Tools Used in Research
Research, whether scientific, social or literary in nature, requires access to relevant and credible information. Researchers use a variety of methods to obtain information, such as through research journals, the Internet and from interviewing people. Researchers may seek out secondary information, information acquired through other studies and from other researchers, or they use methods to obtain primary resources such as questionnaires and statistical data.
1 The Internet
The Internet is an invaluable resource of information. The Internet consists of millions upon millions of pages and websites dedicated to dispersing information. It is constantly updated, which makes information obtained from the Internet the most up-to-date. The Internet covers information on every topic available. Libraries and research journals publish research information online, making it accessible from any location. According to the Florida Center for Instructional Technology, one of the biggest obstacles researchers face with the Internet is the plethora of information. Such vast resources make it difficult for researchers to sift through to find the most relevant and credible resources.
The Internet has not yet replaced libraries, books, journals and other critical publications. Libraries provide the most direct method to obtaining relevant and credible research materials. Library search engines and databases provide materials that pertain to the subject the researcher wants information about. The biggest downfall with libraries and the resources contained within libraries is that the information does not always reflect current opinions and studies, whereas the Internet most likely will.
3 Questionnaires and Surveys
Surveys and questionnaires provide social researchers with quantifiable information. Information is obtained through face-to-face interviews, anonymous response surveys or questionnaires or via telephone, computerized kiosks or email. Researchers administer surveys and questionnaires to target groups to get specific information within a specified period of time. This type of research tool is effective in finding out cultural attitudes and opinions in particular regions or towns, where research journals may not have specific and accurate information.
4 Statistics and Data Analysis
Statistics and data analysis is an essential research tool. Information obtained from questionnaires and surveys can be compiled into statistics. Once compiled into statistical data, researchers can devise theories and look for patterns that may explain or confirm their research.