Research is defined as a decisive and careful hunt for answers and explanations to problems that affect human beings. Research is a product of inquisitiveness which is sustained by the strong will to find out the truth and advance our ways of doing things. It provides mankind with an opportunity to development (Van Dalen 1).
Research has been and still is an integral part of our existence. It influences many aspects and disciplines such as medicine, philosophy, psychology, arts among others. Our ever changing lives need research work to cope. For example in the field of medicine, we have seen research being undertaken towards the development of drugs for many different ailments (Van Dalen 1). As we strive to deal with the problems of our existence through research, we depend heavily on authority and experience as its key tools. These provide the sources for questions about the world and although we acknowledge these tools as keys to unlocking the true reality, they have set limits (Cohen, Manion and Morrison 3).
Research comprises of two categories namely; quantitative and qualitative research. In light of this, there are two categories of researchers. Qualitative researchers are usually seen as “soft positivists” who explain the reality through development of theories. On the other hand, quantitative researchers believe in facts and figures. This creates debates between the two categories and their capacities to offer valid results (Newman and Benz 3).
According to some researchers quantitative and qualitative research are both imperfect in their validity. They explain this by stating that in quantitative research there is the unavoidable degree of standard error which has to be accounted for in all their results. While in qualitative research the researcher has to put into consideration the respondents’ beliefs and attitudes that will ultimately lead the researcher into developing a bias towards the study process. These adjustments and considerations ultimately shape the research findings and thus, it is not possible to have a completely valid research (Cohen, Manion and Morrison 105).
The ethics of some other types of research can be excessively intricate and delicate. This can place researchers in moral dilemmas, most of which appear irresolvable. An example of this is where researchers are faced with the task of being professionals engaging in the search for truth while not compromising their respondents’ rights and beliefs which may be threatened by the study. This is known as the cost/ benefit ratio (Cohen, Manion and Morrison 49).
With reference to my undergraduate research project titled “Effects of student waste disposal behavior on the environment. A case study of Kenyatta University students” The study used the cross- sectional survey design. During the study process, it was observed that personally as a researcher I held a bias towards the topic under study. This is attributed to the fact that the respondents were already suspected of poor waste disposal. The researcher’s observation on the effects of waste disposal was attributed to them despite the presence of other people within the study area, who could have contributed to the poor waste disposal.
In another, instance working as a research assistant for a friend who was undertaking a research study titled “Psychological factors leading to cheating in exams among undergraduate students of Kenyatta University.” We came across respondents who admitted to have avoided answering some of the questions honestly due to their sensitive nature. An example of such a question would be “Have you ever cheated in an examination?” as asked through the questionnaires we administered.
In conclusion, the facts gathered from different sources only point to one eventuality that research contains errors in its process and prejudice in the people involved in the process. My experience with research may confirm these facts and even support the statement that “There is no hope of doing perfect research” but it still remains a very important aspect of mans advancement. Thus all that needs to be done is development of better tools and designs to ensure validity and reliability and not the pursuit of perfection.
Van Dalen, Deobold. Understanding Education Research: An Introduction. New York: McGraw-Hill, 1962. Print
Cohen, Louis, Lawrence Manion, and Keith Morrison. Research in Education. London: Routledge Falmer, 2000. Print
Newman, Isadore, and Carolyn Benz. Qualitative- Quantitative Research Methodology: Exploring the Interactive Continuum. Carbondale,IL: Southern Illinois University Press, 1998. Print