Tuesday, 17 April 2018

RESEARCH: MEANING, SCOPE AND SIGNIFICANCE OF RESEARCH

Research is an essential and powerful tool is leading man towards progress. Without systematic research there would have been very little progress. John W. Best has rightly said “The secret of our cultural 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”.
Scientific research leads to progress in some field of life. New products, new facts, new concepts and new ways of doing things are being found due to ever increasing significant research in the physical, the biological, the social and the psychological fields. Research today is no longer confined to the science laboratory. The manufacturers, the agricultural experts and the archeologists are carrying on research in their respective spheres, besides, the sociologists, anthropologists, economists and educationists.
C.C. Crawford, “Research is simply a systematic and refined technique of thinking, employing specialized tools, instruments and procedures in order to obtain a more adequate solution of a problem than would be possible under ordinary means.”
Francis Bacon, “Research is a power of suspending judgement with patience of meditating with pleasures of asserting with caution, of correcting with readiness of arranging thought with scrupulous plan.”

SCOPE OF SOCIAL RESEARCH
Social research as a scientific tool to study and analyze social problems has immense value. It studies them in a purely scientific spirit i.e. with a view to understand their structure. A social scientist records and collects significant facts and figures of social problems and this in turn makes possible correct generalizations about them. The basic scope of social research is to understand sooner or later but correctly the nature of social events and processes and though this is done without any motive of particular reforms the conclusions cannot be ruled out. In brief, following are the scope of social research.
i.      Knowledge Building: Generalizations drawn have a certain effect on the established corpus of knowledge. A general proposition having been established as an outcome of research may extend the bounds of knowledge existing at a point in time. It may, if it does not fit a certain body of existing knowledge in the sense of not arguing well with the expectations that can be legitimately drawn from it, exert pressure on the scientist to bring about certain amendments or modifications in this body of knowledge in view of the discordant note struck by this new general proposition. Contrarily, if the generalization fits the established corpus of knowledge, it lends added credence to it.
Thus the new statements of generality emanating as research outcomes serve as scales for verification of the existing system of knowledge is only repeating the obvious. As has been noted research involves testing to find out whether the empirical observations presented as general statements are in accord with the predictions that may be made on the basis of the existing body of knowledge. If such is not the case, the system needs to be revised or even rejected. An important aspect of scientific activity is verification of conclusions which have found place in the established system of knowledge.
ii.      Study of Social Problem: Where there is knowledge, ignorance cannot exist. The best way of removing superstitions, blind beliefs etc. is to transplant true knowledge in their stead. For example, before the intensive social research came into crime the social causes of crime were not realized and people thought that propensity to crime was inherited. But now all this has changed.
The scourge of ignorance is one greatest block to social progress. It breeds superstitions and blind faith in traditions, it keeps orthodoxy alive. By unraveling the intricate and complex phenomenon of popular beliefs, social research enables us to attack vigorously the citadels of orthodoxy of stop its growth. Gradually new knowledge seeps in popular mind and thus superstitions become diluted and ultimately removed. The key to the solution of social problems is their accurate and unbiased analysis and thereby to understand the causal factors responsible for them. The analysis of an untrained observer is not dispassionate and precise. Only a social scientist is competent to undertake this task. Social scientists have successfully analyzed the problems of regionalism, casteism, linguism, communalism etc.
iii.      Theory making and policy making: The extended, corrected and verified knowledge may be put to two possible uses:
a.    Theoretical. Knowledge thus acquired may be used for constructing theoretic models. In other words, knowledge may be organized into propositions and these propositions may then be meaningfully articulated to form a more abstract conceptual system affording estimations about a class of thing or phenomena governed by a specified set of conditions. Such use of knowledge is often labeled as theory-oriented and the activities of a scientist who seeks knowledge for the sake of building theories of, ‘non-utilitarian’ import are often known as ‘pure’ ‘basic’ or ‘theoretical research. Knowledge for the sake of knowledge i.e. only for the satisfaction of ‘knowing’ is the attitude that underlies scientific activity of this order.
b.   Practical. The researches which seek knowledge will be used mainly for policy making which can be used to solve various problems confronted by our society. They may serve some practical ends which are often called ‘applied ‘action-oriented or ‘practice-oriented. We shall be considering this aspect in greater details when an action oriented research has to be taken up. One should not consider these two orientations as comprising a perfect dichotomy. There is nothing as practical as a good theory and that endeavours to solve practical problems have many a time given birth to theories i.e. practice is quite often “blessing for the development of theory”. Theory helps us to identify gaps in our knowledge and seek to bridge them with institutive, impressionistic or extensional generalizations.
Laws propagate when they are united in a theory. As Karl Jespers said ‘It is only when using methodologically classified sciences that we know what we know and what we do not know. This way, theory constitutes a crucially important guide to designing of fruitful research.’

 SIGNIFICANCE OF RESEARCH
“All progress is born of inquiry. Doubt is often better than overconfidence, for it leads to inquiry, and inquiry leads to invention” is a famous Hudson Maxim in context of which the significance of research can well be understood. Increased amounts of research make progress possible. Research inculcates scientific and inductive thinking and it promotes the development of logical habits of thinking and organisation.
The role of research in several fields of applied economics, whether related to business or to the economy as a whole, has greatly increased in modern times. The increasingly complex nature of business and government has focused attention on the use of research in solving operational problems. Research, as an aid to economic policy, has gained added importance, both for government and business.
Research provides the basis for nearly all government policies in our economic system. For instance, government’s budgets rest in part on an analysis of the needs and desires of the people and on the availability of revenues to meet these needs. The cost of needs has to be equated to probable revenues and this is a field where research is most needed. Through research we can devise alternative policies and can as well examine the consequences of each of these alternatives.
Decision-making may not be a part of research, but research certainly facilitates the decisions of the policy maker. Government has also to chalk out programmes for dealing with all facets of the country’s existence and most of these will be related directly or indirectly to economic conditions. The plight of cultivators, the problems of big and small business and industry, working conditions, trade union activities, the problems of distribution, even the size and nature of defence services are matters requiring research. Thus, research is considered necessary with regard to the allocation of nation’s resources. Another area in government, where research is necessary, is collecting information on the economic and social structure of the nation. Such information indicates what is happening in the economy and what changes are taking place. Collecting such statistical information is by no means a routine task, but it involves a variety of research problems. These day nearly all governments maintain large staff of research technicians or experts to carry on this work. Thus, in the context of government, research as a tool to economic policy has three distinct phases of operation, viz., (i) investigation of economic structure through continual compilation of facts; (ii) diagnosis of events that are taking place and the analysis of the forces underlying them; and (iii) the prognosis, i.e., the prediction of future developments.
Research has its special significance in solving various operational and planning problems of business and industry. Operations research and market research, along with motivational research, are considered crucial and their results assist, in more than one way, in taking business decisions. Market research is the investigation of the structure and development of a market for the purpose of formulating efficient policies for purchasing, production and sales. Operations research refers to the application of mathematical, logical and analytical techniques to the solution of business problems of cost minimisation or of profit maximisation or what can be termed as optimisation problems. Motivational research of determining why people behave as they do is mainly concerned with market characteristics. In other words, it is concerned with the determination of motivations underlying the consumer (market) behaviour. All these are of great help to people in business and industry who are responsible for taking business decisions. Research with regard to demand and market factors has great utility in business. Given knowledge of future demand, it is generally not difficult for a firm, or for an industry to adjust its supply schedule within the limits of its projected capacity. Market analysis has become an integral tool of business policy these days. Business budgeting, which ultimately results in a projected profit and loss account, is based mainly on sales estimates which in turn depends on business research. Once sales forecasting is done, efficient production and investment programmes can be set up around which are grouped the purchasing and financing plans. Research, thus, replaces intuitive business decisions by more logical and scientific decisions.
Research is equally important for social scientists in studying social relationships and in seeking answers to various social problems. It provides the intellectual satisfaction of knowing a few things just for the sake of knowledge and also has practical utility for the social scientist to know for the sake of being able to do something better or in a more efficient manner. Research in social sciences is concerned both with knowledge for its own sake and with knowledge for what it can contribute to practical concerns. “This double emphasis is perhaps especially appropriate in the case of social science. On the one hand, its responsibility as a science is to develop a body of principles that make possible the understanding and prediction of the whole range of human interactions. On the other hand, because of its social orientation, it is increasingly being looked to for practical guidance in solving immediate problems of human relations.”
In addition to what has been stated above, the significance of research can also be understood keeping in view the following points:
(a)  To those students who are to write a master’s or Ph.D. thesis, research may mean careerism or a way to attain a high position in the social structure;
(b) To professionals in research methodology, research may mean a source of livelihood;
(c)  To philosophers and thinkers, research may mean the outlet for new ideas and insights;
(d) To literary men and women, research may mean the development of new styles and creative work;
(e)  To analysts and intellectuals, research may mean the generalisations of new theories.
Thus, research is the fountain of knowledge for the sake of knowledge and an important source of providing guidelines for solving different business, governmental and social problems. It is a sort of formal training which enables one to understand the new developments in one’s field in a better way.

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