What is research design ?
If a research method is the strategy employed in the collection of data or evidence for analysis to uncover new information or arrive at a better understanding of a particular topic .
And if a research methodology is the plan that explains why a particular research method is employed .
A research design is the overview or the plan of the actual steps .
In particular , the research design is a plan to answer the research question .
This plan includes an outline of how the research is going to be structured and undertaken as well as describes the general plan for collecting , analyzing and evaluating data .
It is important to note that researchers can only come up with a research design once they know exactly what they want to know and what has to be dealt with to obtain the required information .
Hence , a research design has to consider the following .
First , the problem .
Second , the methodology , third data collection , fourth , data analysis and lastly report writing .
The very first step in conducting a research project is choosing a topic ideally one that the researcher is passionate about .
Once the researcher has chosen a topic , the next step is the identification of the research gap or problem that the researcher wants to see addressed in the proposed research project .
As we may already know , there is no research activity without a research gap or problem .
This can be done by undertaking a careful study of the existing literature , a literature review is important so that the researcher will know what others have written about the topic .
What theories have been advanced , the approach taken by other researchers , the areas of agreement and disagreement and whether there are gaps that you can fill through the proposed research .
It is also important that in this process , the researcher has clarified the theoretical concepts of framework to be employed .
Now , the next thing that a research design needs to consider is the research methodology .
Once the researcher knows exactly what she wants to do , after having identified the research gap or problem , it is now vital that the researcher identifies the appropriate method of investigation that will yield the desired data necessary for the attainment of the objectives of the study .
It must be noted that a number of considerations may influence the choice of a research method .
First is the fact that the nature of the research problem indicates the type of data that a researcher needs to obtain .
Second is the need for the researcher to take into consideration her available resources .
Of course , it is pointless to choose a research method that requires sophisticated tools and equipment beyond the reach of the researcher nor would it be practical to employ those that require huge financial budget that cannot be met .
And lastly , the researcher must take into account the amount of time at her disposal and her personal competence .
So the researcher must carefully choose the appropriate research method that best serve the purpose of the study .
Third is on data collection .
Data collection is the process of gathering and measuring information and variables of interest in an established systematic fashion that enables the researcher to answer the stated research questions , test the hypothesis and evaluate outcomes .
The data collection component of research is common to all fields of study , including physical and social sciences , humanities and business .
Now , regardless of the field of study or preference for defining data accurate data collection is essential to maintaining the integrity of research .
Both the selection of appropriate data collection instruments and clearly delineated instructions for their correct use , reduce the likelihood of errors occurring .
Lastly on data analysis and report writing .
Having collected the data , the researcher is left with one of the most important aspects in research that is assembling and analyzing the data as well as the compilation of the report .
It must be noted that in both social and scientific research , researchers normally have collected huge data which have to be analyzed .
And this requires special skills such as statistical skills and other skills needed to analyze the data with the analysis of data done .
The researcher is now in a position to write her report .
And so as we can see when these five elements of a research design are properly addressed , the researcher can carry out the research project smoothly and efficiently .
It also reduces inaccuracies and promotes reliability as well as makes the entire research as effective as possible by providing maximum information with minimum spending of time , effort and money .