so that others can easily understand the nature of your research. The research topic should have a single interpretation so that people cannot get distracted. The topic should have to be very clear in your mind so that you can properly undertake it. The research topic should have to be free of any ambiguity. Clarity also means that the research topic should have to be directional and it should set the whole research methadology.

2.Well-defined and well-phrased research topic is a half guarantee of a successful research. Sometimes researchers phrase the research topic in such a way that it gives a double-barrelled impression. The research topic should have to be well-defined and well-phrased and it should have to be easy to understand. it should have a single meaning.

3.The language of the research topic should have to be simple. You should use technical terms only when it is necessary, otherwise use simple words so that everyone can understand it. keep the ethics of writing in your mind to avoid any unethical term or sentence. Do not introduce any sort of bias directly or indirectly, willingly or unwillingly in the research problem or research topic.

4.The titling of the research problem should follow the rules of titling. there are various rules of titling. You can either use a sentence case or a title case but most of the titles follow title case. Read the rules of titling titles before writing it down.

5.Current importance should also be the consideration of the researcher while selecting a research topic. An obsolete topic will not be beneficial for anyone the topic should have current importance. You should also assess how much the topic will provide benefit to the field in which you are conducting the study.

Characteristics of a Good Proposal

1.The need for the proposed activity is clearly established, preferably with data.

2.The most important ideas are highlighted and repeated in several places.

3.The objectives of the project are given in detail.

4.There is a detailed schedule of activities for the project, or at least sample portions of such a complete project schedule.

5.Collaboration with all interested groups in planning of the proposed project is evident in the proposal.

6.The commitment of all involved parties is evident, e.g., letters of commitment in the appendix and cost sharing stated in both the narrative of the proposal and the budget.

7.The budget and the proposal narrative are consistent.

8.The uses of money are clearly indicated in the proposal narrative as well as in the budget.

9.All of the major matters indicated in the proposal guidelines are clearly addressed in the proposal.

10.The agreement of all project staff and consultants to participate in the project was acquired and is so indicated in the proposal.

11.All governmental procedures have been followed with regard to matters such as civil rights compliance and protection of human subjects.

12.Appropriate detail is provided in all portions of the proposal.

13.All of the directions given in the proposal guidelines have been followed carefully.

14.Appendices have been used appropriately for detailed and lengthy materials which the reviewers may not want to read but are useful as evidence of careful planning, previous experience, etc.

15.The length is consistent with the proposal guidelines and/or funding agency expectations.

16.The budget explanations provide an adequate basis for the figures used in building the budget.

17.If appropriate, there is a clear statement of commitment to continue the project after external funding ends.

18.The qualifications of project personnel are clearly communicated.

19.The writing style is clear and concise. It speaks to the reader, helping the reader understand the problems and proposal. Summarizing statements and headings are used to lead the reader.

The key qualities of a good proposal

Remember that a research proposal instantly reflects your potential competence to undertake a PhD effectively. A proposal is ultimately about your ability to demonstrate that you are capable of PhD study, so you should put time and effort into it.

Our academics look for a proposal that:

Is persuasive, with a clearly defined problem or issue

Is interesting and imaginative; it should enable the reader to grasp the point and understand and get excited about what is being proposed

Presents an issue that adds value to debates that are topical and/or just emerging

Provides intellectual excitement

Demonstrates that you are capable of independent critical thinking and analysis

On a more practical level, is realistic and can be delivered

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