Elements of Research Design

A research design can be described as a conceptual structure within which research is going to be carried out. It comprises the blueprint for the collection, measurement and analysis of data. Decisions with regards to what, where, when, how much, by what means concerning an enquiry or a research design are taken.

A research design is the arrangement of conditions for collection and evaluation of data in a fashion which is designed to combine relevance to the research purpose with economy in process.

What are the Essential Elements of Research Design ?

The key elements of a good research design are as under :

a. Research Design is a plan which identifies the sources and kinds of information strongly related to the research problem.
b. It is a strategy indicating which method is going to be employed for collecting and analyzing the data.
c. Additionally, it consists of the time and cost budgets because most research is done under these two constraints. In a nutshell a research design must contain

  • A clear statement of the research problem.
  • Methods and techniques to be utilized for gathering information from the population to be researched.
  • Approach to be utilized in processing and analyzing data.

Purpose of the Study

  • Exploratory study: Carried out when not much is known about the problem at hand, or no details are available on how similar problems or research issues have been solved in the past.
  • Descriptive study: Carried out as a way to determine and be able to describe the characteristics of the variables of interest in a situation characteristics of the variables of interest in a situation.
  • Studies which engage in hypotheses testing generally explain the nature of certain relationships, or establish the differences among groups or the independence of two or more factors in a situation.

Type of Investigation

  • Causality Research Design: A causal study is an inquiry to understand the cause of one or more problems.
  • A correlational study: Is an inquiry to find out the key variables linked to the problem.

A causal study question:
Does cigarette smoking cause cancer?
A correlational study question:
Are cigarette smoking and cancer associated?
Are cigarette smoking, consuming alcohol, and chewing tobacco related to cancer?
If so, which of these contributes most to the variance in the dependent variable?

Elements of Research Design

Figure: Main Elements of Research Design

Researcher Interference

The extent of interference by the researcher with the normal flow of work at the workplace has a direct effect on whether the study performed is causal or correlational. A correlational study is carried out in the natural environment of the corporation with minimal interference by the researcher with the normal flow of work.

In studies carried out to determine cause-and-effect relationships, the investigator attempts to adjust specific variables in order to study the outcomes of such manipulation on the dependent variable of interest. Put simply, the researcher intentionally changes certain variables in the setting and disrupts the events as they normally happen in the business.

Read Also: Major Components of Research Design

Study Setting

Correlational research is carried out in noncontrived settings (normal settings), as opposed to most causal studies are carried out in contrived settings.

Unit of Analysis

The unit of analysis means the degree of aggregation of the data gathered through the subsequent data analysis.

  • Individual
  • Dyads
  • Groups
  • Organizations
  • Cultures

Read Also: Elements of a research problem

Time Horizon

Cross-Sectional Studies: A study can be carried out in which data are collected only once, perhaps during a period of days or weeks or months, to be able to answer a research question.

Longitudinal Studies: Researching people or phenomena at several point in time to be able to answer the research question. Due to the fact that data are collected at two different points in time, the study is not cross-sectional kind, but is carried longitudinally across a period of time. Longitudinal studies take a longer period and energy and cost a lot more than cross-sectional studies. Having said that, well-planned longitudinal studies can help you to recognize cause-and-effect relationships.

For example, you can study the product sales before and after an advertising campaign, and provided other environmental changes haven’t influenced on the results, you can attribute the increase in the sales volume, if any, to the advertisement.

A good research design must contain: a clear statement, Methods and techniques for data collection, processing and analyzing data.


Basic Elements of Research Design

Why Research Design is Important

Types of Research Design in Research Methodology


  1. S Kotrappa says

    Hi !! very nice research article, i have two issues to share and get feedback .
    1) Where is that validation (data analysis) after data collection, measurements and analysis?
    2) Is this research is subjective or objective?

  2. albert asiedu says

    Your information is very brief but helpful and easy to understand

  3. Nishan Rajbhandari says

    Thank you so much. Your article was easy to understand and helped me alot in my exams.. 🙂

  4. Purnima Newar says

    Thank you. This article helps me to understand clearly.

  5. oscar rabato says

    thank you so much.Your article helped me to tackle the project

  6. Emmason Garrett says

    aaah!! am always onto this article of yours en it really helped me to understand wat I wanted thanks

  7. hassan ali says

    HI! this is very brief article of yours but i have one question
    can you describe interrelationship between these elements of research design ?

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