Meaning and scope of research design


Meaning of Research Design

Research without a pre-drawn plan is like an ocean voyage without Mariner's compass. The preparation of a research plan for a study aids in establishing direction to the study and in knowing exactly what has to be done and how and when it has to be done at every stage. Research design enables the researcher to consider beforehand the various decisions to be made: What are the objectives of the study? What are the investigative questions? What are the sources of data? What is the universe of the study? What sampling method is appropriate? And so on.

Without a plan, research work becomes unfocussed and aimless empirical wandering; the researcher would find it difficult, laborious, and time-consuming. To make adequate discriminations in the complex interplay of factors before him; he may not be able to decide which is relevant and which is not, and may get lost in a welter of irrelevancies. The use of a research design prevents such a blind search and indiscriminate gathering of data and guides him to proceed in the right direction.

Scope of Research Design

A research plan prescribes the boundaries of research activities and enables the researcher to channel his energies in the right work. With clear research objectives in view, the researcher can proceed systematically toward their achievement. The design also enables the researcher to anticipate potential problems of data gathering operationalization of concepts, measurement, etc.

The social researcher guided either by a desire to gain knowledge or by an urgency to solve a problem scientifically works out a plan of study. In the beginning, this scope is generally vague and tentative. It undergoes many modifications and changes, as the study progresses and insights into it deepen. The considerations which enter into making the decisions regarding the what, where, when, how, constitute a scope of the study or a study design.

It is the process of giving clear and precise meaning and accepted definitions to various concepts and variables used in the area of research undertaken. All terms and concepts should be defined clearly. Vague ideas will lead to inadequate and un-interpretable research findings. A not "too broad or too narrow" definition is to be given to understand the full meaning of the terms and concepts used. It should also specify the depth and magnitude of empirical reality that needs to be explored for investigating the problem.

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