chapter  4
15 Pages

Following rules

The ways research is conducted, the requirements for reporting on it and how the wider academic community evaluates it, all depend on a framework of rules. A process of inquiry is a process of inquiry precisely because it follows certain rules of procedure. Rules define standards of acceptable and unacceptable research behaviour. So if we want to understand the nature of academic research, we need to look at its rules. The rules and norms of behaviour tell us something about the underlying values of the research. They also reflect the values prevalent in the societal context and the concerns of the community at large. The rules and values embody underlying assumptions about the nature of reality, the nature of knowledge and the relationship between the two; and they determine what counts as valid knowledge. They also determine what counts as a valid method of investigation. The methods used and the theories about which methods should be used (methodologies) are intimately related to and reflect the rules of research. Yet the rules go much further. Research includes not only the investigation, but also how that investigation is communicated through publication and other forms of dissemination, how the research is funded and evaluated, and indeed whether the research takes place at all. All of these are founded on the rules of research behaviour. So fundamental to any understanding of the nature of research is an understanding of the rules of research.