The Research Design

The Research Design
What is Research Design?
• A research design is the strategy for a study and
the plan by which the strategy is to be carried
out. It specifies the methods and procedures for
the collection, measurement, and analysis of
• It is a plan for selecting the sources and types of
information used to answer research questions
• It is a framework for specifying the relationships
among the study variables
• It is a blueprint that outlines each procedure
from the hypothesis to the analysis
Classifications of Designs
• Unfortunately, there is no simple classification of
research designs that covers the variation found
in practice. Some major descriptions of designs
Exploratory versus formalized (descriptive & causal);
Observation versus interrogation/communication;
Experimental versus ex post facto;
Cross-sectional versus longitudinal;
Case study versus statistical study;
Field versus laboratory versus simulation; and
Participants perceive no deviations, some deviations,
or researcher-induced deviations.
• Exploratory study is usually to develop
hypotheses or questions for further
• Formal study is to test the hypotheses or
answer the research questions posed
Power to Produce Effects
• In an experiment, the researcher attempts
to control and/or manipulate the variables
in the study
• In an ex post facto design, the researcher
has no control over the variables; they can
only report what has happened
Purpose of the Study
• Descriptive study tries to explain
relationships among variables
• Causal study is how one variable
produces changes in another
The Time Dimension
• Cross-sectional studies are carried out
once and represent a snapshot of one
point in time
• Longitudinal studies are repeated over an
extended period
The Topical Scope
• Statistical studies attempt to capture a
population’s characteristics by making
inferences from a sample’s characteristics
• Case studies place more emphasis on a
full contextual analysis of fewer events or
conditions and their interrelations
A Participant’s Perceptions
• Usefulness of a design may be reduced
when people in the study perceive that
research is being conducted
• Participants’ perceptions influence the
outcomes of the research
Why do Exploratory Studies?
• Exploration is particularly useful when
researchers lack a clear idea of the
problems they will face during the study.
• Through exploration, researchers develop
concepts more clearly, develop operational
definitions, and improve the final research
Data Collection Techniques
Qualitative techniques
Secondary data
Focus groups
Two-stage design
Two-stage design
• A useful way to design a research study is
two-stage design. With this approach,
exploration becomes a separate first stage
with limited objectives:
– Clearly defining the research question and
– Developing the research design
Descriptive Studies
• In contrast to exploratory studies, more
formalized (descriptive) studies are
typically structured with clearly stated
hypotheses or investigative questions.
• Formal studies serve a variety of research
Descriptive Studies: objectives
• Description of phenomena or
characteristics associated with a subject
population (the who, what, when, where,
and how of a topic).
• Estimates of the proportions of a
population that have these characteristics.
• Discovery of associations among different
Causal Studies
• The correlation between location and
probability of account holding at
BankChoice looks like strong evidence to
many, but researcher with scientific
training will argue that correlation is not
causation. Who is right?
• The essence of the disagreement seems
to lie in the concept of cause.
Causal Relationships
• The causal relationships that occur between
variables may be symmetrical, reciprocal, or
• Symmetrical Relationship:
– Two variables fluctuate together but we observe the
changes in neither are due to changes in the other,
e.g., a correlation between low work attendance and
active participation in a company’s camping club is
the result of another factor, such as a life style
• This type of relationship exists when two
variables mutually influence or reinforce
each other;
• For example, the reading of an
advertisement leading to the use of a
brand of product.
– The usage, in turn, sensitizes the person to
notice and read more of the advertising of the
particular brand.
Asymmetrical Relationship
• Most research analysts look for Asymmetrical
• With these we postulate/hypothesize that changes in
independent variable (IV) are responsible for changes in
dependent variable (DV).
• The identification of the IV and DV is often obvious, but
sometimes the choice is not clear. In the latter cases, the
independence and dependence may be evaluated on the
basis of:
– The degree to which each variable may be altered. The relatively
unalterable variable is the independent variable (IV) for instance,
age, social status, present manufacturing technology etc.
– The time order between the variables. The independent variable
(IV) precedes the dependent variable (DV).
Asymmetrical Relationships
• Four types of asymmetrical relationships are:
• Experiments usually involve stimulus-response
• Property-disposition relationships are often
studied in business and social science research.
• Much of ex facto research involves relationships
between properties, dispositions, and behaviors.
• See Exhibit 6.6