A research design is nothing but a detailed plan of action for the research. A researcher attempting to solve the research problem, should necessarily prepare a plan which will help him to attain his ultimate motto. This plan is nothing but a research design. It is a plan which defines research problem, identifies data needed, decides on tool of data collection, and type of study etc. It is a tentative plan which undergoes many modifications as the research study progresses. It presents a series of guide posts to enable the researcher to progress in the right direction.
Definitions of Research Design
Several definitions of Research Design have been advanced by several writers on the subject of research methodology. Few of them are presented here:
- According to Claire Seltiz, Research Design is a catalogue of the various and facts relating to the formulation of a research effort. It is the arrangement of conditions for collection and analysis of data in a manner that aims to combine relevance to the research purpose with economy in procedure.
- According to Paul E. Green and Tull, a Research Design is the specification of methods and procedures for acquiring the information needed. It is the over all operational pattern or framework, of the project that stipulates what information is to be collected from which sources by what procedures. If it is a good design, it will ensure that the information obtained is relevant to the j research questions and that it was collected by objective and economical procedures.
- According to Fred N. Kerlingar, Research Design is the plan, structure and strategy of investigation conceived so as to obtain answers to research questions and to control variance. The plan is the overall scheme or programme of research. It includes an outline of what the investigator will do from writing the hypotheses and their operational implications to the final analysis of the data. To structure the research is to outline the scheme and paradigm of the operations of the variables strategy. It includes the methods to be used to gather and analyse the data. In other words, strategy implies how the research objectives will be reached and how the problems encountered in the research will be tackled.
Factors Affecting Research Design
The following factors affect the design of research:
- The nature of the study;
- The scope of the study
- The level of the study
- Availability of sufficient data;
- Proper exposure to the sources of data, especially primary data;
- Availability of time;
- Availability of money and manpower;
- Impact of the various internal and external as well as controllable and uncontrollable variables on the research project;
- The ability, skill, knowledge, and technical background of the researcher; and
- Utility and applicability of the research result in practice.
Evaluation of Research Design
A good design is often characterized by features like flexibility, appropriateness, economical and so on. Generally, the design which minimizes bias and maximizes the reliability of the data collected and analysed is considered a good design. The design which gives the smallest experimental error is supposed to be the best design in many investigations. Similarly, a design which yields maximal information and provides an opportunity for considering many different aspects of a problem is considered most appropriate and efficient design in respect of many research problems. A design may be quite suitable in one case, but may be found wanting in one respect or the other in the context of some other research problem.
The fundamental questions in evaluating a research design pertain to the precision, reliability and relevance of the data and their analysis. Before actually carrying out research, it is better if the researcher evaluates his research design. This can be achieved if he verifies the following aspects for their explicitness.
- How relevant are the objectives?
- How relevant are the hypotheses?
- How explicit are the hypotheses?
- Have the problems and hypotheses been stated in operational terms scientifically?
- Has the plan of research been presented in detail so that its logic is apparent?
- How scientific is data collection tool?
- How scientific is method of data collection?
- How precise are the observations?
- Can other investigators repeat the observations?
- Do the data actually satisfy the demands of the problem, i.e. do they actually demonstrate the conclusion?
- Does the research design ensure a comparison that is not subject to the alternate interpretations?
- Are the statistical designs appropriate?