What is Research?
What is research? In research, our ideas, thoughts and the existing knowledge of others come together and incorporate various types of research activities to create our overall shared body of research information or knowledge. Generally, our research knowledge is acquired using a systematic approach to investigate and answer a specific research question. The systematic approach includes various ways to go about ‘doing’ the research also known as research methodologies. Additionally, research includes observing and recording events that occur in the process of completing the research, analyzing those events and making conclusions based on the information acquired. SNJ Associates is focused on scientific research regarding health and well-being that involve human participants.
Additionally, research includes observing and recording events that occur in the process of completing the research, analyzing those events and making conclusions based on the information acquired. SNJ Associates is focused on scientific research regarding health and well-being that involve human participants.
A Systematic Approach
An example of a systematic approach to research is the experimental design study. The experimental design is a well-defined research methodology that incorporates the scientific method to rigorously investigate a specific research question. Consider that our health topic of interest is pain relief. We have a group of patients, who are going through knee-replacement surgery. We set up an experimental design study to investigate a new drug called ‘ABC’ pain reliever. Our research question is focused on how well the new ABC pain reliever drug works to relieve pain among a group of patients going through knee replacement surgery. Our study compares the ABC drug to the standard drug currently used for pain relief (a drug commonly used in a specific treatment is referred to as the ‘gold-standard’).
We design our research study to include two groups of patients, who one-half, the experimental group receives the new ABC drug, while the other half, the control group are given the gold-standard pain reliever. We hypothesize or state before we start our study that the ABC drug will reduce pain better in the experimental group compared to the gold-standard treatment in the control group. We observe and record all research events or outcomes across our two groups. When we have completed our drug study, we will analyze all results and make our conclusions. We will state what we learned, based on our research study regarding our original research question. The ABC drug research study used a systemic process, the scientific method to complete the study is a scientific manner.
Knowledge is Acquired in Many Ways
Of course, knowledge is also acquired in many other ways, which do not use a systematic approach. When we are asking What is Research?, we need to distinguish between knowledge applied using a systematic approach versus general knowledge. For example, general knowledge about a topic, let’s say gardening is possible by surfing the Internet for blogs about gardening. You would learn what the author of the information you find has done in their own experience of gardening. You may find very useful information and ideas to try in your own garden by reading and watching videos about what worked for the gardener presenting you the information. This information may prove quite useful to you; however, it is not scientific information. Furthermore, knowledge acquired through a belief or an expression of faith, no matter how well justified is not the type of knowledge commonly used nor accepted as robust research knowledge in the area of health and wellness.
Our current answer to the question: What is Research? and our example of an experimental research study just described are purposely oversimplified at this point. As we explore various aspects and approaches to research, we will continue to expand and update our answer. For now, the important point to remember is research that is done well and produces credible information requires a specific, systematic approach. There are a number of research methods, which incorporate a systemic approach along with many different types of research studies. One type was our example of the experimental design study.
Reliable and Valid Knowledge
Collectively all our research knowledge is used across a wide variety of areas such as creating public policy, developing health care strategies, developing education guidelines for health care professionals or implementing community public health strategies. Important areas of health and well-being knowledge such as health policy, patient care and education require that we demand the quality of our research information and subsequent knowledge are reliable and valid. This means we must insist and confirm the research information used to create our overall body of research knowledge uses a systemic approach and incorporates sound principles of scientific research.