1.1. Initiating a
likelihood of accomplishing a successful project can enhance significantly
depending on how well the project itself is prearranged or planned. If precise
goals and justifications are stated, and a research design is developed
efficiently, your research will most likely be deemed as a good accomplishment
(Condon & Dunham, 1999).
and every individual will have his/her own reason for initiating a research
project of any kind. Whether this is for identifying a gap in research
literature, or merely out of fascination by something, it is extremely vital to
develop a good cause for doing so. That is to say, the way you conduct your
research and report your results will have a big effect on the process of your project.
Also, in order to increase and ensure motivation and enthusiasm throughout
conducting the research, the researcher must show interest in the topic being
observed. However before stating the purpose of one’s project, it is important
to define your study by identifying what it is about. Having a topic which is
either broad or narrow means you will be unable to do so.
question which must be focused upon for a well-planned research is ‘who will be
your participants?’ During the initial
part of the project, the number of participants is not vital to consider until
going further into the research, although it is important to bear in mind the
type of participants and the means of keeping them in contact. In addition to
this, the geographical terms will help provide a narrowed topic, as
acknowledging the place of your research and the resources to be used is
another necessity. Finally, a question which will help the researcher become
aware of whether or not the projected can be conducted within the time scale
provided, is when the study will take place.
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1.2.The Aim of this
(Polit et al, 2001)
claim that the “researcher’s overall for answering the research question or
testing the research hypothesis” is called a research design. As mentioned
above, a well-planned research makes the difference between a successful one
and a failure. That is, the process of writing a research plan/design should
begin as soon as possible when developing the ideas of an investigation. For
this reason, this paper aims to give a brief illustration of some key points
and types of a ‘Research Design’ for those new to the topic.
chapter aims to present a detailed review of the existing literature to
theoretically explain the term ‘Research Design’. Based on the researched
topic, the following pages explicate the numerous interpretations and
definitions given by various authors. This section also evaluates the benefits
of Research design, the correlation between research design and research
methodology, as well as the differences between qualitative, quantitative and
the mixed method approach, followed by a conclusion to sum up.
Definitions of Research Design
When conducting a research, it is necessary that a
general framework is developed in order to provide guidance about the
requirements of a study. According to Wyk (n.d.), a Research design is a
general plan for connecting the conceptual research problems to the relevant
empirical research. Parahoo (1997) also agrees to this fact and claims that a
research design is a ‘plan’ which describes how, when and where data is
collected and analysed. Likewise, Burns &
Grove (2003) define this term as “a blueprint for conducting a study with
maximum control over factors that may interfere with the validity of the
findings”. In addition to this, Polit et al (2001) state that the research
design provides an overall answer for both the research questions and
Creswell claims that selecting a
research design is dependent upon a few points. These include: the nature of the
research problem, the researcher’s personal experience, as well as the audience
intended for the study. He adds on with an explanation that a research approach
or methodology is the plan and procedure for a project or research. It consists
of the steps of data collections, research methodologies, analysis and
interpretations. Creswell emphasizes on the importance of acknowledging the
research design and research methodology by labelling them as ‘key terms’ which
successfully present the construction of any research (2014). This leads to the
following subheading differentiating both fundamental terms.
The Relationship between Research Design and Research Methodology
Although both research design and research
methods are slightly different, they are still closely related to each other.
As mentioned above, the research design is a plan to answer your research
questions, whereas the research method is, as the name suggests, the strategy
by which this plan will be implemented. Thus in order to ensure that the data
obtained for the study answers all questions of the project, the design must
show effectiveness and precision. According
to Hall, the choice
of research design and research methods should be seen as a reciprocal
procedure extending well into your research. He states that the design is the
blueprint explaining what will be done in the research and how it will happen.
It also determines the way in which the method chosen to be applied will answer
the research questions of the project (2007).
(n.d,) also gives a brief differentiation by claiming that the main focus of a
research design is the end-product. That is, the results which the researcher
intends to reach, and the kind of study being planned. This is opposed to the
research methodology which he says focuses on the research process, meaning the
procedures and tools being employed in the study.
failure to distinguish between design and method could lead to a poor
evaluation of design. (A.Ddevus, 2001) it is a common error for research design
to be treated as a manner of data collection instead of a consistent
construction of inquiry. Research design differs from the other in terms of the
data collected. Ddevus claims that when a design of data is collected with any process
of data collection, it is the way in which data is gathered that could be
irrelevant to the logic of the design. Here is a figure he created which
illustrates the relationship between research design and certain data
The Importance of Research Design
research design reduces the ambiguity of much research evidence. It is required
in order to facilitate the process of research and to yield as much information
with as less effort and expenses possible. In her article on the meaning and
importance of Research Design, Munshi (2013) highlights a few vital functions
through which a research design will be deemed effective. She points out to
three main details a research design must deliver, which are:
Stating the objectives or output of your study
Stating the data outputs which will solve the
The methods of analysing the data inputs.
addition to these vital points, she also makes a list of the questions by which
the design decisions will be made. These will help the researcher begin a
systematic and clear project:-
What is the study about?
What is the main purpose of the study?
Where will the study take place?
What types of data is needed?
From where can data be found?
When will the study take place?
What will be the sample design?
What data collection techniques will be utilized?
How will data be analysed?
Not only is a research design a plan to ensure
maximum efficiency and reliability, but according to the universal teacher website, a
research design helps to achieve the objectives of any study by bridging the
gap between what has been achieved and what is still yet to be established. In
order to show full understanding of the ideas to be performed in one’s study,
it is advisable to have the design in clear and written terms. By this, the researcher will ensure explicit
concepts and findings.
Types of Research Design
qualitative research is described by Burns and Grove (2003, pg. 19) as “a
systematic subjective approach used to describe life experiences and situations
to give them meaning.” Parahoo (1997)
also says that a qualitative research generally focuses on the uniqueness of an
individual as well as one’s life experiences.
Furthermore, others have referred to this type of research as a form of
“social enquiry that focuses on the way people interpret and make sense of
their experience and the world in which they live” (Holloway& Wheeler,
2002, pg.30). According to Field & Morse (1996), researchers use the
qualitative approach in order to understand and contemplate the elements of
experience, viewpoints and behaviour of people.
have stated that qualitative research can be used in many different fields
including social sciences as well as applied linguistic. It is a term with
various backgrounds including sociology, philosophy, and anthropology.
Moreover, there are a variety of approaches which come under the qualitative
type of research, in addition to certain data collection methods, research
techniques and strategies, all of which contribute to result in a
well-constructed qualitative design (Schwandt, 2007).
A qualitative research usually
focuses on the participants of a study. The topic of interest in this case is
the ordinary day to day life of
participants, whether this is at home, in a workplace, classrooms or
even online. As Rossman & Rallis (2003) emphasize, observers do not
“extricate people from their everyday worlds” despite the complex and dynamic
settings, the main focus is on the experience and interaction of participants
with a specific phenomenon at a specific time and place.
Seen as the qualitative approach is
referred to as an exploratory research methodology used to generate new
theories and determine new insights, it is usually considered the most useful
method when little is known about a phenomenon or existing research. It is said
that defining specific research questions at the beginning of a study will
enforce the researcher’s own framework on the research context. It is for this
reason that investigators should begin with merely a sense of the initial focus
of interest as well as a research purpose and conceptual framework. Hence, it
is only after becoming familiar with the context, participants and to the main problem;
that a research question can be determined (Freeman, 2009).
The richer the description provided
by the researcher in a qualitative design, the easier it is for participants to
be able to judge on the relevance of the study for them. This makes the
researcher himself the main instrument of the study, as it is up to him/her to
collect data and observe or interview participants. This will inevitably help
researchers become responsive and adaptive to the participants of the study and
setting as well as explore unanticipated areas of research (Merriam, 2002).
As previously mentioned, there
are various research approaches which come under the qualitative type of
design. Five of the most commonly used approaches in linguistics will be
pointed out briefly in this section: Firstly, a ‘narrative inquiry’ is based on
the perspective and point of view of the participants themselves. According to
Bruner (1990), this is so that they are able to make sense of who they are and
how their lives change. This method gives an analysis of the participant’s
life, and as its name suggests, uses the first person narrative to describe
life experience and data. Garold Murray ( )
says that this type of approach is usually gathered through interviews. The second type of approach is known as the
‘case study’ which is said to use several sources of data and data collection
techniques. (Hood, …) This kind of approach
forms a detailed analysis and explanation of a restricted system consisting of
one person, organisation or pedagogical context. Seen as this method focuses on
one or a few cases only, it should give a very detailed description of a specific
As opposed to narrative inquiry and case
study, which tend to observe the individual, the third type called
‘ethnography’ is said to aim at groups of people because its main focus is
culture. Ethnography describes and analyses the common patterns of a group
sharing the same culture through a long term observation. The main aim is to
reconstruct the shared practices, beliefs, knowledge and behaviour of this
group (Merriam, 2002). The fourth type
is called ‘Action Research’ and is based on an approach to help teachers form a
self-reflection of the issues they face inside the classroom. Burns (2009)
highlights the flexibility and open-endedness of the data collection for this
type of research approach. The results
and outcome of this research usually come in the form of a change in
understanding and behaviour rather than a written report. According to Parahoo (1997) ‘Reflexivity’ is
a “continuous process whereby researchers reflect on their preconceived values
and those of the participants”. This is often seen as a difficult approach as
the researcher must adopt a self-critical stance to the sample of the study,
their relationships, roles and the study itself. In order to clarify and
justify their judgements, researchers must also receive confirmation of their
interpretations by going back to participants (Holloway &Wheeler 2002).
most qualitative studies, researchers also depend on a number of data
collection methods to acquire as many perceptions possible on the phenomenon being
investigated. All these methods consist of a textual analysis and not
numerical. That is, written notes are generated from observations, transcripts
and summaries are generated by interviews, and texts are generated by the
participants of questionnaires and diaries. Cowie (…)
clarifies that an observation collects information about the external behaviour
of participants with the choice of being a complete observer or a participant
observer. Interviews however can be used to elicit information needed through
interaction with participants. Richards (…)
emphasizes that interviews can be well structured or more open. Furthermore,
open response items in questionnaires and surveys require participants to
answer out of their own free will with no limitations. This type is usually
used when researchers require quick data from a large sample number (Dean Brown…..). Lazaraton
(….) explains that the language used in
discourse analysis is spontaneous and comes from naturally occurring events.
Therefore when analysing this data, biased concepts should hardly be included.
This type of data collection focuses on the way language is used in both spoken
and written communication. They are all in the
same pdf file.. just dnt know the dates
Quantitative Research Design
In order to answer research questions on relationships within
measurable variables, and to explain, predict and control a phenomena, Leedy
(1993) states that a quantitative research method is the approach suitable for
this case. That is to say, the Quantitative research design deals with figures
and the relationship between any systematically measured phenomena. Also, a
quantitative approach is one which develops knowledge, employs strategies of
investigation like surveys and experiments and collects information which
yields statistical data.
For a clear vision of the several types of quantitative research design,
it is vital to consider the way in which variables will be controlled in the
investigation. In a continuum where each end represents a variable, one being
controlled and the other not, the relationship between the variables which are
not controlled is only described. However, on the other end where variables are
controlled, the connection between these variables is clearly established. A quantitative analysis is presented in
numerical form through statistics. It is a process for obtaining systematic,
quantifiable information and is usually used to test and examine the cause and
effects of relationships. .
as the qualitative design consists of certain types of research, similarly,
four common types which categorize under the quantitative design will be
briefly discussed. These are: descriptive, correlational, quasi experimental
and experimental research. To begin with, the main purpose of the descriptive
research is to describe, observe and document. Polit & Hunger, (1999) claim
that this type helps to discover new facts and describes what is already
existent. Questionnaires, interviews with closed questions, and observations in
the form of checklists are examples of data collection instruments that will
provide the description required for this situation. In
The Baltimore county public school seminar, a descriptive research is described as a systematic
collection of information which requires precise measurement of each variable.
An example given for the descriptive approach is a description of the way
students spend their summer holidays (2017).
The main aim of the quantitative
correlational research is to describe the nature of the association between
variables in the real world. This comes from the quantifiable data (Porter &
Carter, 2000). A correlation usually exists when one
variable changes with another variable by either increasing or decreasing
correspondingly. The numbers collected for data in this method reflect
measurements of characteristics of research questions. Correlational research
is sometimes considered as a descriptive research. An example is the
relationship between intelligence and self-esteem.
much as the Quasi- experimental research may seem like an experimental research,
as the independent variable is manipulated, it is in fact different as it lacks
a control group and randomisation. This type is therefore unable to deliver the
cause and effects of results. Another differentiation is that although there is
presence of the independent variable, it is not manipulated by the
researcher. The experimenter must use
groups that are formed from pre-existing groups without assigning a new one
(Carter DE, 2000). An example of a quasi-experimental research is the effect of
age on lung capacity. Finally, the experimental group also known as true
experimentation establishes the cause and effects of the relationships of
variables in a study. An experimental study usually involves a control group
who are randomly selected and only they are exposed to the variables of the
study. It also involves the control and manipulation of phenomena. In this case
a dependant variable is manipulated to determine the effects on the dependant
variables. An example is the effects of a new plan to treat breast cancer.
2.5.3. Mixed Method Approach
to Creswell & Clark (2011), a mixed method approach involves a mixture of
both the qualitative and quantitative approaches at more than one phase in the
process of research. It is a research design with a methodology, as well as a
method of inquiry focusing on collecting and analysing data; in order to
understand a research problem. He also notes that a combination of both
approaches usually provides a much clearer understanding of a research problem.
There are various reasons which lead to the choice of using this kind of
approach. These include the reason to provide different perspective in a
research, extra data resource to better explain the research questions of a
study, and a further explanation of initial results.
utilization of a mixed method approach can ensure the inclusion of many
positive aspects to a study as it helps to gather rich data, and to provide a
detailed comprehension of a research problem, which neither a qualitative nor a
quantitative approach can deal with unaccompanied. Nevertheless, some disadvantages
to this kind of approach may include the complexity of planning it and the need
of more sources. It is also more time consuming (Creswell, 2003).
sum up, this paper consisted of a brief introduction to the means of starting up
a new research, as well as a theoretical review of the researched topic
(Research Design). A few definitions were illustrated, differences were
mentioned, advantages were stated and the different types of designs were given
in this paper.