Scientific research is basically a process of verifying new facts while doing a research. The steps of scientific research can be called as a checklist that we need to follow one step at a time, to find out whether we are coming up with the right facts or not. However, the steps differ from research to research, the basic steps in scientific research can be as below,
- Make observation: We can’t study what we don’t know is there. Researchers are always curious as they look for pattern, trend, question the existing problems that they cannot understand. Once the researcher finds an interesting pattern that they want to know more about, they select that area for doing a scientific research and follow the next steps.
- Selection of research area and topic: The first step is to find out your research area and topic based on your observations or interest area.
- Ask questions: Once the researcher finds what to research, they ask question they can find answer too or not and proceed towards studying the available literatures if any.
- Do background research: The background study may include literature review, research papers, case studies, etc. If you find out that the selected topic is already explored by others and there are definite answers you must decide whether to drop that topic and select a new area. You can also refine your question and iterate the background research.
- Form a hypothesis, goal and objective: A hypothesis is a statement that you think is the answer to your question or it makes a prediction of the expected outcomes. A good hypothesis should be falsifiable, meaning that it’s possible to prove it wrong. At this stage you have to also formulate your research goals and objectives in detail before proceeding to the next phase.
- Conduct an experiment: To find answer to your hypothesis you need to do a research by selecting the right tools, right sampling techniques and more over avoiding any ethical issues. Your experiment can take into various factors and you may have to collect data, interpret it and reiterating the same to proof your hypothesis. While some experiments can be completed within few months, some may take years based on the complexity and subsequent findings. At every step, you have to take measures to manage the collected data well to use it at a later stage if required.
- Analyze results and draw conclusions: In this step, the researcher look at the data, and decide whether to accept or reject the hypothesis. As a researcher you must use statistical tests to make sure that you are interpreting your results correctly before reporting the same.
- Report results: The final step is to report your findings through journals, article or among peer groups to help fellow researchers using your work to find out solutions to similar issues if any. Researchers generally report their results in reputed and indexed journals, where each report has been checked over and verified by other researchers in a process called peer review.
There can be variations to this approach of doing a scientific research based on your research topic, but you can always use this as a guiding framework to conduct any research. You can visit my other article on writing a good research report.