What is Research?

‘Research’ is a term that covers a multitude of activities, but in one way or another they are all about finding things out. At one level this can mean simply collecting information, so that an evening spent on the internet looking up holiday options is a form of research. But at another level research involves converting information into knowledge and understanding. In this sense it can be about what can be done with information in terms of practical applications; how can I design a better housing system? At its most ambitious, research tries to go beyond information collection and application to develop solutions and reflective critique of justifiable problems: why is it so hard to find a decent holiday, or to design a better housing system? In other words, research is about six fundamental questions: what, how, who, where, when – and arguably most important, why?

Here are some useful research textbooks:

Bryman, A. (2012). Social Research Methods. 4th Edition. Oxford University Press.

Robson, C (2011) Real World Research. 3rd Edition. Blackwell.

Bell, J. (2005) Doing your research project : a guide for first-time researchers in education, health and social science. 4th Edition. Open University Press

Denscombe, M. (2007) The Good Research Guide for Small Scale Social Research Projects, Open University Press.

Silva, E., Healey, P., Harris, N., Van den Broeck. P. (Eds). (2014). The Routledge Handbook of Planning Research Methods

May, T. (2011) Social Research: issues, methods and processes, 4th Edition. McGraw Hill.

Neuman, W L (2011) Social Research Methods- Qualitative and Quantitative methods 7th edition. London: Pearson Education

Becker, S. and Bryman, A (2004). Understanding Research for Social Policy and Practice. Policy Press

Blaikie, N. (2009) Designing Social Research: The Logic of Anticipation. Polity Press.

Hinton, P. R. (2014) Statistics Expanded: a guide for social science students. 3rd Edition. Routledge

Arksey, H. and Knight, P. (1999) Interviewing for Social Scientists. Sage.

Bazeley, P. (2007). Qualitative data analysis with NVivo. London: Sage.

Flick, U (2009) An Introduction to Qualitative Research. 4th Edition. Sage

Mason, J. (2002) Qualitative Researching. 2nd Edition. Sage.

Silverman, D. (2011) Interpreting qualitative data: a guide to the principles of qualitative research. 4th Edition. Sage

Yin, R. K. (2003) Case Study Research: Design Methods. 3rd Edition, London: Sage Publications.