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Experience Knowledge

Tradition methods

Research is a way of thinking.
It involves examining critically the various aspects of day-to-day professional
work; understanding and formulating guiding principles that govern a
particular procedure; and developing and testing new theories that contribute
to the advancement of the profession.
Research is conducted to assess the validity of a hypothesis or an
interpretive framework. It aims at assembling substantive knowledge and
findings for sharing them, and contributing to existing body of knowledge.
The most common purposes of research are Exploration, Description and
Research conducted has to be reproducible.
Consider yourself to be a front-line service provider, supervisor or health
administrator/planner. Here are some of the questions that you can pose to judge
functioning of your service.

How many customers do I see every day?

Why do some people have a particular condition whereas others do not?
What are the health needs of the community?
What are the benefits of this programme to the community?
How do I demonstrate the effectiveness of my service?
Why do some people use the service while others do not?
What do people think about the service?
How satisfied are customers with the service?
How effective is the service?
How can the service be improved?
Research studied are significant as it allows researchers:
Contribute to the theory and knowledge base
Support professional development
Build a collegial networking system
Help others identify problems and seek solutions systematically
Evidence-based practice (EBP) is the delivery of services based upon
research evidence about their effectiveness; the service provider’s
clinical judgement as to the suitability and appropriateness of the
service for a client; and the client’s own preference as to the
acceptance of the service.
TYPES OF RESEARCH Research can be looked at from
three different perspectives:
Types of Research
(based on the viewpoint of) 1. Applications of the findings of
the research study;
2. Objectives of the study;
Application Objectives Enquiry mode
3. Mode of enquiry used in
conducting the study.
Pure Research Descriptive Quantitative
Research Research

Classification based from

Applied Exploratory Qualitative these standpoints are not
Research Research Research mutually exclusive i.e. a
research study classified
by application, can also be
Research classified from the
perspectives of objectives
and mode of enquiry
Explanatory employed.
From the perspective of application, research is categorized into two: pure
and applied.
Pure research involves testing hypotheses containing abstract and
specialized concepts. These studies may or may not have practical
application at the time of the study.
Pure research is also concerned with the development, examination,
verification and refinement of research methods, procedures and
techniques. The knowledge gained through pure research is sought in order to
add to the existing body of knowledge of research methods

Examples of pure research:

Developing a sampling technique that can be applied to some situation;
Developing a methodology to assess the validity of a procedure;
Developing an instrument to measure people’s attitudes towards certain products.

In applied research, existing research techniques, procedures and methods

are applied to the collection of information about various aspects of a
situation, issue, problem or phenomenon so that the information gathered
can be used in other ways – such as for policy formulation, administration
and the enhancement of understanding of a phenomenon.
Thus, the research is used to extend information that can be practically

Examples of applied research:

Developing a technique to enhance understanding customers attraction/aversion to a
particular product.
Developing methodology to enhance product quality.
A descriptive research study attempts to describe systematically a situation,
problem, phenomenon, service or programme, or provides information about
the living conditions of a community, or describes attitudes towards an issue.

Examples of descriptive research:

Studying attitudes of employees towards management.
Describe the nutritional needs of a community.
Describe the types of service provided by an organization.

A correlational study aims to discover or establish the existence of a

relationship/association/interdependence between two or more aspects
of a situation.

Examples of correlational research studies:

What is the relationship between malnutrition and mortality?
What is the effect of raising sterilization temperature on processed food quality?
Is there an relationship between food composition and food decay rate?
Explanatory research attempts to clarify why and how there is a
relationship between two aspects of a situation or phenomenon. This type of
research attempts to explain the causation behind the phenomenon.
Examples of explanatory research:
Why there is a decline in fertility rate in obese women?
Why is the product contaminated post sterilization?
Why do customers prefer certain brands?

An Exploratory study is undertaken with the objective either to explore an

area where little is known or to investigate the possibilities of undertaking
a particular research study.
• When a study is carried out to determine its feasibility it is also called a feasibility study
or a pilot study.
• It is usually carried out when a researcher wants to explore areas about which s/he has
little or no knowledge.
• A small-scale study is undertaken to decide if it is worth carrying out a detailed
Research from the mode of enquiry concerns the process adopted by the
researcher to find answers to the research questions.
Broadly, there are two approaches to enquiry: the structured approach and the
unstructured approach.
In the structured approach everything that forms the research process –
objectives, design, sample, methodology – is predetermined. The unstructured
approach allows flexibility in all these aspects of the process.
The structured approach is more appropriate to determine the extent of a problem,
issue or phenomenon, whereas the unstructured approach is predominantly used to
explore the nature and variation/diversity in a phenomenon, issue, problem or
attitude towards an issue.

Studying different perspectives of an issue, views of people towards an issue uses unstructured
Studying how many people have a particular perspective of the issue, how many people hold
a particular view needs structured enquiry.
The structured approach to enquiry is usually classified as quantitative
research and unstructured as qualitative research.
However, a combination of both the research methods is a fairly common
option, known as Mixed studies.
A study is classified as qualitative if:
 the purpose of the study is primarily to describe a situation, phenomenon, problem or event
 the information is gathered through the use of variables measured on nominal or ordinal
scales (qualitative measurement scales)
 if the analysis is done to establish the variation in the situation, phenomenon or problem
without quantifying it.

A study is classified as quantitative if:

 The researcher wants to quantify the variation in a phenomenon, situation, problem or issue
 the information is gathered using predominantly quantitative variables
 the analysis is geared to determine the magnitude of the variation.
The choice between quantitative and qualitative approaches (or structured or
unstructured) should depend upon:
 Aim of your enquiry – exploration, confirmation or quantification.
 Use of the findings – policy formulation or process understanding.

Qualitative research
The description of an observed situation, the historical enumeration of events, an account of the
different opinions people have about an issue, and a description of the living conditions of a

Quantitative research
How many people have a particular problem?
How many people hold a particular attitude?

The use of statistics is not an integral part of a quantitative study. The main function
of statistics is to act as a test to confirm or contradict the conclusions drawn on the
basis of understanding the analysed data.
Most professions have an overall code of conduct that also governs the way
they carry out research. In addition, many research bodies have evolved a
code of ethics separately for research.
The concept of ethics revolves around working ‘in accordance with principles
of conduct that are considered correct, especially those of a given
profession or group’.
 Any judgement about whether a particular practice is ethical is made on the basis of the code
of conduct prevalent at that point in time.
 There are certain behaviours in research – such as causing harm to individuals, breaching
confidentiality, using information improperly and introducing bias – that are considered
unethical in any profession.

If a procedure is carried out wrongly, who decides what penalties should

be imposed?
It is the overall body of professionals or government organisations that collectively develops a
professional code of conduct and forms a judgement as to whether or not it is being followed.
There are many stakeholders in research, whether it is quantitative or
qualitative. It is important to look at ethical issues in relation to each of
The various stakeholders in a research activity are:
1. the research participants or subjects
2. the researcher
3. the funding body.
In addition, thosewho are likely to be affected by the findings of a
study are also considered as stakeholders.
Any discipline in which a research activity is undertaken, those from whom
information is collected or those who are studied by a researcher become
participants of the study.
 In the fields of medicine, public health, epidemiology and nursing, patients and non-patients
who become part of a study and those who participate in an experiment to test the
effectiveness of a drug or treatment are considered as research participants.
 In marketing, consumers as well as non-consumers of a product provide information about
consumption patterns and behaviour, and hence become research participants.

Collecting information:
Prior to conducting research wherein you need to ask questions to the participants, the
respondents’ consent must be obtained.
• In every discipline it is considered unethical to collect informationwithout the knowledge of
participants, and their expressed willingness and informed consent.
• Informed consent implies that subjects are made adequately aware of the type of
information you want from them, why the information is being sought, what purpose it will
be put to, how they are expected to participate in the study, and how it will directly or
indirectly affect them.
Providing incentives
 Some researchers provide incentives to participants for their participation in a study, finding
this to be quite proper as participants are giving their time. Others think that the offering of
inducements is unethical.
 By popular opinion, giving a small gift after having obtained your information, as a token of
appreciation, is not considered as unethical. However, giving a present before data
collection is unethical.
Seeking sensitive information:
Information sought can pose an ethical dilemma in research.
• Certain types of information can be regarded as sensitive or confidential by some
people and thus an invasion of privacy. Questions on marital status, income and age may
be considered to be an invasion of privacy by some.
• Asking for this information may upset or embarrass a respondent. However, if you do not
ask for the information, it may not be possible to obtain information and contribute to the
existing body of knowledge.
Maintaining confidentiality:
Sharing information about a respondent for purposes other than research is unethical.
Thus the researcher needs to ensure that after the information has been collected, its source
cannot be identified.
Anyone who collects information for the specific purpose of understanding,
consolidation, enhancement and development of professional knowledge,
adhering to the accepted code of conduct, is a researcher. S/he may represent
any academic discipline.
Code of conduct applicable to researchers include:
Avoiding Bias:
Bias is a deliberate attempt either to hide what you have found in your study, or to highlight
something disproportionately to its true existence.
Bias on the part of the researcher is unethical.

Provision or Deprivation of treatment:

 Both the provision and deprivation of a treatment may pose an ethical dilemma for you as a
researcher. When testing an intervention or a treatment, a researcher usually adopts a
control experiment design.
 However, it is usually accepted that deprivation of a trial treatment to a control group is not
unethical as, in the absence of this, a study can never establish the effectiveness of a
treatment which may deprive many others of its possible benefits.
Inappropriate use of information:
The use of information in a way that directly or indirectly affects respondents adversely is
unethical. It is ethical to ask questions provided you tell respondents of the potential use of the
information, including the possibility of it being used against some of them, and you let them
decide if they want to participate.

Using Inappropriate research methodology:

A researcher has an obligation to use appropriate methodology, within his/her knowledge
base, in conducting a study. It is unethical to use deliberately a method or procedure you know
to be inappropriate to prove or disprove something that you want to, such as by selecting a
highly biased sample, using an invalid instrument or by drawing wrong conclusions.

Incorrect reporting:
To report the findings in a way that changes or modify them to serve your own or someone
else’s interest is unethical. Correct and unbiased reporting of the findings are important
characteristics of ethical research practice.
Most research is carried out using funds provided by sponsoring organisations
for a specific purpose. Common funding agencies include business
organisations, pharmaceutical companies, government, semi-government or
voluntary institutions, research bodies and/or academic institutions.
Restrictions imposed by the sponsoring organisation: Misuse of information:
However, sometimes there may be direct or indirect Sometimes sponsoring
controls exercised by sponsoring organisations. organisations use research
• They may select the methodology, prohibit the as a pretext to impose
publication of ‘what was found’ or impose other certain rules or for
restrictions on the research that may stand in the way obtaining management’s
of obtaining and distributing accurate information. agenda.
• Both the imposition and acceptance of these controls
and restrictions are unethical, as they constitute
interference and could extend to the sponsoring
organisation tailoring research findings to meet its
assigned interests.
The Tuskegee Syphilis study was an
infamous research study that ran for
40 years, from 1932 to 1972.

The US Public Health Service and the

Tuskegee Institute conducted a study on
effects of syphilis on about 600
African American men. The participants
were not made aware of the study
purpose and were told they were
being treated for “bad blood”, free of

About two-thirds of the men had syphilis and despite Penicillin being available (in 1942)
to be administered, the participants were deprived of it.
This continued until it was revealed to the public through a leak to the newspapers.
Only 74 participants survived, out of which 40 wives contracted the disease and 19
children were born with syphilis related deformities.
Scientific misconduct is most serious when it affects the truth claims of scientific
findings, as it then undermines the cumulative nature of scientific work and
development and may lead to practical applications that are harmful to patients.

Types of misconduct in research include:

1. Fabrication or the invention of data. It ranges
from the invention of all data reported to the
invention of some of it (for instance because
of recruitment problems and time constraints).
2. Suppression of unwanted results.
3. Intentionally biased analysis of the data to
obtain ‘desired’ results.

The same is true whenever researchers publish false or

misleading accounts of their methodology in order to slow down
competing research groups.
Original Data Published Data
Set 1 hour 2 hours 3 hours Set 1 hour 2 hours 3 hours
#1 Not Not 17 #1 4 11 17
Measured Measured
#2 Not Not 25 #2 7 13 25
Measured Measured
Fabrication of data corresponding to hours 1and 2

Original Data Published Data

Set 1 hour 2 hours 3 hours Set 1 hour 2 hours 3 hours
#1 6 14 23 #1 4 12 23

#2 13 19 27 #2 15 21 27

Falsification of data corresponding to hours 1and 2

Plagiarism is claiming the work of another to be
one’s own.
Ubiquitous word processing and the Internet have
made plagiarism easy and consequently
In research, plagiarism may be:
 Submitting of copies or translations of papers
previously published by others elsewhere
 copying and pasting other people’s work into
your own papers either in their original form or
slightly paraphrased

However, the ease of Internet searches has simplified the detection of plagiarism,
and several dedicated professional plagiarism detection packages are now
Name of the Journal Vol. Year Pages


a, b, c represents the institute that the researcher is affiliated to

1 signifies that the two authors contributed
equally to this work.

The Asterisk (*) represents the Corresponding author.

Corresponding author performs the task of getting the paper published.
They format the paper as per journal requirements and communicate it across.
Being an author plays a prominent role in employment, promotion and
grant-awarding decisions.
The author credit line in a research/review paper designate who was
involved in a published work and accordingly who should share the honour
related to the findings reported.
Disputes about authorship are probably the most common of conflicts within
research groups.
A research is credited as author for a publication if handle the following
 1. Substantial contributions to conception and design, or acquisition of data, or
analysis and interpretation of data.
 2. Drafting the article or revising it critically for important intellectual content.
 3. Final approval of the version to be published.
Acquisition of funding, collection of data, or general supervision of the research
group, alone, does not justify authorship.
There are five main types of misconduct related to authorship:
 Exclusion from authorship
 Gift authorship
 Authorship achieved by coercion
 Unsolicited authorship
 Refusal to accept responsibility as an author when other misconduct is detected

Exclusion from authorship

Exclusion from authorship happens when someone who has contributed
significantly to a project and fulfils the criteria for authorship is not named in
the byline, although he or she so wishes (there is no requirement of listing
contributors against their wishes).
This happens most often to junior researchers, but can also happen where a
research group has split before publication.
Unjustified exclusion from authorship is equivalent to theft.
Gift authorship
Gift authorship is the case where someone who has not fulfilled the criteria for
authorship nonetheless is offered authorship.
There are different scenarios in which gift authorship might occur:
 It may be a swap: ‘I’ll give you author status on my paper if you give me author
status on yours’
 It may be to gain the endorsement of a famous name on a paper to help it
through the peer-review process
 It may be a way to ‘improve’ the CV of junior researchers in a laboratory
 It may be a way for a pharmaceutical firm to get a prestigious name on a
review essentially written by the company.

Unsolicited authorship
Unsolicited authorship is where someone is listed as an author without their
knowledge or consent.
Its also involves ghost authorship; i.e. the person who really wrote the paper is
not listed as an author.
Authorship by coercion
Authorship achieved by coercion commonly occurs when a senior researcher, often
the head of a laboratory, demands to be an author on all publications from the
laboratory, regardless of whether or not he or she has fulfilled the criteria for

Refusal to accept responsibility

In accepting that one’s name appears in the byline of a paper, a person also
accepts responsibility for at least a part of its content.
In many cases where fabrication or some other forms of serious misconduct has
been exposed in a jointly authored paper, people who gladly were listed as co-
authors suddenly refuse responsibility for the paper.
This is either in itself a form of misconduct, or it points to earlier misconduct in
accepting authorship without due care, as in the revising of a manuscript for
Salami and imalas publication seek to maximize the number of papers published
from a given work done by reducing each to the ‘least publishable unit’.

Salami publication involves carving up the results of work done into the thinnest
possible slices that can still be published.
i.e. From one research project, you publish multiple related papers, that should have
been published as one paper.

Salami publication makes it more difficult for the users to

gain an overview of the complete project.

An especially problematic type of salami publication is where a large trial is

published at the same time as parts of the trial are published.

If the link between the complete experiment and the parts are not made clear in the
publications, it may lead to double counting of the evidence in later reviews or
Imalas publication is the sequential publishing of what are essentially the same
results, but with a few new data included in the analysis each time.
i.e. Similar papers published with little variation in data.

Imalas publication leads to the literature being cluttered with interim results,
which again makes it more difficult to gain an overview of the definitive results of
a project.

The limiting case of imalas publication is duplicate or multiple publication of the

same research results as if they were new. In addition to the general effects of
imalas publication, this involves a direct deception of the second journal, as most
journals prohibit double publication

Duplicate publication is generally only acceptable if the first publication is in an

international journal and language and the second publication is in a national
language and journal, and the relationship between the two papers is made