The word "research" is used to describe a number of similar and often
overlapping activities involving a search for information. For example,
each of the following activities involves such a search; but the
differences are significant and worth examining.
- Find the population of each country in Africa or the total
(in dollars) of Japanese investment in the U.S. in 2002.
A search for individual facts or data. May be part of the
search for a solution to a larger problem or simply the answer to
a friendly, or not so friendly, bar bet! Concerned with facts rather than knowledge or
analysis and answers can normally be found in a single source.
- Find out what is known generally about a fairly specific
topic. "What is the history of the Internet?"
A report or review, not designed to create new
information or insight but to collate and synthesize existing
information. A summary of the past. Answers can typically be
found in a selection of books, articles, and Web sites.
[Note: gathering this information may often include
activities like #1 above.]
- Gather evidence to determine whether gang violence is
directly related to playing violent video games.
Gathering and analyzing a body of information or data and
extracting new meaning from it or developing unique solutions
to problems or cases. This is "real" research and requires an
open-ended question for which there is no ready answer.
[Note: this will always include #2 above and usually #1. It
may also involve gathering new data through experiments, surveys, or