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A research scholar has to work as a judge and derive the truth and not as a leader who is only eager to prove his case in favour of the plaintiff

 A research scholar has to work as a judge and derive the truth and not as a leader who is only eager to prove his case in favour of the plaintiff. Discuss the reality of the statement, point out from your defence the objective of research.

A researcher is a scholar who can, or will in time through learning and experience, demonstrate:

  • specialized knowledge or expertise, conceptual and intellectual capacities such as the ability to identify and frame key problems, to think critically and analytically, and to generate and communicate interesting and original insights.
  • academic skills such as the ability to produce scholarly high-quality written work and research papers – clearly composed so that the argument, and the evidence that supports it, can be grasped by the intended audience (whether specialist or more general, a conference delegate or a reader with time to reflect).
  • research skills such as the ability to use sources effectively, to gather and organize information, to analyze text, data and theory.
  • personal attributes such as the ambition and ability to work to high standards, to take initiative and responsibility, to be well organized in one’s procedures and balanced in one’s judgements, to collaborate well with others where appropriate, and to take on board and incorporate constructive criticism.
  • social skills such as the ability to liaise with students, colleagues and academics from other institutions in an effective and appropriate way, to be able to adjust to different circumstances required by academia and to integrate into the larger community of scholars.


Objectives of Research

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:

  1. To gain familiarity with a phenomenon or to achieve new insights into it (studies with this object in view are termed as exploratory or formulative research studies);
  2. 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);
  3. 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);
  4. To test a hypothesis of a causal relationship between variables (such studies are known as hypothesis-testing research studies).



Knowing what data are available often serve to narrow down the problem itself as well as the techniques that might be used. Explain the underlined idea in this statement in the context of defining a research problem. Hence, define the main issues which to receive the attention of the researcher in formulating research problem. Give suitable example to explain your point.    

A research problem is not the same thing as a social problem. A research problem is defined by intellectual curiosity while a social problem is defined by the values of a group. A situation may be problematic for one group but it may not be so for another, depending on their differing value systems. Increase in incidence of crime may be a problem for social workers, but it may not be so for the underworld of criminals. For a researcher, on the other hand, it is not only the crime but also the law abiding behaviour which constitutes a problem. It is as important, and from an intellectual vantage point even more important, to ask why people adhere to law abiding behaviour. In no sense is law abiding behaviour a social problem. But it may be an important research problem. Thus a research problem is a cognitive phenomenon while a social problem an evaluative one. This does not imply that a social problem cannot turn into a research problem. A social problem may turn into a research problem once it is so formulated by a researcher.

What are some of the sources of finding a research problem? Taking a cue from the existing practices, one can immediately mention the following:

(1)   Research supervisor.

(2)   Research literature.

(3)   Research funding agencies.

It is well known that students desirous of pursuing research for a degree generally leave it to the supervisor to find and suggest a problem for them. This is so partly because they do not want to strain their mind and partly because they begin with a sense of total dependence on the supervisor. Whatever the reason, the fact remains that most research students look up to the supervisor to get a research problem assigned to them. They seem to have hardly any interest of their own in the problem, let alone a sense of involvement in it. The students who come up with a research problem on their own are more of an exception than a rule.

The research supervisors in turn draw upon the existing research literature for searching a problem. Research books, research journals and trend reports are some of the more important components of research literature which in one way or another throw up research problems. From such literature one may get a clue to an unexplored area, a hypothesis to test, or a new direction of inquiry. One may as well adopt a problem in toto for investigation in a different society. In fact, quite a sizeable part of social science research in India is a result of the study of research problems borrowed from American and European journals, That is the reason why it remains secondhand. A third source of problem finding is the lists of research priority areas drawn up by the research funding agencies. The Indian Council of Social Science Research, for instance, has identified subjects of research priority which will get funds on preferential basis. At the time of elections, similarly, special funds are earmarked by some research sponsoring organisations for election studies. There is no dearth of professional researchers who will quickly change their research interests in order to take advantage of such research funds.

The above sources and practices of problem finding are fairly widespread. All of them are, however, external sources. What they miss in common is the importance of subjective factor in the choice of a problem. In each case the researcher tends to work on a problem given by others—a supervisor, or an author of a trend report, or an editor of a list of priority areas. The problem does not seem to come to him from within. His role is only that of a chooser out of a given number of research problems.

This lack of subjective factor in identifying a problem is, in our considered opinion, at the root of much of the bogus research that we have in social sciences in India. It renders the research activity a ritualistic activity, how can one produce quality research unless the research problem has sprung from within. There is a substantial difference between choosing a problem out of a given list and identifying one out of one’s own suffering.

Without undermining the value of the existing sources and practices of problem finding, we should like to underline the centrality of the subjective factor in identifying a research problem. Our submission is that it will help improve the quality of research if the researcher works on a problem identified out of a suffering experience. Suffering, it will be agreed, is the source of creative ideas, and more so is intellectual suffering. Intellectual suffering means a sense of deep excitement about the problem arising either out of one’s experience of having lived through that problem in actual life or out of one’s empathetic experience of it. Such an experience turns into intellectual suffering the moment one suffers it at intellectual plane over and above the experimental plane.

Updated: May 7, 2018 — 4:28 am

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