Research design for college/university students

12.07.21 Types of research studies Time to read: 6min

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The primary function of having a research design is to ensure evidence obtained can help you address the research problem effectively and unambiguously. Obtaining evidence in social science research related to the problem, which involves specifying the evidence type to test the theory. However, students can start their investigations early before they have the information to answer their study’s research question.

Research design - FAQ

It is the overall strategy that a student chooses for different component integration of the study logically and coherently to ensure that the research problem is effectively addressed.

Remember, the research problem will determine the design type you should use. The research will include the collection, analysis, and measurement of data.

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The outlook for the research topic will define the type of design and its sub-type. Types include survey, correlational, review, experimental and semi-experimental. Sub-type of research includes research problem, experimental design, and descriptive case study.

Research design comes in three main types, namely:

  • Data collection
  • Analysis
  • Measurement

Research designs aim at answering the research question. To implement the plan you come up with, you will need research methods.

Research methods and design are closely related but different. A good design will ensure that the obtained data can help the student to answer the research question effectively.

Immediately after having the research study topic, the student needs to prepare for the right design. Designing is simply research planning. Design is a detailed program to carry out research study properly and orderly. The selection of the right research design is a problem for many students.

The best way of selecting the design to use in your research is by considering the research objective and research problem or question. It is crucial to be clear of the design you need to suit your title. You can choose quantitative, qualitative, or a combination of qualitative and quantitative methods.

Research designing is done primarily to solve research problems for various stages. Having research control factors is important for any research during research operation. However, some factors will affect research design that includes:

  • Time availability
  • Manpower availability
  • Proper data source exposure
  • Management problem magnitude
  • Availability of sufficient data
  • External variables
  • Internal variables
  • Controllable variables

Research design: Definition

Research design is a framework of techniques and research methods applied by researchers and students to incorporate different components and elements of research simply and systematically to operate the research problem more effectively and efficiently.

More importantly, designing provides insight on “how to carry out a research” using a specified research methodology. Project design mainly tends to search for answers to the research question.

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Different types of research design

The best design is unbiased and provides accurate information. Therefore, it is important to have a design that fits all the main characteristics of a good one: reliability, validity, neutrality, and generalization.
Therefore, students will have several types of design to choose from to fit their research needs. Similar to your research, research designs are broadly categorised into two classes: qualitative and quantitative. However, you can break down further these designs into smaller categories, including:

Descriptive research design

In this type of design, the student is only interested in case or situation description under the research study. It is a method based on the theory developed by analysing, gathering, and presenting already collected data. Therefore, it helps a student offer how and why insight into the research.

Experimental research design

This design tries to create a relationship between the effect and cause of the situation. Experimental design is casual in that the student needs to observe the independent variable impacts on the dependent variable. For example, the research can monitor price (independent variable) on brand loyalty or customer satisfaction (dependent variable).

The fact that it helps solve at-hand problems makes it a highly practical design for students. It is mostly used to analyse the behaviour of two groups in social science research.

Correlational research design

It is a non-experimental design technique that will help students establish a relationship between closely related variables. Correlation design requires the use of two different groups. There should be no assumption when evaluating the two different variables’ relationship. The student will use statistical analysis to calculate any relations between the groups.

A correlation coefficient is used to determine the relationship between the two variables between +1 and -1. A correlation coefficient leaning toward +1 means it is a positive relationship, and -1 indicates a negative relationship.

Explanatory research design

This design will tend to use student’s thoughts and ideas on the topic to further explore the theory in play. The student will explain all the unexplored aspects of the topic and explain how, why, and what of the research questions.


In this design, the student aims to evaluate the phenomenon or specific topic’s underlying causes. The diagnostic design will help the student to learn more about troublesome creating factors in a certain situation. The three parts involved include:

  • Issue inception
  • Issue diagnosis
  • Solution
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How to create a research design

Creating a design means that you decide on many things, including sources, participants, data type you need, and research location. To have a perfect design, you need to follow some simple and effective steps.


Considering your practicalities and priorities

There is more than one design to choose from in most research problems. A student’s choice will entirely depend on priorities and trade-offs in the research – a design can be strong in one area but weak in another.


Determining the data type you need.

Since you already have the research type you want to do considering your research questions and problem statement, you only have two choices you can use to start: primary and secondary data and qualitative and quantitative data.


Choosing a data collection method

You need to know where, when, and how to collect data once you have the data to use. Therefore, the student needs to determine the methods that include procedures, techniques, specific tools, and materials. Also, you need to decide the criteria to select sources and participants.


Deciding how to analyse data

Data analysis is important to answer your research questions. Therefore, you can choose between quantitative and qualitative data analysis techniques for an effective problem-solving process.


Writing your research proposal

Design is an important part of your thesis proposal or dissertation. It helps to show your supervisor that the project can answer the research questions and it is practically feasible. The research proposal simply describes how you plan to do the project and what you are planning to do.


A good example of research design is how researchers are working to find the cure for HIV/AIDS. Also, the research design in the information that university students research for their final project report forms a good example.

In a Nutshell

  • Each research plan has multiple tasks in play regardless of the chosen design by the student.
  • The performance of project design is determined by the way the design is formed.
  • Project design offers a blueprint to the student.
  • The design offers an outline that the student can follow when dealing with the full study.
  • Using the research design, the student can solve many issues before starting the study.