Some people view research as a movement, a movement from the known to the unknown. It is actually a continuous voyage of discovery where the inquisitiveness of man to probe and attain full and fuller understanding of the unknown forms the main impetus. In simpler terms, the meaning of research can be expressed as ‘a process of searching again’. Therefore, the main goal of research is to find out the truth which is concealed and which has not been discovered yet.
There is no hope of doing perfect research (griffiths, 1998, p97). Do you agree?
Yes, I agree with this observation that “there is no hope of doing perfect research”. The Advanced Learners’ dictionary of current English describes the meaning of research as ‘a careful investigation or enquiry especially through search for new facts in any branch of knowledge.’ Some people view research as a movement, a movement from the known to the unknown. It is actually a continuous voyage of discovery where the inquisitiveness of man to probe and attain full and fuller understanding of the unknown forms the main impetus. In simpler terms, the meaning of research can be expressed as ‘a process of searching again’. Therefore, the main goal of research is to find out the truth which is concealed and which has not been discovered yet. So it is clear that if research were perfect, then there will not be any further search on that topic and so called perfect research would be an act of closing the doors to any fresh study in that area and we all know that it hardly happens in the practical scenario. Actually, the lack of complete perfection in every research paved the way for new attempts and this ever-continuous quest for perfection produced all innovations in science and technology that made one’s life comfortable and invaluable progress in myriad fields like sociology, psychology, health care, economics and political science. Thus the concept of ‘perfect research’, in a way, even makes the very word ‘research’ a less meaningful expression.
Perfect denotes a state that is complete and with out any faults, weaknesses or errors. However, in the case of researches, it is an approved fact that some sort of errors or flaws would always happen in their executions. The foremost reason for this is that humans do all researches. Nobody is perfect and every person is different from each other and holds individual differences in most of their traits. It is almost impossible to avoid personal bias and minute operational errors completely in any human activities and this universal truth holds good for research activities too. Selection, measurement and intervention are some of the commonest bias occurring in research studies.
There are many types of research like descriptive, analytical, quantitative, qualitative, conceptual, empirical etc. All these types of researches are conducted in a systematic way, which consists of identifying the problem, formulation of a hypothesis, data or facts collection, analysis of the data and getting in to certain conclusions. It should be noted that many of these steps have innate practical limitations and pitfalls in their operations. Data collection and statistical analysis are integral parts of any research activities and both these may vary widely depending on many factors like availability of data sample, sampling methods, time of research, place of study etc. Due to these reasons, completely contradictory findings are possible on researches made on the same topic by different people inhabiting at different places. It is noted that random errors caused from differences in sampling or lack of precision is very common in quantitative researches, while systematic errors may result in variation between observed and true values.
Experiments in any activities are usually performed through trial and error methods and so are prone to error. Like that, logical reasoning and logical process like induction and deduction play some great roles in research activities, but it is beyond dispute that logic is a product of human mind and invites flaws.
I my self experienced many of the above listed problems while doing research. One of them was on the subject ‘eating fish reduces the possibility of heart diseases’. My group after research reached the conclusion that people who are eating lots of marine fish seem to suffer much less from heart diseases than those who consume meager amount of fish. This was in accordance with many studies conducted before. As reviewed by Stone, three prospective epidemiological studies within populations reported that men who ate at least some fish weekly had a lower coronary heart disease (CHD) mortality rate than that of men who ate none (Kris-Etherton et al. 106:2747-2757). However, another group did research on the same topic concluded that there is no such correlation existing between eating fish and heart diseases. Some scholars like Ascherio et al. also made such remarks that there is no association between fish intake and coronary heart disease in the Health Professionals Follow-up Study. Where does the evidence stand? (Katan 332: 1024-1025). In another research on ‘use of some specific insecticides in the farms’ we realized that the people were widely divided on the subject. The farm workers were readily supporting the use while other people were opposing it since the lethal insecticides were causing many calamities in the environment. It was also noticed that many pure people were influenced in favor of the use of insecticides by the wealthy farm owners and all these complex social factors caused a great deal of inaccuracy in our work. My personal bias as an environmentalist gave a verdict opposing the use of those insecticides while the other research team concluded that the use was beneficial and should be continued.
If research is perfect, this type of varying results will not happen and it can be observed that in most cases a fresh research on the same topic adds something new to the existing stock of knowledge or sometimes even proves that the previous finding was wrong. As Scheurich (1994) rightly said, “one’s historical position, one’s class (which may or may not include changes over the course of a lifetime), one’s race, one’s gender, one’s religion, and so on, interact and influence, limit and constrain production of knowledge” (Mehra 7:1). So I support the view that there is no hope of doing perfect research and think that by following the guidelines of doing a good research in a sincere manner, the quality of the work can be improved a lot and at least prove that perfect research is nearly possible. Still it seems that the idea of perfect research is more like a colorful Utopian thought or a dogmatic concept than a practical reality.
Katan B. Martijn. “Fish and Heart Disease.” The New England Journal of Medicine.
332 (1995):1024-1025. Web
Kris-Etherton M. Penny, Harris S. William and Appel J. Lawrence. “Fish Consumption, Fish Oil, Omega-3 Fatty Acids, and Cardiovascular Disease.” American Heart Association, Inc. 106 (2002): 2747-2757. Web
Mehra, Beloo. Bias in qualitative research: Voices from an online classroom. The Qualitative Report, 7(1). 2002. Web. 22 August 2010