Meaning of Research Design:
The formidable problem that follows the task of defining the research problem is the preparation of the design of the research project, popularly known as the “research design”. Decisions regarding what, where, when, how much, by what means concerning an inquiry or a research study constitute a research design. “A research design is the arrangement of conditions for collection and analysis of data in a manner that aims to combine relevance to the research purpose with economy in procedure.”1 In fact, the research design is the conceptual structure within which research is conducted; it constitutes the blueprint for the collection, measurement and analysis of data. As such the design includes an outline of what the researcher will do from writing the hypothesis and its operational implications to the final analysis of data. More explicitly, the desing decisions happen to be in respect of:
- What is the study about?
- Why is the study being made?
- Where will the study be carried out?
- What type of data is required?
- Where can the required data be found?
- What periods of time will the study include?
- What will be the sample design?
- What techniques of data collection will be used?
- How will the data be analysed?
- In what style will the report be prepared?
Keeping in view the above stated design decisions, one may split the overall research design into the following parts:
- The sampling design which deals with the method of selecting items to be observed for the given study;
- The observational design which relates to the conditions under which the observations are to be made;
- The statistical design which concerns with the question of how many items are to be observed and how the information and data gathered are to be analysed; and
- The operational design which deals with the techniques by which the procedures specified in the sampling, statistical and observational designs can be carried out.
From what has been stated above, we can state the important features of a research design as under:
- It is a plan that specifies the sources and types of information relevant to the research problem.
- It is a strategy specifying which approach will be used for gathering and analysing the data.
- It also includes the time and cost budgets since most studies are done under these two constraints.
In brief, research design must, at least, contain— (a) a clear statement of the research problem; (b) procedures and techniques to be used for gathering information; (c) the population to be studied; and (d) methods to be used in processing and analysing data.