Research process involves six important steps:
1. Problem Definition/Identification
The first step in the process is to identify a problem or develop a research question. The research problem may be something the organization identifies as a problem, some knowledge or information that is needed by the organization, or the desire to identify a trend.
If you are working in a company, the problem is assign by the top management; usually you get broad ideas regarding the problem. Then with the broad concept from the top management you define the specific problem statement.
Or if you are doing some research project then you have to identify your problem statement of your own. Remember your problem statement should be specific.
There are three aspects of research problem
- The specification of units to be studied
- The identification of the particular units within the scope of study
- The specification of the kind of information to be sought.
2. Research Proposal
Research proposal are necessary for all business research, it may be the internal proposal or it may be the external proposal. But research proposal is not required in case of research studies for P. hd., or paper presentation as concerned.
A proposal is known as a work plan, prospectus, outline, statement of intent, or draft plan. The proposal tells us what, why, how, where, and to whom it will be done.
The proposal of research is:
- To present the management question to be researched and its importance
- To discuss the research efforts of others who have worked on related management questions.
- To suggest the data necessary for solving the management question and how the data will be gathered, treated, and interpreted.
3. Research Design
A research design is a framework or blueprint for conducting the marketing research project. It details the procedures necessary for obtaining the required information, and its purpose is to design a study that will test the hypotheses of interest, determine possible answers to the research questions, and provide the information needed for decision making.
Conducting exploratory research precisely defines the variables, and designing appropriate scales to measure them are also a part of the research design.
The issue of how the data should be obtained from the respondents (for example, by conducting a survey or an experiment) must be addressed. It is also necessary to design a questionnaire and a sampling plan to select respondents for the study.
More formally, formulating the research design involves the following steps:
- Definition of the information needed
- Secondary data analysis
- Qualitative research
- Methods of collecting quantitative data (survey, observation, and experimentation)
- Measurement and scaling procedures
- Questionnaire design
- Sampling process and sample size
- Plan of data analysis
4. Data Collection
Once the researcher has decided the ‘Research Design’, the next job is of data collection. For data to be useful, our observations need to be organized so that we can get some patterns and come to logical conclusions. Statistical investigation requires systematic collection of data, so that all relevant groups are represented in the data.
To determine the potential market for a new product, for example, the researcher might study 500 consumers in a certain geographical area. It must be ascertained that the group contains people representing variables such as income level, race, education and neighborhood. The quality of data will greatly affect the conclusions and hence, utmost importance must be given to this process and every possible precaution should be taken to ensure accuracy, while gathering and collecting data.
Depending upon the sources utilized, whether the data has come from actual observations or from records that are kept for normal purposes, statistical data can be classified into two categories, primary and secondary.
5. Data Analysis and Interpretation
Data preparation includes the editing, coding, transcription and verification of data. Each questionnaire or observation form is inspected or edited and, if necessary, corrected. Number or letter codes are assigned to represent each response to each question in the questionnaire. The data from the questionnaire are transcribed or key punched onto magnetic tape or disks, or input directly into the computer. The data are analyzed to derive information related to the components of the marketing research problem and, thus, provide input in to the management decision problem.
6. Report Writing
The entire project should be documented in a written report that addresses the specific research questions identified, describes the approach, the research design, data collection, and data analysis procedures adopted, and presents the results and the major
findings. The findings should be presented in a comprehensible format so that management can readily use them in the decision making process. In addition, an oral presentation should be made to management using tables, figures, and graphs to enhance clarity and impact.