Selltiz & Society for the Psychological Study of Social Issues (1962) defined research design as an arrangement of factors for collecting and analysing data in a way that focuses on combining importance of the research purpose with the economies involved in the procedure. Essentially, research design entails a list of the activities that the researcher will do (Onwuegbuzie & Collins, 2007). That is the manner they will frame the hypothesis, its operational consequences, and the approach to the analysis of data. To fully understand research design, it is vital to investigate the features and concepts of research design and the types of research design.
Features and Concepts of Research Design
There are important features of a research design. That is, it is, usually, a constitution of the plan by identifying both the form and source of data that would be necessary to deal with the research problem and also the strategy on the data collection methods to be used (Bryman, 2008). In addition, research design indicates the estimated period of the project and the budget that would be sufficient to conduct the study.
In order to understand research design and its applications, it is vital to investigate important concepts associated with it.
One important concept is that of dependent and independent variables. The meaning of a variable is simply a magnitude that varies. Bryman (2008) argues that variables may be continuous or discontinuous, and the latter is expressed as integers. Dependent variables are magnitudes whose changes depend on the changes on other variables. Contrarily, those that do not depend on the changes in other variables are known as independent variables.
Control is another important concept. Control is a concept that is used when a research is seeking to reduce the effects of extraneous independent variables. Extraneous independent variables affect the dependent variable in a study, but they have no direct relationship to the study (Onwuegbuzie & Collins, 2007). In these cases, whereby extraneous variables affect the dependent variable, the relationship between the independent and dependent variables is said to be confounded.
Elsewhere, research hypothesis is a prediction or an assumption that is adopted by a researcher, in most cases, though the use of defined scientific methods.
Next there is the non-experimental and experimental testing research. Researchers are, mostly, concerned with conducting a research to test a given research hypothesis. Two types of such studies include; experimental and non-experimental (Hanson, Creswell, Clark, Petska & Creswell, 2005). When there is manipulation of the independent variable, it is experimental. On the converse, if there is no manipulation of the variable, then it is non-experimental.
There are groups involved in the research process, which can be divided into two groups; experimental and control groups. Control groups are those groups that are exposed to the normal conditions. On the other hand, experimental group is usually exposed to specific conditions that are new.
Lastly, there is the concept of treatments. Treatments are the different factors and conditions that both the control and experimental groups are subjected to. A good example of these is a study of the response of varying advertisement mediums. Then the advertisement mediums would be the treatments.
Types of Research Design
Research (Luevitoonvechkit, 2010) indicates that there is no consistency in the classification or grouping of research designs. While there are researchers that concentrate their efforts on addressing the question of the study, there are others that classify them depending on the data collection methods applied (Luevitoonvechkit, 2010). There is the need to have a class that is broad enough to include many designs. To this effect, the types of research design discussed in this paper are experimental, non-experimental, and quasi research designs.
Experimental design is one of the research designs. In this case, two groups of persons are derived from one population. The two groups will be subjected to different conditions. The first group, which is the experimental group, will be subjected to the special conditions while the second, control group, will be subjected into the normal conditions. The basic assumption of this design is that individuals from one population have similar traits (Onwuegbuzie & Collins, 2007). Essentially, any difference that is observed between the two ought to have been caused by the new parameters introduced into the study and subjected to the experimental group.
Non- experimental design is an opposite of the experimental design as the name suggests. That is, there is no comparison of two groups of individuals. Contrary to this, the design focuses on understanding the effects that certain conditions will have on a population under a study. Mostly, the design will also provide information that facilitates the understanding of the processes, contexts and events (Onwuegbuzie & Collins, 2007). In addition, it will provide an explanation of the results that have been observed from the proceedings. An example of this kind of design is the case study research design.
There are some similarities between quasi design and experimental design. Still, in this case, there is no random delegation of individuals to various groups (Hanson et al., 2008). Instead of a control group, present in the experimental design, the researcher in this case will develop a comparison group, which, despite its similarity to the control group, is not an equivalent. An example of such design is instrumental variables, propensity score matching, and regression discontinuity.
A research goes through a process before successful completion. An integral part of the process is the research design. The research design is important since it gives the researcher an insight into the means of conducting the study. The features, concepts, and types of design are important in this regards. The features are indicative of the constitution of a research design while the concepts indicate the important elements to consider in a design as they are common. Lastly, there are the types of research design, which are divided broadly into three categories that encompass many sub-categories. This includes: experimental, non-experimental, and quasi research designs. Understanding the three facilitates the research to choose among them the best approach to use.
Bryman, A. (2008). Social Research Methods. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Hanson, W. E., Creswell, J. W., Clark, V. L. P., Petska, K. S. & Creswell, J. D. (2005). Mixed Methods Research Designs in counseling psychology. Journal of Counseling Psychology, 52 (2), p. 224.
Luevitoonvechkit, S. (2010). Types of research design. Buddhachinaraj Medical Journal, 24 (3), pp. 369–380.
Onwuegbuzie, A. J. & Collins, K. M. (2007). A typology of mixed methods, sampling designs in social science research. Qualitative Report, 12 (2), pp. 281–316.
Selltiz, C. & Society for the Psychological Study of Social Issues (1962). Research Methods in Social Relations. New York: Holt, Rinehart, and Wiston.