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Research Design

Week 8

Research design is to elucidate and justify
the methodological approach used.
It examines the assumptions underlying the
use of a particular research design and
provides arguments for the preference of
one over another.
It is hoped that this will contribute to the
understanding of the nature and validity of
the research undertaken.

Research Approach
Designing a research study involves a
choice of research approach.
Therefore, research approaches will be
discussed before discussing the type of
research design.
There are 3 general categories of research
approaches (Sekaran, 2000):
i) exploratory
ii) descriptive
iii) causal

Each category differs from the other terms
of research purposes, research questions,
the precision of the formulated hypothesis
and the data methods that are used.
It is important to choose the most
appropriate research approach suited to our
study, as this will affect the reliability and
validity of the research outcomes.

Exploratory Research

Aims to gain insights and ideas.

Helpful in breaking broad, imprecise problem
statements into smaller and more precise subproblem statements.
To establish priorities among research questions
and for learning about practical problems of
carrying out the research.
Formal design and detailed questionnaire are not
very important because researcher frequently
change the research procedures as the vaguely
initial problem is transformed into one with more

Descriptive research
Involves a large proportion of social science
research .
The purposes are to provide a clear picture
of specific issues, to describe the
characteristics of certain research problems
and to make prediction of the social
Descriptive research is considered rigid,
requires a clear and precise specification of
research question.

Causal research
Based on the principle of causality which gives
emphasis to the relationship between cause and
Causality means that one or more variables cause
or determine the value of the other variables.
Appropriate to show relationship between variables
involved in the research framework.
Hypothesis testing in quantitative analysis has the
capability to explain the type of relationship.
Causal research can be used effectively to describe
social phenomena which happen in a specific

Research Design

Effective research design is very important

because it ensures that researchers are
providing good answers to their research
By definition, refers to the basic plan or
strategy of research, and the logic behind it,
and its possibility and validity to draw general
It consists of a plan for conducting research
that contains specifications of elements to be
investigated and the procedures to follow.

The design is the overall plan of a research
project, incorporating a number of activities and
choices, with the aim of relating the research
question to the relevant sources of data and
observations about the empirical world.
According to Nachmias & Nachmias (1996),
there are distinct types of research design:
i) experimental design
ii) quasi-experimental design
iii) pre-experimental design
iv) correlative design


However, 2 types of research design are always

used by researchers in Social Sciences are
Experimental: the researcher actively manipulates
aspects of a setting and observes the effects of
manipulation on experimental subjects.
Non-experimental: commonly used in the social
sciences. There is no manipulation of variables by
the researcher because the study is carried out in
the natural settings, phenomena are observed as
they occur.

The most widely used in Social Sciences
i) Case study in depth study which allows
a researcher to investigate a particular
problem/issue in detail within a certain period
of time.
ii) Survey collect information from a
particular sample using interviews and/or

Other categories in research design:
1. Correlational study
2. Cross- sectional study
3. Longitudinal study
4. Grounded theory
5. Action Research
6. Comparative design
7. True experiments
8. Quasi experiments
9. Ethnography


Research design play an important role in

determining the most appropriate research
framework to conduct research activities. A
wrong selection of research design will
create a lot of problem in making the
research valid and empirical.