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Research – definition of research

Research – definition of research

This article ‘Research – definition of research’ aims to provide the reader with comprehensive insights into several issues concerning research. Research is a process of discovering new knowledge to enrich the advancement of society. It is one of the most essential activities for any successful business.


Companies from different industries spend billions of dollars on research every year. According to Statista (2022) the top three companies in the world in terms of research spending are Amazon, Alphabet, and Volkswagen.


Definition of research (What is research?)

‘Research is a systematic process of discovery and advancement of human knowledge’ (Gratton & Jones, 2009, p.4). According to Theodorson and Theodorson (1969) it refers to any honest attempt to study a problem systematically or to add to man’s knowledge of a problem.


According to Saunders et al. (2007) research is something that people undertake to find out things in a systematic way, thereby increasing their knowledge.


Research is the process of gathering information and data to better understand a particular topic or phenomenon. It involves using various methods and techniques to collect, analyse, and interpret data to draw meaningful conclusions.


Research is used to answer questions and solve problems, as well as identify trends and opportunities. It is an essential tool for businesses and organisations, as it allows them to make more informed decisions and stay competitive in their respective market.


Companies often conduct market research to create strategies for growth, develop new products and services, and improve existing ones. R&D department is usually entrusted with research activities.


Characteristics of research

Based on the definitions above, there are several characteristics of research that researchers should acquaint themselves with. They are as follows:


 * Research is a systematic (stage by stage) process. An appropriate process must be followed in order to conduct a study.


* Research is usually conducted to study a problem.


* Researchers conduct an in-depth and critical analysis of all data that they have collected to ensure that there is no error in the interpretation.


* Research is based on observation or direct experience by the researchers.


* Research is objective, unbiased, and logical.


Saunders et al. (2007) state that there are three key characteristics of research as follows:


  1. Data are collected systematically.
  2. Data are interpreted systematically.
  3. There is a clear purpose: to find things out.


Research problems

Research can be conducted based on any problem the researcher is interested in. For example, a company lost its market share in the last few years. Losing its market share is a problem which a researcher may be interested in to investigate to find out the potential reasons. However, research must have some significance to generate interest for wider audience.


How to choose a research problem?

In colleges and universities, dissertation supervisors (research supervisors) guide and help student researchers choose a research problem. According to the University of Southern California (2023) supervisors may do so in three different ways as follows:


  1. They may provide researchers with a general topic from which they need to identify and study a particular aspect.
  2. They may provide a list of possible research topics and the researchers need to select a topic from that list
  3. They may simply leave it to the researchers to select a topic to carry out the study (with their approval though!)


Research topics

Research topics need to be interesting and relevant to the academic and professional fields of the researcher. How will the research benefit the society? How will it benefit the researcher academically and professionally?


Is there a clear purpose for conducting research? Answers to this question and others above should help the researcher identify a good research topic. The following list offers some interesting examples of research topic:


*An analysis of the impact of lockdowns on small businesses in California.


*An analysis of the impact of Brexit on small businesses in London.


*An investigation into the challenges of engaging students in online learning.


*Evaluating the impact of working from home.


* Analysing the impact of social media on attracting new customers.


*Exploring potential impacts of income inequality on anti-social behaviour in New York.


* Understanding the impact on managerial styles on employee performance – a case study of McDonald’s.


* Exploring social media as a new market.


* Pros and cons of working from home from an employer’s perspective.


* Relationship between customer service and customer satisfaction – a case study of Walmart.


Types of research

Research has different types. For example, primary research, secondary research, exploratory research, descriptive research, explanatory research, predictive research, quantitative research and qualitative research.


Discussion on all these types of research is beyond the scope of this article. Therefore, this article provides more information on primary and secondary research only.


Primary research

Primary research is also called field research. According to Gratton & Jones (2009) primary research refers to research that has involved the collection of original data specific to a particular research project, for example through using research methods such as questionnaires or interviews.


Secondary research

Secondary research is also called desk research. In this type of research, the researcher will not collect any primary data and will rely on existing sources of data. Marketing research reports, census, company websites, news reports, magazine articles are some of the sources of secondary data. Secondary research is usually carried out at home or library with the help of both the Internet and printed materials.


Research tools (data collection tools)

Researchers can use a variety of data collection tools such as questionnaires, interviews, focus groups, and observations. Quantitative researchers usually use questionnaires whereas qualitative researchers use interviews.


Why research? Benefits of research

There may be many reasons for research. For example, it can help the researcher investigate some existing situation or problem (Hussey and Hussey, 1997). Fundamentally, research is to provide solutions to a problem. The results of research may include but not limited to new knowledge, and better insights into a problem which is otherwise would not have been possible.


Research can provide a wealth of information that can be used by organisations and businesses to make better decisions and stay ahead of competition. It can also help them identify potential opportunities and threats, as well as determine the best strategies for growth. Here are some of the benefits of research:


Improved decision-making

Research can provide the data and information necessary to make more informed decisions. This can help organizations and businesses make better decisions in a timely manner.


Increased efficiency

Research can help identify processes that are inefficient and provide ways to improve them. This can help organisations and businesses save time and money by streamlining their operations.


Improved customer satisfaction

Research can be used to gain insights into customer behavior and preferences. This can help organisations and businesses develop products and services that are more tailored to their customers’ needs, resulting in increased customer satisfaction.


Increased innovation

Research can identify potential opportunities and new ideas that can be used to create innovative products and services.


Reduced risks

Research can help organisations identify potential risks and take measures to mitigate them. This can help them reduce the chances of failure and increase the chances of success.


Challenges of conducting research



Conducting research can be expensive, as it requires a great deal of resources such as time, money, and personnel. Organizations and businesses must ensure that they have the necessary resources to conduct research without sacrificing their other operations.



Conducting research can take a great deal of time, as it requires the collection and analysis of data. Organizations and businesses must ensure that they have enough time to conduct research without sacrificing their other operations.


What does a researcher do?

Researchers are responsible for conducting research, collecting data, and analysing it to draw meaningful conclusions. They may also be tasked with writing reports, making recommendations, and presenting their findings to colleagues and the public.


Researchers typically work in teams. They may also have to work collaboratively with other professionals in order to ensure the success of their projects. They also need to be able to work independently and take initiatives in order to complete their tasks on time and within budget.


Researcher skills and qualifications

In order to become a successful researcher, it is important to have certain skills and qualifications. Researchers should have a strong background in numeracy, statistics, and computing in order to be able to accurately analyze data. They should also have excellent verbal and written communication skills in order to present their findings effectively.


Additionally, researchers should have strong organizational skills in order to be able to manage their projects effectively. They should also have excellent problem-solving skills in order to be able to draw meaningful conclusions from their research.


It is also important for researchers to have a keen interest in their field of research. Some employers may expect them to have at least a bachelor’s degree in a relevant field. Likewise, academic researchers are often expected have a master’s qualification.


Researcher salary expectations

The salary of a researcher is typically dependent on the industry and position. A researcher can expect to earn anywhere from $30,000 to $80,000 per year, depending on their experience and qualifications. Research jobs in the healthcare industry typically offer higher salaries than those in other industries.


In addition to a salary, researchers may also be eligible for bonuses, stock options, and other benefits. These benefits can vary greatly depending on the position and the industry.


Summary ofResearch – definition of research’

Research can provide a wealth of information that organisations can use to make better decisions. While conducting market research can be a time-consuming and challenging process, the benefits of doing so can be invaluable.


In a nutshell, research is very important and may sometimes be complex from both conceptual and practical perspectives. Therefore, a researcher must understand important research issues such as research process, research methods, research approach, and research design before embarking upon a research journey.


We hope the article ‘Research – definition of research’ has been helpful for you to explore the issues such as the definition of research, characteristics of research, and types of research. Please share the article link on social media to support our educational work.


You may also like reading Qualitative vs quantitative research. Other relevant articles for you are:


Differences between deductive and inductive approaches to research

Advantages and disadvantages of convenience sampling


Last update: 02 January 2023


Gratton, C. & Jones, I. (2009) Research Methods for Sports Studies, 2nd edition, London: Routledge

Saunders, M., Lewis, P., & Thornhill, A. (2007) Research Methods for Business Students, 4th edition, UK: Pearson Education Limited

Statista (2022) Ranking of the 20 companies with the highest spending on research and development, available at: (accessed 02 January 2023)

University of Southern California (2023) Organizing your social sciences research paper, available at: (accessed 02 January 2023)

Author: M Rahman

M Rahman writes extensively online and offline with an emphasis on business management, marketing, and tourism. He is a lecturer in Management and Marketing. He holds an MSc in Tourism & Hospitality from the University of Sunderland. Also, graduated from Leeds Metropolitan University with a BA in Business & Management Studies and completed a DTLLS (Diploma in Teaching in the Life-Long Learning Sector) from London South Bank University.