Having the general tools of research as the library and its resources, the computer and its software, the human mind, facility with language, the techniques of measurement and statistics, one can then range them according to how frequently they are used. The most frequently used tool of research is the human mind.
This is because the mind is used in formulating the problem statement. After coming up with many objectives one then chooses the most important of all the questions and relates it to the phenomenon being observed. The mind is also used in sifting the data and arranging it as it should be. The mind is also the tool that is used in observation and identification of the problems being faced.
The computer is the tool that is used almost as frequently as the human mind. Since the introduction of the World Wide Web, there has been a lot of its use even by authors who do not see the need of printing their findings.
Also most of the libraries have gone online and almost all the books in the library have been transferred to the websites and can be accessed there. This makes work easier for researchers as they can conduct their research from any place and at any time. As long as one has a computer, all one have to do is to search for what you need in any of the search machines of the computer.
There are also may catalogues found in the websites that show where the books needed can be gotten. It also shows its price and allows one to conduct the purchase from anywhere in the world through the use of credit cards.
The computer is also seen as a whole library containing any information that may be required. It also makes the research easy as all you do is type in what you want and it displays many options from which one then chooses.
The comforts provided by the computer and its software has made its use in research intensify. This has increased especially since the introduction of the laptops, which are portable and can be used from anywhere.
The only shortcoming of a computer is that some books may not be available and thus the information they contain cannot be accessed (Green D.W 1997). Adding to its advantages is that one can perform the task of writing and editing one’s work on the same computer that is being used to research and this makes research and documentation work so much easier.
The next most frequently used tool is the statistics. In data collection one has to confirm the findings with the statistics already in place. Statistics are mostly secondary data as they have been researched and documented by someone else prior to their use. These statistics will be used to justify the problem statement of the dissertation and also the findings gotten from the field.
Next in line are the techniques of measurement, which are used alongside scaling techniques. The data that has been collected is measured and scaled. The measurements have to be valid, reliable, precise, practicable, unambiguous and also free from errors.
Errors may occur due to the tool of measurement or due to the respondent’s mistakes. The scaling techniques are used to change qualitative data into quantitative from that can be easily graded. These techniques are very important in the interpreting and analyzing of data. It helps arrange the data in a way that is better understandable and codes the information.
The library is also an important tool especially in getting some information that is not available over the Internet. Some journals that have not been electronically catalogued cannot be found in the Internet and thus the need of one to go to a library. Some information in the Internet may be directing the research to a library where they can get the books or articles needed.
The last tool that is also important but I have ranked it last in this list is the language facility. When conducting research you will have to use the language that can be understood by the respondents. If the research is to be carried out among people who do not speak in a language that you are familiar with, then you will need a translator.
In the writing of the report there will also be need of using a language that can be understood by the readers. The places that you get your data also have to be in a language that you can understand or easily get a translator.
In a dissertation, there is the use of data-gathering and/or analyzing methodology. The methodology includes interview, observation and questionnaires for the data gathering and content, statistical discourse and semiotic analysis for the analyzing methodology.
The methodology will have a rationale justifying the methodology chosen for both gathering and analyzing the data. Also in the dissertation, there will be specification of which other studies have used the same methodology and what alternatives are there together with their positive and negative sides. The methodology should also follow one theoretical framework guidelines.
The Mind as a Research Tool
When one has good information, they are able to make decisions that are deemed to be good. The mind is the tool that is used to make decisions. It makes an assessment of the data available and by using the knowledge acquired makes the decisions that will determine the direction of the research. “Knowledge is that which we know well” (http://home.ubalt.edu/ntsbarsh/business-stat-data/topic.htm).
Data is not knowledge instead it is crude information that needs knowledge for it to make any sense. It has to first become information then fact before it can become knowledge. The mind uses both deductive logic and inductive reasoning to sift through the statistical data and end up making a good decision based on the knowledge gotten from the data.
Deductive logic is used to eliminate the data that is not useful or is seen as having errors. By systematically removing such data from the data that has been collected, it means that the conclusion that will be made will be based on facts and thus will be the best conclusion. This conclusion has to be right, as it down not have any errors.
On the other hand inductive reasoning is when one starts from having some data that is used to make a conclusion. The conclusion made will be based on certain data. This conclusion has a probability of not being correct since there are a lot of assumptions made before arriving at it. Thus it means that deductive logic is conclusive while inductive is inconclusive.
The data itself produces the conclusion in deductive logic while in inductive reasoning the conclusion is gotten beyond the data. The mind is therefore the tool that is used to reach a conclusion. In the dissertation, regardless of how much data has been collected using all the methodologies required, there is still the need of a researcher to use his/her mind to reach the conclusion. The data is only used to aid the researcher get the to the conclusion.
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