A research design is a plan in which the researcher states their logical and methodological thought process. A research design answers questions such as: what will be measured, when will it be measured, how will it be measured, and why? Research designs are used to answer different types of questions that fall into two categories: descriptive or causal. Descriptive research answers “what” and “how many,” while causal research answers “why.” Generally, descriptive research is used in social science research, whereas causal research is more often seen in natural science. Casual research allows the researcher to determine whether one factor causes another, while descriptive research can only show that there is a relationship between variables.
Component of a Research Design
The five basic components of a research design are:
(1) Research question or problem
(2) Population or sample
(3) Independent variable
(4) Dependent variable
(5) Control variables.
(7) Study environment (including time)
(8) Statistical tests
(9) Sampling techniques
The type of design chosen will depend on the type of question being answered.
Importance of Research Design
A research design is important because it helps the researchers to control for different variables and allows them to know that their findings can be applied to a larger population. It also ensures that the study will yield valid results. If a researcher does not have a good research design, they can damage their reputation as well as severely limit what they can accurately conclude from the study. Researchers must consider various factors such as whether there is an adequate sample size and how much of an effect size they need before drawing conclusions about their population. A helpful guide in determining these parameters includes Cohen’s rules which reflect what statisticians refer to as “The Standard Stipulations for Statistical Significance.”
Types of Research Design
There are many different types of research designs. When conducting a study, researchers choose from one or more of the following: qualitative, quantitative and mixed-methods research. A researcher may use one type of design for some parts of their study and another design for other parts. Often time’s there is overlap between research designs such as in a mixed methods study where the researcher collects both quantitative and qualitative data or when using triangulation to help strengthen your argument.
Qualitative Research Design
A qualitative research design is used to develop an understanding about social phenomena by generating theory grounded in the specific context rather than making generalizations about groups based on existing theory and concepts (Neuman Eng 2010). For example, we would use a qualitative research design to understand how refugees in Jordan are dealing with the effects of the Syrian crisis. It is also useful for understanding how people in that specific country perceive refugees in their midst, or what they think will happen next. A researcher can conduct a number of different types of qualitative studies which include participatory action research, phenomenology, grounded theory, ethnography, case study and biography.
Quantitative Research Design
In scientific research design, quantitative studies aim to discover generalizable patterns among variables in order to determine relationships between them. Quantitative data is numerical information gathered individuals who have been exposed and unexposed to a particular phenomenon being studied-thus allowing researchers to discern what the outcome of an event might be.
In quantitative research design, statistics are used to very specific variables and outcomes through randomized controlled trials, which allow for a better analysis. This type of study design is most frequently used in large population studies because it allows researchers to conduct experiments across a larger group of individuals that they would not be able to test otherwise. Types of quantitative research design include experimental research design, survey research design and correlational research design.
Mixed-Methods Research Design
Mixed method designs are used when one wants to combine both quantitative and qualitative data for a more in depth understanding of the subject being studied. When using this type of research, researchers begin by creating a plan that specifies what data will be collected through which methods during each stage of the study (Lincoln & Guba 1985). At some point during the study, researchers usually analyze both sets of data; however they do not necessarily need to collect or use all types of qualitative/quantitative research within their mixed methods design (i.e., it often consists primarily of either quantitative or qualitative). Researchers can use triangulation (the method of using multiple methods to establish the extent to which findings can be reproduced) within their mixed methods designs. The four major types of mixed methods designs are the Triangulation Design, the Embedded Design, the Explanatory Design, and the Exploratory Design