When research is carried out, it follows a definite pattern or plan of action throughout the procedure, i.e., since the problem identification to the report preparation and presentation. This definite pattern or plan of action is called -research design”. It is a map that guides the researcher in collecting and analyzing the data. In other words, research design acts as a blueprint that is followed throughout the research work. For example, a building cannot be constructed without the knowledge of its structure. A builder cannot order raw materials or set dates till he knows the structure of this building, such as office building, school, home, etc.
A research design is not only a work plan, but it also specifies the type of data required to address the research problem. It ensures that the data analysis and the conclusions lead to answering the initial questions of the researcher in a simple way. Therefore, research design provides the structure of research in such a way that it provides relevant outcomes economically.
Research Design Process
The stage in the process of research design is interactive in nature and often occur at the same time Designing of research study follows a given process:
Step 1: Defining Research Problem: The definition of the research problem is the foremost and important part of a research design process. Defining the research problem includes supplying the information that is required by the management. Without defining the research problem appropriately, it is not possible for the researcher to conclude the accurate results. While defining the research problem, the researchers first analyze the problems or opportunities in management, then they analyze the situation. The purpose of clarifying the research problem is to make sure that the area of concern for research is properly reflected and management decision is correctly described. After situation analysis, they develop a model for research which helps in the next step which is the specification of information.
Step 2: Assessing the Value of Information: When a research problem is approached, it is usually based on some information. These data are obtained from past experiences as well as other sources. On the basis of this information, some preliminary judgments are made regarding the research problem. There is always a need for additional information that is available without additional cost and delay but waiting and paying for the valuable information is quite difficult. For example, a car manufacturing industry may be concerned about a decrease in the sale of a particular model. A researcher will look for solutions by analyzing various aspects. For this, the researcher has to continuously collect a lot of information and needs to evaluate them by understanding their value and filtering out useless information.
Step 3: Selecting the Approach for Data Collection: For any type of research, a researcher needs data. Once, it is identified which kind of information is required for conducting the research, the researchers proceed towards collecting the data. The data can be collected using secondary or primary sources. Secondary data is the previously collected information for some other purpose, while the primary data is collected by the researcher especially for the research problem.
Step 4: Selecting the Measurement Technique: After collecting data, the measurement technique for the collected data is selected. The major measurement techniques used in research are as follows:
- Questionnaire: Questionnaire is a formal structure that contains questions to collect the information from the respondents regarding his attitude, beliefs, behavior, knowledge, etc.
- Attitude Scales: Attitude scales are used to extract the beliefs and feelings of the respondents regarding an object or issue.
- Observation: It is the monitoring of behaviors and psychological changes of the respondents. It is widely used in research.
- Projective Techniques and Depth Interview: Sometimes direct questions are not sufficient to get true responses from the individuals, that is why different approaches like depth interviews and projective techniques are used. These techniques allow the respondents to give their responses without any fear. The researcher neither disagrees nor gives advice in these techniques.
Step 5: Sample Selection: Once, the measurement technique has been selected, the next step is selecting the sample to conduct the research. The researchers in this stage select a sample out of the total population instead of considering the population as a whole. Sample can be selected by using two techniques, i.e., random sampling techniques, and non-random sampling techniques.
Step 6: Selecting Model of Analysis: Researchers select the model of analysis or technique of data analysis, before collecting data. After this, researchers evaluate the techniques using hypothetical values to ensure that the measurement technique would provide the desired outcome regarding the research problem.
Step 7: Evaluating the Ethics of Research: While conducting research, it becomes very much necessary for the researcher to follow ethical practices. The researches which is conducted ethically draw interests of the general public, respondents, clients and other research professionals. Hence, it becomes the duty of the researcher to evaluate the practices in research, to avoid any biasness on behalf of the observer and researcher as well.
Step 8: Estimating Time and Financial Requirements: This step is one of the most important steps in designing research. Here. researchers use different methods like the Critical Path Method (CPM) and Programme Evaluation Review Technique (PERT) to design the plan as well as the control process and to determine the resources required. A flowchart of these activities along with their approximate time is prepared for visual assessment of the research process. With the help of this chart, the researcher can find out the sequence of activities to be taken.
Step 9: Preparing the Research Proposal: The final step in the process of research design is preparing the research proposal, A research proposal or the research design is prepared for the operation and control of research. An effective research proposal is prepared before the actual conduction of the research.