Menu Close

Research process – steps in research process

Research process – steps in research process

There is no doubt that research is a systematic process. Although different models of research process exist, each containing different numbers of stages, most include the same general elements (Gratton & Jones, 2009). The research process outlined below is a generalized way of carrying out research:

Define the problem

Specify the objectives

Literature review

Research Design





Data collection and analysis

Present findings and conclusion


Define the Problem

The research process begins with identifying and defining the problems facing the researcher. In fact, there may be many problems as to why an individual/organisation would carry out research e.g. loss of market share, increase in online business, high staff turnover and many more.


Specify the Objectives

Once the problem is identified and defined, the next step for the researcher is to specify some objectives. Usually, three to five objectives are set for each research project. And these objectives are set depending on the problems identified in the preceding stage. For example, the researcher’s objectives may be to identify the reasons why a company loses market share. It may also be to find out what can be done to reduce loss of market share.


Literature Review

The researcher needs to review relevant literature in order to understand the research problem thoroughly. A literature review is a select analysis of existing research which is relevant to the topic the researcher has selected, showing how it relates to his/her investigation. It explains and justifies how the investigation may help answer some of the questions or gaps in the area of research (University of Reading, 2015).


Research Design

In this stage, the researcher needs to focus on a number of things. For example, the philosophy, approach, methods, and instruments for the research will be decided in this stage. Sampling strategy, timing and cost of the research are also finalised in this stage. It is very important that the researcher understands those concepts very clearly as they impact on the research project significantly.


Data collection and analysis

Data needs to be collected in a systematic way. Indeed, the researcher will use different types of research instruments e.g. questionnaire, interviews, focus groups and so forth to collect data depending on the type of research method chosen. Once the data is collected, analysis needs to be conducted in order to obtain information from the data. Analysis can be done manually and/or with the help of specialist software.


Present findings and conclusion

Once the analysis is done, the findings of the research should be presented in an organised manner. If the research is conducted on behalf of a company, the findings need to be presented to the decision makers of the business. The findings need to be readily accessible and understandable to the decision makers for the purpose of decision-making.


Last update: 22 February 2023

Further reading/references

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

University of Reading (2015) Starting a literature review, available from (Accessed, 02 February 2015)

Author: M Rahman

M Rahman writes extensively online with an emphasis on business management and marketing. He is a graduate of both Leeds Metropolitan University and London South Bank University.

Related Posts