Research is the practice of discovering information that was not previously available. Note that in this definition, it is a practice—a set of processes, techniques, and competencies—and that its product can be represented as information. Also, although the pun is
Research can be the collection of survey data, for example on markets, usage, performance, and so on. On the other hand, it can relate to building our conceptual and theoretical understanding.
Information can be defined as interpreted data. At a more subtle level, knowledge can be distinguished from information by the ability to predict through the application of theory (cognate models). At another level then, research is about interpreting data or information, and this requires a theoretical (conceptual) base.
The more challenging research is that which
In some areas research is a very important and popular activity. In life sciences and new materials, for example, the current pace of research is feverish. The tide of knowledge is rolling back at a huge rate: lives and fortunes hang on research
It is not the intent of this chapter to delve too deeply into suggesting such topics but a few might usefully be extended from Table 1. These are shown in Table 2.
Though specialized to the project management field, an important aspect of this list is that it is squarely about how project management can best contribute to improved business performance.
Research, surely, will be seen as more relevant when it is more evidently addressing business-driven issues such as these rather than being primarily middle management, tools, and techniques oriented.
But is this fair? Is this a valid portrait of contemporary project management research? To test this thesis the Centre for Research in the Management of Projects (CRMP) recently reviewed all the papers and book reviews in
Project Management Journal
The International Journal of Project Management (IJPM)
from 1990 to 1999.
Before discussing the classification of project management research we should
Between 1998 and 1999 the CRMP at UMIST
It was the UMIST team's intent not so much to deliver a new BoK "model" but to determine genuinely (a) whether those polled
Why wasn't the Project Management Institute (PMI) Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK) structure used, and why is the CRMP BoK so much broader than PMI's?
APM's BoK was developed in the early '90s (1990–95), PMI's
The APM BoK therefore incorporated knowledge on the management of topics that the work of researchers had identified as contributing to project success—such as technology, design, people issues, environmental matters, finance, marketing, the business case, and general management (Archibald 1997; Meredith and Mantel 1995)—in addition to the traditional PMBOK areas of scope, time, cost, human resources, quality, risk, procurement, and so on.
The resultant BoK is indisputably a broader model than PMI's. The PMBOK focuses on ten areas of project management, nine of which are "knowledge areas" (Figure 3) with another being general to project management. These ten areas overlap, but essentially are distinguished from "General Management Knowledge and Practice" and "Application Area Knowledge and Practice." General management is referred to as relating to management of the ongoing enterprise; recognized as "often essential for any project manager", it addresses leading, communicating, negotiating, problem solving, and influencing, together with a note on standards and regulations and culture. Application areas are described as categories of projects with common elements that may be significant in some projects but not in all. The paradigm is thus proposed that everything generic to project management is covered by the ten knowledge areas, with extensions where appropriate for general management and application areas.
Figure 3: PMI's Body of Knowledge Structure ( PMBOK Guide – 2000 Edition)
The flaw in this model, I would suggest, is its failure to recognize and elaborate on the critically important responsibilities project managers have, and the generic functions they perform, in:
Ensuring that the project's requirements and objectives are clearly elaborated.
Defining the relation of the project to the sponsor's business objectives.
Developing the project's strategy.
Managing the evolution of the proposed technical solutions to the project requirements.
The key point is that, as research and practice have demonstrated (Lim and Mohamed 1998; Baker, Green, and Bean 1986; Baker, Murphy, and Fisher 1974; Cleland and King 1988; Cooper 1993; Morris and Hough 1987; Might and Fischer 1985; Pinto and Slevin 1989; General Accounting Office; National Audit Office; World Bank Operations Evaluation Department; http://www.standishgroup.com), there are generic practices and processes that all competent project management practitioners may have to call on and should be familiar with in these areas. Project management work in these areas is [very] often critical to project success, yet the PMBOK either totally or virtually ignores them. The result is that a huge swathe of the profession is led to ignore these dimensions; the discipline is downgraded from its real potential; and researchers are encouraged, tacitly, to overlook many of the issues that are most critical to the discipline's real effectiveness. 
The intent in making these points is not to argue that one BoK is "better" than another—hopefully the different models will slowly converge—but that as it stands the PMI model is unnecessarily, and even dangerously, delimiting the scope of the discipline. And one
This makes the fourth such analysis. Martin Betts and Peter Lansley classified
papers for the period 1982-92 (Betts and Lansley 1995). The topics they used to classify the papers (with the percent of papers over the period shown in parenthesis) were: human factors (15 percent), project organization (15 percent), project environment (12 percent), project planning (12 percent), conceptual models (10 percent), project information (9 percent), project performance (7 percent), risk management (7 percent), project startup (6 percent), project procurement (4 percent), and innovation (3 percent). Professor Stephen Wearne, at UMIST, has recently
 Apropos research: interestingly the APM review team, while welcoming whole-heartedly the empirical basis now provided by the CRMP data, was adamant that the APM version should not refer to abstruse, difficult-to-understand research papers, such as those published in IJPM !
 For example, the 2000 New Zealand Project Management Conference streamed all papers under the ten PMBOK topic areas. QED.