Get Started with Research Methodology: Research Design

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What is Research Design?

Research design is a "design or strategy that justifies the logic, structure and the principles of the research methodology and methods and how these relate to the research questions, hypothesis or proposition." The research design best suited to your project can be influenced by your discipline, topic, existing research, and availability.

Davies, P. (2006). Research design. In V. Jupp (Ed.), The SAGE dictionary of social research methods. (pp. 266-267). London, England: SAGE Publications, Ltd.

Use the links below to learn more about the different types of research design:
Qualitative Research Guide
Quantitative Research Guide

Some Definitions

Dissertation
A requirement of a doctoral degree candidate containing research and criticism or analysis which displays originality. In most cases, a professor or faculty member serve as an advisor, or committee chair, to the candidate. There are often three steps to completing the dissertation: Proposal, activation and presentation and approval.

Krathwohl, D. (2010). Dissertation. In N. Salkind (Ed.), Encyclopedia of Research Design. (pp. 377-380). Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications, Inc. doi:10.4135/9781412961288.n118

Mixed Method Design
Research design that includes both qualitative and quantitative methods. This may be necessary in order to best approach a research question or acheive better results by expanding the scope of the research. The methods used in research design should include the following: "(a) the relationship between the researcher and research “subjects,” (b) details of the experimental environment (place, time, etc.), (c) sampling and
data collection methods, (d) data analysis strategies, and (e) knowledge dissemination."

Pinto, R. (2010). Mixed Methods Design. In N. Salkind (Ed.), Encyclopedia of Research Design. (pp. 813-819). Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications, Inc. doi:10.4135/9781412961288.n245

Program Evaluation
A process designed to determine the the worth, value or significance of a program which combines both "knowledge and action" (Kushner, 2005, p. 335).The process and results of a program evaluation can be seen as an asset itself.

Kushner, S. (2005). Program Evaluation. In S. Mathison (Ed.), Encyclopedia of Evaluation. (pp. 335-340). Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications, Inc. doi:10.4135/9781412950558.n445

Qualitative Research
Research design that uses empirical, not numerical, data. The method of data collection should be appropriate to the discipline and ensure that the data is comprehensible after collection.

What is qualitative research? (2007). In U. Flick (Ed.), Designing Qualitative Research. (pp. 2-16). London, England: SAGE Publications, Ltd. doi:10.4135/9781849208826.n1

Quantitative Research
Research design that produces data that can be used to illustrate numerical or measureable properties of a population or situation that may be able to explain or predict.

Kraska, M. (2010). Quantitative Research. In N. Salkind (Ed.), Encyclopedia of Research Design. (pp. 1167-1172). Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications, Inc. doi:10.4135/9781412961288.n352

Test, Instrument, Measurement or Survey
Methods of gathering metrics related to the originial research component for a dissertation. For more information about these tools, check out this guide.

Thesis
Literally, "a statement or theory that is put forward as a premise to be maintained or proved." In academic usage, it is written work by a candidate for a university degree, usually at the Master's level.

Thesis. (2010). In Stevenson, A. (Ed.), Oxford English dictionary of English (3rd ed.). doi:10.1093/acref/9780199571123.001.0001