There are two different types of research techniques: scientific and historical. The purpose of both techniques are to use a logical approach to obtain information about a specific subject. Research techniques can be applied to a broad range of issues or areas of research.
Basic research techniques are based on a formal process. The exact order of the steps depend on the subject and the reason for the research. The eight steps are the same for both basic and applied research.
The first four steps are: formation of a topic, hypothesis, conceptual definition and operational definition. The formation of a topic is usually phrased as a question. The question is generally within the researchers field of expertise. The hypothesis is a theory proposed by the researcher, which is often phrased as a question. The conceptual and operational definitions provide the scope and focus for the research.
The next four steps are: gathering data, analysis, testing and conclusion. The gathering of data, analysis and testing steps are the heart of all research. It is very important to use reliable sources, perform experiments, and test the hypothesis thoroughly. If the testing results do not support the hypothesis, the research is not a failure. On the contrary, these results provide an opportunity to revisit the hypothesis and new knowledge is gained.
Historical research techniques, or methods, are most commonly used to review data from the past and draw conclusions that impact on the present or future. Although commonly used by historians, these techniques are also used by scientific researchers. Using these techniques, they attempt to identify trends, and theorize on the causes of disease outbreaks and epidemics.
There are six steps in historical research. The first three are: define the starting date, locate independent verification of basic background information and investigate the author. These steps are necessary to confirm the evidence used is factual, reporting on by multiple sources and that the bias of the author.
The next three steps are to analyze the information, validate against other sources and measure the creditability of the information. These steps require the use of multiple sources and a process of questioning all aspects of the information. This includes using generally accepted knowledge about the time period in question, historical facts and physical evidence.
The process of historical research requires a significant amount of reading, translating, researching and discussion. The volume of information required to support a historical theory is quite substantial. This method is often used by professionals with an extensive background in a specific subject.