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Experiment!: Planning, Implementing and Interpreting by Oivind Andersson

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10.1 The Three Phases of Research

Although individual research projects differ, they typically move through three common phases. In the first phase, a research question is formulated and a strategy is laid out for answering it. The research question is often connected to one or several hypotheses. We will call it the planning phase. Once a promising approach has been developed it is time to gather evidence to either support or refute the hypothesis. This is the data collection phase, aiming to obtain data of sufficient quality to draw robust conclusions. It involves investigating the capability of one's measurement system, in some cases even the actual development of a measurement system, as well as identifying suitable procedures for measurement. In the final stage the data are analyzed and connected back to the research question. The findings are also related to the current knowledge to define a scientific contribution. This third phase will be called analysis and synthesis. Each of the final three chapters of this book is devoted to one of these three research phases, which are schematically represented by Figure 10.1. The process is depicted as circular or periodical, since the new knowledge that results from one research activity often gives rise to new questions and new research ideas.

Figure 10.1 The three phases of research. Research is cyclic, since results from one research task often give rise to a new one.

This chapter introduces a number of tools and techniques ...

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