Research is a major part of the design process and is a very complex subject area of its own. The main aim of conducting research is “to increase the stock of knowledge, including knowledge of humans, culture and society, and the use of this stock of knowledge to devise new applications”. In your Design and Technology course, your research will be used to find the best solution to a problem given the specific limitations (such as time, equipment and funding) you have to work with.

Collecting well information from farmer (10687346474)
By Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (Collecting well information from farmer) [CC BY 2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons
Surveys A survey is used to collect quantitive data on a given topic, issue or situation. They can be conducted on paper, online via a HTML form or email or by telephone.
Interviews In an interview, research is typically conducted face-to-face. It can be between two or more people and can be formal or informal. A formal interview will typically involve questions being asked from a set of questions. An informal interview may involve some set questions but will typically involve questions dependent on answers previously given. In an interview, the researcher (or interviewer) will ask a series of questions on a subject or number of subjects in order to gather the opinions or thoughts of the person or people selected. They can be conducted face-to-face, by telephone, email or video conference and will generally provide an opportunity for more in depth questioning and accurate interpretation of the responses.
Observations An observation is simply the act or looking and noting observations. The researcher does not intervene with the natural dynamics of the situation. Often in conducting research by observation, elements are recorded on a tally sheet. An example of research conducted by observation is counting the number of vehicles passing on a stretch of road at a particular times of the day.
Experimentation An experiment is an activity in which you would conduct a set of controlled tests to verify an idea or hypothesise. It is particularly an excellent way to conduct research on materials. It is important to conduct an experiment in a scientific way.
Questionnaire A questionnaire (and surveys) are an inexpensive way to gather information. It is a a document with a series of questions which is used to gather information. Questionnaires are normally used to gather information from a large number of people.
Statistical analysis Statistical analysis can be used to analyse data gathered from any form of research.  It assists in drawing conclusions from research and data gathered.
Information Research Information research refers to the methods used to gather information. It includes paper and electronic media.