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There Is No Hope for a Perfect Research

Essay by   •  May 16, 2012  •  Essay  •  740 Words (3 Pages)  •  1,589 Views

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It has always been the nature of mankind to invent, improve, experiment and take our innumerable achievements to even greater heights. Not only has technology, science, medicine, and knowledge in all disciplines propelled forward at unimaginable speed, but the methodology of carrying out their research has advanced as well. Today, we find indispensable ways of going about doing research, attaining data and gathering information. At the click of a button we find numerous and valuable knowledge literally at the tip of our fingers. Even though research and its process are continuously advancing, it is still not completely free of bias, human error, and limitations. Since it is the imperfect human that is carrying out the research, there isn't any hope of it being perfectly done.

The word research comes from the French word chercher meaning "to look for" ("Research", Wikipedia). As we continue to seek and search for knowledge, the means and type of research is also equally diverse. For example, research can be conducted in a variety of ways: experimental, historical, empirical, case studies, interviews, and theoretical, to name just a few. Generally, research can be classified as being done quantitatively or qualitatively. Both types merit their own strengths and weaknesses. However, no matter what the method of research, there are bound to be errors in calculations, imperfect measurements and biases affecting the results.

Taking the qualitative approach as an example, we see a researcher has to immerse him/herself in the context to some degree. This manner of gathering information, testing theories, and interpreting results introduces subjectivity. The views, experiences, and influences of both the researcher and the participants involved raises issues of bias. Also, the time to gather and interpret the data is usually lengthy, causing the replication of experiment and conditions tested to be difficult. This way the interpretations and conclusions reached can only confidently be applied to the study at hand and not generalized to a wider context.

An example to "illustrate this is the Tennessee Studies of Class Size, known as project STAR (Student/Teacher Achievement Ratio)" (Smeyers 693). In this study, the class sizes from kindergarten to third grade were reduced by one third in order to test its effect on the students' academic progress. The project lasted for four years with the researchers also observing the students performance in higher grades. They concluded "that smaller classes did bring substantial improvement to early learning" and the students continued to "perform better than their peers who had started in larger classes" (693). Even with such a carefully thought out and detailed experiment, the results were still limited and not completely validated. That is, the "findings [did] not automatically mean that reducing class size [was] the best way

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