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Philosophy of Research in Literature

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    LangLit n International Peer Reviewed Open ccess Journal Vol. 5 Issue 4 102  May, 2019  Website: www.langlit.org   Contact No.: +91-9890290602 Indexed: ICI, Google Scholar, Research Gate, Academia . edu ,  IBI, IIFC, DRJI ISSN 2349 5189 IMPACT FACTOR  –   5.61 THE PHILOSOPHY OF RESEARCH: AN OVERVIEW DR. SIVADASAN MADHAVAN, Associate Professor, Department of English, Wolaita Sodo University, Ethiopia ABSTRACT Studies about the technicalities of conducting research are still going on at different levels all over the world. The focus of this paper is the philosophical  foundations of research that many a researcher ignores while engaged in research work. Since knowledge is awareness acquired by means of education or experience, it enables one to answer certain questions. Therefore, one must be able to answer any question related to anything one may come across. The accidental falling of an apple brought a question (Why did it fall down?) into  Newton’s brain and it paved the way for the theory of gravitation. Most   of the  great inventions and discoveries were accidental or by chance. However, a research begins with a question, works on a theoretical basis, and adds  something to the existing body of knowledge. Some questions like “Who is God?”, “Is there God?”, etc. may or may not get correct answers. Such ontological questions are related to reality which may be either ‘single’ or ‘multiple’ as Ontology gets bifurcated into. On practical grounds, in a research, Ontology leads to Epistemology, Methodology, and Axiology. To be  scientific in the academic sense, a research has to be in line with these  philosophical concepts and the models called 'research paradigms', the  parametric dimensions of research philosophy, set and accepted as norms by the scholars. The moot point is whether a scholar can break the shell of the norms of 'research foundation'!  The inventions and discoveries have never had a well-planned research behind them in the early stage of acquiring knowledge. The inventors and discoverers happened to come across them accidentally while they were engaged in some activities. Archimedes’ principle of  buoyancy he declared by shouting “Eureka!” and running naked in the streets of Syracuse in ancient Greece , Issac Newton’s theory of gravity as a consequence of the apple felling down on to his head and making him think about why it fell down, etc. are just a few examples. Since then the education system made the research systematized during the course of time. The learners have started making deliberate attempts to acquire knowledge ever since the formal education became customary. The educational institutions began to formulate rules and regulations for it. Curriculum plans and syllabus designs came as part of it. However, about the technicalities of conducting research, studies are still going on at different levels all over the world. It is knowledge that matters to those who study something or conduct research. The focus of this paper is the philosophical foundations of research that many a researcher is unaware of while engaged in research work. Research philosophy is the hidden abstract intellectual assumptions behind the research processes. It is worth looking into the unspoken part or the invisible foundation of the research.    LangLit n International Peer Reviewed Open ccess Journal Vol. 5 Issue 4 103  May, 2019  Website: www.langlit.org   Contact No.: +91-9890290602 Indexed: ICI, Google Scholar, Research Gate, Academia . edu ,  IBI, IIFC, DRJI ISSN 2349 5189 IMPACT FACTOR  –   5.61 The common people have a vague idea about the concept of research. More often than not, everyone hears about research studies or research findings on a certain topic. The fast developing educational sectors and the increased demand for scholars in various fields compel the higher education authorities to open new research centres everywhere. The higher literacy rate (though quality is doubtful in many developing countries), the development of science and technology, and the consequent changes in the social life have tended to add up the demand for the research facilities in the universities. The formal research conventions are followed everywhere. The hidden philosophical aspects are complementary to the rudimentary features of a research as per the notions of the conventional academic researchers. There are different definitions of research by different scholars as it is true in many other educational concepts. The well-known definitions hardly point to the philosophical bases of the research. No single definition of research constitutes all the characteristics of an academic research that all the scholars accept unanimously. Sherri L. Jackson (2012) quotes Redman and Mory’s definition of research as a “systematized effort to gain new knowledge.” D. Slesinger and M. Stephenson in the Encyclopa edia of Social Sciences define research as “the manipulation of things, concepts or symbols for the purpose of generalizing to extend, correct or verify knowledge, whether that knowledge aids in construction of theory or in the practice of an art.” To cut a long story short, the elements of some relevant definitions can be condensed into the following words: ‘A research is an enquiry to explore an idea, probe an issue, solve a problem, or make an argument that compels us to turn to outside help.’ It is clear that a research always depends on the outside sources of relevant information. If a researcher can solve a research problem by himself without depending on outside help/source, it is not a research in the formal academic sense. A wide range of experts agree on the seven steps a researcher takes in conducting research. The first task in the research activities is to identify the topic, the problem and the purpose of the research. Framing the research questions in accordance with the objectives comes next. Thirdly, reviewing the prior literature related to the topic will give the required background and insight to pave the way for specifying the knowledge gap. Fourthly, the research hypotheses are constructed using the research variables in line with the conceptual and theoretical frameworks. Fifthly, the researcher has to choose the research design and methods to collect data. Next, the hypothesis will be tested based on the data collected. Finally, the researcher draws his own conclusions after proper deliberations on the test results and analysis. However, researchers throughout the world feel that research is a hard nut to crack, but it is not mainly due to the philosophical under-current that they find the research very difficult. There are many reasons for considering research work a stumbling block. Lack of experience and absence of expertise in the field of education are the main reasons. In the centres of higher education, the often quoted complaint is that they do not have adequate resource  persons to guide the research in different fields of study. The traditional teacher-centred teaching methods have given rise to a generation that completely depends on spoon-feeding. The active participation of students in looking for appropriate learning material and their genuine interest in learning process are very rare in the developing countries in general. The  poor technical help and inadequate expertise worsen the situation in the part of the world    LangLit n International Peer Reviewed Open ccess Journal Vol. 5 Issue 4 104  May, 2019  Website: www.langlit.org   Contact No.: +91-9890290602 Indexed: ICI, Google Scholar, Research Gate, Academia . edu ,  IBI, IIFC, DRJI ISSN 2349 5189 IMPACT FACTOR  –   5.61 where the writer of this paper works as a research assistant. The students lack the spirit of enquiry, and the education system is not research-oriented. Thus, the lack of proper directions is the reason for groping in the dark. The general awareness about knowledge is that students acquire whatever they can from the existing body of knowledge throughout their career, until they start the research work at the terminal level. They can gain knowledge with the help of teacher(s) or by themselves from  books or other sources. As long as their work does not lead to novel findings, it is not called research, academically, because their investigation does not generate anything new, nor does it extend, correct or verify the existing knowledge. The term-paper a student writes is not a research in that it does not add anything new to the pool of existing knowledge. It is just collecting and collating information that they do in a term paper. A layman, without knowing what he is doing, may be engaged in conducting research. For example, a farmer who makes a wooden wheel with wide planks as fans to spill water from a  pool to his land for irrigation and the one who makes a device with a basket of net fixed at one end of a long hook to pick the ripe mangoes from the trees without letting it fall down are all doing research in their own crude way. They do not follow any methodology or research  philosophy as the scholars do to get their degree of merit: what guides the farmer is the necessity that he faces at the moment. All the service providers and tool manufacturers are conducting shot-term and long-term researches for such inventions to catch up with the modern market or the changing world. These activities are not always considered research by many of us. It is not wrong if one says that research is an activity in the daily life to fulfill the requirements of the changing needs in the society. For instance, one who wants to buy a car may investigate the car market to find out answers to his questions like, ‘Which car is economical, convenient, fashionable, etc.?’ But such investigat ions do not come under the label of research in the strictest sense of the term as far as educationalists are concerned. The term research is used in different ways by different people: undergraduate students’ term  paper is a research project; some people conduct research to buy properties or invest money; and scholars make their in-depth study on a particular topic. That means, the implications vary depending on the context and the people involved. A research always begins with a question. Asking a relevant question is more important than answering the question. A researcher cannot answer the research questions by himself and he has to depend on outside help to solve the problems. All the materials or data available on the topic, both recorded and unrecorded, should be studied and analyzed to get or formulate the answers. The moment the researcher gets the answers to his questions, the research is over. There is no point in continuing the research if the researcher has found the answers to his research questions when he is half the way through. The research fails when the research questions go wrong. Beginning a research with a wrong question is an incorrigible step as a faulty question can never lead to the correct answer. On the other hand, a wrong answer can  be corrected if the question is pertinent: a wrong question can not prove one to be correct. However, if one begins with a sound philosophical foundation, the research questions will never go astray.    LangLit n International Peer Reviewed Open ccess Journal Vol. 5 Issue 4 105  May, 2019  Website: www.langlit.org   Contact No.: +91-9890290602 Indexed: ICI, Google Scholar, Research Gate, Academia . edu ,  IBI, IIFC, DRJI ISSN 2349 5189 IMPACT FACTOR  –   5.61 Academically, research is a means to study a phenomenon. According to Kothari (2009) a research is a scientific and systematic search for appropriate information on a specific topic. An academic investigation cannot be considered a research unless it contributes to the body of existing scientific knowledge. The scope of research is ever widening as human needs keep on increasing or changing day by day! To put it in a nutshell, what a researcher does is collecting data and processing them to formulate information! The ‘data’ is raw material and the information is finished product. For instance, sugar-cane may be considered as data which is put into the machine to process and get sugar, the finished product which may be taken as information. In other words, ‘data’ is the unprocessed information and information i s the  processed data! Research should be: systematic, logical, well-planned, scientific, unbiased, verifiable, valid, reliable, empirical, relevant and useful. It should follow a predetermined methodology, one of the major philosophical aspects of research, to ensure its reliability, validity and verifiability. The ever-increasing demand for the scientific materials and services call upon the new generation to conduct researches to fill up the knowledge-gap. Acquiring knowledge is a continuous process, and research is a means to attain it! Researchers are careful and diligent to acquire what is new on a given topic. The spirit of enquiry, in addition to the necessities, makes students look for knowledge in various fields. The research scholars who start the study have to find out the knowledge gap in the area they work on with the purpose that their answers to the research questions will fill the gap. It is like putting the exact piece on a jigsaw puzzle to complete the picture. The answers to the research questions are expected to supply the missing pieces of information. If the research is to get a piece of information which is already known to the world, it will be a meaningless effort. The findings which are additions to the existing body of knowledge are inevitable for the development of society. The need of the society has been changing from time to time, from time immemorial, and it will go on so long as the way of life undergoes changes. Therefore, the research activities will never end though the methodology and methods may change in accordance with the philosophical bases. The scholars and students talk about a variety of researches. Kothari (2004) delineates the dichotomous classes of the main research types, based on their specific characteristics, as follows: a) Descriptive vs. Analytical; b) Applied vs. Fundamental; c) Quantitative vs. Qualitative;   d) Conceptual vs. Empirical; and e) Others which include One-time research & Longitudinal research, Field setting research, Laboratory research, Historical research, etc. Each type is selected based on the nature of the problem, sources available for the research, the researcher’s interest, objectives of the study, and so on. Of all the types of researches, the most widely discussed classes are quantitative and qualitative researches. According to Richard Nordquist (2017), “Quantitative research involves the systematic collection and analysis of data.” Qualitative research, on the other hand, collects and analyses opinions, views, ideas, attitudes, approaches, phenomena, etc., and so it tends to be more subjective. Since it is practically impossible to be confined strictly to a particular type of research, a combination of two or more types are often used by the scholars. Whatever type one selects for the study, the application of the philosophical norms is necessary to give it a scientific explanation. The research process may be different for the different types of research. The research process refers to various activities a researcher has to complete. Scholars like Kothari (2004), Dronyei (2007), and Creswell (2009) have

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Sep 22, 2019
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