This paper will briefly discuss various elements and issues in development research. To start, I'll present the explanations of applied research and development and the role of the ex - to the last mentioned. Subsequently, I will describe the epistemological issues and boundary adjustments in development research. I am going to also describe the research methodologies and present their advantages and disadvantages. Moreover, I'll provide details about rigor in development research-its structure and romantic relationship to validity. Also to conclude, I'll impart, in a few words, my personal outlook on the whole research process in development arenas.
Applied research is defined as a kind of original inspection or study carried out to be able to acquire new knowledge. "It is, however, directed mainly towards a specific practical aim or objective". (OECD, 2002: 78). On the other hand, development is described by Haynes (2008: 1) as "an integral sizing of personal life, social relationships, politics, economics, and culture". Development is usually linked to the socio-economic growth of an individual or group. Given these meanings, I could say that the role of applied research to development is to provide studies and conclusions that will answer a specific query about development through the procedure of either validating existing promises or yielding new facts. Frequently, conclusions that are located valid are used by the researcher as a basis of his/her tips that is aimed towards the willpower being covered by the study. Different companies like the federal government, NGOs, civil societies, academic organizations, etc. can use the obtained knowledge to make wise decisions that are intended for the progress and development of modern culture.
Policy-related research is a common exemplory case of applied research in development. Policy-related inspection is performed whenever a researcher wants to assemble home elevators a certain policy-to know whether or not the policy is effective and efficient; to learn in what way the plan can be increased; to identify its influences on certain populace; to evaluate its costs and advantages to culture, etc. Potter and Subrahmanian (1998: 19) remarked that "different regulations require different research questions to be asked to be able to acquire results that will usefully inform those policies". In my own understanding, this means that for every information a researcher is searching for, there is an equivalent question he/she must ask in the beginning. The researcher will not be able to get the data he/she needs in dealing with a certain policy if he/she will never be able to create appropriate questions that will produce successful answers. Correspondingly, the researcher must employ a appropriate method and tools in the research.
Development is an essential aspect of our daily life. Textbooks, academic articles and personal encounters reveal that development can be an important element outside and inside the home which is now a growing concern of population. I believe that there is a variety of complex problems present in our population which impedes development. Hence, we need a multi-interdisciplinary process like applied research that is with the capacity of working with these problems. Research in development recently gave labor and birth to a new paradigm of development that I suppose is more matched in addressing problems of development. This requires involvement of and relationship between and among the several stakeholders in operations such as negotiation, cooperation and facilitation that may be achieved by using different research strategies where various stakeholders are perceived as actors.
The goal of the researcher that is to own knowledge on the particular subject matter he/she is exploring is fundamental in virtually any form of research in development. It is worth mentioning that each little bit of knowledge that the researcher received has its origin. Matching to Kanbur and Shaffer (2007: 185), "epistemology is the branch of school of thought which studies the nature and cases of knowledge. Differences in epistemological procedure underlie a standard difference in the philosophy of social research between empiricism/positivism, hermeneutics/interpretive strategies and critical theory/critical hermeneutics".
Sumner and Tribe (2004: 3) mentions that "epistemology provides the philosophical underpinning-the credibility-which legitimizes knowledge and the framework for a process that will produce, by having a 'rigorous' strategy (comprising the full range of research methods), answers that may be believed to be valid, reliable/replicable and consultant/typical". However, there are numerous opposing accounts on how knowledge is received and I deem this as a pressing issue in epistemology.
Discussions on epistemological stances change from one author to some other hence the difference between Kanbur and Shaffer (2007) words which recognizes only three epistemologies namely, positivism/empiricism, hermeneutics/interpretative and critical theory/critical hermeneutics and the article of Schwandt (1994) which include four, adding yet another called sociable constructionism. For being impartial, I'll concisely discuss in the next paragraphs all the stances described in both articles.
One of the epistemological techniques in development research is the empiricism/positivism methodology. This process is associated with the quantitative methodological stance. It is thought as "a research approach based on an observation-based model for deciding the reality or validity of knowledge boasts where "brute data" are allocated a special role" (Kanbur and Shaffer, 2007: 185). This methodology believes that there surely is actually possible out there that needs to be verified by the researcher which knowledge is not created but only validated through lab tests and observations. Positivist research workers have emerged as experts who apply general methods that produce valid views. In addition, this approach is inclined towards the utilization of numerical, measurable and observable numbers called "brute data" in order to confirm or contest the existing reality.
Another epistemological strategy is the hermeneutics/interpretative strategy. As Kanbur and Shaffer (2007: 185) described, hermeneutics is the "interpretative understanding of intersubjective meanings". Contrary to positivism, this thinks that truth is created by the knowledge which is made by the interpretations of sociable actions of folks in society attracted from non-numerical meanings. "To comprehend a particular interpersonal action, the inquirer must understanding the meaning that constitute the action" (Schwandt 1994: 191). I believe knowledge of a certain social action differs for every interpreter no interpretation is the same and recently existent. This is a way of coding and decoding actions in order to create knowledge that will signify truth. Interpretative analysts also assume that there is no solo truths that signifies social actions. Furthermore, these research workers are not deemed as experts and what may be true and valid for one may well not be the same for the others.
The third epistemological way is named the critical theory/critical hermeneutics. This process is in a few ways similar to hermeneutics/interpretative technique except that other sizes were put into its central thesis. Corresponding to Kanbur and Shaffer (2007: 185), "understanding entails critical assessment of given values and perceptions concerning some main conception of real truth or validity". Producing knowledge and locating the truth is not only knowing and interpreting public actions nor translating one's dialect. It is critical for a researcher to carefully scrutinize the actions and words of people that knowledge has been extracted. He/she must be able to determine the reasons behind different beliefs that increased from various truths and must be able to comprehend the origins of these truths. Additionally, " enlightenment  can be an essential part of the process of inquiry" (Kanbur and Shaffer. , 2007: 185). Critical hermeneutics is highly predicated on discourses/narratives. Hence, to be able to gain knowledge, analysts in this process must grasp the real meaning of one's terminology through seeking description from the person whom the promise is coming from. This approach critiques the role of the uninvolved observer. Schwandt (1994) also identified several changes between this approach and the classical hermeneutics way. Biases are said to be caused by past knowledge and activities that are inherently within the head of an interpreter, therefore, it is something that cannot be gone. Our experiences, traditions and present understanding of things have an impact on/condition just how we think and interpret interpersonal actions. It is then impossible for an interpreter to 'clear' his/her mind before understanding a particular cultural action.
The last epistemological strategy that vie for the interest of the non-positivist believers is the social constructionist approach. This process is nearly the same with both previously discussed methods except that it negates the idea of representation. "Social constructionist epistemologies try to 'triumph over' representationalist epistemologies" (Schwandt, 1994: 197). This process thinks that the individual mind do not simply interpret or find knowledge, alternatively, it creates it by constructing models, concepts and other programs using our activities, traditions, past knowledge, practices, etc. In short, we make knowledge regarding to what we realize and discover, thus, real truth/reality sometimes appears through a person's lens.
Methodology, like epistemology, can be an important aspect of research in development. For every epistemological stance, there is a matching methodological toolkit that is used by the researcher. To be able to execute a good research, the researcher must have the ability to apply the best option solution to his/her research.
There are three methodological stances in research and development-the quantitative, qualitative and mixed-method inquiries. The first two are quite contrasting of each other for their fundamental beliefs predicated on epistemologies while the third one, being a mixture of both methodologies is reported to be difficult to accept due to lack of epistemological basic principle.
Quantitative methodology is linked with the positivist epistemology so that reiterated by Hoy (2010: 1), quantitative research is a "methodical investigation that includes both experiments and other organized methods that emphasize and control and quantified steps of performance. " He also mentions that measurement and information are essential to quantitative method because these are the links between empirical or the experimental observations and the mathematical expression of the relationship. "Quantitative researchers are concerned with the development and evaluation of hypotheses and the era of models and the ideas that explain action" (Hoy, 2010: 1).
A quantitative research method is most beneficial used for 'what' and 'what if' questions and it uses measuring and modeling of numerical data as the source of knowledge. A quantitative researcher usually utilizes descriptive figures like regression, numerical stimulation, etc. In addition, since this method employs the positivist procedure, it includes knowing and searching of a universal truth by experts who have emerged as experts.
I find quantitative strategy more centered on generalizations, giving answer to an issue and saying that it is the case for all similar occasions. Quantitative is seen gainful in a manner that it is some sort of study which may be replicated, hence, can produce comparable studies. However, quantitative studies can be expensive and time-consuming. Also, this process cannot easily reach difficult/marginalized categories and delicate information are also hard to obtained (Bamberger, 2000).
I reckon that quantitative methodology, being the first to be known in the study arena, is still the most widely-used methodology in development studies at present. However, I cannot say that it is the best method to use nor it is best than another two that I'll discuss.
Let's now check out the qualitative research method. This technique is relatively new than the quantitative method. Hoy (2010: 1) represents qualitative research as a strategy that "focuses on in-depth knowledge of social and individuals behavior and the reason why behind such patterns. The qualitative method depends on the reported experiences of people through ethnographic analyses, field work and circumstance studies. Qualitative experts are considering understanding, discovering new ideas and learning about patterns of behavior. "
Qualitative way is mostly utilized by non-positivist believers. It will answer 'why' and 'how' questions. Qualitative research workers exercise participatory research strategies which involve semi-structured interviews, participant observation, discourse examination, focus groups, participatory research, life record studies, circumstance studies, etc. This process is said to produce faster results and at the same time, is less costly than quantitative strategies like surveys. By using qualitative participatory techniques, difficult populations such as women, children, minorities, etc. are easier to reach. Also, strategies are bendable with respect to the culture of the organizations. Furthermore, qualitative research workers can apply various ways of either individuals or group without imposing replies on them. On the down side, results of your qualitative research are reported to be complex causing difficulty in the validation of reactions. Due to the fact that this method is multifaceted, it is also not often well documented and therefore, can't be replicated and/or be likened. Unlike quantitative, subjects/participants of any qualitative way are selected without sampling that's the reason generalization is not easy to accomplish. Lastly, this method is difficult to control whether interviewer is imposing answers to the research problem (Bamberger, 2000).
Unlike the quantitative research, this isn't an exact research but a knowledge process that produces various answers which are different depending on the researcher and subject. This approach focuses on specific cases and not generalize subjects of the study. For qualitative research workers, truth and actuality cannot be produced or known by calculating data, but rather by interpreting, conversing, and constructing.
In addition to quantitative and qualitative methods, I'll discuss briefly the third methodological way in research in development to create the multi-strategy research. Multi-strategy research is a term used to spell it out a study that combines quantitative and qualitative research within an individual project. This plan will make the most out of the talents of both strategies as well as offset the weaknesses (Bryman, 2004). I will no longer sophisticated on the characteristics of this strategy since I already presented the characteristics of both quantitative and qualitative.
This blend of quantitative and qualitative methods can be used to triangulate results. A researcher can cross-check outcomes of a way using another method of the other approach. Also, a result of a review or any quantitative method can be researched in depth utilizing a qualitative method like research study, in-depth interviews, FGD, etc. (Bryman, 2004).
At present, multi-strategy has been more known in research arena. I suppose researches already are getting the impression that multi-strategy strategy is complementary and must be taken positively although not based on epistemology. Quantitative may accomplish qualitative research and vice versa. This may also fill in the gaps when a researcher cannot rely to either method alone. Further strategies may be used, hence, may also be viewed as supplementary. However, it's important to remember that this methodology is not superior to mono-strategy research. Furthermore, this still must be completely designed and conducted because the amount of methods/strategies used in a study is not an insurance that you will yield a high-quality outcome. Last but not the least, analysts must not regard this as a strategy that is universally suitable to all or any research problems in development market and that it can answer all problems in development market (Bryman, 2004).
Despite the fact that the epistemological strategies and methodological stances talked about above have opposing views on simple fact and different method of learning, I believe research design is equally important to all. Boundary-setting is another thought that any methodology must consider prior to starting with the genuine research. The drawing of restrictions is important to allow the researcher to select which of the problems are actually vital so that he/she can give attention to these and overlook the others which can be less essential to the research. However, a researcher using whatever methodology he/she opted to apply must, of course, be sure on his/her target in doing the study since this will be the groundwork of his/her quest for knowledge.
According to Blackmore and Ison (1998: 41), boundaries "help to distinguish, simplify and concentrate on what's important in a particular situation". Some of the boundaries which may be considered will be the subsequent: (1) visual located area of the study; (2) individuals of the analysis; (3) the role of the researcher in the analysis; (4) anticipated effects of interventions; and, (5) the researcher's responsibility and accountability (Blackmore et al. , 1998). Some boundaries may become more physical than others. Some can be easily attracted and seen while the others will be more conceptual and thus, intangible. One issue in dealing with limitations is how available (or not) the researcher is when it comes to adjusting or changing the limitations of his/her study. Researchers must always bear in mind that boundaries are not fixed; instead, they can be dependent on the changes or movements of his/her study. For the concrete restrictions, including the first two factors given above, it is slightly simpler to create and modify. However, to get more conceptual boundaries, those which are intangible and abstract, it is quite the opposite. It's the stakeholders and the relevant stars who determine the restrictions of a report. The reason behind this is that since folks have different perspectives and purposes, they tend to set different limitations for themselves. Furthermore, people are influenced by their perceptions brought by activities and learning. Hence, even two individuals faced with the same situation will likely have different point of view on the matter. Given this reality, the researcher cannot just perceive one's limitations through his/her understanding. (Blackmore and Ison, 1998). Boundary setting in development research may really appear complicated and monotonous; nonetheless, it is one essential area of the whole process.
Another important element of research in development is validity. It seems that "of all concepts of interpersonal research, perhaps none of them has been as important and since problematic as 'validity'" (Thomas, 2006: 118). Predicated on a number of scholarly texts I have read, which did not actually offer me a clear definition of what validity is but instead gave me criteria and signals of validity, I can say that the validity of a research often portions to the accuracy and reliability or firmness of its findings regardless of what research method the researcher opted to work with.
But what really is validity? Maxwell (2005: 106) says that "validityrefer [s] to the correctness or trustworthiness of a explanation, conclusion, explanation, interpretation, or other sort of consideration". In development research, a valid bottom line is vital. In order to achieve this, it's important for a researcher to have a secured and steady basis for his/her ideas. The researcher must be able to defend his/her realization by ample evidences or similar studies that will validate and justify it. There are various validity tests a researcher may opt to use, namely: (1) intensive long-term engagement, (2) rich data, (3) respondent validation, (4) treatment, (5) looking for discrepant research and negative cases, (6) triangulation, (7) quasi-statistics, and (8) evaluation. However, it is worth-mentioning that Maxwell (2005) looks at validity as something that cannot be proven because it is relative. Validity depends upon who is taking a look at what. If one individual accepts the claim of the researcher maybe that is because he/she experienced the same experience with the researcher or possibly he/she had an identical analysis of the situation.
People are critical beings that uncertainties and questions knowledge. If this is actually the case, then how can the researcher prove that his/her knowledge promise is valid? How can a researcher achieve validity in his/her analysis? As explained in the written text of Maxwell (2005), the researcher has no way of knowing completely whether he/she captured validity in his/her research. Nevertheless, he/she can deal with validity dangers such as researcher bias and reactivity. To be able to eliminate researcher bias, he/she must careful not to influence the research with his/her morals, previous knowledge, values, etc. However, sometimes, personal biases based on these things are impossible to dismiss, thus, the particular researcher can do is to be articulate and genuine about it by having these known in his/her review. Likewise, reactivity is also hard to avoid. Members of a research are often influenced by who the researcher is, thus, affecting the answers of the participants as well as the consequence of the study. The research may not actually need to get rid of his/her impact. He/she must only learn how to understand it and make use of it a fruitful way (Maxwell, 2005).
Rigor in development research will go mutually with the validity of results of the study. We can say that a study is performed rigorously in either qualitative or quantitative methodology if it grows to its validity, that is if the final outcome it produced is considered valid. However, in the article of Sumner and Tribe (2004: 13), it is written that "the basis for claims to 'rigor' pertains to the way the techniques [in strategy] are applied; that terribly applied qualitative and quantitative approaches could lead to inaccurate conclusions and various techniques suit different purposes. " Rigor starts from making the research design to crafting the research question then selecting which technique to hire as well as which tools to use. It is also worth remembering that the methods and tools used in development research have their different talents and weaknesses, they aren't equally well suited for all research problems, hence, it is important that the researcher selects meticulously according to the need of the study and not only since it is easy and simple to make use of or it is the most offered by as soon as. Amount of rigor and validity differs for each and every strategy/tool used in either of both methodological stances. In case the researcher is not careful with his/her selection of method and tools, then your knowledge he/she will generate might not exactly be acceptable to numerous and might not exactly be valid.
To end, I would like to impart briefly my thought on research in development. At the moment, the strain among researchers in development market is growing. They still claim on the primacy of technique and epistemology they believe in. Just like many other research workers out there, I could neither say which one of the epistemological stances is the best one nor explain which among the methodological stances is the wonderful one to use for research studies. I deem that all are evenly reliable and effective. It is merely a matter of utilizing the most suitable method for a specific kind of research question. Every method has its advantages and weaknesses, that is no methodology is ideal. Nonetheless, I understand that any of them can certainly create a good-quality research so long as there is rigor and when validity dangers are prevented.