research process by kaleab matiwos

Research Process

1. Initial phase

Preliminary research involves searching sources of theory and previous studies to discover what the appropriate bases for subsequent, detailed work are likely to be – often, alternatives will be found.

1.1. Data and information

Data, from an information system perspective, may be regarded as ‘raw facts and figures’ – measurements that can be made and recorded. Scale-based research is not a substitute for on-the-spot investigation that is sensitive to both interpretative and objective definitions of the subject matter.

  • Example

A contractor’s tender sum for a building project is an item of data; the presentation of the prices bid is information; hence, usually, information is raw facts and figures which have been ‘processed’.

1.2. Dynamic process

A process approach to research is oriented toward change and development and usually involves a thick (rich) description of events and processes related to their timeframe.

  • Example

Bresnen et al. (2005) use processual analysis comprising a number of longitudinal case studies of construction organizations to research the impacts of organizational structures and agency roles on the implementation of changes.

2 Initial search

2.1 Definitions and assumptions

It is good to identify assumptions and to define terms –i.e- management contracting and construction management are different in North America

. Literature is valuable in establishing a variety of terms and definitions, which are important points of debate.

  • For example,

what is a ‘frog’?

In a bricklaying context, it is a hollow (void) on the top of a brick; to the general public, it is a small, greenish amphibian that hops and croaks.

2.2 Theory and literature review

A researcher’s proposal for research on a specific topic or area of study should include the definition of the topic and terms. The program of work will show the time available, although it is usual for the review to be ‘kept open so that any follow-up work can be incorporated.

2.3 Analyzing data from a search

It is helpful to have several approaches to discovering information, that is, adopting a triangulated search. It is useful to list theories to be considered, leading authors, and topic keywords. The more precise the search keys can be, the more both time and expense can be saved.


  • Consider writing a list of the libraries which will be useful to obtain information for research. Apart from containing the library of AASTU and architecture department libraries, the list should contain other local libraries and specialist libraries too – like EIABC library, Ethiopian architects association, Wemezekir…and other research organizations.
  • For e.g, if u have to research a proposal on the topic of bidding for construction work, Preliminary lists of aspects of theory and literature, including leading texts and research papers to be explored, might include,

3. Research Methods on construction research (RMCR)

Researchers may investigate tactics along the subjectivist–objective spectrum, as the deductive approach to research has become synonymous with positivism.  both objective and subjective elements that are fluid, relational, and constantly interact. As a result, adopting either an objectivist or subjectivist perspective is criticized.

3.1 Ontology and epistemology

Ontology concerns the assumptions in conceptual reality and the question of existence apart from specific objects and events, for example…Epistemology concerns the origins, nature, methods, and limits of human knowledge. The ‘…chosen ontological and theoretical approaches will shape the representation of the phenomenon under study,…guide the choice of suitable research methods, and impact on the nature of created knowledge and propositions.


  • Ontology_ How did the Egyptian pyramid made?, Does God exist? Is that true that Lalibela was made by Angels? Etc…

3.2 Positivism and phenomenology

Positivism and phenomenology represent different philosophical bases but are not mutually exclusive in the adoption of the methodology. There can be two types of interpretations, cognitive interpretation, and scientific interpretation. Both interpretation and scientific verification are essential and possibilities should be sought in using both quantitative and qualitative methods.


  • Positivism- feminist, Marxist, & functionalist
  • Interpretivism- Interactionist & post-modernist

3.3 Constructivism and reductionism

constructivist reductionism is a philosophical point of view that maintains that complex phenomena are best understood by componential analysis. The core of the reductionist’s position is that greater insight into nature will be derived by recasting analyses carried out at one level into deeper, more basic levels.


  • Construction management researchers often view the project organization as a social-technical system and, in the study of the relationships among project participants, take the social constructivist’s approach.

3.4 Realism

Reality occurs in four modes –

1. material (exist independent of humans, e.g… mountains, stones, water, etc

2. ideal (human conceptual entities) e.g. concept development

3. artifactual (items made by people) i.e. building materials, books, etc

4. social (human practices, e.g.. researching for a degree)

Critical realists argue that it is legitimate to include unobservable entities in the categories of ‘objective’ and ‘subjective’ reality.

3.5 Fuzzy thinking

The fuzzy philosophy states that everything is a matter of degree – a world of multivalence and the opposite of which is bivalence (the black and white). A fuzzy cognitive map is a fuzzy causal picture of the world and a fuzzy system is a set of fuzzy rules that converts inputs into outputs.


  • A logic to investigate how planning the layouts of construction sites depends upon the scheduling of the execution of the construction operations.

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