Design of a Research Study

Design of a research study is the procedures a researcher go through for answering the research questions. It includes two phases: the collecting data method and analyzing it.

Design of a research study depends on the variables and the type of the study or research as it was mentioned in “chapter 3”. The type of research can be qualitative, quantitative, or a mixture of both. So in order to choose an appropriate design of a research study, you need to find out the type of your research.

Different types of research studies

The three different types of research studies were discussed in “qualitative research vs. quantitative research”. In short,

Qualitative research studies immeasurable phenomena. Their function is to develop ideas.

Quantitative researches are using numerical data. These studies are used for testing and validating theories. In other words, they answer qualitative research questions.

The mixed method, as the name suggests, is a mixture of qualitative and quantitative research. These kinds of studies apply both numerical and non-numerical instruments. For example, a study using a questionnaire as a numerical instrument and observation as a non-experimental instrument would need a mixed method design.

So in order to choose an appropriate design of a research study, the first thing you need to do is to recognize the type of your study.

Types of research design

Quantitative studies

Major types of research design regarding quantitative studies are experiments and non-experiments each includes some minor types and follows a standard format.

–          Data collection procedure

In quantitative designs, the researcher chooses a sample and studies them. The results will be generalized to all the population. There are numerous ways of sampling like random sampling, stratified sampling, systematic sampling, etc.

–          The instruments

Then the data related to each variable will be collected through the appropriate instrument. The instruments used for a survey are questionnaires. Sometimes there are readymade questionnaires and sometimes the researcher develops one.

–          Data analysis

After the data gathered, it is time to analyze the data. Sort the data in tables and find the mean, standard deviation, the shape of SD graph (bell shape, curved shape, etc.), and range of scores for all the variables as well as the reliability and the statistical procedure of the instruments. The research questions have to be answered in this section by the use of gathered data and statistical procedures. Taking advantage of graphs, tables, and figures also help you with that. Write a descriptive data analysis based on the obtained information.

Qualitative studies

–          Data collection procedure

A most specific characteristic of qualitative studies is that the study occurs in a natural field. They do not sample or experiment a phenomenon in a lab, but go through nature, the people, and generally what/whom the study is about (the subject).

–          The instruments

In qualitative designs, the researcher uses multiple sources to collect data such as different documents, observation, interviews, protocols, etc.

Despite the quantitative design that uses questionnaires and even most of the time uses ready-made questionnaires, the qualitative design does not use any instrument made by other researchers.

In fact, the qualitative design of a research study is so flexible. The researcher can study different fields, applies different instruments, and even the instruments are not definite but they can be changed or added during the procedure. For example, the questions the researcher asks in an interview are not following an exact form.

–          Data analysis

In a qualitative design of a research study, the researcher needs to employ inductive and deductive data analysis together.

s/he once concludes from the gathered information. In other words, s/he reaches to a conclusion from small pieces of information which is deductive mode.

Then s/he analyzes the whole or theme to reach to the specific characteristic of the population.

Generally, the researcher should investigate the abstract and concrete information in different forms; from abstract to concrete and vice versa, from theme to characteristics and vice versa. s/he should assess the topic from different aspects and different facets.

Mixed method

Obviously, each method including qualitative and quantitative designs has its defects. While by borrowing the strengths of methods, proposing a better method is possible. Mixed method is the method which is produced by combining the strengths of the other ones.

–          Data collection procedure

In the mixed method, in order to answer the research questions, both qualitative and quantitative data should be collected. So it employs both sampling and nature to gather the information.

–          The instruments

Since the method is a mixture of the others, the researcher is allowed to use questionnaires as well as documents, observation, interviews, etc. depending on the subjects under investigation and the topic of research.

The data related to each variable should be collected using the appropriate instrument. The choices need to be rational and supported by theories suggested by other researchers.

It is better to use the documents, audio/visual materials, observe, then interview and finally make use of questionnaires. In other words, at first employ the qualitative design instruments and after that go to quantitative method ones which is questionnaires.

–          Data analysis

As the type of this method suggests, data analysis would be a mixture of the qualitative data analysis and quantitative analysis.

Even the quantitative data can be analyzed through the qualitative data analyses method, after evaluating the statistical scores and sorting them in tables and graphs. In other word, after analyzing the quantitative data as it was said in its section, the researcher should analyze the results regarding all the variables using qualitative data analysis.


You can see a summary of this post in the following table:

type of the design
types of the design

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