The major and obvious question that is still begged is, of course, that of what is meant by the term 'research'. The beginning of an answer, albeit evasive, is to say that it depends on why we want to know: to the extent that reality is a personal and social construct, there is no exclusive and definitive answer. Nevertheless, definitions abound, and we offer a small selection here just to establish an initial framework (to be firmed up in Chapter 3 by when some key implications and manifestations will have been discussed). Brumfit and Mitchell (1989: 6), for instance, start with the idea that 'a "researching attitude" may be defined as the systematization of curiosity', a view echoed by Boomer (1987: 9) who writes: 'Research is simply institutionalised and formalised thinking. It is doing self-consciously what comes naturally'. Nunan (1992b: 3) offers the following more concrete definition: 'Research is a systematic process of enquiry consisting of 3 elements ... (I) a question, problem or hypothesis


(2) data (3) analysis and interpretation of data'. This is a useful view but, as we shall see during the course of this book, further questions will be raised as to whether all three are in fact necessary, and if so in what varying sequences they might appear in any individual research design. Stenhouse (quoted in the Rudduck and Hopkins, 1985, collection of his writings) considers that 'research should underwrite speculation and undermine assertion' and, more contentiously (Stenhouse, 1988) 'using research means doing research'. A broad view is taken by Stake (1995: 97): 'Research is not just the domain of scientists, it is the domain of craftspersons and artists as well, all who would study and interpret'. The Guardian (8 November 1995) has yet another perspective: 'reform [in education, law, social housing ... ] without research is a dangerous exercise'. As a final quotation for purposes of this introduction, Hopkins (1993: 9) conceives of research - by teachers - as 'systematic self-con!)cious enquiry with the purpose of understanding and improving their practice'. There are obviously a number of recurring thematic strands here, particularly to do with formalization, self-awareness, change (Hopkins' 'improvement'), questioning and accessibility. A short brainstorm for the term 'research' among the authors' colleagues and students turned up similar points, and revealed a number of beliefs and assumptions: systematization; problem or data first; the testing of hypotheses; proof; objectivity; research relevance; replicability; going public on outcomes; accountability; and the distinction between research, evaluation and development.