What is research?

  • Last Edited: December 19, 2018

Some common definitions of research as a noun include:  “the systematic investigation into and study of materials and sources in order to establish facts and reach new conclusions” and, more simply, “investigate thoroughly.” Likewise, research as a verb connotes similar definitions, including “investigate systematically” and “discover facts by investigation.” In other words, research can be the end product of what is found during the investigation process or its can refer to the investigation process itself. In either case, the overarching goal of research it to systematically produce new knowledge that transcends the existing body of knowledge about a given topic or issue. For example, the Code of Federal Regulations defines research as: “A systematic investigation (i.e., the gathering and analysis of information) designed to develop or contribute to generalizable knowledge.” Likewise, the National Academy of Sciences states that the goal of research is to “extend human knowledge of the physical, biological, or social world beyond what is already known.”

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