Research can be defined as the search for knowledge, or as any systematic investigation, to establish novel facts, solve new or existing problems, prove new ideas, or develop new theories, usually using a scientific method. The primary purpose for basic research (as opposed to applied research) is discovering, interpreting, and the development of methods and systems for the advancement of human knowledge on a wide variety of scientific matters of our world and the universe.
- Nothing has such power to broaden the mind as the ability to investigate systematically and truly all that comes under thy observation in life.
- Marcus Aurelius, Meditations (c. 161–180 CE), Chapter II.
- Research is something that everyone can do, and everyone ought to do. It is simply collecting information and thinking systematically about it. The word ‘research’ carries overtones of abstruse statistics and complex methods, white coats and computers. Some social research is highly specialised but most is not; much of the best research is logically very straightforward. Useful research on many problems can be done with small resources, and should be a regular part of the life of any thoughtful person involved in social action.
- Raewyn Connell et al. (1975). How to do small surveys – a guide for students in sociology, kindred industries and allied trades. School of Social Sciences. Flinders University. p. 1.
- During all those years of experimentation and research, I never once made a discovery. All my work was deductive, and the results I achieved were those of invention, pure and simple. I would construct a theory and work on its lines until I found it was untenable. Then it would be discarded at once and another theory evolved. This was the only possible way for me to work out the problem. … I speak without exaggeration when I say that I have constructed 3,000 different theories in connection with the electric light, each one of them reasonable and apparently likely to be true. Yet only in two cases did my experiments prove the truth of my theory. My chief difficulty was in constructing the carbon filament. . . . Every quarter of the globe was ransacked by my agents, and all sorts of the queerest materials used, until finally the shred of bamboo, now utilized by us, was settled upon.
- Thomas Edison on his years of research in developing the electric light bulb, as quoted in "Talks with Edison" by George Parsons Arthropod in Harper magazine, Vol. 80 (February 1890), p. 425.
- Attempt the end and never stand to doubt;
Nothing's so hard but search will find it out.
- Robert Herrick, Hesperides (1648), Seeke and Finde.
In the course of describing my formative moment in 1978, I have already implicitly given my four basic rules for research. Let me now state them explicitly, then explain. Here are the rules:
1. Listen to the Gentiles
2. Question the question
3. Dare to be silly
4. Simplify, simplify
- Paul Krugman, "How I Work", American Economist (1993)
- It is a good thing for a research scientist to discard a pet hypothesis every day before breakfast.
- Konrad Lorenz, On Aggression, 1966.
- Hail, follow, well met,
All dirty and wet:
Find out, if you can,
Who's master, who's man.
- Jonathan Swift, My Lady's Lamentation; reported in Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations (1922), p. 400.
- The worst thing happens when ideologists are trying to analyse scientific researches.
- Jerzy Vetulani, Neurobiologia inteligencji, „Wiedza i Życie” 2/2008, pages 14–19.