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Conceptualization of research and identification of research problems

Main aspects covered:


Why do we do research at all? What is needed for a sound project? How to plan a research project?

The execution of a research project


The use of research results

Writing proposals problem statement


Writing the introduction to a paper

What is research?
Research is a systematic investigation to establish facts on an existing problem which were not known before. Research must aim at providing new information or advance existing knowledge on a subject. A proposer of a research activity must first, articulate the problem or research question that requires investigation, then state how the problem will be addressed, i.e. write a research proposal

We do research because:
1. We are curious
Research may change our view of the world - a paradigm change But most of us do research because:

2. We want to master nature around us


Research/knowledge make us able to manipulate nature to our advantage Research is often a very good economical investment

Some examples of estimated profit from agricultural research:


Discovery of disease (rust) resistance in wheat: Cost 1.5 million Profit in eight years 220 million Development of the fungicide Benlate: Cost several million US $ Profit several billion US $

Development of hybrid corn: Cost several million US $ Profit several billion US $

....and we do research because:


3. We need to build up Scientific Competence

Competence within sciences means, among other things:


To know what it all is about. To have experimental

skills within the area concerned


To know relevant methods and which to choose in specific cases To be able to critically read and understand publications/reports in the area concerned To be able to transfer and communicate knowledge To be able to advise on policy matters

The good idea/problem identification 1. Science begins with observation


2. Your own interest, experience and your scientific competence 3. Extensive review of the literature- gaps in knowledge? 4. Priorities made by your organisation/institution or academic supervisor. Magnitude of a society problem 5. Stakeholders needs and interests 6. Facilities and equipment etc. available 7. Policy of a funding organisation

Your good idea will appear:


In your project Title In your Hypothesis In your Objectives In your expected results

Before starting a research project you should be sure that:


The hypothesis is: not tested already; testable; very clear The competence needed is available The persons involved is (are) enthusiastic You have, or can get laboratories, facilities, equipment, and the research material required

The project can be carried out within a reasonable time and economy

Normal project phases:


1. The initiation and planning phase Collect and evaluate relevant literature Choose the best methods Set up time and activity plan with check-points 2. The starting up phase Detailed planning of experiments and pilot experiments Ordering and/or arranging equipment/ material needed Detailed planning of survey and instruments

Normal project phases:


3. The data-collecting phase Tends to be longer than expected/planned 4. The communication phase Research results should be communicated!

Background/Problem Statement/Justification of Project (Proposals)

What is the problem or the need or research question? How significant is the problem? Who has the problem? What are we going to do about it?

What is the problem or the need? you may start with a general or global problem statement commonly used terms food security, poverty reduction, human nutrition) specific problem magnitude/frequency of problem/ who is affected?

Statement of the Problem


It is estimated that 60% of children in Zambia are suffering from serious nutritional deficiency (FAO, 2009; UNICEF, 2009)
References, facts, figures, statistics

Causes of the Problem


Drought? Lack of affordable fertiliser? Soil erosion? Nutritional problem etc. etc.?

Background/Problem/Justification of Project
Identify: - gaps in existing knowledge relating to your research interest
- possible solutions/activities which

require research inputs and which will plug the gaps - What is value of the expected results for development and science?

NARROWING THE PROBLEM


IDENTIFY a broad area of interest DISSECT the broad area into sub-areas SELECT a sub-area by process of elimination RAISE RESEARCH QUESTIONS

Significance of the Study: Is the importance of conducting the research in terms of : Timeliness Relation to current national goals/plans, policies, emerging realities Relation to regional and community goals/plans

Significance of the Study: Effects on the general population or groups at risk Magnitude, frequency, distribution of the problem Stating other agencies involved in similar programs Contribution to new information or insight