19 Sep Research Essentials: Starting a Research Project
Starting this week, the Good Doctors are introducing a feature on Research Essentials. Within these posts, we will present and define essential elements of research design which will aim to help you understand and plan your future research projects. These features will also highlight how Abbey Research can assist you in achieving your research goals. We often get asked endless questions about what we do and how we do it – so this blog series will peel back the curtain to the inner workings of Abbey Research HQ and give you a better idea of how research can help solve problems!
When beginning any sort of research project, it can be challenging to know how to begin. In one of my favorite quotations about research Zora Neal Hurston stated that “Research is formalized curiosity. It’s poking and prying with a purpose.” The Good Doctors firmly believe that curiosity is a necessary leadership quality, and that curiosity leads to asking questions.
Whether conducting research academically or in business, it is important to start with the most basic questions: Who? What? Where? When? How? Why? By answering these simple questions, you can begin to form the scope for your research. Defining this scope will form a necessary part of your project and ensure that you are producing quality and effective research.
It is perhaps most important to start by asking whom or what you are researching. For example, if you are researching consumers, then you can use the remaining questions to refine that scope. In asking each of these questions in turn, you can form a robust research question. If we follow the example of researching consumers through each question, you can see how the research project takes form. What are these consumers buying? Where are they buying it and when? How are they buying it and why? In asking and answering these questions you may determine that you are interested in researching 20-35 year old women who purchase exercise equipment online through advertisements on clothing websites.
Identifying who, what, when, where, how, and why of your project will in turn shape how you approach conducting the research. Once you have identified your target research, you can then proceed to develop the structure of the research project. Best practice then suggests that you develop a series of questions from your target research, in order to determine the methods of your project, or practically, how you will go about answering those questions.
Within research practice, there are two main forms – qualitative and quantitative. Depending on the scope of your research and the type of questions you are hoping to answer, qualitative or quantitative or a mixture of both will work best for your project. Will you need surveys, data analysis, focus groups, or market trend analysis? Do you want to conduct broad research using information from hundreds of consumers, or are you more interested in in-depth research with a handful of participants? In subsequent blogs this week, we will focus on each of these methods, introducing key aspects and highlighting how they can best serve your particular project and research needs.
Conducting research is about asking interesting and at times difficult questions and can be a daunting task for any individual or business to undertake. Whether through posting useful tips or developing and conducting customized research on your behalf – we’re here to help you navigate this challenging (but rewarding) field! If you want to talk through some of your questions or concerns, or talk about how a custom research project can help your company, we’re always here for a free clarity consult session!