Research Cycle Process and Theory explained

Research Cycle - Toolshero

Research Cycle: This article provides a practical explanation of the research cycle. The article begins with a list of the research stages and a list of questions that every researcher should ask themselves before and during the research process. After this introduction, you will find a detailed explanation about every phase of the research cycle, as well as tips and recommendations for starting researchers. Enjoy reading!

What is a research cycle?

A research cycle is a series of stages that guide the user through the process of conducting research. The cycle roughly consists of the following stages:

  1. Analyzing
  2. Determining research methods
  3. Data collection
  4. Evaluating and analyzing data
  5. Reporting and documenting
  6. Repeating

These stages will be discussed later in this article, including a description of the tasks and results from each stage. Because every research project is unique, it is important to constantly ask yourself the following questions:

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  • What am I going to research?
  • Why am I researching this?
  • Who am I going to research?
  • How am I going to conduct my research?
  • Where am I going to conduct my research?
  • When am I going to conduct my research?

Stages of the research cycle

Research is a vital process for gaining insights and discovering new information in a particular field. The research cycle involves several stages, including analyzing the problem, determining research methods, collecting data, analyzing and evaluating the data, reporting and documenting the findings, and repeating the process.

In this article, we will explore each of these stages in detail to help you understand the research cycle better.

Research Cycle stages - Toolshero

Figure 1 – Phases / Stages of the research cycle

Stage 1: Analyzing

The first stage of the research cycle is analyzing the problem or topic under investigation. Researchers need to define the research question, scope of the study, and background of the research topic, including its significance in the field.

This stage also requires a thorough review of existing literature and research and identifying any potential limitations. The definition of research questions is also part of this phase.

Stage 2: Determining Research Methods

The next stage is determining the research methods to be used, including research design, data collection methods, and data analysis techniques.

Researchers must select the most appropriate methods for their study based on the research question, data availability, the type of field research and time constraints.

Stage 3: Data Collection

The third stage involves collecting the data needed to answer the research question. Researchers must ensure that the data collection methods used are reliable and valid, and take into consideration ethical considerations such as obtaining informed consent from participants and maintaining confidentiality.

Stage 4: Evaluating and Analyzing Data

The fourth stage is evaluating and analyzing the data collected to answer the research question. This involves cleaning and organizing the data and conducting statistical analysis using appropriate software. The results of the analysis are then interpreted, and conclusions are drawn based on the findings.

Stage 5: Report and Document

The fifth stage is reporting and documenting the findings. Researchers must present the research question, methods, results, and conclusions in a clear and concise manner. The report must be well-organized and easy to read, and the findings presented in a way that is meaningful to the target audience. Researchers must also include a discussion of the study’s limitations and recommendations for future research.

Stage 6: Repeat

The final stage of the research cycle involves repeating the process to refine the research question and methods. Researchers may need to conduct additional studies to address any limitations or questions that arise from the initial study. This iterative process allows researchers to continually refine their methods and findings, leading to more accurate and reliable results.

In conclusion, the research cycle is a crucial process that requires careful consideration and planning. By following the research cycle, researchers can ensure that their studies are well-designed, valid, and reliable. This iterative process allows researchers to continually refine their methods and findings, contributing to the advancement of their field.

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Research Cycle tips and recommendations for the starting researcher

For anyone just starting out in the world of research, it can be a daunting task to navigate. However, with the right approach and mindset, starting researchers can set themselves up for success. Here are some tips and recommendations for those just beginning their research journey:

Start with a clear research question

Before beginning any research project, it is important to have a clear research question in mind. This will help guide your research and keep you focused throughout the process.

Conduct a thorough literature review

It is important to research existing literature on your topic to ensure that your research question has not already been answered or explored. Additionally, a literature review can provide valuable insights and information that can inform your research design and methods.

Choose appropriate research methodsinterviews, or experiments.

It is important to choose methods that are appropriate for your research question and can yield valid and reliable results.

Collect and analyze data carefully

Data collection and analysis are crucial components of any research project. It is important to ensure that your data is collected accurately and analyzed using appropriate statistical techniques.

Communicate your findings effectively

Once your research is complete, it is important to communicate your findings clearly and effectively to your target audience. This can include writing reports or creating presentations that are well-organized and easy to understand.

By following these tips and recommendations, starting researchers can set themselves up for success in their research endeavors. Remember to stay focused, be thorough, and communicate your findings effectively.

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Now It’s Your Turn

What do you think? Do you recognize the explanation about the research cycle? Do you recognize the cycle from times where you were working on a research topic, like your thesis? Do you think the cycle is complete and accurate as described? Or do you add new phases and elements to it? Which other tips and recommendations can you add?

Share your experience and knowledge in the comments box below.

More information

  1. Barick, R. (2021). Research Methods For Business Students. Retrieved 02/16/2024 from Udemy.
  2. Berman, P. S., Jones, J., & Udry, J. R. (2000). Research design. National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health.
  3. Fox, W., & Bayat, M. S. (2008). A guide to managing research. Juta and company Ltd.
  4. Verhoeven, N. (2007). Doing research. The Hows and Whys of Applied Research. Boom Lemma Uitgevers.

How to cite this article:
Janse, B. (2023). Research Cycle Process. Retrieved [insert date] from Toolshero:

Original publication date: 07/25/2023 | Last update: 01/02/2023

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Ben Janse
Article by:

Ben Janse

Ben Janse is a young professional working at ToolsHero as Content Manager. He is also an International Business student at Rotterdam Business School where he focusses on analyzing and developing management models. Thanks to his theoretical and practical knowledge, he knows how to distinguish main- and side issues and to make the essence of each article clearly visible.


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