There is no hope of doing a perfect research. The word “research” in itself implies imperfection. It is an exercise posited on a fundamental premise that we do not know everything about our physical and metaphysical world which is why we continue to look and investigate. And by researching, we admit that the information we have is not complete which is why we continue to validate and discover. The search is a never ending cycle that we continue to investigate, validate and test established knowledge even including previous research. That to describe research as an absolute and perfect activity that nothing could be added nor done to improve its process and result would be to contradict its nature and intent.
This imperfection, however provided the vehicle and impetus that drove humanity to progress. Had research been perfect, civilization would have stagnated. No discoveries would have been made, no techniques would have been improved and no new methods would have been introduced. Our understanding of the world would have been the same as it was and myths would have been perpetually held as truth. Research is man’s systematic attempt to better his lot in this imperfect world. It is the expression of man’s natural curiosity to discover the unknown:
“Progress in almost every field of science depends on the contributions made by systematic research; thus research is often viewed as the cornerstone of scientific progress. Broadly defined, the purpose of research is to answer questions and acquire new knowledge. Research is the primary tool used in virtually all areas of science to expand the frontiers of knowledge … and ultimately improve the way we live” (Marcyzk et al 1).
Even the method on how research is done is not spared from flaw and thus cannot be construed as perfect. The researcher may be subjected to prejudices and biases that can affect the outcome of the study. “A researcher who holds certain beliefs about the nature of his or her research and how the results will or should turn out may intentionally or unintentionally influence the outcome of the study in a way that favors his or her expected outcome” (Barber & Silver); such, the farthest that research can claim is the accuracy and validity of its conclusion and never the perfection of its result. Where biases and errors are minimized through the use of statistical controls, comparison groups and randomization and where sound causality of inferences and evaluation lead to a reasonable and valid conclusion.
Though imperfect as it is, research is still the most reliable method of knowing the unknown. By understanding the rigor of research methods, we are able to filter which information would be useful out of the myriad of data available to us. “An understanding of research methods allows us to become critical consumers of information. Understanding research methods allows us to assess the wealth of information we receive each day in light of some very discerning standards” (Ruane 8).
And as such, research merely pushes the frontier of knowledge through a discerning eye and ever mindful of the infirmity of its methods and the limitation of its result. Thus, perfection in research can never be achieved and it can only hope for the validity of its conclusion.Works Cited:
Barber, T. X., & Silver, M. J. “Fact, Fiction, and the Experimenter Bias Effect”. Psychological Bulletin. 1968. 70, 1–29. Print. Marczyk, Geoffrey et al. Essentials of Research Design and Methodology. Hoboken, New Jersey: John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 2005. PDF file. Ruane, Jane M.. Essentials of Research Methods: A Guide to Social Science Research. Oxford: Blackwell, 2005. PDF file.
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