Research is guided by the specific research problem, question or hypothesis precisely because research originates with a question or a problem most commonly in terms of the observation of the environment though not necessarily in the sense of the ‘natural environment’. Without the perceived problem, question or hypothesis there would hardly be any reason to investigate or conduct a research in the first place. For that matter, the stimulus for the research derives from the question or problem out of observation and that, correspondingly, it should serve as the framework or the guide for the whole research.
For instance, the observation that the seawater tastes salty may result to the questioning of why seawater tastes salty or to the problem of identifying what makes seawater taste salty. From then on the research is to ensue with a set of experiments and data analysis of findings, all of which are guided by the central hypothesis at hand as the core foundation of the research. A classic example which paved the way for modern scientific developments is the case of Charles Darwin.
Darwin paved the way for the Theory of Evolution largely through his habit of keeping “several series of notes and diaries on natural history observations” (Porter, 1982, p. 503). If research is guided by the specific research problem, then it should also be the case that research requires the clear articulation of the goal. If the goal for the research paper is not clearly articulated, then the entire research will most likely result to the failure of arriving at the substantial conclusion given the fact that the most basic goal is not clearly defined.
Given the role of the goal of the research as the main target regardless of what other things the research may arrive at in the end, it is never enough to have research goals ambiguously or vaguely articulated. Furthermore, since research is guided by the specific research problem, it should also require a specific plan for proceeding. Otherwise, the specific research problem would not serve its purpose of guiding the whole research process. A carefully laid out plan or scheme of carrying out the research paper or activity is equally important because it holds the structure of the manner or method in which the research goal is to be realized.
On the other hand, the specific research plan involves the clear elaboration of the procedures in conducting the research which brings us to the next point. Research usually divides the principal problem into more manageable sub-problems. For example, in Susan Wolf’s (1997) article “Ban Cloning? Why NBAC is Wrong,” she divides the central question of her research into three sub-problems under three subheadings. This method is particularly effective because it substantiates the central question and gives more room for the scope of the research problem to be solved.
And in order for the research to substantiate the central question for the research goal to be realized, the research should also accept certain critical assumptions. For instance, Archie Epps (1961) in his research the Christian doctrine of slavery accepts the critical assumption that the “inability or general unwillingness to comply with and encourage the removal of segregation, discrimination and prejudice” among others “are often admittedly Christian (p. 243). By doing so, Epps was able to collect and interpret data in order to resolve the problem that initiated the research. This is another essential characteristic of research.
Finally, it can be observed that research is, by its nature, cyclical or, more exactly, helical as it involves the interweaving and interlinking of the research characteristics in order to be able to support the whole research and realize the research goals and objectives. References Epps, A. C. (1961). The Christian Doctrine of Slavery: A Theological Analysis. The Journal of Negro History, 46(4), 243-249. Porter, D. M. (1982). Charles Darwin’s Notes on Plants of the Beagle Voyage. Taxon, 31(3), 503-506. Wolf, S. M. (1997). Ban Cloning? Why NBAC Is Wrong. The Hastings Center Report, 27(5), 12-15.