Types of Research Design: Process and Elements

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Research Analyst

Types of Research Design: Be it science and technology, art and culture, media studies, geography, mathematics, and other subjects, research has always been the route towards finding the unknown. In the circumstances when Coronavirus shattered the world, a vast amount of research was being carried out to find vaccines for its treatment. In this blog, we will understand what are the various types of research design and their related components. 

Also Read: Research Institutes in India

Types of Research Designs

Now that we know the broadly classified types of research, Quantitative and Qualitative Research can be divided into the following 4 major types of Research Designs:

✏️ Descriptive Research Design
✏️ Case Study
✏️ Correlational Research Design
✏️ Experimental Research Design
✏️ Diagnostic Research Design
✏️ Explanatory Research Design
✏️ Historical research design
✏️ Cohort research design
✏️ Sequential Research Design
✏️ Action Research Design
✏️ Survey

✏️ Phone System
✏️ Causal Research Design

These types of Research Designs mentioned below are considered the closest and exact to true experiments and are preferred in terms of accuracy, relevance as well as quality.

Descriptive Research Design

In Descriptive Research Design, the scholar explains/describes the situation or case in depth in their research materials. This type of research design is purely on a theoretical basis where the individual collects data, analyses, prepares and then presents it in an understandable manner. It is the most generalised form of research design. To explore one or more variables, a descriptive design might employ a wide range of research approaches. Unlike in experimental research, the researcher does not control or change any of the variables in a descriptive research design; instead, he or she just observes and measures them.  In other words, while qualitative research may also be utilised for descriptive reasons, a descriptive method of research design is typically regarded as a sort of quantitative research. To guarantee that the results are legitimate and dependable, the study design should be properly constructed. Here are some examples of the descriptive design of the research type:

  • How has the Delhi housing market changed over the past 20 years?
  • Do customers of Company A prefer Product C or Product D?
  • What are the main genetic, behavioural and morphological differences between Indian wild cows and hybrid cows?
  • How prevalent is disease 1 in population Z?

Experimental Research Design

Experimental research is a type of research design in which the study is carried out utilising a scientific approach and two sets of variables. The first set serves as a constant against which the variations in the second set are measured. Experimentation is used in quantitative research methodologies, for example. If you lack sufficient evidence to back your conclusions, you must first establish the facts. Experimental research collects data to assist you in making better judgments. Experimentation is used in any research undertaken in scientifically appropriate settings. The effectiveness of experimental investigations is dependent on researchers verifying that a variable change is due only to modification of the constant variable. The study should identify a noticeable cause and effect. The traditional definition of experimental design is “the strategies employed to collect data in experimental investigations.” There are three types of experimental designs:

  • Pre-experimental research design
  • True experimental research design
  • Quasi-experimental research design

Correlational Research Design

A correlational research design looks into correlations between variables without allowing the researcher to control or manipulate any of them. Correlational studies reveal the magnitude and/or direction of a link between two (or more) variables. Correlational studies or correlational study designs might have either a positive, negative or zero.

Correlational Studies Direction or TypesWhat Happens? Example 
Positive correlationBoth variables change in the same directionAs the price of petrol increases, the fare of an auto increases too.
Negative correlationThe variables change in opposite directionsAs tea consumption increases, tiredness decreases
Zero correlationThere is no relationship between the variablesTea consumption is not correlated with height

Correlational research design is great for swiftly collecting data from natural settings. This allows you to apply your results to real-world circumstances in an externally legitimate manner. Correlational studies research is a viable choice in a few scenarios like:

  • To investigate non-causal relationships
  • To explore causal relationships between variables
  • To test new measurement tools

Recommended Read: Scope of Operation Research

Diagnostic Research Design

Diagnostic research design is a type of research design that tries to investigate the underlying cause of a certain condition or phenomenon. It can assist you in learning more about the elements that contribute to certain difficulties or challenges that your clients may be experiencing. This design typically consists of three research stages, which are as follows:

  • Inception of the issue
  • Diagnosis of the issue
  • Solution for the issue

Explanatory Research Design

Explanatory research is a method established to explore phenomena that have not before been researched or adequately explained. Its primary goal is to notify us about where we may get a modest bit of information. With this strategy, the researcher obtains a broad notion and uses research as a tool to direct them more quickly to concerns that may be addressed in the future. Its purpose is to discover the why and what of a subject under investigation. In short, it is a type of research design that is responsible for finding the why of the events through the establishment of cause-effect relationships. The most popular methods of explanatory research are:

  • Literature research
  • In-depth interview
  • Focus groups
  • Case studies

Process of Research Design

Is it possible to conduct research without a plan? Most likely not. Research design is a topic we cover while discussing a plan for gathering, analyzing, and interpreting data. This design solves issues and produces a coherent and consistent data analysis model. Let’s study up on it.

A methodical and planned technique for conducting research is the research design process. To make sure the study is legitimate, trustworthy, and yields insightful data, the procedure is crucial. One should keep the points in mind while preparing for research.

Think about your goals and strategies: Establish the study’s theoretical framework, methods, and research questions and objectives.
Select a kind of study design: Based on the research questions and objectives, choose the best research design, such as experimental, correlational, survey, case study, or ethnographic.
Decide on your sample technique and population: Establish the sample size and target population before selecting a sampling strategy, such as convenience, stratified, or random sampling.
Select the techniques you’ll use to collect data: Choose the right instruments or tools for data collection and decide on the methodologies, such as surveys, interviews, observations, or experiments.
Arrange the steps you’ll take to collect data: Create a plan for gathering data that takes ethics into account and specifies the time, place, and people involved.
Choose your data analysis techniques: Plan how to interpret the findings after choosing the relevant data analysis methods, such as statistical, content, or discourse analysis.

Also Read: 10 Types of Qualitative Research Methods & Examples

What is Research Design?

By the term ‘research‘, we can understand that it’s a collection of data that includes critical information by taking research methodologies into consideration. In other words, it is a compilation of information or data explored by setting a hypothesis and consequently coming up with substantive findings in an organised way. Research can be done on an academic as well as a scientific basis as well. Let’s first understand what a research design actually means.

A Research Design is simply a structural framework of various research methods as well as techniques that are utilised by a researcher.

The research design helps a researcher to pursue their journey into the unknown but with a systematic approach by their side. The way an engineer or architect frames a design for a structure, likewise the researcher picks the design from various approaches in order to check which type of research to be carried out. 

Elements of Research Design

Here are the most important elements of a research design- 

➡️ The method applied for analyzing collected details
➡️ Type of research methodology
➡️ Accurate purpose statement
➡️ Probable objections to research
➡️ Techniques to be implemented for collecting and analyzing research
➡️ Timeline
➡️ Measurement of analysis
➡️ Settings for the research study

Must Read: What does a Research Assistant do?

Get to know about the characteristics of Research Design through the infographic given below.

2 Major Types of Research Design 

Keeping its dynamics into consideration, the research design is categorised into two different perspectives, i.e. Quantitative Research Design and Qualitative Research Design. Further, there are four main characteristics of research design which include Reliability, Neutrality, Validity as well as Generalization. Further, a researcher should have a clear understanding of how their project can be implemented in the research design. Let’s explore what Quantitative and Qualitative Research Designs mean:

Quantitative Research Design

In Quantitative Research Design, a researcher examines the various variables while including numbers as well as statistics in a project to analyze its findings. The use of graphics, figures, and pie charts is the main form of data collection measurement and meta-analysis (it is information about the data by the data).

Qualitative Research Design

This type of research is quite contrary to the quantitative research design. It is explanatory in nature and always seeks answers to “What’s” and “How’s”. It mainly focuses on why a specific theory exists and what would be the respondent’s answer to it. This allows a researcher to draw a conclusion with proper findings. Case studies are mainly used in Qualitative Research Design in order to understand various social complexities. 

Know All About Business Research!

Quantitative vs. Qualitative Research Design

Following is the difference between Quantitative vs. Qualitative Research Design

Quantitative ResearchQualitative Research
Focuses on putting ideas and hypotheses to the test. Concentrate on generating ideas and developing a theory or hypothesis.
Math and statistical analysis were used to examine the situation.Summarizing, classifying, and analyzing data were used to conduct the analysis.
Numbers, graphs, and tables are the most common forms of expression.Mostly represented with words
It necessitates the participation of a large number of people.Only a few people are required to answer.
Closed questions (multiple choice)Open-ended inquiries
Key terms: testing, measurement, objectivity, replicabilityKey terms: understanding, context, complexity, subjectivity

Fixed vs. Flexible Research Design

A contrast between fixed and flexible research design can also be drawn. Quantitative (fixed design) and qualitative (flexible design) data gathering are frequently associated with these two study design categories. The research design is pre-determined and understood with a set study design even before you begin collecting data. Flexible designs, on the other hand, provide for more flexibility in data collection — for example, you don’t provide fixed answer alternatives, so respondents must put in their own responses.

How to Write Research Design?

Let’s learn how to create and write a research design!

Research Design Types by Grouping

Another classification of study design types is based on how participants are categorized. In most situations, grouping is determined by the research premise and the method used to sample individuals. There is generally at least one experimental and one control group in a typical study based on experimental research design.

In medical research, for example, one group can be given therapy while the other receives none. You get my drift. We can differentiate four types of study designs based on participant grouping:

Cohort study

A cohort study is a sort of longitudinal research that takes a cross-section of a cohort (a group of people who have a common trait) at predetermined time intervals. It’s a form of panel research in which all of the people in the group have something in common.

Cross-sectional study

In social science, medical research, and biology, a cross-sectional study is prevalent. This study approach examines data from a population or a representative sample of the population at a specific point in time.

Longitudinal study

A longitudinal study is a type of study in which the same variables are observed repeatedly over a short or long period of time. It’s usually observational research, although it can also take the form of a long-term randomized experiment.

Cross-sequential study

Cross-sequential research design combines longitudinal and cross-sectional research methods, with the goal of compensating for some of the flaws inherent in both.

Types of Research Design PDF

Research Design PPT

Credits: Prahlada G Bhakta

Benefits of Research

Since we are dealing with the types of research design, it is imperative to understand how beneficial the practice of doing research is and some of its major advantages are:

  • Research helps in getting a deeper understanding of the subject.
  • You will learn about its varied aspects as well as its different sources like primary and secondary.
  • It helps to resolve complex problems in any field through critical analysis and measurement of unsolved problems. 
  • You will also get to know how a hypothesis is created by weighing preserved assumptions.

Also Read: How to Make a Career in Research? 


Which four categories of study design exist?

Research designs can be classified into four main categories: descriptive, correlational, experimental, and diagnostic designs.

Which five research methodologies and designs are there?

The five primary types of study design approaches utilized in research disciplines are explanatory, diagnostic, correlational, experimental, and descriptive research.

What is quasi-experimental design?

Quasi-experimental design is a research design in which the researcher does not have complete control over the independent variable, and therefore cannot establish a cause-and-effect relationship. However, they can still examine the relationship between variables.

What is correlational design?

Correlational design is a research design in which the researcher examines the relationship between two or more variables, without manipulating any of them.

Certainly, research is the fuel that can potentially drive the solutions to redress all the world’s problems. In order to help to gain a deeper understanding of any subject matter, knowing types of research design plays a critical role in carrying out your thesis. If you are aspiring to pursue your career in the field of research and aim to pursue a PhD, call us at 1800572000 for a free 30-minute career counselling session with our Leverage Edu experts and we will help you find a suitable program and university that fit your aspirations, interests and preferences and can guide you towards a fulfilling career in this domain.

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    1. Hey Maurice!

      We are really glad to hear that. Do subscribe to our newsletter to get the latest updates! Thank you.