Decisions pertaining to what, where, when, how much, and by what means with regards to a study make up a research design. A research design means the arrangement of conditions for collection and analysis of data in a fashion which aspires to combine relevance to the research purpose. As such the design consists of an overview of what the researcher will do from writing the hypothesis and its operational significance to the final analysis of data.
More explicitly, the design decisions are actually with respect of:
- What is the study about?
- The reason why the study being done?
- Where we will perform the the study?
- Which kind of data is needed?
- Where can the necessary data be discovered?
- What time periods will the study contain?
- What will be the sample design?
- What methods of data collection will likely be employed?
- How will the data be analysed?
- In what style will the report be organized?
What is the Meaning of Research Design ?
A research design is utilized to structure the research, to indicate that all the major elements of the research have been designed to work together. There are numerous types of research designs that one may decide to use.
Burns and Grove define a research design as “a blueprint for performing a study with maximum control over factors which could interfere with the validity of the findings”.
Parahoo explains a research design as “a plan which explains how, when and where data are to be collected and analysed”.
Polit et al define a research design as “the researcher’s overall for answering the research question or testing the research hypothesis”.
We can break up the entire research design into the following sections:
(a) the sampling design that relates to the process of selecting items to be observed for the provided research;
(b) the observational design that pertains to the conditions under which the observations are to be made;
(c) the statistical design that concerns with the question of how many items are to be observed and the way the information and data collected should be analysed; and
(d) the operational design that is concerned with the techniques through which the procedures given in the sampling, statistical and observational designs can be executed.
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The key features of a research design are:
(i) It is a plan which describes the sources and kinds of information strongly related to the research problem.
(ii) It is a strategy indicating which method will be employed for collecting and examining the data.
(iii) It also consists of the time and cost budgets because most studies are done under these two limitations.
In a nutshell, research design must, at least, contain (a) a clear statement of the research problem; (b) processes and methods to be utilized for collecting data; (c) the population to be researched; and (d) techniques to be employed in processing and examining data.
Research design is what makes the entire research project work – without it, you’ve just got a lot of material but absolutely no way of using it correctly or putting it together.
Read Also: Elements of Research Design