Our values and the entire body of knowledge comprising arts, humanities, and sciences handed down to us are revisable. Degrees of improvement, enrichment and restatement are possible in any branch of learning leading to newer insights and various good or bad repercussions for the entire mankind.
Constraints of time, design, sample, methods, control mechanisms and scope often come in the way of realizing a conclusion that is perfect, all-comprehensive and impervious to amendments in the future.
A certain lack or inadequacy seems internalized in the very fabric of the term 'research,' urging all the research-minded individuals, as it were, to scratch, explore and uncover the layers of meaning pulsating deep within some entity, phenomenon, problem or program of whatever breadth, scale or magnitude.
Is perfect research possible? Well, the answer to the question is often tied to the nature of the activity requiring focused or extensive research. For instance, if a sixth grader is asked to write an essay on the preamble of the U.S. constitution, then gathering data from some select sources, outlining the key principles, interspersing few relevant examples and synthesizing the details into a logical narrative would serve the immediate objectives of a well-researched essay. However, if a foreign ministry official is called upon to submit a conclusive report on ways to end, avert and predict a nuclear holocaust, no amount of research can be labeled 'perfect' to render the job complete.
The ideal of doing a perfect research seems to be far from easy, particularly, in the case of social, behavioral and fundamental sciences. In such exact sciences, the statistical outcome always varies depending on the sample, its size, environment and controlling factors. Based on the availability and nature of the sample, absolutely opposite results are quite possible on the same theme or topic.
Even in a connotational framework, the terms 're' and 'search' carry the sense of a repeat inquiry—a study that is constant and a never-ending process. This only indicates that the idea of doing or planning a 'perfect research' is pretty unworthy of realization and effort.
The idea of doing a perfect research is also complicated by extraneous factors like personal bias, conflict of interests, data size, data collection methods, study design, inappropriate study procedures, wrong analysis and errors in working definitions or conclusions.
No less important to the idea of perfect research is the concept of validity. To quote Babbie, "validity refers to the extent to which an empirical measure adequately reflects the real meaning of the concept under consideration" (133). Quite often, less-skilled researchers fail to measure what they think they set out to measure. For instance, a graduate developed an interview schedule to determine the health needs of a community. The object was to explore the health needs, however, the interview design was actually finding out the respondents attitude towards health services.
The involvement of less tangible concepts like attitude, satisfaction, or effectiveness makes it all the more necessary to ask as many questions to cover various aspects of the concept and establish that the questions raised are indeed measuring it. It really is not easy to demonstrate validity in such situations (Kumar 154).
The aforesaid discussion makes it plain that the idea of undertaking a 'perfect research' is fraught with many limitations and one cannot help, but agree with Griffiths' statement about the futility of such a research activity.
Babbie, Earl. Survey Research Methods. 2nd ed. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth, 1990. Print.
Kumar, Ranjit. Research Methodology: A Step-by-Step Guide for Beginners. 2nd ed. New
Delhi: Sage Publications, 2005. Print.
Guest Blogger: Sanjay Joshi