Research design in case of Different Research studies

10/05/2020 0 By indiafreenotes
  1. Research design in case of exploratory research studies: Exploratory research studies are also termed as formulative research studies. The main purpose of such studies is that of formulating a problem for more precise investigation or of developing the working hypotheses from an operational point of view. The major emphasis in such studies is on the discovery of ideas and insights. As such the research design appropriate for such studies must be flexible enough to provide opportunity for considering different aspects of a problem under study. Inbuilt flexibility in research design is needed because the research problem, broadly defined initially, is transformed into one with more precise meaning in exploratory studies, which fact may necessitate changes in the research procedure for gathering relevant data. Generally, the following three methods in the context of research design for such studies are talked about: the survey of concerning literature, the experience survey and the analysis of ‘insight-stimulating’ examples.

The survey of concerning literature happens to be the most simple and fruitful method of formulating precisely the research problem or developing hypothesis. Hypotheses stated by earlier workers may be reviewed and their usefulness be evaluated as a basis for further research. It may also be considered whether the already stated hypotheses suggest new hypothesis. In this way the researcher should review and build upon the work already done by others, but in cases where hypotheses have not yet been formulated, his task is to review the available material for deriving the relevant hypotheses from it.

Besides, the bibliographical survey of studies, already made in one’s area of interest may as well as made by the researcher for precisely formulating the problem. He should also make an attempt to apply concepts and theories developed in different research contexts to the area in which he is himself working. Sometimes the works of creative writers also provide a fertile ground for hypothesis formulation and as such may be looked into by the researcher.

Experience survey means the survey of people who have had practical experience with the problem to be studied. The object of such a survey is to obtain insight into the relationships between variables and new ideas relating to the research problem. For such a survey people who are competent and can contribute new ideas may be carefully selected as respondents to ensure a representation of different types of experience. The respondents so selected may then be interviewed by the investigator. The researcher must prepare an interview schedule for the systematic questioning of informants. But the interview must ensure flexibility in the sense that the respondents should be allowed to raise issues and questions which the investigator has not previously considered. Generally, the experience collecting interview is likely to be long and may last for few hours. Hence, it is often considered desirable to send a copy of the questions to be discussed to the respondents well in advance. This will also give an opportunity to the respondents for doing some advance thinking over the various issues involved so that, at the time of interview, they may be able to contribute effectively. Thus, an experience survey may enable the researcher to define the problem more concisely and help in the formulation of the research hypothesis. This survey may as well provide information about the practical possibilities for doing different types of research.
Analysis of ‘insight-stimulating’ examples is also a fruitful method for suggesting hypotheses for research. It is particularly suitable in areas where there is little experience to serve as a guide. This method consists of the intensive study of selected instances of the phenomenon in which one is interested. For this purpose the existing records, if any, may be examined, the unstructured interviewing may take place, or some other approach may be adopted. Attitude of the investigator, the intensity of the study and the ability of the researcher to draw together diverse information into a unified interpretation are the main features which make this method an appropriate procedure for evoking insights.
Now, what sort of examples are to be selected and studied? There is no clear cut answer to it. Experience indicates that for particular problems certain types of instances are more appropriate than others. One can mention few examples of ‘insight-stimulating’ cases such as the reactions of strangers, the reactions of marginal individuals, the study of individuals who are in transition from one stage to another, the reactions of individuals from different social strata and the like. In general, cases that provide sharp contrasts or have striking features are considered relatively more useful while adopting this method of hypotheses formulation.
Thus, in an exploratory of formulative research study which merely leads to insights or hypotheses, whatever method or research design outlined above is adopted, the only thing essential is that it must continue to remain flexible so that many different facets of a problem may be considered as and when they arise and come to the notice of the researcher.

  1. Research design in case of descriptive and diagnostic research studies: Descriptive research studies are those studies which are concerned with describing the characteristics of a particular individual, or of a group, whereas diagnostic research studies determine the frequency with which something occurs or its association with something else. The studies concerning whether certain variables are associated are examples of diagnostic research studies. As against this, studies concerned with specific predictions, with narration of facts and characteristics concerning individual, group or situation are all examples of descriptive research studies. Most of the social research comes under this category. From the point of view of the research design, the descriptive as well as diagnostic studies share common requirements and as such we may group together these two types of research studies. In descriptive as well as in diagnostic studies, the researcher must be able to define clearly, what he wants to measure and must find adequate methods for measuring it along with a clear cut definition of ‘population’ he wants to study. Since the aim is to obtain complete and accurate information in the said studies, the procedure to be used must be carefully planned. The research design mustmake enough provision for protection against bias and must maximise reliability, with due concern for the economical completion of the research study. The design in such studies must be rigid and not flexible and must focus attention on the following:
    • Formulating the objective of the study (what the study is about and why is it being made?)
    • Designing the methods of data collection (what techniques of gathering data will be adopted?)
    • Selecting the sample (how much material will be needed?)
    • Collecting the data (where can the required data be found and with what time period should the data be related?)
    • Processing and analysing the data.
    • Reporting the findings.

In a descriptive/diagnostic study the first step is to specify the objectives with sufficient precision to ensure that the data collected are relevant. If this is not done carefully, the study may not provide the desired information.
Then comes the question of selecting the methods by which the data are to be obtained. In other words, techniques for collecting the information must be devised. Several methods (viz., observation, questionnaires, interviewing, examination of records, etc.), with their merits and limitations, are available for the purpose and the researcher may user one or more of these methods which have been discussed in detail in later chapters. While designing data-collection procedure, adequate safeguards against bias and unreliability must be ensured. Whichever method is selected, questions must be well examined and be made unambiguous; interviewers must be instructed not to express their own opinion; observers must be trained so that they uniformly record a given item of behaviour. It is always desirable to pretest the data collection instruments before they are finally used for the study purposes. In other words, we can say that “structured instruments” are used in such studies.
In most of the descriptive/diagnostic studies the researcher takes out sample(s) and then wishes to make statements about the population on the basis of the sample analysis or analyses. More often than not, sample has to be designed. Different sample designs have been discussed in detail in a separate chapter in this book. Here we may only mention that the problem of designing samples should be tackled in such a fashion that the samples may yield accurate information with a minimum amount of research effort. Usually one or more forms of probability sampling, or what is often described as random sampling, are used.

To obtain data free from errors introduced by those responsible for collecting them, it is necessary to supervise closely the staff of field workers as they collect and record information. Checks may be set up to ensure that the data collecting staff perform their duty honestly and without prejudice. “As data are collected, they should be examined for completeness, comprehensibility, consistency and reliability.”
The data collected must be processed and analysed. This includes steps like coding the interview replies, observations, etc.; tabulating the data; and performing several statistical computations. To the extent possible, the processing and analysing procedure should be planned in detail before actual work is started. This will prove economical in the sense that the researcher may avoid unnecessary labour such as preparing tables for which he later finds he has no use or on the other hand, re-doing some tables because he failed to include relevant data. Coding should be done carefully to avoid error in coding and for this purpose the reliability of coders needs to be checked. Similarly, the accuracy of tabulation may be checked by having a sample of the tables re-done. In case of mechanical tabulation the material (i.e., the collected data or information) must be entered on appropriate cards which is usually done by punching holes corresponding to a given code. The accuracy of punching is to be checked and ensured. Finally, statistical computations are needed and as such averages, percentages and various coefficients must be worked out. Probability and sampling analysis may as well be used. The appropriate statistical operations, along with the use of appropriate tests of significance should be carried out to safeguard the drawing of conclusions concerning the study.
Last of all comes the question of reporting the findings. This is the task of communicating the findings to others and the researcher must do it in an efficient manner. The layout of the report needs to be well planned so that all things relating to the research study may be well presented in simple and effective style.
Thus, the research design in case of descriptive/diagnostic studies is a comparative design throwing light on all points narrated above and must be prepared keeping in view the objective(s) of the study and the resources available. However, it must ensure the minimisation of bias and maximisation of reliability of the evidence collected. The said design can be appropriately referred to as a survey design since it takes into account all the steps involved in a survey concerning a phenomenon to be studied.
The difference between research designs in respect of the above two types of research studies can be conveniently summarised in tabular form as under:

Research Design Type of Study
Exploratory of Formulaive Descriptive/Diagnostic
Overall Design Flexible design (Design must provide opportunity for considering different aspects of the problem Rigid design (Design must make enough provision for protection against bias and must maximize reliability)
Sampling Design Non-Probability sampling design (Purpsive or Judgements Sampling) Probability sampling design (Random Sampling)
Statistical Design No Pre-planned design for analysis Pre-planned design for analysis
Observational design Unstructured instruments for collection of data Structured or well thought out instruments for collection of data
Operational Design No fixed decisions about te operational procedures Advanced decisions about operational procedures
  1. Research design in case of hypothesis-testing research studies: Hypothesis-testing research studies (generally known as experimental studies) are those where the researcher tests the hypotheses of causal relationships between variables. Such studies require procedures that will not only reduce bias and increase reliability, but will permit drawing inferences about causality. Usually experiments meet this requirement. Hence, when we talk of research design in such studies, we often mean the design of experiments.
    Professor R.A. Fisher’s name is associated with experimental designs. Beginning of such designs was made by him when he was working at Rothamsted Experimental Station (Centre for Agricultural Research in England). As such the study of experimental designs has its origin in agricultural research. Professor Fisher found that by dividing agricultural fields or plots into different blocks and then by conducting experiments in each of these blocks, whatever information is collected and inferences drawn from them, happens to be more reliable. This fact inspired him to develop certain experimental designs for testing hypotheses concerning scientific investigations. Today, the experimental designs are being used in researches relating to phenomena of several disciplines. Since experimental designs originated in the context of agricultural operations, we still use, though in a technical sense, several terms of agriculture (such as treatment, yield, plot, block etc.) in experimental designs.