12 Types of Research Design 12 Types of Research Design
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12 Types of Research Design


Types of Research Design

A research design is a logical and systematic plan prepared for directing a research study. It specifies the objectives of the study, the methodology and techniques to be adopted for achieving the objectives. It constitutes the blueprint for the collection, measurement and analysis of data. It is the plan, structure, and strategy of investigation conceived so as to obtain answers to research questions. The plan is the overall scheme or program of research. A research design is the program that guides the investigator in the process of collecting analyzing and interpreting observations.

There are a number of crucial research choices, various writers advanced different classification schemes. The different types of Research Designs have been discussed below:

1. Historical
History has all along been a great source of inspiration for researchers. In fact there is considerable research, which can be done only with the help, and assistance of historical data and as such historical method for the study of social research occupies a very significant place. Historians, philosophers, social psychiatrists, literary persons and social scientists use the historical approach as an aid in visualizing society as a dynamic organism, and its structures and functions as steadily growing and undergoing change and transformation. Historical method is specially useful and important for social scientists because it is with their help that they can understand the social change on the one hand and growth of social institutions and organizations on the other.

George Bernard Shaw once said, "The past is not behind the group but it is within the group." It has very appropriately been said that the past contains a key to the present."

2. Experimental
Experimental design is the blueprint of the procedures that enable the researcher to test hypotheses by reaching valid conclusions about relationships between independent and dependent variables. Selection of particular designs based upon the purposes of the experiment, the type of variables to be manipulated, and the conditions or limiting factors under which it is conducted. The design deals with such practical problems as how subjects are to be assigned to experimental and control groups, the way variables are to be manipulated and controlled, the way extraneous variables are to be controlled, how observations are to be made, and the type of statistical analysis to be employed in interpreting data relationships. Any research in which the researcher deliberately changes or assigns values (levels) to one factor in order to determine its effect by comparing the groups created by this factor is called experimental research.

3. Exploratory
Exploratory research is one, which has the purpose of formulating a problem for more precise investigation or for developing hypotheses. Exploratory researches study a subject about which either no information or little information is available. Generally, this type of research is qualitative which becomes useful in formulation hypotheses or testing hypotheses and theories. In this research, the assumption is that the researcher has little or no knowledge about the problem or situation under study, or s/he is unfamiliar with the structure of the group s/ he is studying (say, prison, industry, university, village, and so on). This research provides a basis for general findings. Researchers and practitioners can explore the possibility of using such general findings in future (Panneerselvam, 2004: 6).

4. Explanatory
Explanatory research is the approach taken in most mainstream qualitative research. In this way, its goal is to go beyond the traditional descriptive designs of the positivist approach to provide meaning as well as description. The purpose of explanatory research is also broader than that of descriptive research; it is conducted to build theories and predict events. Explanatory research explains the causes of social phenomena.

Explanatory research aims at establishing a relationship between variables, i.e ., how one are the cause of other or how and when one variable occurs the other will also occur. Explaining relationship between broken families and juvenile delinquency or between drug abuse and lack of family control or between students' strike in the campus and apathy to solving students' grievances are some examples of explanatory or causal research. Similarly, why is poverty not being eliminated in Nepal when it has been given prime priority in plans?

5. Descriptive
Descriptive research design is also a development in the field of research. It seeks to describe a field or a problem by using questionnaires and opinionates. The approach is mostly directed towards identifying the various characteristics of the research problems and to create observations conducive to further research. This type of research is becoming very popular these days and is extensively followed by researchers to explore new areas of investigation. Most empirical problems are investigated by this approach. Researcher must prepare his questionnaire or opinionaire in such a way that it does not injure the feelings or sentiments of respondents. In using this approach, many times researcher gains insights into other aspects to the problems, which otherwise may not be within the scope of his research program. He also gains invaluable experience of conducting such inquiries systematically and accurately.

6. Ex-post facto
Chapin and Greenwood to denote a quasi-experiment in which the researcher attempts to control independent variables originally used the term ex post facto (after the event has occurred) by matching and symbolic measures. However, most of the behavioral scientists prefer to use it in a broader sense. For example, ex-post-facto research is systematic empirical inquiry in which the scientist does not have direct control of independent variables because their manifestations have already occurred or because they are inherently not manipulable inferences about relations among variables are made, without direct intervention, from a concomitant variation of independent and dependent variables.

Ex-post-facto research is one in which the investigators attempt to trace an effect, which has already occurred to its probable causes. The effect becomes the dependent variable and the probable causes become the independent variable. Thus in the ex-post facto research the manifestation of independent variables occurs first and then, its effects become obvious to the investigator. Since the independent variables have already occurred, the investigator has no direct control over such variables. As such, the purposeful manipulation of the independent variable becomes difficult.

7. Action
We engaged in field in which knowledge accumulation and learning take place through participation in changes of social systems or what we often call socio-technical systems. Here the role of research involves the dual aim of theorizing and taking action, with action based on theorizing. We agree with the conviction that it is not possible to understand a social system without changing it. The passive observer cannot learn anything rational about the inner dynamics and conditions of such systems.

The incentive to move into this field is not only founded in a view about how knowledge of social systems can best be obtained; it also is based on the desire to escape from the traditional, passive researcher role. People in this field are typically busy, not only theorizing and describing problems but also contributing to evolving solutions. One is not only a researcher and responsible for the research process, one is at the same time a participant and jointly responsible for the change process. Action research aims to contribute both to the practical concerns of people in an immediate problematic situation and to the goals of social science by joint collaboration within a mutually acceptable ethical framework.

8. Survey
A survey is not just a particular technique of collecting information: questionnaires are widely use but other techniques, such as structured and in-depth interviews, observation, content analysis and so forth, can also be used in survey research. This design is opposed to experimental design in the sense that in this design there is no need to have any controlled situation. In this design the researcher is expected to go to the field to conduct a survey and that can be about anything.

Thus whereas the scope of experimental design is very limited, that the survey design is very wide and extensive. In this design, the researcher is himself responsible for formulating his hypothesis and draw conclusions on the basis of his surveys. Whereas it is difficult to conduct and make experiments on human beings, it is not difficult to conduct surveys about social problems.

Survey research necessarily is not only mean for social research alone but its scope can be widened to include variables of economic nature activities from economic point of view survey research is approached through the methods of personal interviews, mailed questionnaires and personal discussions besides indirect oral investigation. These days this type of research is held to be significant in making a valuable contribution to social sciences research methodology.

9. Field study
Field study is at once very old and very new in social science. It is very old in that many of the techniques to be discussed in this book have been used by social researchers for centuries. It is very new in that it has received increasing methodological attention and has been refined in recent years. It should be noted, moreover, that this method is employed by many people who might not, strictly speaking, be regarded as social science researchers. Newspaper reporters are one example, political, environmental, social service, human right department case workers are another

This is the research design that directs the study of field situations. Though this method has broken down the narrow walls of the traditional experimental laboratory in research on complex problems of human relationships but it permits the introduction of controls into the data collection. There is a difference between the field study method and the survey method. A survey has a greater scope while a field study has greater depth. While a survey always attempts to be representative of some known universe, a field study may or may not involve sampling.

The field study is concerned with a thorough account of the processes under investigation (e.g ., study of poverty and unemployment in the rural areas) than with their typicality in a larger universe. A field study provides a more detailed and more natural picture of the social interrelationships of the group than does the survey. In field studies, the role of the researcher is of critical importance. For it is the vantage point (that is, the particular focus and perspective) of the researcher that will determine what is observed and what is reported.

Substantively, field research has tended to focus on community or ethnic groups, deviance and powerlessness, occupations and professions, and more recently, aspects of everyday life. Some studies of corporate power have been done but field research generally has entailed "studying down," focusing on the poor, the powerless, and the marginal members of society (Singleton et al ., 1988: 296-97). Perhaps it is more difficult to gain access to persons in the seats of power than it is to gain access to the "common person." Similarly, everyday aspects of social life are easier to locate than sporadic and uncommon events.

10. Evaluation Research
Evaluation is a methodological area that is closely related to, but distinguishable from, more traditional social research. Evaluation utilizes many of the same methodologies used in traditional social research. Evaluation utilizes many of the same methodologies used in traditional social research. This design is also technically known as hierarchical design. In this design history of every problem, which is proposed to be studied, is first systematically studied and background factors are taken notice of.

This type of study presumes that origin of different social events is more or less the same and thus it is possible to study these in a systematic manner. If there are any changes in their outlook, approach, etc. these are on account of circumstances that surround these institutions. If same circumstances are provided then the differences in functioning of institutions might not very much vary. This theory lays stress on evolution of institutions and it is believed that if this aspect is seriously studied many problems will find their answer themselves. This method has considerable utility because in society many institutions grow and develop. There are no sudden institutions, which find their existence in society.

11. Case Study
A comprehensive study of a social unit-be that unit a person, a group, a social institution, a district, or a community is called a case study. Social scientists study many economic units, cultural groups, small groups, a household, a firm, a factory, a political party, etc. They also study large units, as ethnic groups, poverty, and conflicts. In each case, the element of typical is the major concern and focus of attention, with stress upon varied factors, which characterize the type. As the case study helps in studying behavior in specific, precise detail, it is also called "the social microscope".

In social science, Frederic Le Play (1806-1882) evolved the case study method. He used it as a handmade statistics in his study of family budgets while Herbert Spencer (1820-1903) in his ethnographic studies used case materials for the first time. William Healy was among the first to adopt it in his study on juvenile delinquents. Anthropologists and ethnologists have utilized this method for providing detailed descriptions of primitive and modern cultures.

12. Time Series versus Cross-sectional
In a cross-sectional study, whatever is being studied is being observed at a single point in time, as if a section of time were being cut out for observation. Perhaps a good comparison would be with a medical procedure such as a biopsy or an x-ray. These diagnostic procedures are done at a specific point in time to discover the state of the body at that moment (from which it is possible to infer what has happened to the body previously to bring it to its current state). It is possible; of course, that they may detect signs that help predict what may happen in the future.

A cross-sectional study can accomplish the aim of exploration or description. It can also be used for explanatory studies since background information and retrospective data can be related to current status to future expectations and aspirations. Studies that aim to describe the current state of something the reading abilities of eighth-graders in a city, for example - usually have a cross-sectional time frame.

In a study using the cross-sectional method, persons of different ages are studied at only one point in time. Suppose you are interested in examining how the ability to learn a computer application changes as people grow older. Using the cross-sectional method, you might study people who are currently 20, 30, 40, and 50 years of age. The participants in your study would be given the same computer learning task, and you would compare the groups on their performance.

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