• Research Ethics

Q: What does good research mean?

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Asked by Editage Insights on 04 Jul, 2019

Good quality research  is one that provides robust and ethical evidence. A good research must revolve around a novel question and must be based on a feasible study plan. It must make a significant contribution to scientific development by addressing an unanswered question or by solving a problem or difficulty that existed in the real world.

A good research involves systematic planning and setting time-based, realistic objectives. It entails feasible research methods based upon a research methodology that best suits the nature of your research question. It is built upon sufficient relevant data and is reproducible and replicable. It is based on a suitable rationale and can suggest directions for future research.

Moreover, all relevant ethical guidelines must be practiced while conducting, reporting, and publishing good quality research . A good research benefits the various stakeholders in society and contributes to the overall development of mankind.

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Answered by Editage Insights on 09 Jul, 2019

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What Constitutes a Good Research?

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The Declining Art of Good Research

We seem to be compromising our commitment to good research in favor of publishable research, and there are a combination of trends that are accountable for this.

The first is the continued pressure of “publish or perish” for young academics seeking to move forward on the track for fewer and fewer tenured positions (or increasingly draconian renewable contracts).

Secondly, the open access model of research publication has created a booming population of academic journals with pages to fill and new researchers willing to pay article publication fees (APFs).

Thirdly, budget-strapped institutions have been aggressively targeting doctoral research candidates and the higher fees they bring to the table.

When these three trends are combined, the resulting onslaught of quantity over quality leads us to question what “good” research looks like anymore.

Is it the institution from which the research originated, or the debatable rank of the journal that published it?

Good Research as a Methodological Question

When looking to learn how to recognize what “good” research looks like, it makes sense to start at the beginning with the basic scope of the project:

Characteristics of a Good Research

For conducting a systematic research, it is important understand the characteristics of a good research.

Good Research as an Ethical Question

The question as to whether or not the research is worth conducting at all could generate an extended and heated debate. Researchers are expected to publish, and research budgets are there to be spent.

We can hope that there was some degree of discussion and oversight before the research project was given the green light by a Principal Investigator or Research Supervisor, but those decisions are often made in a context of simple obligation rather than perceived need.

Consider the example of a less than proactive doctoral student with limited time and resources to complete a dissertation topic. A suggestion is made by the departmental Research Supervisor to pick a dissertation from a decade ago and simply repeat it. The suggestion meets the need for expediency and simplicity, but raises as many questions as it answers:

The Building Blocks of “Good” Research

There is no shortage of reputable, peer-reviewed journals that publish first-rate research material for new researchers to model.

That doesn’t mean you should copy the research topic or the methodology, but it wouldn’t hurt to examine the protocol in detail and make note of the specific decisions made and criteria put in place when that protocol was developed and implemented.

The challenge lies in sticking to those tried-and-true methodologies when your research data doesn’t prove to be as rich and fruitful as you had hoped.

Have you ever been stuck while in the middle of conducting a research? How did you cope with that? Let us know your approach while conducting a good research in the comments section below!

You can also visit our  Q&A forum  for frequently asked questions related to different aspects of research writing and publishing answered by our team that comprises subject-matter experts, eminent researchers, and publication experts.

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Research skills: what they are and why they're important.

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Last Updated June 29, 2021

Guide Overview

Research skills in the workplace.

Many employers value research skills in their employees, especially when it comes to research-oriented positions such as those in analysis and data management. Common research skills necessary for a variety of jobs include attention to detail, time management, and problem solving. Here we explore what research skills are, examples of in-demand research skills, how you can improve and use research skills at work, and how to highlight your research skills during the job search process.

Research skills defined

Research skills refer to an individual’s ability to find and evaluate useful information related to a specific topic. These skills include performing investigations, using critical analysis, and forming hypotheses or solutions to a particular issue. Research skills are valued by employers in various industries and are beneficial to employees in all types of positions. Having these skills is imperative to advancing your career as they directly relate to your ability to gain insight and inspire action in both yourself and others.

Why are research skills important?

Research skills are necessary for the workplace for several reasons, including that they allow individuals and companies to:

Research skills examples

Research skills encompass several different skill sets that work together to allow individuals to identify and interpret information and come to viable solutions. The most in-demand research skills in the workplace include:

Time management

Time management skills are essential when researching because they allow you to break down tasks into more manageable parts and effectively tackle each piece. Good time management skills include planning, setting goals, organizing tasks, delegating assignments, and prioritizing work duties. Examples of time management skills include:

Critical thinking

Critical thinking refers to a person’s ability to think rationally and analyze and interpret information and make connections. This skill is important in research because it allows individuals to better gather and evaluate data and establish significance. Common critical thinking skills include:

Problem-solving skills

Being an effective problem solver will increase your research skills by allowing you to successfully identify issues and come up with solutions to these problems. Good problem-solving skills to have include:

Communication skills

Communication is an important aspect of success researching because it allows individuals to share their findings with others in an easy-to-understand way. Common types of communication required when researching include report writing, data summarization, presentations, and interviewing.

Detail orientation

Being detail-oriented is vital during the research process. Detail orientation is important in nearly any position, as most jobs require employees to follow specific rules or procedures set forth by the company. When researching, detail orientation ensures that you don’t miss important details and can make connections between things that would otherwise appear unrelated.

How you can improve your research skills

There are several things you can do to improve your research skills, including:

Using research skills at work

Here are a few ways you can incorporate your research skills in the workplace:

How to highlight your research skills during the job search process

You can highlight your research in the following areas when applying and interviewing for jobs:

On your resume and cover letter

Many employers look for candidates with strong research skills. You can highlight these skills in both your cover letter and resume. On your resume, including any research skills you possess that are directly related to the job in the skills section and in your work history descriptions. In your cover letter, choose one or two research skills, such as communication or project management skills, and mention them in the body of the letter.

In an interview

You can portray your research skills before you get to the interview by researching the company and the job position and coming to the interview prepared with insightful questions. During the interview, you can reference this research by offering answers that show you spend time delving into the organization and job title.

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What Makes Work Meaningful — Or Meaningless

New research offers insights into what gives work meaning — as well as into common management mistakes that can leave employees feeling that their work is meaningless.

Meaningful Meaning Happy Smile

Meaningful work is something we all want. The psychiatrist Viktor Frankl famously described how the innate human quest for meaning is so strong that, even in the direst circumstances, people seek out their purpose in life. 1 More recently, researchers have shown meaningfulness to be more important to employees than any other aspect of work, including pay and rewards, opportunities for promotion, or working conditions. 2 Meaningful work can be highly motivational, leading to improved performance, commitment, and satisfaction. 3 But, so far, surprisingly little research has explored where and how people find their work meaningful and the role that leaders can play in this process. 4

We interviewed 135 people working in 10 very different occupations and asked them to tell us stories about incidents or times when they found their work to be meaningful and, conversely, times when they asked themselves, “What’s the point of doing this job?” We expected to find that meaningfulness would be similar to other work-related attitudes, such as engagement or commitment, in that it would arise purely in response to situations within the work environment. However, we found that, unlike these other attitudes, meaningfulness tended to be intensely personal and individual; 5 it was often revealed to employees as they reflected on their work and its wider contribution to society in ways that mattered to them as individuals. People tended to speak of their work as meaningful in relation to thoughts or memories of significant family members such as parents or children, bridging the gap between work and the personal realm. We also expected meaningfulness to be a relatively enduring state of mind experienced by individuals toward their work; instead, our interviewees talked of unplanned or unexpected moments during which they found their work deeply meaningful.

We were anticipating that our data would show that the meaningfulness experienced by employees in relation to their work was clearly associated with actions taken by managers, such that, for example, transformational leaders would have followers who found their work meaningful, whereas transactional leaders would not. 6 Instead, our research showed that quality of leadership received virtually no mention when people described meaningful moments at work, but poor management was the top destroyer of meaningfulness.

We also expected to find a clear link between the factors that drove up levels of meaningfulness and those that eroded them. Instead, we found that meaningfulness appeared to be driven up and decreased by different factors. Whereas our interviewees tended to find meaningfulness for themselves rather than it being mandated by their managers, we discovered that if employers want to destroy that sense of meaningfulness, that was far more easily achieved. The feeling of “Why am I bothering to do this?” strikes people the instant a meaningless moment arises, and it strikes people hard. If meaningfulness is a delicate flower that requires careful nurturing, think of someone trampling over that flower in a pair of steel-toed boots. Avoiding the destruction of meaning while nurturing an ecosystem generative of feelings of meaningfulness emerged as the key leadership challenge.

The Five Qualities of Meaningful Work

Our research aimed to uncover how and why people find their work meaningful. (See “About the Research.”) For our interviewees, meaningfulness, perhaps unsurprisingly, was often associated with a sense of pride and achievement at a job well done, whether they were professionals or manual workers. Those who could see that they had fulfilled their potential, or who found their work creative, absorbing, and interesting, tended to perceive their work as more meaningful than others. Equally, receiving praise, recognition, or acknowledgment from others mattered a great deal. 7 These factors alone were not enough to render work meaningful, however. 8 Our study also revealed five unexpected features of meaningful work; in these, we find clues that might explain the fragile and intangible nature of meaningfulness.

1. Self-Transcendent

Individuals tended to experience their work as meaningful when it mattered to others more than just to themselves. In this way, meaningful work is self-transcendent. Although it is not a well-known fact, the famous motivation theorist Abraham Maslow positioned self-transcendence at the apex of his pyramid of human motivation, situating it beyond even self-actualization in importance. 9 People did not just talk about themselves when they talked about meaningful work; they talked about the impact or relevance their work had for other individuals, groups, or the wider environment. For example, a garbage collector explained how he found his work meaningful at the “tipping point” at the end of the day when refuse was sent to recycling. This was the time he could see how his work contributed to creating a clean environment for his grandchildren and for future generations. An academic described how she found her work meaningful when she saw her students graduate at the commencement ceremony, a tangible sign of how her own hard work had helped others succeed. A priest talked about the uplifting and inspiring experience of bringing an entire community together around the common goal of a church restoration project.

2. Poignant

The experience of meaningful work can be poignant rather than purely euphoric. 10 People often found their work to be full of meaning at moments associated with mixed, uncomfortable, or even painful thoughts and feelings, not just a sense of unalloyed joy and happiness. People often cried in our interviews when they talked about the times when they found their work meaningful. The current emphasis on positive psychology has led us to focus on trying to make employees happy, engaged, and enthused throughout the working day. Psychologist Barbara Held refers to the current pressure to “accentuate the positive” as the “tyranny of the positive attitude.” 11 Traditionally, meaningfulness has been linked with such positive attributes.

Our research suggests that, contrary to what we may have thought, meaningfulness is not always a positive experience. 12 In fact, those moments when people found their work meaningful tended to be far richer and more challenging than times when they felt simply motivated, engaged, or happy. The most vivid examples of this came from nurses who described moments of profound meaningfulness when they were able to use their professional skills and knowledge to ease the passing of patients at the end of their lives. Lawyers often talked about working hard for extended periods, sometimes years, for their clients and winning cases that led to life-changing outcomes. Participants in several of the occupational groups found moments of meaningfulness when they had triumphed in difficult circumstances or had solved a complex, intractable problem. The experience of coping with these challenging conditions led to a sense of meaningfulness far greater than they would have experienced dealing with straightforward, everyday situations.

3. Episodic

A sense of meaningfulness arose in an episodic rather than a sustained way. It seemed that no one could find their work consistently meaningful, but rather that an awareness that work was meaningful arose at peak times that were generative of strong experiences. For example, a university professor talked of the euphoric experience of feeling “like a rock star” at the end of a successful lecture. One actor we spoke to summed this feeling up well: “My God, I’m actually doing what I dreamt I could do; that’s kind of amazing.” Clearly, sentiments such as these are not sustainable over the course of even one single working day, let alone a longer period, but rather come and go over one’s working life, perhaps rarely arising. Nevertheless, these peak experiences have a profound effect on individuals, are highly memorable, and become part of their life narratives.

Meaningful moments such as these were not forced or managed. Only in a few instances did people tell us that an awareness of their work as meaningful arose directly through the actions of organizational leaders or managers. Conservation stonemasons talked of the significance of carving their “banker’s mark” or mason’s signature into the stone before it was placed into a cathedral structure, knowing that the stone might be uncovered hundreds of years in the future by another mason who would recognize the work as theirs. They felt they were “part of history.” One soldier described how he realized how meaningful his work was when he reflected on his quick thinking in setting off the warning sirens in a combat situation, ensuring that no one at the camp was injured in the ensuing rocket attack. Sales assistants talked about times when they were able to help others, such as an occasion when a customer passed out in one store and the clerk was able to support her until she regained consciousness. Memorable moments such as these contain high levels of emotion and personal relevance, and thus become redolent of the symbolic meaningfulness of work.

4. Reflective

In the instances cited above, it was often only when we asked the interviewees to recount a time when they found their work meaningful that they developed a conscious awareness of the significance of these experiences. Meaningfulness was rarely experienced in the moment, but rather in retrospect and on reflection when people were able to see their completed work and make connections between their achievements and a wider sense of life meaning.

One of the entrepreneurs we interviewed talked about the time when he was switching the lights out after his company’s Christmas party and paused to reflect back over the year on what he and his employees had achieved together. Garbage collectors explained how they were able to find their work meaningful when they finished cleaning a street and stopped to look back at their work. In doing this, they reflected on how the tangible work of street sweeping contributed to the cleanliness of the environment as a whole. One academic talked about research he had done for many years that seemed fairly meaningless at the time, but 20 years later provided the technological solution for touch-screen technology. The experience of meaningfulness is therefore often a thoughtful, retrospective act rather than just a spontaneous emotional response in the moment, although people may be aware of a rush of good feelings at the time. You are unlikely to witness someone talking about how meaningful they find their job during their working day. For most of the people we spoke to, the discussions we had about meaningful work were the first time they had ever talked about these experiences.

5. Personal

Other feelings about work, such as engagement or satisfaction, tend to be just that: feelings about work. Work that is meaningful, on the other hand, is often understood by people not just in the context of their work but also in the wider context of their personal life experiences. We found that managers and even organizations actually mattered relatively little at these times. One musician described his profound sense of meaningfulness when his father attended a performance of his for the first time and finally came to appreciate and understand the musician’s work. A priest was able to find a sense of meaning in her work when she could relate the harrowing personal experiences of a member of her congregation to her own life events, and used that understanding to help and support her congregant at a time of personal tragedy. An entrepreneur’s motivation to start his own business included the desire to make his grandfather proud of him. The customary dinner held to mark the end of a soldier’s service became imbued with meaning for one soldier because it was shared with family members who were there to hear her army stories. One lawyer described how she found her work meaningful when her services were recommended by friends and family and she felt trusted and valued in both spheres of her life. A garbage collector described the time when the community’s water supply became contaminated and he was asked to work on distributing water to local residents; that was meaningful, as he could see how he was helping vulnerable neighbors.

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Moments of especially profound meaningfulness arose when these experiences coalesced with the sense of a job well done, one recognized and appreciated by others. One example of many came from a conservation stonemason who described how his work became most meaningful to him when the restoration of a section of the cathedral he had been working on for years was unveiled, the drapes and scaffolding withdrawn, and the work of the craftsmen celebrated. This event involved all the masons and other trades such as carpenters and glaziers, as well as the cathedral’s religious leaders, members of the public, and local dignitaries. “Everyone goes, ‘Doesn’t it look amazing?’” he said. “That’s the moment you realize you’ve saved something and ensured its future; you’ve given part of the cathedral back to the local community.”

These particular features of meaningful work suggest that the organizational task of helping people find meaning in their work is complex and profound, going far beyond the relative superficialities of satisfaction or engagement — and almost never related to one’s employer or manager.

Meaninglessness: The Seven Deadly Sins

What factors serve to destroy the fragile sense of meaningfulness that individuals find in their work? Interestingly, the factors that seem to drive a sense of meaninglessness and futility around work were very different from those associated with meaningfulness. The experiences that actively led people to ask, “Why am I doing this?” were generally a function of how people were treated by managers and leaders. Interviewees noted seven things that leaders did to create a feeling of meaninglessness (listed in order from most to least grievous).

1. Disconnect people from their values. Although individuals did not talk much about value congruence as a promoter of meaningfulness, they often talked about a disconnect between their own values and those of their employer or work group as the major cause of a sense of futility and meaninglessness. 13 This issue was raised most frequently as a source of meaninglessness in work. A recurring theme was the tension between an organizational focus on the bottom line and the individual’s focus on the quality or professionalism of work. One stonemason commented that he found the organization’s focus on cost “deeply depressing.” Academics spoke of their administrations being most interested in profits and the avoidance of litigation, instead of intellectual integrity and the provision of the best possible education. Nurses spoke despairingly of being forced to send patients home before they were ready in order to free up bed space. Lawyers talked of a focus on profits rather than on helping clients.

2. Take your employees for granted. Lack of recognition for hard work by organizational leaders was frequently cited as invoking a feeling of pointlessness. Academics talked about department heads who didn’t acknowledge their research or teaching successes; sales assistants and priests talked of bosses who did not thank them for taking on additional work. A stonemason described the way managers would not even say “good morning” to him, and lawyers described how, despite putting in extremely long hours, they were still criticized for not moving through their work quickly enough. Feeling unrecognized, unacknowledged, and unappreciated by line or senior managers was often cited in the interviews as a major reason people found their work pointless.

3. Give people pointless work to do. We found that individuals had a strong sense of what their job should involve and how they should be spending their time, and that a feeling of meaninglessness arose when they were required to perform tasks that did not fit that sense. Nurses, academics, artists, and clergy all cited bureaucratic tasks and form filling not directly related to their core purpose as a source of futility and pointlessness. Stonemasons and retail assistants cited poorly planned projects where they were left to “pick up the pieces” by senior managers. A retail assistant described the pointless task of changing the shop layout one week on instructions from the head office, only to be told to change it back again a week later.

4. Treat people unfairly. Unfairness and injustice can make work feel meaningless. Forms of unfairness ranged from distributive injustices, such as one stonemason who was told he could not have a pay raise for several years due to a shortage of money but saw his colleague being given a raise, to freelance musicians being asked to write a film score without payment. Procedural injustices included bullying and lack of opportunities for career progression.

5. Override people’s better judgment. Quite often, a sense of meaninglessness was connected with a feeling of disempowerment or disenfranchisement over how work was done. One nurse, for example, described how a senior colleague required her to perform a medical intervention that was not procedurally correct, and how she felt obliged to complete this even against her better judgment. Lawyers talked of being forced to cut corners to finish cases quickly. Stonemasons described how being forced to “hurry up” using modern tools and techniques went against their sense of historic craft practices. One priest summed up the role of the manager by saying, “People can feel empowered or disempowered by the way you run things.” When people felt they were not being listened to, that their opinions and experience did not count, or that they could not have a voice, then they were more likely to find their work meaningless.

6. Disconnect people from supportive relationships. Feelings of isolation or marginalization at work were linked with meaninglessness. This could occur through deliberate ostracism on the part of managers, or just through feeling disconnected from coworkers and teams. Most interviewees talked of the importance of camaraderie and relations with coworkers for their sense of meaningfulness. Entrepreneurs talked about their sense of loneliness and meaninglessness during the startup phase of their business, and the growing sense of meaningfulness that arose as the business developed and involved more people with whom they could share the successes. Creative artists spoke of times when they were unable to reach out to an audience through their art as times of profound meaninglessness.

7. Put people at risk of physical or emotional harm. Many jobs entail physical or emotional risks, and those taking on this kind of work generally appreciate and understand the choices they have made. However, unnecessary em> exposure to risk was associated with lost meaningfulness. Nurses cited feelings of vulnerability when left alone with aggressive patients; garbage collectors talked of avoidable accidents they had experienced at work; and soldiers described exposure to extreme weather conditions without the appropriate gear.

These seven destroyers emerged as highly damaging to an individual’s sense of his or her work as meaningful. When several of these factors were present, meaningfulness was considerably lower.

Cultivating an Ecosystem For Meaningfulness

In the 1960s, Frederick Herzberg showed that the factors that give rise to a sense of job satisfaction are not the same as those that lead to feelings of dissatisfaction. 14 It seems that something similar is true for meaningfulness. Our research shows that meaningfulness is largely something that individuals find for themselves in their work, 15 but meaninglessness is something that organizations and leaders can actively cause. Clearly, the first challenge to building a satisfied workforce is to avoid the seven deadly sins that drive up levels of meaninglessness.

Given that meaningfulness is such an intensely personal and individual experience that is interpreted by individuals in the context of their wider lives, can organizations create an environment that cultivates high levels of meaningfulness? The key to meaningful work is to create an ecosystem that encourages people to thrive. As other scholars have argued, 16 efforts to control and proscribe the meaningfulness that individuals inherently find in their work can paradoxically lead to its loss.

Our interviews and a wider reading of the literature on meaningfulness point to four elements that organizations can address that will help foster an integrated sense of holistic meaningfulness for individual employees. 17 (See “The Elements of a Meaningfulness Ecosystem.”)

1. Organizational Meaningfulness

At the macro level, meaningfulness is more likely to thrive when employees understand the broad purpose of the organization. 18 This purpose should be formulated in such a way that it focuses on the positive contribution of the organization to the wider society or the environment. This involves articulating the following:

This needs to be done in a genuine and thoughtful way. People are highly adept at spotting hypocrisy, like the nurses who were told their hospital put patients first but were also told to discharge people as quickly as possible. The challenge lies not only in articulating and conveying a clear message about organizational purpose, but also in not undermining meaningfulness by generating a sense of artificiality and manipulation. 19

Reaching employees in ways that make sense to them can be a challenge. A clue for addressing this comes from the garbage collectors we interviewed. One described to us how the workers used to be told by management that the waste they returned to the depot would be recycled, but this message came across as highly abstract. Then the company started putting pictures of the items that were made from recycled waste on the side of the garbage trucks. This led to a more tangible realization of what the waste was used for. 20

2. Job Meaningfulness

The vast majority of interviewees found their work meaningful, whether they were musicians, sales assistants, lawyers, or garbage collectors. Studies have shown that meaning is so important to people that they actively go about recrafting their jobs to enhance their sense of meaningfulness. 21 Often, this recrafting involves extending the impact or significance of their role for others. One example of this was sales assistants in a large retail store who listened to lonely elderly customers.

Organizations can encourage people to see their work as meaningful by demonstrating how jobs fit with the organization’s broader purpose or serve a wider, societal benefit. The priests we spoke to often explained how their ministry work in their local parishes contributed to the wider purpose of the church as a whole. In the same way, managers can be encouraged to show employees what their particular jobs contribute to the broader whole and how what they do will help others or create a lasting legacy. 22

Alongside this, we need to challenge the notion that meaningfulness can only arise from positive work experiences. Challenging, problematic, sad, or poignant 23 jobs have the potential to be richly generative of new insights and meaningfulness, and overlooking this risks upsetting the delicate balance of the meaningfulness ecosystem. Providing support to people at the end of their lives is a harrowing experience for nurses and clergy, yet they cited these times as among the most meaningful. The task for leaders is to acknowledge the problematic or negative side of some jobs and to provide appropriate support for employees doing them, yet to reveal in an honest way the benefits and broader contribution that such jobs make. 24

3. Task Meaningfulness

Given that jobs typically comprise a wide range of tasks, it stands to reason that some of these tasks will constitute a greater source of meaningfulness than others. 25 To illustrate, a priest will have responsibility for leading acts of worship, supporting sick and vulnerable individuals, developing community relations and activities, and probably a wide range of other tasks such as raising funds, managing assistants and volunteers, ensuring the upkeep of church buildings, and so on. In fact, the priests were the most hard-working group that we spoke to, with the majority working a seven-day week on a bewildering range of activities. Even much simpler jobs will involve several different tasks. One of the challenges facing organizations is to help people understand how the individual tasks they perform contribute to their job and to the organization as a whole.

When individuals described some of the sources of meaninglessness they faced in their work, they often talked about how to come to terms with the tedious, repetitive, or indeed purposeless work that is part of almost every job. For example, the stonemasons described how the first few months of their training involved learning to “square the stone,” which involves chiseling a large block of stone into a perfectly formed square with just a few millimeters of tolerance on each plane. As soon as they finished one, they had to start another, repeating this over and over until the master mason was satisfied that they had perfected the task. Only then were they allowed to work on more interesting and intricate carvings. Several described their feelings of boredom and futility; one said that he had taken 18 attempts to get the squaring of the stone correct. “It feels like you are never ever going to get better,” he recalled. Many felt like giving up at this point, fearing that stonemasonry was not for them. It was only in later years, as they looked back on this period in their working lives, that they could see the point of this detailed level of training as the first step on their path to more challenging and rewarding work.

Filling out forms, cited earlier, is another good example of meaningless work. Individuals in a wide range of occupations all reported that what they perceived as “mindless bureaucracy” sapped the meaningfulness from their work. For instance, most of the academics we spoke to were highly negative about the amount of form filling the job entailed. One said, “I was dropping spreadsheets into a huge black hole.”

Where organizations successfully managed the context within which these necessary but tedious tasks were undertaken, the tasks came to be perceived not exactly as meaningful, but equally as not meaningless. Another academic said, “I’m pretty good with tedious work, as long as it’s got a larger meaning.”

4. Interactional Meaningfulness

There is widespread agreement that people find their work meaningful in an interactional context in two ways: 26 First, when they are in contact with others who benefit from their work; and, second, in an environment of supportive interpersonal relationships. 27 As we saw earlier, negative interactional experiences — such as bullying by a manager, lack of respect or recognition, or forcing reduced contact with the beneficiaries of work — all drive up a sense of meaninglessness, since the employee receives negative cues from others about the value they place on the employee’s work. 28 The challenge here is for leaders to create a supportive, respectful, and inclusive work climate among colleagues, between employees and managers, and between organizational staff and work beneficiaries. It also involves recognizing the importance of creating space in the working day for meaningful interactions where employees are able to give and receive positive feedback, communicate a sense of shared values and belonging, and appreciate how their work has positive impacts on others.

Not surprisingly, the most striking examples of the impact of interactional meaningfulness on people came from the caring occupations included in our study: nurses and clergy. In these cases, there was very frequent contact between the individual and the direct beneficiaries of his or her work, most often in the context of supporting and healing people at times of great vulnerability in their lives. Witnessing firsthand, and hearing directly, about how their work had changed people’s lives created a work environment conducive to meaningfulness. Although prior research 29 has similarly highlighted the importance of such direct contact for enhancing work’s meaningfulness, we also found that past or future generations, or imagined future beneficiaries, could play a role. This was the case for the stonemasons who felt connected to past and future generations of masons through their bankers’ marks on the back of the stones and for the garbage collectors who could envisage how their work contributed to the living environment for future generations.

Holistic Meaningfulness

The four elements of the meaningfulness ecosystem combine to enable a state of holistic meaningfulness, where the synergistic benefits of multiple sources of meaningfulness can be realized. 30 Although it is possible for someone to describe meaningful moments in terms of any one of the subsystems, meaningfulness is enriched when more than one or all of these are present. 31 A sales assistant, for example, described how she had been working with a team on the refurbishment of her store: “We’d all been there until 2 a.m., working together moving stuff, everyone had contributed and stayed late and helped, it was a good time. We were exhausted but we still laughed and then the next morning we were all bright in our uniforms, it was a lovely feeling, just like a little family coming together. The day [the store] opened, it did bring tears to my eyes. We had a little gathering and a speech; the managers said ‘thank you’ to everybody because everyone had contributed.”

Finding work meaningful is an experience that reaches beyond the workplace and into the realm of the individual’s wider personal life. It can be a very profound, moving, and even uncomfortable experience. It arises rarely and often in unexpected ways; it gives people pause for thought — not just concerning work but what life itself is all about. In experiencing work as meaningful, we cease to be workers or employees and relate as human beings, reaching out in a bond of common humanity to others. For organizations seeking to manage meaningfulness, the ethical and moral responsibility is great, since they are bridging the gap between work and personal life.

Yet the benefits for individuals and organizations that accrue from meaningful workplaces can be immense. Organizations that succeed in this are more likely to attract, retain, and motivate the employees they need to build sustainably for the future, and to create the kind of workplaces where human beings can thrive.

About the Authors

Catherine Bailey is a professor in the department of business and management at the University of Sussex in Brighton, U.K. Adrian Madden is a senior lecturer in the department of human resources and organizational behavior at the business school of the University of Greenwich in London.

1. V.E. Frankl, “Man’s Search For Meaning” (Boston: Beacon Press, 1959).

2. W.F. Cascio, “Changes in Workers, Work, and Organizations,” vol. 12, chap. 16 in “Handbook of Psychology,” ed. W. Borman, R. Klimoski, and D. Ilgen (New York: Wiley, 2003).

3. M.G. Pratt and B.E. Ashforth, “Fostering Meaningfulness in Working and at Work,” in “Positive Organizational Scholarship,” ed. K.S. Cameron, J.E. Dutton, and R.E. Quinn (San Francisco: Berrett-Koehler, 2003).

4. C. Bailey, R. Yeoman, A. Madden, M. Thompson, and G. Kerridge, “A Narrative Evidence Synthesis of Meaningful Work: Progress and Research Agenda” (paper to be presented at the U.S. Academy of Management Conference, Anaheim, California, Aug. 5-9, 2016); and M.G. Pratt, C. Pradies, and D.A. Lepisto, “Doing Well, Doing Good, and Doing With: Organizational Practices For Effectively Cultivating Meaningful Work,” in “Purpose and Meaning in the Workplace,” ed. B.J. Dik, Z.S. Byrne, and M.F. Steger (Washington, D.C.: American Psychological Association, 2013), 173-196.

5. We have defined meaningful work as arising “when an individual perceives an authentic connection between their work and a broader transcendent life purpose beyond the self.” See C. Bailey and A. Madden, “Time Reclaimed: Temporality and the Experience of Meaningful Work,” Work, Employment, & Society (October 2015), doi: 10.1177/0950017015604100. Meaningfulness is therefore different from engagement, which is defined as a positive work-related attitude comprising vigor, dedication, and absorption. See W.B. Schaufeli, “What Is Engagement?,” in “Employee Engagement in Theory and Practice,” ed. C. Truss, K. Alfes, R. Delbridge, A. Shantz, and E. Soane (London: Routledge, 2014), 15-35.

6. K. Arnold, N. Turner, J. Barling, E.K. Kelloway, and M.C. McKee, “Transformational Leadership and Psychological Wellbeing: The Mediating Role of Meaningful Work,” Journal of Occupational Health Psychology 12, no. 3 (July 2007): 193-203.

7. M. Lips-Wiersma and S. Wright, “Measuring the Meaning of Meaningful Work: Development and Validation of the Comprehensive Meaningful Work Scale,” Group & Organization Management 37, no. 5 (October 2012): 665-685.

8. B.D. Rosso, K.H. Dekas, and A. Wrzesniewski, “On the Meaning of Work: A Theoretical Integration and Review,” Research in Organizational Behavior 30 (2010): 91-127.

9. A. Maslow, “Motivation and Personality” (New York: Harper and Row, 1954).

10. H. Ersner-Hershfield, J.A. Mikels, S.J. Sullivan, and L.L. Carstensen, “Poignancy: Mixed Emotional Experience in the Face of Meaningful Endings,” Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 94, no. 1 (January 2008): 158-167.

11. B.S. Held, “The Tyranny of the Positive Attitude in America: Observation and Speculation,” Journal of Clinical Psychology 58, no. 9 (September 2002): 965-991.

12. J.S. Bunderson and J.A. Thompson, “The Call of the Wild: Zookeepers, Callings, and the Double-Edged Sword of Deeply Meaningful Work,” Administrative Science Quarterly 54, no.1 (March 2009): 32-57.

13. S. Cartwright and N. Holmes, “The Meaning of Work: The Challenge of Regaining Employee Engagement and Reducing Cynicism,” Human Resource Management Review 16, no. 2 (June 2006): 199-208.

14. F. Herzberg, “The Motivation-Hygiene Concept and Problems of Manpower,” Personnel Administrator 27, no. 1 (1964): 3-7.

15. M. Lips-Wiersma and L. Morris, “Discriminating Between ‘Meaningful Work’ and the ‘Management of Meaning,’” Journal of Business Ethics 88, no. 3 (September 2009): 491-511.

18. N. Chalofsky, “Meaningful Workplaces” (San Francisco: Wiley, 2010); and F.O. Walumbwa, A.L. Christensen, and M.K. Muchiri, “Transformational Leadership and Meaningful Work,” in Dik, Byrne, and Steger, “Purpose and Meaning,” 197-215.

19. J.M. Podolny, R. Khurana, and M. Hill-Popper, “Revisiting the Meaning of Leadership,” Research in Organizational Behavior 26 (2004), doi:10.1016/S0191-3085(04)26001-4.

20. Organizational theorist Marya L. Besharov highlights the challenge of managing in an organizational setting where employees have differing views over which values matter the most and points out the “dark side” of seeking to impose a unitary organizational ideology on employees. Based on our research, we take the view here that in general terms employees welcome a broad statement of organizational purpose and values that gives them the space to interpret it in a way that is meaningful for them. See M.L. Besharov, “The Relational Ecology of Identification: How Organizational Identification Emerges When Individuals Hold Divergent Values,” Academy of Management Journal 57, no. 5 (October 2014): 1485-1512.

21. A. Wrzesniewski and J.E. Dutton, “Crafting a Job: Revisioning Employees as Active Crafters of Their Work,” Academy of Management Review 26, no. 2 (April 2001): 179-201; and J.M. Berg, J.E. Dutton, and A. Wrzesniewski, “Job Crafting and Meaningful Work,” in Dik, Byrne, and Steger, “Purpose and Meaning,” 81-104.

22. B.E. Ashforth and G.E. Kreiner, “Profane or Profound? Finding Meaning in Dirty Work,” in Dik, Byrne, and Steger, “Purpose and Meaning,” 127-150.

23. Held, “Tyranny of the Positive Attitude”; and Ersner-Hershfield et al., “Poignancy: Mixed Emotional Experience.”

24. Lips-Wiersma and Morris, “Discriminating Between ‘Meaningful Work.’”

25. A. Grant, “Relational Job Design and the Motivation to Make a Prosocial Difference,” Academy of Management Review 32, no. 2 (2007): 393-417.

26. Lips-Wiersma and Wright, “Measuring the Meaning.”

27. A. Grant, “Leading With Meaning: Beneficiary Contact, Prosocial Impact, and the Performance Effects of Transformational Leadership,” Academy of Management Journal 55, no. 2 (April 2012): 458-476.

28. A. Wrzesniewski, J.E. Dutton, and G. Debebe, “Interpersonal Sensemaking and the Meaning of Work,” Research in Organizational Behavior 25 (2003): 93-135.

29. Grant, “Leading With Meaning.”

30. Lips-Wiersma and Wright, “Measuring the Meaning.”

i. Bailey and Madden, “Time Reclaimed: Temporality and the Experience.”

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good research work meaning

Speck Kevin Pratt


Research: Definition, Characteristics, Goals, Approaches

research definition

Research is an original and systematic investigation undertaken to increase existing knowledge and understanding of the unknown to establish facts and principles.

Some people consider research as a voyage of discovery of new knowledge.

It comprises the creation of ideas and the generation of new knowledge that leads to new and improved insights and the development of new materials, devices, products, and processes.

It should have the potential to produce sufficiently relevant results to increase and synthesize existing knowledge or correct and integrate previous knowledge.

Good reflective research produces theories and hypotheses and benefits any intellectual attempt to analyze facts and phenomena.

The word ‘research’ perhaps originates from the old French word “recerchier” which meant to ‘ search again.’ It implicitly assumes that the earlier search was not exhaustive and complete; hence, a repeated search is called for.

In practice, ‘research’ refers to a scientific process of generating an unexplored horizon of knowledge, aiming at discovering or establishing facts, solving a problem, and reaching a decision. Keeping the above points in view, we arrive at the following definition of research:

Research Definition

Characteristics of research, 3 basic operations of research, research motivation – what makes one motivated to do research, 9 qualities of research, goals of research, research approaches, areas of research, precautions in research.

Research is a scientific approach to answering a research question, solving a research problem, or generating new knowledge through a systematic and orderly collection, organization, and analysis of data to make research findings useful in decision-making.

When do we call research scientific? Any research endeavor is said to be scientific if

The chief characteristic which distinguishes the scientific method from other methods of acquiring knowledge is that scientists seek to let reality speak for itself, supporting a theory when a theory’s predictions are confirmed and challenging a theory when its predictions prove false.

Scientific research has multidimensional functions, characteristics, and objectives.

Keeping these issues in view, we assert that research in any field or discipline:

Keeping this in mind that research in any field of inquiry is undertaken to provide information to support decision-making in its respective area, we summarize some desirable characteristics of research:

Scientific research in any field of inquiry involves three basic operations:

3 basic operations of research

If you note down, for example, the reading habit of newspapers of a group of residents in a community, that would be your data collection.

If you then divide these residents into three categories, ‘regular,’ ‘occasional,’ and ‘never,’ you have performed a simple data analysis. Your findings may now be presented in a report form.

A reader of your report knows what percentage of the community people never read any newspaper and so on.

Here are some examples that demonstrate what research is:

The above examples are all researching whether the instrument is an electronic microscope, hospital records, a microcomputer, a questionnaire, or a checklist.

A person may be motivated to undertake research activities because

One might research ensuring.

At the individual level, the results of the research are used by many:

The above activities are all outcomes of the research.

All involved in the above processes will benefit from the research results. There is hardly any action in everyday life that does not depend upon previous research.

Research in any field of inquiry provides us with the knowledge and skills to solve problems and meet the challenges of a fast-paced decision-making environment.

Good research generates dependable data. It is conducted by professionals and can be used reliably for decision-making.

It is thus of crucial importance that research should be made acceptable to the audience for which research should possess some desirable qualities in terms of its;

Purpose clearly defined

Research process detailed, research design planner, ethical issues considered, limitations revealed, adequate analysis ensured, findings unambiguously presented, conclusions and recommendations justified., the researcher’s experiences were reflected..

We enumerate below a few qualities that good research should possess.

Good research must have its purposes clearly and unambiguously defined.

The problem involved or the decision to be made should be sharply delineated as clearly as possible to demonstrate the credibility of the research.

The research procedures should be described in sufficient detail to permit other researchers to repeat the research later.

Failure to do so makes it difficult or impossible to estimate the validity and reliability of the results. This weakens the confidence of the readers.

Any recommendations from such research justifiably get little attention from the policymakers and implementation.

The procedural design of the research should be carefully planned to yield results that are as objective as possible.

In doing so, care must be taken so that the sample’s representativeness is ensured, relevant literature has been thoroughly searched, experimental controls, whenever necessary, have been followed, and the personal bias in selecting and recording data have been minimized.

A research design should always safeguard against causing mental and physical harm not only to the participants but also those who belong to their organizations.

Careful consideration must also be given to research situations when there is a possibility for exploitation, invasion of privacy, and loss of dignity of all those involved in the study.

The researcher should report with complete honesty and frankness any flaws in procedural design; he followed and provided estimates of their effects on the findings.

This enhances the readers’ confidence and makes the report acceptable to the audience. One can legitimately question the value of research where no limitations are reported.

Adequate analysis reveals the significance of the data and helps the researcher to check the reliability and validity of his estimates.

Data should, therefore, be analyzed with proper statistical rigor to assist the researcher in reaching firm conclusions.

When statistical methods have been employed, the probability of error should be estimated, and criteria of statistical significance applied.

The presentation of the results should be comprehensive, easily understood by the readers, and organized so that the readers can readily locate the critical and central findings.

Proper research always specifies the conditions under which the research conclusions seem valid.

Therefore, it is important that any conclusions drawn and recommendations made should be solely based on the findings of the study.

No inferences or generalizations should be made beyond the data. If this were not followed, the objectivity of the research would tend to decrease, resulting in confidence in the findings.

The research report should contain information about the qualification of the researchers .

If the researcher is experienced, has a good reputation in research, and is a person of integrity, his report is likely to be highly valued. The policymakers feel confident in implementing the recommendation made in such reports.

goals of research

The primary goal or purpose of research in any field of inquiry; is to add to what is known about the phenomenon under investigation through applying scientific methods.

The link between the 4 goals of research and the questions raised in reaching these goals.

Let’s try to understand the 4 goals of the research.

1. Exploration and Explorative Research

Exploration is finding out about some previously unexamined phenomenon. In other words, an explorative study structures and identifies new problems.

The explorative study aims to gain familiarity with a phenomenon or gain new insights into it.

Exploration is particularly useful when researchers lack a clear idea of the problems they meet during their study.

Through exploration, researchers attempt to

Exploration is achieved through what we call exploratory research.

The end of an explorative study comes when the researchers are convinced that they have established the major dimensions of the research task.

2. Description and Descriptive Research

Many research activities consist of gathering information on some topic of interest. The description refers to these data-based information-gathering activities. Descriptive studies portray precisely the characteristics of a particular individual, situation, or group.

Here we attempt to describe situations and events through studies, which we refer to as descriptive research.

Such research is undertaken when much is known about the problem under investigation.

Descriptive studies try to discover answers to the questions of who, what, when, where, and sometimes how.

Such research studies may involve the collection of data and the creation of distribution of the number of times the researcher observes a single event or characteristic, known as a research variable.

A descriptive study may also involve the interaction of two or more variables and attempts to observe if there is any relationship between the variables under investigation.

Research that examines such a relationship is sometimes called correlational study. It is correlational because it attempts to relate (i.e., co-relate) two or more variables.

A descriptive study may be feasible to answer the questions of the following types:

Although the data description in descriptive research is factual, accurate, and systematic, the research cannot describe what caused a situation.

Thus, descriptive research cannot be used to create a causal relationship where one variable affects another.

In other words, descriptive research can be said to have a low requirement for internal validity. In sum, descriptive research deals with everything that can be counted and studied.

But there are always restrictions on that. All research must impact the lives of the people around us.

For example, finding the most frequent disease that affects the people of a community falls under descriptive research.

But the research readers will have the hunch to know why this has happened and what to do to prevent that disease so that more people will live healthy life.

It dictates that we need a causal explanation of the situation under reference and a causal study vis-a-vis causal research.

3. Causal Explanation and Causal Research

Explanation reveals why and how something happens.

An explanatory study goes beyond description and attempts to establish a cause-and-effect relationship between variables. It explains the reason for the phenomenon that the descriptive study observed.

Thus if a researcher finds that communities having larger family sizes have higher child death or that smoking is correlated with lung cancer, he is performing a descriptive study.

If he explains why it is so and tries to establish a cause-and-effect relationship, he is performing explanatory or causal research. The researcher uses theories or at-least hypotheses to account for the factors that caused a certain phenomenon.

Look at the following examples that fit causal studies:

4. Prediction and Predictive Research

Prediction seeks to answer: when and in what situations will occur if we can provide a plausible explanation for the event in question.

However, the precise nature of the relationship between explanation and prediction has been a subject of debate.

One view is that explanation and prediction are the same phenomena, except that prediction precedes the event while the explanation takes place after the event has occurred.

Another view is that explanation and prediction are fundamentally different processes.

We need not be concerned with this debate here but can simply state that in addition to being able to explain an event after it has occurred, we would also be able to predict when it will occur.

4 research approaches

There are two main approaches to doing research.

The first is the basic approach, which mostly pertains to academic research. Many people view this as pure research or fundamental research.

The research implemented through the second approach is variously known as applied research, action research, operations research, or a contract research.

Also, the third category of research, evaluative research, is important in many applications. All these approaches have different purposes influencing the nature of the respective research.

Lastly, precautions in research are required for thorough research.

So, 4 research approaches are;

The most important fields of research, among others, are;

Whether a researcher is doing applied or basic research or research of any other form, he or she must take necessary precautions to ensure that the research he or she is doing is relevant, timely, efficient, accurate, and ethical.

The research is considered relevant if it anticipates the kinds of information that will be required by decision-makers, scientists, or policymakers.

Timely research is completed in time to influence decisions.

good research work meaning

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The search for 'meaning' at work

(Credit: Getty Images)

Ask workers what’s most important to them in a job, and first on the list generally is pay cheque – perhaps obviously. But in a very close second, as data is beginning to show, people want their work to have meaning.

A 2020 McKinsey & Company surveyed showed 82% of employees believe it’s important their company has a purpose ; ideally, one that contributes to society and creates meaningful work. And when a company has purpose, its people do, too. Separate McKinsey research from 2022 showed 70% of employees say their personal sense of purpose is defined by their work , and when that work feels meaningful, they perform better, are much more committed and are about half as likely to go looking for a new job. 

The search for meaning at work is a relatively new idea, says Aaron De Smet, a senior partner at McKinsey. The Industrial Revolution, he says, made work very “transactional”: people worked and got paid money to live, with no greater purpose required or expected. But over time, as decent working conditions and a pay cheque became simple fundamentals, workers began to want more. In 2018, a survey of American professionals showed nine out of 10 workers would trade a percentage of their earnings for work that felt more meaningful . This drive for meaning is especially true of the newest generation to enter the workforce; in a survey of Gen Z workers from jobs site Monster, 70% of respondents ranked purpose as more important than pay .

As people’s jobs have become a significant part of their identities – and the way they spend most of their time – occupations have also become the place where they hope to derive at least some of their life’s meaning. People might define meaning in many ways, whether that’s working in a glossy ‘dream job’ or using particular skills to perform a necessary role. But however people frame meaning, experts say that in the workplace of the future, making people feel that what they’re doing matters, matters more than ever. 

The modern search for meaning at work  

The desire for meaningful work has been a slow and steady evolution that’s happened as society has become, on the whole, wealthier. As people’s basic needs for food and shelter were met, and the nature of work changed, people began to want more from their daily grinds. 

In many industries, the more rote, repetitive jobs have disappeared. “Automation is happening pretty quickly, which is why I think things are now coming to this tipping point where meaning matters a lot,” says De Smet.  

Companies are increasingly recognising that workers are seeking meaning, and trying to provide ways to further workers' experiences and skills (Credit: Getty Images)

Companies are increasingly recognising that workers are seeking meaning, and trying to provide ways to further workers' experiences and skills (Credit: Getty Images)

Stephanie Bot, a clinical psychologist and co-founder of Workright, a Toronto-based workplace mental-health consultancy, notes that for a lot of people, identity has become closely tied to work. What we do, in many ways, defines who we are .  “As the type of jobs we're in have evolved, people are now looking for a greater sense of self,” she says. It makes people feel like their lives have meaning, she adds, when their work does.

People also spend most of their time at work – it’s the activity that takes up the biggest chunk of waking hours – and even when they’re not actively working, many people are still thinking about work. The majority of younger people, in particular, report that it’s difficult to disengage . It becomes even more important, then, that this place people spend most of their time and mental energy mean something. "If people don't have outside time to get those needs met elsewhere,” says Bot, “they need to get more out of work.”

In the wake of the pandemic, meaningful work has become more important to people than ever before. It was a catalyst that realigned many people’s priorities. “Two-thirds of US employees said Covid caused them to reflect on their purpose in life ,” says De Smet, of 2021 McKinsey research. “Everybody took this moment to step back and reassess. People were taking stock of their lives, and asking, ‘Does what I do matter? I should really spend my time on things that matter.’”

People’s search for meaning in their work contributed to the Great Resignation – a phenomenon that’s seen workers leave their jobs in droves throughout the past two years . “Some people said, ‘I’m not getting enough meaning from work, I want to work somewhere my purpose is more fulfilled by the work I do’,” says De Smet. “Or, they said, ‘I don’t feel the work I do is important to anyone. I want to go somewhere it feels like my work is valued by my organisation’.”

The meaning of meaning

But what does meaning, well, mean? There’s no set definition, says Bot, because “how the person perceives their work is what makes it meaningful or not”.

There are a number of ways work can become meaningful, she says, some more obvious than others. “The obvious is when people are doing work that they feel contributes to the betterment of humanity,” she says. “But you don’t have to be feeding the disadvantaged in order to feel like your work is meaningful.”

People were taking stock of their lives, and asking, ‘Does what I do matter? I should really spend my time on things that matter’ – Aaron De Smet

For some people, work is meaningful if it gives them the chance to use their skills or flex creative muscles. “People should be doing work that’s aligned with their interests and their talents,” says Bot, “because alignment also creates meaning. If I feel like I'm using the best parts of me to make a contribution to whatever it is, I'm going to feel good about myself.”

Meaning is also derived from feeling like one’s presence matters – not just to the company’s goals or the bottom line, but to other members of someone’s team. “If they feel like they're part of a larger community, that’s meaningful,” continues Bot. “Since the pandemic, I'm hearing a lot more, ‘my work is soulless’. I have a strong feeling that is because they've lost their sense of community. Isolation interferes with meaning.”

A 2022 working paper by Brookings showed that relationships are, in fact, the most important determinant of meaningfulness at work . And those who feel a strong sense of relatedness, and thus get greater meaning from their jobs, are likely to put in more effort, according to the research.

None of this is limited to knowledge-work jobs. People in positions that seem somewhat lower-profile want to feel like they’re contributing to something larger than themselves, too, says Peter Watkins, UK-based university relations director of the CFA Institute, a finance education non-profit. “It’s important that people are able to talk about their job with pride,” says Watkins, “and that is connected to knowing that their small part in a larger organisation is leading to something a bit more worthwhile.”

Any job can have meaning, agrees Bot, as long as it feels like it feeds into a greater purpose. “Look, shelves have to be stocked,” she says, just as much as any other job needs to be done. “It all helps to meet the needs of the people. Every job matters, because every job is necessary.” 

A job’s meaning can also have nothing to do with the job itself. For some, a pay cheque is just the thing that facilitates the joyful parts of life. For instance, if a person’s favourite thing to do is travel the world, any job has meaning in the sense that it pays for plane tickets.

“I think a lot of people are sort of reclaiming that time outside of work,” says Bot. It’s a work-to-live mentality: “They go to work and do what they need to do, but then go home and see family, meet with some volunteer group, do the activities that make them feel good and are supportive of their health.”

The search for meaning in a job doesn't just apply to knowledge work – people want to feel like they're contributing something bigger than themselves (Credit: Getty Images)

The search for meaning in a job doesn't just apply to knowledge work – people want to feel like they're contributing something bigger than themselves (Credit: Getty Images)

Whatever it means, Gen Z wants it

Although the pandemic may have accelerated things, a desire for meaningful work has been growing for a long time, strengthening in each subsequent generation. And as Gen Z enters the workforce, say experts, young people fully expect their jobs to deliver .

In an analysis of workers across half a dozen countries, De Smet and his colleagues found that nearly 90% of workers between the ages of 18 and 25 said having a positive societal and environmental impact in their career was very high on their list of priorities. 

Watkins believes young people are certainly seeking something slightly different in employment. “We're seeing evidence of meaningful and positive-impact careers being more important, potentially, to this generation than earlier generations,” he says. 

But he also believes new workers can derive meaning in other ways, like personal development. A job is meaningful, he explains, if it furthers a worker’s skills and experience. Organisations are recognising this, he adds; it’s the firms that offer meaningful enrichment opportunities and the promise of a larger positive impact that are landing top talent.

“Companies are becoming very savvy to this and realising, for example, that they need to demonstrate a long-term training commitment toward new recruits. Firms are aware that they need to kind of reassure them: join us and we will take you through a long period of nurturing,” he says. “[Another] way that companies are attracting talent is to say, ‘The work that you're doing will impact the environment, it will impact society around us’.” 

The best way for companies to make workers feel their efforts matter, says Bot, is to find creative ways to show it. “People need to see the links of the work that they're doing to the greater good,” she says. Research shows that workers who speak to satisfied customers, even for a few minutes, feel a sense of greater purpose and have a tendency to perform better as a result. Companies need to let employees know they are valued, adds Bot. “They have to be finding ways to show them that they’re appreciated, and what they're doing matters.”

And whether companies can manage that also matters, because it’ll determine whether workers stay or go. In a post-pandemic world, and as Gen Z enters offices in force, meaningful work has ceased to be a luxury limited to those who are literally, as Bot puts it, “solving global hunger”. Instead, it’s something average workers want. 

Whether it’s because they’re making a measurable difference, because they feel like their work aligns with who they are, or simply because what they’re doing pays to support their lifestyle, workers now want to know their work has meaning.  

good research work meaning

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What is Research: Definition, Methods, Types & Examples

What is Research

The search for knowledge is closely linked to the object of study; that is, to the reconstruction of the facts that will provide an explanation to an observed event and that at first sight can be considered as a problem. It is very human to seek answers and satisfy our curiosity. Let’s talk about research.

Content Index

What is Research?

What are the characteristics of research.

Qualitative methods

Quantitative methods, 8 tips for conducting accurate research.

Research is the careful consideration of study regarding a particular concern or problem using scientific methods. According to the American sociologist Earl Robert Babbie, “research is a systematic inquiry to describe, explain, predict, and control the observed phenomenon. It involves inductive and deductive methods.”

Inductive methods analyze an observed event, while deductive methods verify the observed event. Inductive approaches are associated with qualitative research , and deductive methods are more commonly associated with quantitative analysis.

Research is conducted with a purpose to:

What is the purpose of research?

There are three main purposes:

Here is a comparative analysis chart for a better understanding:

It begins by asking the right questions and choosing an appropriate method to investigate the problem. After collecting answers to your questions, you can analyze the findings or observations to draw reasonable conclusions.

When it comes to customers and market studies, the more thorough your questions, the better the analysis. You get essential insights into brand perception and product needs by thoroughly collecting customer data through surveys and questionnaires . You can use this data to make smart decisions about your marketing strategies to position your business effectively.

To make sense of your study and get insights faster, it helps to use a research repository as a single source of truth in your organization and manage your research data in one centralized repository.

Types of research methods and Examples

what is research

Research methods are broadly classified as Qualitative and Quantitative .

Both methods have distinctive properties and data collection methods.

Qualitative research is a method that collects data using conversational methods, usually open-ended questions . The responses collected are essentially non-numerical. This method helps a researcher understand what participants think and why they think in a particular way.

Types of qualitative methods include:

Quantitative methods deal with numbers and measurable forms . It uses a systematic way of investigating events or data. It answers questions to justify relationships with measurable variables to either explain, predict, or control a phenomenon.

Types of quantitative methods include:

Remember, it is only valuable and useful when it is valid, accurate, and reliable. Incorrect results can lead to customer churn and a decrease in sales.

It is essential to ensure that your data is:

Gather insights

What is a research - tips

Review your goals before making any conclusions about your study. Remember how the process you have completed and the data you have gathered help answer your questions. Ask yourself if what your analysis revealed facilitates the identification of your conclusions and recommendations.



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10 Research Question Examples to Guide your Research Project

Published on October 30, 2022 by Shona McCombes .

The research question is one of the most important parts of your research paper , thesis or dissertation . It’s important to spend some time assessing and refining your question before you get started.

The exact form of your question will depend on a few things, such as the length of your project, the type of research you’re conducting, the topic , and the research problem . However, all research questions should be focused, specific, and relevant to a timely social or scholarly issue.

Once you’ve read our guide on how to write a research question , you can use these examples to craft your own.

Note that the design of your research question can depend on what method you are pursuing. Here are a few options for qualitative, quantitative, and stastical research questions.

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Shona McCombes

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Other students also liked, writing strong research questions | criteria & examples, how to choose a dissertation topic | 8 steps to follow, evaluating sources | methods & examples, what is your plagiarism score.

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Research practice encompasses the generic methodologies that are common to all fields of research and scholarly endeavor. The term 'good research practice' describes the expected norms of professional behavior of researchers.

As Royal Society Te Apārangi, we are legislated to “provide infrastructure and other support for the professional needs of scientists, technologists and humanities scholars”.  

This section of the website seeks to be a point of reference for researchers and scholars seeking to identify good  quality research practices to follow.

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