Can you imagine doing research without a plan? Probably not. When we discuss a strategy to collect, study, and evaluate data, we talk about research design. This design addresses problems and creates a consistent and logical model for data analysis. Let’s learn more about it.
What is Research Design?
Research design is the framework of research methods and techniques chosen by a researcher to conduct a study. The design allows researchers to sharpen the research methods suitable for the subject matter and set up their studies for success.
Creating a research topic explains the type of research (experimental, survey research, correlational, semi-experimental, review) and its sub-type (experimental design, research problem, descriptive case-study).
There are three main types of designs for research:
The research problem an organization faces will determine the design, not vice-versa. The design phase of a study determines which tools to use and how they are used.
The Process of Research Design
The research design process is a systematic and structured approach to conducting research. The process is essential to ensure that the study is valid, reliable, and produces meaningful results.
- Consider your aims and approaches: Determine the research questions and objectives, and identify the theoretical framework and methodology for the study.
- Choose a type of Research Design: Select the appropriate research design, such as experimental, correlational, survey, case study, or ethnographic, based on the research questions and objectives.
- Identify your population and sampling method: Determine the target population and sample size, and choose the sampling method, such as random, stratified random sampling, or convenience sampling.
- Choose your data collection methods: Decide on the methods, such as surveys, interviews, observations, or experiments, and select the appropriate instruments or tools for collecting data.
- Plan your data collection procedures: Develop a plan for data collection, including the timeframe, location, and personnel involved, and ensure ethical considerations.
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- Decide on your data analysis strategies: Select the appropriate data analysis techniques, such as statistical analysis, content analysis, or discourse analysis, and plan how to interpret the results.
The process of research design is a critical step in conducting research. By following the steps of research design, researchers can ensure that their study is well-planned, ethical, and rigorous.
Research Design Elements
Impactful research usually creates a minimum bias in data and increases trust in the accuracy of collected data. A design that produces the slightest margin of error in experimental research is generally considered the desired outcome. The essential elements are:
- Accurate purpose statement
- Techniques to be implemented for collecting and analyzing research
- The method applied for analyzing collected details
- Type of research methodology
- Probable objections to research
- Settings for the research study
- Measurement of analysis
Characteristics of Research Design
A proper design sets your study up for success. Successful research studies provide insights that are accurate and unbiased. You’ll need to create a survey that meets all of the main characteristics of a design. There are four key characteristics:
- Neutrality: When you set up your study, you may have to make assumptions about the data you expect to collect. The results projected in the research should be free from research bias and neutral. Understand opinions about the final evaluated scores and conclusions from multiple individuals and consider those who agree with the results.
- Reliability: With regularly conducted research, the researcher expects similar results every time. You’ll only be able to reach the desired results if your design is reliable. Your plan should indicate how to form research questions to ensure the standard of results.
- Validity: There are multiple measuring tools available. However, the only correct measuring tools are those which help a researcher in gauging results according to the objective of the research. The questionnaire developed from this design will then be valid.
- Generalization: The outcome of your design should apply to a population and not just a restricted sample. A generalized method implies that your survey can be conducted on any part of a population with similar accuracy.
The above factors affect how respondents answer the research questions, so they should balance all the above characteristics in a good design. If you want, you can also learn about Selection Bias through our blog.
Research Design Types
A researcher must clearly understand the various types to select which model to implement for a study. Like research itself, the design of your analysis can be broadly classified into quantitative and qualitative.
It determines relationships between collected data and observations based on mathematical calculations. Statistical methods can prove or disprove theories related to a naturally existing phenomenon. Researchers rely on qualitative observation research methods that conclude “why” a particular theory exists and “what” respondents have to say about it.
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It is for cases where statistical conclusions to collect actionable insights are essential. Numbers provide a better perspective for making critical business decisions. Quantitative research methods are necessary for the growth of any organization. Insights drawn from complex numerical data and analysis prove to be highly effective when making decisions about the business’s future.
Qualitative Research vs Quantitative Research
Here is a chart that highlights the major differences between qualitative and quantitative research:
|Qualitative Research||Quantitative Research|
|Focus on explaining and understanding experiences and perspectives.||Focus on quantifying and measuring phenomena.|
|Use of non-numerical data, such as words, images, and observations.||Use of numerical data, such as statistics and surveys.|
|Usually uses small sample sizes.||Usually uses larger sample sizes.|
|Typically emphasizes in-depth exploration and interpretation.||Typically emphasizes precision and objectivity.|
|Data analysis involves interpretation and narrative analysis.||Data analysis involves statistical analysis and hypothesis testing.|
|Results are presented descriptively.||Results are presented numerically and statistically.|
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In summary or analysis, step of qualitative research is more exploratory and focuses on understanding the subjective experiences of individuals, while quantitative research is more focused on objective data and statistical analysis.
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You can further break down the types of research design into five categories:
1. Descriptive: In a descriptive composition, a researcher is solely interested in describing the situation or case under their research study. It is a theory-based design method created by gathering, analyzing, and presenting collected data. This allows a researcher to provide insights into the why and how of research. Descriptive design helps others better understand the need for the research. If the problem statement is not clear, you can conduct exploratory research.
2. Experimental: Experimental research establishes a relationship between the cause and effect of a situation. It is a causal research design where one observes the impact caused by the independent variable on the dependent variable. For example, one monitors the influence of an independent variable such as a price on a dependent variable such as customer satisfaction or brand loyalty. It is an efficient research method as it contributes to solving a problem.
The independent variables are manipulated to monitor the change it has on the dependent variable. Social sciences often use it to observe human behavior by analyzing two groups. Researchers can have participants change their actions and study how the people around them react to understand social psychology better.
3. Correlational research: Correlational research is a non-experimental research technique. It helps researchers establish a relationship between two closely connected variables. There is no assumption while evaluating a relationship between two other variables, and statistical analysis techniques calculate the relationship between them. This type of research requires two different groups.
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A correlation coefficient determines the correlation between two variables whose values range between -1 and +1. If the correlation coefficient is towards +1, it indicates a positive relationship between the variables, and -1 means a negative relationship between the two variables.
4. Diagnostic research: In diagnostic design, the researcher is looking to evaluate the underlying cause of a specific topic or phenomenon. This method helps one learn more about the factors that create troublesome situations.
This design has three parts of the research:
- Inception of the issue
- Diagnosis of the issue
- Solution for the issue
5. Explanatory research: Explanatory design uses a researcher’s ideas and thoughts on a subject to further explore their theories. The study explains unexplored aspects of a subject and details the research questions’ what, how, and why.
Benefits of Research Design
There are several benefits of having a well-designed research plan. Including:
- Clarity of research objectives: Research design provides a clear understanding of the research objectives and the desired outcomes.
- Increased validity and reliability: To ensure the validity and reliability of results, research design help to minimize the risk of bias and helps to control extraneous variables.
- Improved data collection: Research design helps to ensure that the proper data is collected and data is collected systematically and consistently.
- Better data analysis: Research design helps ensure that the collected data can be analyzed effectively, providing meaningful insights and conclusions.
- Improved communication: A well-designed research helps ensure the results are clean and influential within the research team and external stakeholders.
- Efficient use of resources: reducing the risk of waste and maximizing the impact of the research, research design helps to ensure that resources are used efficiently.
A well-designed research plan is essential for successful research, providing clear and meaningful insights and ensuring that resources must be practical.
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