Introduction: How to Research Almost Anything Using the Golden Ratio Research Approach
All people could be researchers, this is about curiosity, not about knowledge or titles, but a little bit of method could help you to obtain better results. I've worked as a researcher for a couple years now, but I think this started when I was a child. After thinking about what's common about many different research approaches and methodologies I came with mine and here is my first attempt to tell it to the world.
I match my research approach with the golden ratio concept because one of the issues in research is that there are many frameworks but none of them is natural, aesthetically significant, and ubiquitous as the golden ratio and this is related to the idea of replicability, one of the biggest principles of research in any approach. That’s was what I just used to my advantage.
This approach is based on my personal experience, researching other people who do research, reading, conversations, and some extrapolation. There are 4 steps in the process that I found whenever I tried to research through everything. If you do any kind of research, or you're just curious about the journey, I’d love to read about your experience.
(Note - many of the links given in this Instructable are commercial. I am not promoting any specific companies, they are merely examples)
Step 1: Step 1: Understand
Research could be extremely complex or incredibly easy, it all depends on your scope and especially the understanding of what is undertaken. It could come from many sides, but the first activity is to try to understand your needs and find your major reason that could look like:
- Research for Explore an idea
- Research for Probe an issue
- Research for Solve a problem
- Research for Make an argument that compels us to turn outside help
There're a lot of resources to help you in this stage because here is where you explore and perceive the intended meaning of the available data. You can use tools as:
- Workspace: A single space to keep your research, it should be easy to integrate with other apps, cost-effective, customizable to individual’s needs, and accessible from anywhere.(elink.io, google, dropbox.)
- Content library: Help you to stay organized and get the most out of your online content to store media assets (Mendeley, Endnote, contentmine)
- Collaboration tools: It depends if you're not researching alone and you need a workplace where two or more people (often groups) work together through idea sharing and thinking to accomplish a common goal (google, mural, figma)
Step 2: Step 2: Ask
Now that know what to figure out about a certain topic, you have to ask yourself the right question to ensure meaningful output and go straight to the point. At this execution-focused stage, your questions around the project will focus on the nuts and bolts like:
- What? - Related to the method
- When? - It about how long your research will take, this question is normally attached to the resources that you have.
A good research question gives your work a clear focus and purpose. All research questions should be: Focused on a single problem or issue
- Researchable using primary and/or secondary sources
- Feasible to answer within the timeframe and practical constraints
- Specific enough to answer thoroughly
- Complex enough to develop the answer over the space of a paper or thesis
- Relevant to your field of study and/or society more broadly
The best resources in this stage depend directly on the field of research, there're many research questions writing guides and also research questions generators to help you choose and limit the scope of your topic.
Step 3: Step 3: Apply
In this stage what you want to find is a way to uncover evidence. As researchers we're not trying to validate anything, what we want to do is to gather evidence to ideate and evaluate a hypothesis. That is the reason why establishing a possible scenario is important.
Here is where you should estimate with qualitative and/or quantitative information the expected result. There's a big spectrum of research methods between the hard sciences and the soft sciences, the technical and the social approach. It's all about your resources' availability and experience.
There're nice resources on the web like this map by Jonas Cher, that tries to categorize research methods and how we understand and evaluate each, also this tool from Sage group could help you to discover relevant content related to some research methods
In this stage, you change the direction of the knowledge because you decide which glasses you want to look at the issue with. All methods can be used well or used poorly, as researchers we can use valid statistical concepts in invalid ways, so here's where the scientific rigor is essential.
Also, it is common to go back to this step after applying the method and it's okay. There are always difficulties that are not prevented and there could be more than one way to test your hypothesis, applying more than one method as the researcher you can
- Enhance validity
- Create a more in-depth picture of a research problem,
- Interrogate different ways of understanding a research problem.
Step 4: Step 4: Review
This stage is important because there is where you make sense of the learnings by analyzing the results and deciding what they mean for you. Is the best opportunity to elaborate on the impact and significance of your findings by asking about
- Relevance: Are these the right takeaways to share?
- Intuitive: Do these results make sense to me as a researcher?
- Methodologically Sound: Was the research method performed well?
Remember that this process is iterative and being a researcher more than a job is a way of life that sharp our analytical skills and judgment to compel us to apply critical thinking and exercise objective judgment based on evidence, as the golden ratio is the repetition of steps to internalize knowledge and go deep into the context.
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