Using primary research methods can strengthen your paper and provide information that might not be available elsewhere. Throughout the primary research process, you develop research questions (hypotheses) and collect data that you can measure, observe and replicate. There are two goals of primary research:
Primary research is conducted by you. There are three main primary research methods commonly used in academic research papers: surveys, interviews and observations. Each method requires taking the right approach—from deciding if primary research is right for your project to working through the four stages of conducting this type of research and asking the right questions.
Before you start using primary research methods, first decide if this type of research is right for your research paper focus. Ultimately, this type of research is best suited to questions that are easily answered by asking participants and to observing a particular group of people, event or situation directly. Areas where primary research is beneficial include the following:
Keep in mind that not all topics are suitable to primary research methods. Topics that incorporate ethical, metaphysical or philosophical research questions do not allow you to develop research that is testable or observable. For example, a research question asking if ghosts exist is not conducive to primary research. However, a question asking how many people in your local community believe in ghosts is measurable, testable and observable, making it a topic suitable to primary research methods.
The process of conducting primary research is similar to the writing process in that it involves working through stages. Creating a timeline to follow as you work through primary research helps keep your research focused and your overall paper on target. There are four main stages in the primary research process: planning, collecting, analyzing and writing.
Before you embark on the process of using primary research methods, make sure you are asking the right questions to shape your research.
Finally, based on your answers to the above questions, what discoveries do you expect to make?
Conducting primary research strengthens your paper when the topic is conducive to this type of research method. If you decide to conduct research, create a timeline, follow it and examine your intended research by asking the right questions. As you research, stay aware of ethical considerations, and avoid common research mistakes. Taking the right approach makes a difference in the quality of your research, which directly affects the quality of your completed research paper.