Research. A simple definition is the systematic investigation into and study of materials and sources in order to establish facts and reach new conclusions.
In my sophomore year of college, I undertook a social project along with four of my friends. It was a part of a competition held by CAG. Our topic was Plugging the leaks, improving reach and efficiency of Public Distribution System.
(Our team stood Seventh on National level and we were invited to attend the finale Meetup where the guest speaker was PM Narendra Modi)
Public Distribution System is a topic which we all study in higher secondary curriculum, sounding easy?
When we dipped into the topic, only then we came to know about the huge number of loopholes in the ongoing system, and guess what? We had to provide economically feasible solution for it, namely the problems, ideas, stats, facts, laws, budgets, reach to the population. The scaling was high enough to get our arse hot.
So we had to find out the problem statement, that’s the first step.
Now we looked up to every resource available online. We went googling for each and every aspect, literally hand-wrote them, read PDFs, letters, Parliamentary bills pertaining to PDS. We went to library and searched for magazines.
So we put up efforts to know each and everything, literally everything we needed to know, form every available resource. That’s the second step.
We gave time to ourselves individually, to get as much data and opinions as we could. We even saw interviews and videos on YouTube and made notes. It takes time. But it was worth. We were learning a huge deal about everything, and that’s what matters.
Third thing which we did was Team Meets. We sat after the college hours, presented our individually collected data. In a fresh diary we consolidated the statistics and the problems persisting, which we had to answer.
We defined our path of the flow. We decided on what are we going to solve. We hand wrote in each of our personal notebooks. The third step.
We were holding discussions as a team. If you are working alone then you can hold discussions with your family members, friends, seniors, juniors, on Quora or anyone with whom you can. Its up to your efforts.
To us, this project was a Q/A process, the questions were decided by us after studying the present situations, and they were addressed by the answers, which we had to brainstorm, by discussions, within the team or outside the team. The more you study, the better informed and realistic answers you would produce.
This fourth step is totally dependent on your motivation, your knowledge, how much updated you are, how deeply engrossed you are in your project. To sum up, its your responsibility to conclude it. You must identify this step yourself. No one else can help you out with this.
Finally, document every source from which you have taken up data. You must include a Bibliography and Citation at the end.
Also include a document which consists of the meanings of the terms you used. More like an appendix, which has the explanation of all the codes or formulas or concepts you have used. This all you can look up in Google. Or ask your mentors.