What Is Formal Research?

Formal research is a style of research in which data is gathered in a very controlled, structured, systematic and objective way. Formal research is designed to have a very strict format, and it is the way in which students and academics prepare papers and studies to be peer-reviewed, critiqued and possibly published.

When gathering date for a paper, study or other academic document, formal research applies an almost scientific method to doing research. Typically, it involves coming up with a hypothesis, testing the hypothesis by finding agreeing and disagreeing data, and arriving at a final conclusion about the hypothesis. The data collection is controlled and limited to only credible sources. The sources must have no bias and all information must be objective, and each step in the argument must be able to be measured and traced back to a credible source.

Formal research substantiates a claim and provides credible backup to conclusions that are made. For this reason, academic papers and peer-reviewed articles almost always rely solely on formal research. When using formal research, all jumps in logic must be backed up and proven. No claim can be made without prior evidence, and if the researcher inputs their own biases or opinions, then the research loses its credibility.