In the question to deepen human knowledge of the theory and practice of politics, political scientists, and this includes: those in the making, often engage in a variety of researches. Broadly speaking there are two forms of political inquiry; These are informal and formal political inquiry. As the names suggests, this includes a variety of interactions between persons
or group in order to get at facts or reality. This includes
structured or pseudo-structured discussion, argumentations and so on. Our primary interest in this work, as you may imagine is on formal inquiry.
The most identifiable forms or levels of formal inquiry in political science and in most other social sciences or related disciplines, in contemporary times are:
- Semester or term paper
- Book reviewing
- Research project (partial requirement for the award of Bachelors degree)
- Long essay or project report (partial requirement for the award of Diploma)
- Seminar paper
- Thesis (partial requirement for the award of masters or some doctoral degree).
- Dissertation (partial requirement for the award of Doctoral or for some Masters degree)
- Conference paper
- Journal article
- Position or think thank paper
- Book chapter
- Book work
In all these, semester paper, book reviewing and research project occupy unique po siions. They are not only our primary interest in this work but also veritable plat forms for training of emerging political scientists in the act of political inquiry. In particular, semester papers provide ample opportunities for political scientists in training to imbibe skills and test them in the act of political inquiry.
Book reviewing is also very important. Among other things, it helps the student to develop a critical mind based on available information. It is particularly useful as a training ground for the art of literature review. This fact is better appreciated when one reflects on the fact that review of related literature is the single highest scoring point in research projects.
It is aIso necessasary to point out, albeit in passing, that the use of the terms”thesis and dissertation” for either masters or doctorate research works appear to be widely unsettled. In an interesting observation, Daudu (2001) in his “A Treatise on Project, Dissertation and Thesis” points to “a universal diversity in the understanding and application of these terminologies”(in University of Nigeria Post-graduate
Students year Book 2001). Accordingly, he points out the difference in opinion exists in the usage of particularly, the terms “Dissertation and Thesis”. While for some the two terms can be used interchangeably, for some others the terms are used exclusively for masters or doctorate degrees and sometimes with some qualifications. At this stage what matters most is not really to engage in the polemics of what should be the appropriate terminology for the two forms in political inquiry, but to note that in most university traditions research works are undertaken in partial fulfilment of both masters and doctoral requirements. If you are in doubt find out the correct or preferred term in your institution from the relevant authority, such as your supervisor and/or academic adviser.
Importance of Political Inquiry
In the foregoing article, I offered a functional definitional view of and also highlighted the various forms of political inquiry. In particular, i stated in previously that political inquiry is a process of systematic investigation of political phenomena, or facts by which we increase our knowledge of how things are, why things are the way they are
and how they might be changed or solved. Our task here is to highlight the importance of research.
This topic highlights the relevance of research generally and political inquiry in particular. We have identified five, which are;
Tool for the Advancement of Knowledge
Over the years, research or inquiry has been used to
advance human knowledge of both his social and natural environment. This has aided human progress, particularly political development.
Instrument for Conflict Resolution
Research has also been veritable instrument for
conflict resolution. In particular it mean to dig deep and relate effectively with his environment; to attend to problems of social or group life. In this way it serves as an instrument for conflict resolution, thus providing a possible means for man to accomplish his purpose on Earth.
Process for Systematic Study
Research enables the investigator to cultivate independent thinking. Being essentially a systematic effort, it helps the researcher to also imbibe the habit of ordered and coherent study.
Source of Knowledge
Another importance of research is that it complements
or helps to expand the researcher’s quantum of
knowledge. For a student researcher, fo instance; it
helps liberate him or her from over dependence upon
course books, lecturers and lecture notes
Increases Proficiency in Data Handling
Engaging in worthwhile research I the researcher’s ability to think, interpret and present data.
On this, Parsons (in Onu, 2003) points out that
“research can help the student find out if he is able to put into practice the principles and theories he has
learnt in the course and gives him the experience of
organising his materials on a large scale.”
With the foregoing outline of the importance of research in mind, new entrants into research precepts and practice should look forward to learning the trade and putting it into fruitful praxis. It can be a rewarding effort especially if it is conducted with interest or even passion.
Characteristics of a Good research
A good research has some unique and distinguishable characteristics. These characteristics differentiate a good research from related activities such as guesswork, prophecy, intuition, fiction. dream and even common sense. The issue of what constitutes a good research has been a matter of concern to a number of writers on research methodology, some of which include Uzoagulu (1998) Alegu (2001) and Onu (2003). A. survey of their respective views on the characteristics of a good research and related matters
instructive. Reflecting on the issue, Uzoagulu (1998) identified five basic research characteristics. They are;
i Research is a structured process
ii Research is a logical affair
iii Research has a reality-reference
iv Research involves reductionism
v Research is replicable and transmittable
On his part, Alegu (2001) dwelt on what he refers to as “the seven ‘C’s of an acceptable research work”. To attract a good grade, he argues, a research paper must possess the seven Cs. It must be;
In his Statistics for Social Science Research. Onu (2003) highlighted some of the imperatives or basic characteristics of a good research work. He identified the ones that should be borne in mind while conducting research. These are the;
i Research problem
iii.Flaws in design
iv.Analysis of data
v. Generalizations and so on
Taken altogether, eight critical characteristics of a good research work have been identified. Thus for our purpose a good research work is easily identified by the fact that it;
i Selects an original topic.
ii Identifies the research problem clearly.
iii Designs and sticks to procedure.
iv Hinges on data and analysis.
v Is logical and concise.
vi Contributes to existing knowledge.
vii Acknowledges weaknesses.
viii.Connotes thorough documentation and due presentation
We may now discuss in details the eight most important characteristics of a good research work.
Selects Original Topic
The first major hurdle that confronts a researcher is how to select an appropriate research topic. A methodical way of overcoming this problem is recommended. What needs to be emphasized here however is that the research topic must researchable. It must be in an area in which there are adequate materials.
Very importantly, the research must focus on an are that is not only originail but also of interest to the researcher. It is only when a researcher is genuinely interested in the topic that he or she will give it the requisite devotion. In addition, the topic must be a concise or apt summation of what the entire research is all about. Accordingly, the topic must be unambiguous, clearly formulated and precisely stated.
Identifies The Research Problem Clearly
Research is about the provisional of answers, solutions or an understanding to identified problems. It logical follows that if no problem is identifable then there cannot be any search. This statement clearly underlines the need for research problems to be stated as clearly as possible. It may be necessary to highlight or define research problems inform of questions. In addition, a properly defined research problem addresses the issue of scope, operationalize relevant concepts and specifies the significance of the study as well a its limitations.
Unless research problems are properly defined, it will be haunted by ambiguity, imprecision and even doubt, as to the researcher’s ability or capacity to see the research work through.
Designs and stick to the procedure
A good research work is not undertaken or carried out in a haphazard manner. Essentially because several approaches, orientations and techniques abound, a researcher who is eager to carry out a good research must necessarily design his or research and also stick to the procedure.
A research design is substantially a game plan or a
researcher’s formal statements on how he or she intends to conduct the study. In addition to its design a good research work must also align with the established rules governing research works in the discipline.
Hinges on Data and Analysis
Research is about the use of data or fact to validate or
invalidate a hypothesis. In other words, research hinges on data: and to ensure that research is worthwhile its data must be properly collected and analysed. Properly collected data is of
little relevance if it is not adequately analysed. It is therefore necessary that the appropriate tools and technique be employed in order to collect and analyse data.
Is Logical and Concise
Research sarts with the identification of problems, and ends with the provision of a solution to the problem. A good research therefore must represent a logical sequence that is both coherent and concise. Due steps must be followed from topic selection and approval to presentation and or oral defence. Attempts to make progress through unnecessary shortcuts can only vitiate the quality of the research itself.
No doubt, a lot of materials or ideas may come a researcher’s way not withstanding, the strength of a researcher’s scholarship lays not only in his ability to organise his work well, but also in his or her sense of discrimination, ability to be concise and the capacity to knit the research paper together without sounding superfluous, verbose and unwieldy.
Contributions to Existing Knowledge
A good research work must contribute to the existing body of knowledge. Even if it is not breaking new grounds, it must be able to provide some information on the subject matter or study area. A researcher must realize, in fact constantly ask him or herself the simple question: what is my study contributing to the corpus of knowledge, particularly in the study area. The question will help the researcher to remain focused.
In addition, a good research work constitutes an inevitable
platform not only for insight into specific study area, but also a vehicle for generalization. Such generalization and conclusions must however be within the confines of what the data and analysis justifies. Further still, factual generalizations make it possible for us to predict the political behaviour of individuals as well as political structures and processes
A good research work states in clear terms what the weakness of the research are. In particular, it states the limitations of study appropriately just as it genuinely acknowledge research flaws in the design of the research, particularly if it is necessary to do so. The effect of these weaknesses on the findings of the study, must also be clearly stated. If the weaknesses of the design and other similar shortcomings are not duly acknowledged they will lead to false or inaccurate conclusions.
Connotes Thorough Documentation and Presentation
Every researeh effort worth its name, must be thorough and we’ll written, all cited works should be properly documented and presented. Once a citation style has been adopted the researcher cannot afford to change the citation style midway. In other words, the styles must be uniform all through the research. In addition, while referential documentation must necessarily include all cited works, bibliographical documentationare must on the other hand be comprehensive enough to include all consulted works. A good research work also ensures that both referential and bibliographical documentations are well arranged in conformity with the citation in the text. Appendices, if any, must be properly located and clearly identified.
Institutions have their colours and style. A good research work ensures that institutional preferences are respected in terms of colours, size, and length of r examination, others do not. Good knowledge of the scoring criteria or pattern use in research assessments will be a helpful gud. In addition it is important that a researcher is conversant with the oral presentation techniques. it may also be necessary to take adequate note of the essential part of the work , possibly using a power point format. Successful presentation, where applicable, is a vital part of a good researchs work.
In this topic, I have X-rayed or looked at the meaning, forms and importance of a good research work.