The Pitfalls of Researching


Doing research can benefit you in many ways. You gain insights with which you can make informed decisions and take appropriate actions. Provided you do it right. But if you don't, research will not (or hardly) provide you with what you want and will only cost you unnecessary time. In this blog, I will mention a few pitfalls to watch out for to help you on your way:

  • You are researching because you have to. You start a research project because you need the information. For example, to improve your project, provide accountability, feed decision-making, or create support. However, think about what you want to achieve with the research. Do not research because it fits the process or because it is the way it should be done when you don't need that information.
  • Asking the wrong research question ultimately prevents you from getting the answers you are looking for. Formulating the right research question is essential to obtaining the information you need. Formulate the research question based on the information you need. The research question often cannot be changed during the research. If you are collecting information, you can not deviate too much from this during the data collection. Pay attention to this when formulating your research question.
  • Choosing the wrong research method. The research method you choose depends on the type of information you need. Hence, don't choose a questionnaire if you want to know underlying motivations. Or: don't choose interviews if you want a lot of numbers and percentages from a large group of people.
  • Becoming lost in the amount of information. Once you have gathered all the information, the key is not to get lost in the information and get back to your research question. The results of a research study are not a collection of facts but a coherent answer to your question. Therefore, the facts are clustered so that connections are transparent (and thus formulated), and the conclusions are a logical consequence and answer your question.
  • Doing nothing with the results. Just doing a survey won't get you there. The results need to be implemented. How you do this depends on the research you have done. Learning moments or action points often emerge logically from a research study. Sit down for this (with colleagues) to formulate an action plan or implementation plan. Formulate concrete agreements with colleagues about what you will do with the information.

Want to read more about how to go through the steps of doing research properly? Then read these previously published blogs:

- How to arrive at the right research question

- How to choose a suitable research method

- How to conduct data collection?

- Tips for analyzing and reporting research

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Claudia's heart is in research. With her passion, she enjoys enthusing others about research. She enjoys sharing her knowledge and experience. Claudia works and lives in the Netherlands, where she has been helping students and beginning researchers with research for years. Through blogs, but also with e-books, e-courses, and coaching. The first blogs are now translated into English to help more students and beginning researchers.
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