Elaboration of the Research Objectives: A proposal based on Cartesian thought.

in #academic3 years ago (edited)

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In this post I will return to a topic that I have worked on in previous ones and that are related to my work in the teaching of Scientific Research Methodology. In particular, I take the opportunity to translate some notes I had written to explain the writing of the research objectives.

At the time I published this in Spanish (See original in spanish), I did it in response to a student's query, a time has passed, but I think the content remains valid and can be useful to work, so I translate it to give it greater diffusion


Recently, a person asked me about a way to elaborate the objectives of an investigation, specifically for a quantitative approach that pursued a descriptive level of a phenomenon and its relations with other significant events. Understanding that the question was not due to lack of knowledge, but because of problems for the organization of data and information that would make it possible to establish a work program or a specific methodology, I tried to answer it by going to a fairly basic reading, but always useful for these cases: The Speech of the René Descartes Method (1596-1650)

My list...

Descartes, in the Second part of the Discourse on the Method, sets out the principles from which he guides his reasoning to address any search for knowledge, these are four:

  1. He was the first, not to admit as true anything, as he did not know with evidence that it is; that is to say, to carefully avoid precipitation and prevention, and not to understand in my judgments anything other than what was presented so clearly and distinctly to my spirit, that there was no occasion to doubt it.
  2. The second, to divide each of the difficulties, which I will examine, in how many parts it is possible and in how many would require its best solution.
  3. The third, orderly conduct my thoughts, starting with the simplest and easiest objects to know, to gradually ascend, gradually, to the knowledge of the most composed, and even assuming an order among those that do not precede naturally.
  4. And the last one, to do in all such comprehensive accounts and such general reviews, that he would be sure not to omit anything.

We can simplify that in order to start everything must be screened for its own reason and avoid "fundamentalisms" without prior examination of its validity or truthfulness, then (and this is already more tending towards the operation of the investigation) it is about marking the goal of knowledge to be achieved, also identifying the knowledge that is prior and necessary for the achievement or mastery of the content in question, then it is necessary to establish a functional and logically valid order for the study, taking the most simple and accessible things up to more complex and difficult for the work to be done. It ends all in achieving in each stage a complete knowledge of its results, in order to complete everything and achieve the knowledge that is being sought.

My Coment

These instructions can certainly be accused of being tending to the specialization or division of knowledge (whose real problem would be rather castrating or limiting super-specialization to integrate content), but it cannot be denied that they give a good orientation of how Begin the search for knowledge within a quantitative approach. Then, in this same section of the Speech, Descartes expresses the usefulness of the rules that were applied:

And, indeed, I dare to say that the exact observation of the few precepts chosen by me, gave me such ease to unravel all the questions that these two sciences deal with, that in two or three months I used to examine them, having begun by the simplest and most general, and being every truth that I found a rule that later served me to find others, not only did I manage to solve several questions, which I had previously considered as very difficult, but it even seemed to me, towards the end, that, Even in those he ignored, he could determine by what means and how far it was possible to solve them. In which, perhaps you will not accuse me of excessive vanity if you consider that, assuming there is but one truth in everything, the one who finds it knows everything that can be known about it; and that, for example, a child who knows arithmetic and makes a sum according to the rules, can be sure that he has found, about the sum he was examining, all that the human ingenuity can find; because, after all, the method that teaches to follow the true order and to recount exactly all the circumstances of what is sought, contains everything that confers certainty to the rules of arithmetic.

But what pleased me most in this method was that, with him, I was sure to use my reason in everything, if not perfectly, at least the best that was in my possession. Not to mention that, by applying it, I felt that my spirit gradually became accustomed to conceiving objects with greater clarity and distinction and that, having not subjected it to any particular subject, I promised to apply it with equal fruit to the difficulties of other sciences, as I had done to those of algebra. (The underline is mine, to highlight what I need from this quote)

The end of the previous quotation expresses to a large extent an idea applicable to everything that is taught in scientific research methodology for any university career, since what is sought is the formation of a scientific thought that the student (and future professional) is able to use in all aspects of his life, which would aim to verify the reliability of his sources before lightly accusing, observe the phenomena and actors that surround him and establish potential interpretations of his intentions and actions, communicate neatly and clearly your ideas with economy of language and precision in your words. But above all, remember that your university education necessarily implies the use of the logic of Science, the Scientific Method and a critical and reflective position about the world.


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Last nigh I was watching some guy (who I assume was some sort of authority figure) talk about how the leadership in Venezuela was syphoning oil money (that was intended to help people) and lining there own pockets.

The past few days I have been thinking about how it is smart for people to realize that the hearts of mankind are deceitful (Jeremiah 17:9 The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?) So a person should expect that 'left to his own devices' a person is not naturaly going to give you a fair deal. In the following article I attempted to point out mankinds natural depravity

My mind started to think 'how can Venezuelans recover from the theft?' Some people might assume that the best path foreward is to send a check to every person (to personally appriate the money) But consider this: if you were to visit 100 people and give each person $1,000,000 proably within 6 months about 15 of thoes people would be broke (poor) about 75 of thoes people would comfortably be getting by, 5 people would have been able to maintain there wealth and or add to it, and about 2-3 people will probably have around 90% of the money.

Corruption is a scourge. I think I remember that Venezuela occupies the first place in several measurements related to this problem:

  • It has one of the worst positions in terms of administrative transparency, in fact it is the last country on the continent.
  • It has a legal regulation contradictory to the internal and with restrictions out of logic, which promotes the black market and the sale of "favors" for a public official to do what is supposed to be his work.
  • It has marked problems of nepotism, political patronage and protectionism of "allies" and "chess pieces or game pieces" of the government of the day.
  • He has too many cases of relaxation of the Supervision of National Control, with which an official steals some of the allocated budget, as there are supervisory failures, because they do not find out. (Although it is suspected that this is intentional and that the Comptroller is in coexistence with those who steal)
  • And I better stop giving examples, because I'm going to get depressed ...

@pedrobrito2004, Research is backbone of our Understanding and if we are not applying the thorough Research then our Data will represent the Bits and Pieces outcome.

Most importantly, we have to make sure that our Research Points are making sense. Sometimes people go for the Quantity but Quality is left behind.

Have a great time ahead and stay blessed.

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I share your idea that research is essential to understand.

This not only applies to those who are dedicated to academic life or science, it is valid for all people, we can not understand what we do not know and we are shocking them as we investigate them, that we approach those realities that are us unknown and little by little we become familiar with them.

In a way whole life of a Human Being circles around Research aspect. Stay blessed.

👍 👍

Hello @pedrobrito2004,

thanks for sharing this work!

I wish that such principles and methodology would find use in more of what we can/have to read nowadays.

While the general public gets trained that there are "alternative facts" (???) and they are regularly subject to agenda driven manipulative news spread by the "big 6" (https://www.webfx.com/blog/internet/the-6-companies-that-own-almost-all-media-infographic/) that dominate the "information maket", is seems that such principles and methodology, even if adjusted and narrowed into to the journalistic methodology (https://journalistsresource.org/tip-sheets/journalistic-method-tip-sheet-blending-analysis-narrative/) would be a big plus as a pillar against the ongoing information wars (hate to use this term by Alex Jones... ;-)).

It would make out world a better place I believe!


Thanks for the comment!

My job is as a teacher, specifically in the area of Research Methodology, so from time to time I share materials that I have prepared for the classes.

I am one of those who believe that every person needs to develop a critical way of thinking and have the ability to question the world in which they live in order to understand it better, that is why research is not only for academia or universities, but it is about to have an awake mind before the world in which we live and learn constantly.

I couldn't agree more! 👍💯🙏