In the world of science, the two terms are still quite distinct. Research must be organized and directed towards either proving or disproving a hypothesis. In this sense, blindly searching for information in an unsystematic way is not research. So who cares? And, more important, why should we care? Let me give an example that illustrates the difference.
John Doe is looking for his Great-grandfather (GGF), Richard Doe. He begins be going onto a large online genealogical database website and looks for his GGF's name. He tries several combinations of spellings in several documents. He is searching for information, but has he yet to do any research? Searching is an uncommitted activity. The question is whether or not any of the search results match his previously determined criteria for identifying his GGF. To the extent that John Doe has done previous searching and has some idea or theory about his GGF, he may have crossed the line from searching to research. The point is that searching can go on forever without producing any results. If you want to make progress, especially in really hard cases, you have to move beyond mere searching and begin to on around the research cycle.
Here is a commonly used example:
The basic steps are as follows:
- Identify what you know.
- Decide what you want to learn.
- Select records to search.
- Obtain and search the records.
- Evaluate and Use the information.