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45 Research skills > Introduction - Pg. 504

504 Part 9 Hr skills introduction HRM specialists and those studying for HR profes- sional qualifications may be involved in conducting or taking part in research projects. Postgraduate students will almost certainly do so. Qualified HR specialists should keep up to date as part of their continuous professional development by studying publications that present research findings, such as those produced by the CIPD, or by reading articles in academic journals or those based on research in HR journals such as PM (People Management). Students must extend their understanding of HRM through reading about research findings. The purpose of this chapter is to describe the skills and techniques used in research and explain what is involved in planning and conducting research projects. This will be done against the background of a brief review of the nature and philosophy of research. Positivism Positivism is the belief that researchers should focus on facts (observable reality), look for causality and fundamental laws, reduce phenomena to their sim- plest elements (reductionism), formulate hypotheses and then test them. Researchers are objective analysts. The emphasis in positivism is on quantifiable obser- vations that lend themselves to statistical analysis. It tends to be deductive. Phenomenology Phenomenology focuses more on the meaning of phenomena than on the facts associated with them. Researchers adopting this philosophy try to under- stand what is happening. Their approach is holistic, covering the complete picture, rather than reductionist. Researchers collect and analyse evidence, but their purpose is to use this data to develop ideas that explain the meaning of things. They believe that reality is socially constructed rather than objectively determined. Using a phenomenological approach