Research is the systematic investigation into our existing knowledge and the discovery of new knowledge. Research is defined in many sectors including: artistic, business, economic, humanities, social and scientific. Simply defined; research is the process of identification and/or confirmation of facts for the purpose of solving existing or new problems.
The seven essential steps of research
- Identify research problem or need
- Review of literature
- Specify the purpose of research
- Determine specific questions or hypotheses
- Collect data
- Analyze and interpret the data
- Evaluate and report results
The “literature review” and “collection of data” steps are dependent on references, not only the connection and link between objects, but access to explore and extrapolate viable information from physical and digital-born reference material.
Research and information resources
Traditionally, we have defined reference materials as dictionaries, encyclopedia, books of facts, atlases and other publications found in our library. With the advent of the digital marketplace enabled by digitization, metadata tagging and search engine discovery, research and references have evolved dramatically, with many benefits and some caveats too.
We now have access to over 80 billion web pages of content, digital references available for use in research. While much of this information is “free”, a good proportion of this content is inaccurate, biased, speculative, and created for the purpose of marketing. Therefore, researching references in the Digital Marketplace requires even more discipline, diligence and scrutiny than our traditional research from authenticated publications and sources.
On the other hand, we now have access to 80 billion digital references through a couple of key-strokes, putting us in the driver seat and on the road to learning and knowing more than ever before.
“My original concept was to provide a free encyclopedia for every single person in the world… in their own language.”
– Jimmy Wales, founder of Wikipedia
Wikipedia; The Free Encyclopedia: Research