Need for Research Design

Research design has a significant impact on the reliability of the results obtained. It thus acts as a firm foundation for the entire research. It is needed because it facilitates the smooth functioning of the various research operations. It makes the research as efficient as possible by giving maximum information with minimal expenditure of effort, time and money. For construction of a house, we need to have a proper blueprint prepared by an expert architect. Similarly, we need a proper research design or plan prior to data collection and analysis of our research project. Preparation of research design should be done carefully as even a minute error might ruin the purpose of the entire project. The design helps the researcher to organize his ideas, which helps to identify and correct his flaws, if any. In a good research design, all the components  with each other or go together with each other in a coherent manner. The theoretical and conceptual framework must  with the research goals and purposes. Likewise, the data collection strategy must fit with the research purposes, conceptual and theoretical framework and approach to data analysis.

The need for research design is as follows:

  • It reduces inaccuracy;
  • Helps to get maximum efficiency and reliability;
  • Eliminates bias and marginal errors;
  • Minimizes wastage of time;
  • Helpful for collecting research materials;
  • Helpful for testing of hypothesis;
  • Gives an idea regarding the type of resources required in terms of money, manpower,  time, and efforts;
  • Provides an overview to other experts;
  • Guides the research in the right direction.

Research Design

A research design can be defined as the preparation of conditions, for the collection and analysis of data in such a manner, which aims at combining relevance to the research purpose with economy in procedure. In other words, the design arrangement of a research project is commonly known as the “research design”. Besides, the decisions like what, where, when, how, etc., in regard to a research study, creates a research design. In fact, the research design is the conceptual structure within which a research is conducted. Moreover, it comprises the outline for the collection, measurement and analysis of data. Hence, the design carries a blueprint of what the researcher will do, from composing the hypothesis and its operational implications to the final analysis of data. Overtly, the design decisions happen to be in respect of:

1)  What is the research?

2)  Where and why will the research be conducted?

3)  What data is required for the research?

4)  Where can be the data found?

5)  What will be the time period of the research?

6)  What will be the sample design?

7)  What methods will be used for data collection?

8)  How will be the data analysed?

9)  In which style will be the research report prepared?

Based on the above mentioned design decisions, the complete research design may be divided into the following parts:

(a)  Sample design: this deals with the technique of selecting items and thus requires careful observation for the given research study.

(b)  Observational design: this relates to the conditions under which the experiments are to be conducted.

(c)  Statistical design: this concerns the question of how many items are to be observed, and how are the collected data and information going to be analysed.

(d)  Operational design: this deals with the methods by which the procedures specified in the sample, observational and statistical designs can be conducted.

The essential characteristics of a research design are as the following.

(a)  It is a plan, which specifies the sources and types of data relevant to the research problem.

(b)  It is a strategy, which decides the approach that will be used to collect and analyse the data.

(c)  Since most of the research studies are conducted under these two controls, it also includes the time and cost budgets.

In short, the research design must contain the followings.

(i)  A clear and concise statement of the research problem,

(ii)  The population to be studied, and

(iii)  The various procedures, methods, and techniques to be used for collecting and analysing the data.


Techniques Involved in Defining a Problem

As a researcher, you must have often read that defining a problem is the first step in a research process. But, have you ever wondered what is meant by defining a problem. Well, it simply means that the researcher has to lay down certain boundaries within which he/she has to study the problem with a pre-defined objective in mind.

Defining a problem is a herculean task, and this must be done intelligently to avoid confusions that arise in the research operation. Try to follow the below steps systematically to best define a problem:

 i.  State the problem in a general way:

First state the problem in general terms with respect to some practical, scientific or intellectual interest. For this, the researcher may himself read the concerned subject matter thoroughly or take the help of the subject expert. Often, the guide states the problem in general terms; it depends on the researcher if he/she wants to narrow it down to operational terms. The problem stated should also be checked for ambiguity and feasibility.

ii.  Understand the nature of the problem:

The next step is to understand the nature and origin of the problem. The researcher needs to discuss the problem with those related to the subject matter in order to clearly understand the origin of the problem, its nature, objectives, and the environment in which the problem is to be studied.

iii. Survey the available literature:

All available literature including relevant theories, reports, records, and other relevant literature on the problem needs to be reviewed and examined. This would help the researcher to identify the data available, the techniques that might be used, types of difficulties that may be encountered during the study, possible analytical shortcomings, and even new methods of approach to the present problem.

iv.  Go for discussions for developing ideas:

The researcher may discuss the problem with his/her colleagues and others related to the concerned subject. This helps the researcher to generate new ideas, identify different aspects on the problem, gain suggestions and advices from others, and sharpen his focus on certain aspects within the field. However, discussions should not be limited to the problem only, but should also be related to the general approach to the problem, techniques that might be used, possible solutions, etc.

v.  Rephrase the research problem into a working proposition:

Finally, the researcher must rephrase the problem into a working proposition. Rephrasing the problem means putting the problem in specific terms that is feasible and may help in the development of working hypotheses. Once the researcher has gone through the above steps systematically, it is easy to rephrase the problem into analytical and operational terms.


Necessity of Defining the Problem

The old adage, A problem well-defined is a problem half-solved, holds strong even today. Proper definition of a research problem is an important prerequisite for any research study. Often, the formulation of a problem holds more significance than its solution. The manner in which the problem is defined decides the direction for the entire research. The problem that has to be analyzed should be defined unambiguously, which will help to discriminate between the relevant and irrelevant data. A careful scrutiny of the research problem will help in working out the research design. This will ensure smooth coordination of all the consequential steps involved in the research. Lots of questions may arise during the course of the research: What data needs to be collected? What characteristics of that data are relevant and need to be studied? What relations have to be explored? What techniques have to be used for the purpose? The researcher can find answers to all these questions only if the problem has been properly defined. A proper definition of the problem helps to improve the overall efficiency and quality of the study. It is the foundation for further development of the research proposal. It enables the researcher to systematically point out as to why the proposed research should be undertaken and what can be achieved with the research findings. A carefully defined research problem ensures that the researcher does not stray from the research path that has to be followed.