True scientific research follows a strict protocol and well-established processes. The type of “research” one might conduct in the library for a paper is not the same as the type of research done for scientific purposes. Research aims to observe and describe, predict, determine the causes and explain. All of this data is typically recorded in some type of research notebook.
It begins, like an hourglass, with a broad set of questions, and then narrows to focus on one particular point. From there, research is designed to analyze and observe this point. Finally, the hourglass widens again to encompass conclusions and generalizations based on the findings.
In all disciplines, the research must start by setting a goal, clearly defined and usually in the form of a hypothesis. The entire study will focus on this hypothesis and targets one unique aspect of it. Results are then interpreted. That is, the researcher offers an explanation as to why the results appear the way they do. There needs to be a clear procedure so that the process can be duplicated. This allows for independent verification of the results.
Great care should be put into the planning the steps of the experiment to keep it focused on answering the hypothesis. If done properly, the results will spur the researcher in another direction in search of more answers. It will also make it easy for those who follow to test the theories put forth in the research notebook with a great level of accuracy and credibility.