Common Mistakes Researchers Make

A research process can take months or even years, depending on the subject matter. Therefore, time and effort spent on the research process should not be wasted. However, many young researchers, even some professional researchers, make mistakes from the beginning of the research process that lead the project in the wrong direction. In some cases, even if the researcher realizes the mistake, it is too late to change anything. In this article, we will look at some of the most common mistakes researchers make during research and how avoiding those mistakes can save the project.

Is the topic worth researching?

The first common mistake starts with the idea of conducting particular research. Every research project is created to find a solution to a problem. But some topics do not really require conducting research. Allocating resources to a project and then realizing that it is not going to take you anywhere is a mistake most newcomers make. In order to avoid this mistake, the researcher should analyze the topic thoroughly before conducting research on that subject matter. In some cases, many research projects are available on the topic, and conducting another research is pointless since you will most certainly get the same result. Therefore, it is important to have a good knowledge of the topic while writing a research proposal. Writing a research proposal is important in the sense that it lays out the plans and details and lets you double-check if you really need to go ahead with that research. One of the most important aspects you should consider before the research is determining how much time you need for the project.

Confusing research goals

After determining a research topic, the most crucial part of the process is setting research goals. The subject matter can be very interesting, but a failure in setting proper goals may not let you get answers to your questions. Ask yourself what you really want to know. Considering you need to follow your goals throughout the whole process, those goals can make or break the project. Well-defined goals lead the project to success.

Not brainstorming

No matter how many great ideas you have, you need to discuss them with someone or a group before you start realizing them. We do not see our mistakes most of the time before someone points them out to us. Fellow researchers may help you see flaws in your research goals. Brainstorming allows you to get new perspectives and is especially important if you want to carry a research on a serious topic.

Choosing research methods

Qualitative and quantitative methods are two main types of research methods. The quantitative method deals with numeric data – data that is quantifiable, while qualitative research allows researchers to get insights into human behavior, attitudes, opinions, and feelings. Some research projects require only one of them, but in other instances, researchers should use both of those methods for the best results. They sometimes fail in choosing the right method. In some cases, it is required to use both methods, but the researcher goes ahead with only one of them.

Choosing target audience

A target audience is a group of people who share common interests, have similar or the same goals, and usually belong to the same demographics. In the research context, they are people that face the problems your research wants to resolve. In other words, they are your potential research participants. You may gather a lot of participants for your project, but the quantity is not important if those people have little to do with your target audience. Collecting data just for data’s sake is among the common mistakes researchers make. In order to avoid the problem, all research participants should be carefully selected and meet your research requirements.


Both quantitative and qualitative data collection methods utilize a set of questions to find answers. Researchers organize interviews, surveys, and focus group discussions, and the questions prepared by them are as important as choosing the right target audience members. Researchers must pay attention to the questions they prepare. The questions should be to the point, ignite discussions, and avoid negativity towards the participants. If it is qualitative research, questions should be open-ended and let the participant share all they want to share. Using filler questions is one of the mistakes researchers make. If the question would not let you get answers to anything important, just avoid using that question because putting too much information on paper may overwhelm the participant.


Researcher bias is one of the most commonly discussed topics in research. While it may be difficult to avoid all forms of bias in the research, researchers should try their best not to let their bias influence the outcome. Letting judgment overshadow real information is not something just young researchers do. Professional researchers are also not immune to biases.

Not taking notes or recording

Note-taking is perhaps one of the best ways in connecting the dots. However, not all researchers practice it. Additionally, some researchers do not even record video or audio of the process. As a result, they miss small details, which can be crucial for the process.