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Research Design

A research design is a plan, structure and strategy of investigation so conserved as to obtain answers to
research questions or problems. The plan is the complete scheme or progamme of the research forit includes
an outline of what the investigator will do from writing the hypothesis and their operational implications to
the final data analysis. Therefore, a research design is a procedural plan that is adopted by the researcher to
answer questions validly, objectively, accurately and economically.

Functions of a research design

The above definition suggests that a research design has two main functions:-

1. Relates to identification and/or development of procedures and logistical arrangements required to

undertake a study.

2. Emphasizes the importance of quality in these procedures to ensure their validity, accuracy and
objectivity. Hence through a research design you:-

a) Conceptualize an operational plan to undertake the various procedures.

b) Ensure that these procedures are adequate to obtain valid, object of accurate answers to the research
questions (control of variance)

qualitative research

Qualitative research studies, typically serve one or more of the following


a) Description

They can reveal the nature of certain situations, settings processes, relationships, system or people.

b) Interpretation

They enable a researcher to:-

1) Gain new insights about a particular phenomenon.

2) Develop new concepts or theoretical perspectives about the phenomenon.

3) Discover the problem that exists within the phenomenon.

c) Verifications

They allow a researcher to test the validity of certain assumptions, claims theories or generalizations within
real world context.

d) Evaluation

They provide a means through which a researcher can judge the effectiveness of particular policies, practices
or innovations.

Qualitative research designs

There are five commonly used qualitative research designs:-

1. Case study

In a case study, a particular individual, program or event in a case study is studied in depth for a defined
period of time. Example, a medical researcher might study the nature, course and treatment of a rare illness
for a particular patient. A case study may be specifically suitable for learning more about little known or
poorly understood situations. It may be useful for investigating how an individual or program does over time,
perhaps as a result of certain circumstances or interventions.

2. Ethnography

In a case study, the researcher looks at a particular person, program or event in considerable depth. In
ethnography the researcher looks at an entire group more specifically, a group that shares a common culture
in depth. The researcher studies the group in its natural setting for a lengthy period of time often several
months of years. The focus of the investigation is on everyday behaviour like interactions, language, rituals
etc of the people in the group with an intense to identify cultural norms, beliefs, social structures and other
cultural patterns.

3. Phenomenological study

The term phenomenology refers to a persons perception of the meaning of an event as opposed to the event
as it exists external to the person. A phenomenological study is a study that attempts to understand peoples
perceptions, perspectives, and understandings of a particular situation. That is, it tries to answer the
question, what is it like to experience such and such? Example, a researcher might study the experiences of
people caring for a dying relative living in an abusive relationship etc.

4. Grounded theory study

Of all the research designs described, a grounded theory study is the one least likely to begin from a
particular theoretical framework. On the contrary, the major purpose of a grounded theory approach is to
begin with the data and use them to develop a theory. More specifically, a grounded theory study uses a
prescribed set of procedures for analyzing data and constructing a theoretical model from them.

5. Content Analysis

A content analysis is a detailed and systematic examination of the contents of a particular body of material
for the purpose of identifying patterns, themes or biases. Content analysis are typically performed on forms
of human communication including books, newspapers, firms, TV, art, music, video tapes of human
interactions and transcripts of conversations.