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There's No Hope of Doing Perfect Research

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There is no hope of doing perfect research (griffiths,1998, p97). Do you agree?
Introduction
The statement that "There is no hope of doing perfect research," (Griffiths, 1998, p97) was made by Morwenna Griffiths, a professor and writer, in her book Educational Research for Social Justice: Getting off the Fence. What the statement basically meant was that we cannot ever expect our research to be of a level where we can say it's at its ultimate best. There are several reasons for this and seeing not only the logic in the statement, but also having personally experienced it, I too have to agree.

What is research and why can’t it be perfect?

Research is basically a collection of information which we choose to develop, store or manipulate. There are two sorts of research, qualitative and quantitative. The former deals more with theoretical findings while the latter can be viewed as collection of information, mostly statistical. Keeping these two sorts of research and that basic definition in mind the basis for that statement is made quite clear and self-explanatory.

The endless limits of research

For one thing, research can never be complete or absolute. If we consider the world of information to be an ocean, we can consider our research to be the water in a bucket. As long as I'm on one end of the ocean, I will never know what the other end might hold. I might miss out on something that contradicts or better explains what I'm currently considering as my best example. Of course if one were to span the entire length and width of the ocean, they would be able to do that 'perfect' research but that is humanly impossible and therefore, so is the perfect research.

The inherent inaccuracy of research

One must also consider the fact that the accuracy of research will never be without doubt or debate. To illustrate this more carefully, allow me to make use of a specific example. A few months ago I helped a few friends collect some data for a paper they were writing. The paper was to be published in a medical journal and it focused mostly on stress in the dental profession (Khan, Qadeer, 2011). Their research involved personal surveys conducted on dentists in a certain hospital in one particular city. Now the source of inaccuracy in this survey is clearly visible. Who's to say that particular dentist wasn't having a bad day when he gave the survey? Who's to say that single hospital didn't bias the survey in a certain imbalance? Who’s to say that life in that city wasn’t stressful for other general reasons? Of course taking a great number of surveys and changing the variables generally reduces this inaccuracy but how many surveys can you conduct and how many variables can you change to ensure complete perfection? And how accurately can you ensure that none of the answers were biased or untrue? You cannot, no matter how meticulously you may conduct your surveys or research.

The other problem when conducting research is that it is often based upon other research. This leads to multiple levels and stages of inaccuracy which ultimately build up into a considerable amount of doubt. How deep can one go to avoid these multiple levels? How far back can you trace a certain amount of information? In certain fields, especially those related to science, it becomes impossible to conduct each little bit of research from scratch. You have to make assumptions and rely on somebody else’s research which you can only develop further. As an example I will again quote a project I did for my Mechanics of Materials course last summer. The project was based on research conducted in the subject of stress cracking. I had to conduct further research and apply it on practical experimentation. The article itself clearly stated the constraints of the information contained within it, saying data is scarce and not easily given in general form, as the accuracy depends upon the individual care of each machine and varies from part to part, (Zhang_Jinyu, 2005) but as practical information in science is never without inaccuracy, I had to assume it as the closest I could get and then used it in my own further research, which of course had practical inaccuracies of its own.

Rapidly Changing Nature of Information

This statement is increasingly becoming truer, more now so than ever before. For one thing, most of our sources of research are now digitally archived. This means they are easily edited and their authentication is difficult to guarantee. Furthermore, development is happening at a rate so fast that it's impossible to say whether the fact of today is a myth of tomorrow, or the myth of today is a fact of tomorrow. How then we can say our research is perfect if we don’t even know how long it will remain true?

Conclusion

To say that there is no hope for research might sound like a pessimistic statement to make, but all factors considered, it is no exception to the general rule of life. Each human being is different to another and therefore no two things can ever be perfect or alike. No two people researching the same topic will come to the exact same conclusion and no one person can ever say they have reached the ultimate end of something. This is good as it allows us to always develop a certain subject further and it leaves room for doubt, which ultimately leaves room for betterment.

Journal Article
Khan, Attaullah. "The prevalence of stress and associated factors in dentists working at Islamic International Dental College Hospital" (2011)

Zhang, Jinyu. “Experimental Study of Stress Cracking in High Density Polyethylene Pipes” (2005)

Book
Denzin, Norman K. & Lincoln, Yvonna S. The Sage Handbook of Qualitative Research (3rd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage, 2005.

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