How to Create a Strong Research Design

A research design is the first major step in writing a research paper, dissertation paper, or a thesis, so it is imperative that you learn how to create a strong research design. What makes it so important? A research design will serve as the foundation or framework of your paper; your research cannot move forward without it. It is the backbone of your research paper, the element that will help you answer your research question. It consists of methods and techniques on how to conduct the research and combine its different elements, which you must explain and illustrate. If you are wondering how to create a strong research design, you can follow the steps below.

Steps on how to create a strong research design

You must be careful in creating your research design. You wouldn’t want to choose a research design that is incompatible with your topic. If you are not familiar with creating a research design, follow these simple steps:

Step 1: Finalize your topic and choose the theory that will help you get the conclusion you want, will support your claims, and, most importantly, will answer your research question. For example, if you were to write a thesis about journalism, you can use one or more mass communication theories.

Step 2: Identify the type of data you need to support the theory you will use. Identify the locus, participants, sources, variables, and hypotheses. Observe if the research design you want to use will help these elements serve their purpose on your chosen research paper topic.

Step 3: Decide how you will acquire the data you need.

Methods of acquiring data

  • Surveys
  • Interviews
  • Experiments
  • Secondary data (such as content analysis)

Step 4: Decide how you will analyze the data. If it needs statistical analysis, a quantitative research design is more applicable, and qualitative if it needs a panel discussion.

Step 5: Familiarize yourself with the different types of research design. The two major types of research design are quantitative and qualitative.

How to create a strong research design

Types of quantitative research design

Quantitative research design focuses on sampling, measuring quantity of responses, and experimenting. If your research paper is more inclined to trends, and has a more objective approach, then this is what you must use. Under quantitative research are the following:

  • Descriptive – A scientific method which requires observing and describing the variables.  Descriptive research design is best used when you want to focus on getting the quantity of similarities in demographic characteristics of your variable.
  • Correlative – A non-experimental research method which aims to measure, assess, and analyze the statistical relationship between two variables.
  • Quasi-experimental – If you are focused on a single demographic and you want to do an experiment about it, quasi-experimental research method is the design you should do.
  • Experimental – If you have different demographics and you want to do a random selection or a series of experiments so you can get the conclusion of your hypothesis, you can do an experimental research method.

Types of qualitative research design

Qualitative research design is often used when studying human behavior, perceptions, opinions, themes, and motivations. If your research has a more subjective approach, then a qualitative research design is recommended. Under qualitative research designs are the following:

  • Ethnographic – An interactive method wherein the researcher socializes with the participant’s environment in order to study and observe their cultural identity. This method is widely used in the field of social sciences.
  • Narrative – A research method used when focusing on the life of an individual. The researcher has to write a narrative about the individual’s life experiences. This method relies heavily on written visual representation of an individual person.
  • Grounded theory – An inductive research method focused on constructing or modifying a theory. If you want to study the applicability of a theory on various phenomenon, you should use this method.
  • Case study – A research method focused on analyzing a person, group, event, and policies. Case studies are used together with one or more methods.
  • Phenomenology - A research method focused on studying the consciousness of a human being as experienced from a first-person point of view. It is also known as the philosophy of experience.

Step 6: After you have familiarized yourself with the different types of research design, you must choose the research design that complements your chosen theory and your objectives. Remember that every research design method focuses on a research element, but this does not mean that the other elements should be disregarded. 

Step 7: Determine if there’s a need to use mixed research method. If so, check the feasibility of the study. If you are going to use both quantitative and qualitative research design, will you have enough time? Do you have enough resources?

Step 8: If you have decided what theory, methods, and research design you will use, you may proceed with writing your theoretical framework. In your theoretical framework, you will explain the theory you decided to choose and how it will help you answer your research question. You must also identify the type of research design you will use.

Step 9: Formulate your hypothesis. Use basic principles of logic.

Step 10: Create a research simulacrum. A research simulacrum is the visual representation of your hypothesis and theoretical framework. 

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