Occasional Paper No. 05 of 2004 on Principles of Research
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In Section 1, I introduce the subject matter of research, with a theoretical discussion of characters in a research enterprise. I do a thought experiment that expels some characters and retains others. I introduce (also in an abstract way), the proper motive for research. I argue that research and research principles are an outcome of a mental activity called "thinking." Examples of principles are given from disciplines of economics and physics. In Section 2, Einstein's definition of thinking is given, with an elaboration. A distinction is made between the world of concepts and the world of experiences and feelings (the real world). A concept is transformed into a principle when it is shown to be in accordance with the world of experience. The first remark in the presentation is introduced. A remark is a summary of the main points of an argument; it also extends an argument without the necessity of details. A remark is different from a hypothesis, a theorem, a lemma, etc. A hypothesis is a prediction flowing from a concept, whose truth content is to be verified or falsified with data; a theorem is what is demonstrated to be logically true without data; lemmas are successive steps to a theorem. In Section 3, I deal with the difficult issues of basic and applied research. I explain the role of a policy analyst in the world of concepts and define research, giving examples. I show the complementarity between the work of a policy analyst and that of a theoretical researcher. Both types of researchers help to establish the bridge between the world of concepts and the world of experience. I argue that the bridge between the worlds of concepts and experience (consisting of principles and empirical regularities) is the proper foundation for public policy. Any policy without such a foundation is bound to fail or to be harmful, except in rare cases of luck. I restate principles of research. Principles of Research In Section 4, I conclude with a vision of research and contributions to policy-making at KIPPRA. In the references list, I show the reader the materials I consulted to prepare the presentation. It is hoped that the reader too will consult these original materials, both for curiosity and to extend or criticize the ideas in the presentation.
Applied Research; Research principles; Public policy; Policy making; Kenya
PublisherThe Kenya Institute for Public Policy Research and Analysis
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