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Definition of Research

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State University of New York at Fredonia
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In the broadest sense of the word, the definition of research includes any gathering of data, information and facts for the advancement of knowledge.

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Reading a factual book of any sort is a kind of research . Surfing the internet or watching the news is also a type of research.

Science does not use this word in the same way, preferring to restrict it to certain narrowly defined areas. The word ‘review’ is more often used to describe the learning process which is one of the underlying tenets of the rigid structures defining scientific research.


The strict definition of scientific research is performing a methodical study in order to prove a hypothesis or answer a specific question . Finding a definitive answer is the central goal of any experimental process .

Research must be systematic and follow a series of steps and a rigid standard protocol. These rules are broadly similar but may vary slightly between the different fields of science.

Scientific research must be organized and undergo planning, including performing literature reviews of past research and evaluating what questions need to be answered.

Any type of ‘real’ research, whether scientific, economic or historical, requires some kind of interpretation and an opinion from the researcher. This opinion is the underlying principle, or question, that establishes the nature and type of experiment .

The scientific definition of research generally states that a variable must be manipulated , although case studies and purely observational science do not always comply with this norm.


Shuttleworth, Martyn (2008). Definition of Research. Retrieved [Date of Retrieval] from Experiment Resources:

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Page modified 12/7/15