By Dr. Jawid Ahmad Baktash,
One of the strongest instincts we have is the desire to learn new things about the world we live in. In fact, through our entire life we never stop learning new things. This has been crucial for our survival, but it also stimulates our curiosity. Very young children learn by copying the behavior of others. Learning is later extended to acquiring knowledge through other modes of communication, e.g. through books, lectures and labs. One of the primary goals of academic training is to learn how to learn, i.e. to learn how to continuously absorb new knowledge. This is increasingly important in rapidly changing areas such as computer science and information systems. The process of exploring the unknown, studying and learning new things, building new knowledge about things that no one has understood before – that is what we think of as performing research. Undertaking a research project is one step towards an increased understanding of how to study, how to learn about complex phenomena, and towards learning how to build new knowledge about the world around us. A research project is a capstone in undergraduate and graduate education, and as such, it builds and tests the skills and knowledge acquired during your education and training to become professionals. The research project is different from a traditional course in several ways; in its size, in its goals, in the form of examination, in the form of supervision and in the form of communication (personal dialogue, as opposed to lectures). A project represents a significantly larger workload than a single course. While traditional courses include lectures and lab work, where the focus is on acquiring knowledge in a specific subject area, the research project focuses on deepening your understanding of a subject. But above all, it should give you training in carrying out projects independently, at an advanced level, using a sound method.
Research in common parlance refers to a search for knowledge. Once can also define research as a scientific and systematic search for pertinent information on a specific topic. In fact, research is an art of scientific investigation. The Advanced Learner’s Dictionary of Current English lays down the meaning of research as “a careful investigation or inquiry especially through search for new facts in any branch of knowledge.”1 Redman and Mory define research as a “systematized effort to gain new knowledge.”2 Some people consider research as a movement, a movement from the known to the unknown. It is actually a voyage of discovery. We all possess the vital instinct of inquisitiveness for, when the unknown confronts us, we wonder and our inquisitiveness makes us probe and attain full and fuller understanding of the unknown. This inquisitiveness is the mother of all knowledge and the method, which man employs for obtaining the knowledge of whatever the unknown, can be termed as research. Research is an academic activity and as such the term should be used in a technical sense. According to Clifford Woody research comprises defining and redefining problems, formulating hypo-research or suggested solutions; collecting, organizing and evaluating data; making deductions and reaching conclusions; and at last carefully testing the conclusions to determine whether they fit the formulating hypo-research. D. Slesinger and M. Stephenson in the Encyclopedia 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.” Research is, thus, an original contribution to the existing stock of knowledge making for its advancement. It is the pursuit of truth with the help of study, observation, comparison and experiment. In short, the search for knowledge through objective and systematic method of finding solution to a problem is research. The systematic approach concerning generalization and the formulation of a theory is also research. As such the term ‘research’ refers to the systematic method consisting of enunciating the problem, formulating a hypo-research, collecting the facts or data, analyzing the facts and reaching certain conclusions either in the form of solutions(s) towards the concerned problem or in certain generalizations for some theoretical formulation.The area we live in is marked by ecological and demographic challenges, increasing global competition yet we in Afghanistan has little understanding of research and innovation. Afghanistan is faced with the question of how to get the country ready for the future and how it can become independent of foreign aid and improve the standard of living for generations to come. We are convinced that one decisive answer to this question must be: by reinforcing research, technological development and innovation. In doing so, we create quality jobs, supporting long-term employment and the sustainable growth of the economy. Thus our objective for Afghanistan is to push forward from the group of not innovative into the group of Innovation Leaders.
But to achieve this goal we must have a more coordinated approach. We need a mutual dialogue between science, business and society, along with a broad approach to innovation, which includes not only technological improvements but also societal, social and economic innovations. We must be investing considerable resources in research, technological developments and innovation. It is, however, crucial where these funds are actually invested and how we can guarantee that they are used efficiently
The purpose of research is to discover answers to questions through the application of scientific procedures. The main aim of research is to find out the truth which is hidden and which has not been discovered as yet. Though each research study has its own specific purpose, we may think of research objectives as falling into a number of following broad groupings:
- To gain familiarity with a phenomenon or to achieve new insights into it (studies with this object in view are termed as exploratory or formulate research studies);
- To portray accurately the characteristics of a particular individual, situation or a group (studies with this object in view are known as descriptive research studies);
- To determine the frequency with which something occurs or with which it is associated with something else (studies with this object in view are known as diagnostic research studies);
- To test a hypo research of a causal relationship between variables (such studies are known as hypo research -testing research studies).
What makes people to undertake research? This is a question of fundamental importance. The possible motives for doing research may be either one or more of the following:
- Desire to get a research degree along with its consequential benefits;
- Desire to face the challenge in solving the unsolved problems, i.e., concern over practical problems initiates research;
- Desire to get intellectual joy of doing some creative work;
- Desire to be of service to society;
- Desire to get respectability.
However, this is not an exhaustive list of factors motivating people to undertake research studies. Many more factors such as directives of government, employment conditions, curiosity about new things, desire to understand causal relationships, social thinking and awakening, and the like may as well motivate (or at times compel) people to perform research operation.
The writer is General Director of
R&D, Innovation and Science, MCIT
Associate Professor at faculty of Computer Science, Kabul University.