In this article, we will examine the six basic elements of research design. These elements, taken together, help in structuring a research design.
Top 6 Elements of Research Design
The elements of research design are as:
1. Purpose of Study
Research is designed according to the purpose of the study. The study may be either exploratory or descriptive or conducted to test the hypothesis. The case study is also a method of solving the problem. We will look into some detail of each study.
i) Exploratory Study
An exploratory study is undertaken when information is unavailable on how similar problems or research issues have been solved. In such cases, extensive interviews have to be undertaken with many people to understand and handle the problem. It is one of the elements of research design.
Some studies where data are collected through observation or interviews are exploratory. For example, Henry Mintzberg interviewed managers to explore the nature of managerial work. He formulated theories of managerial roles based on the analysis of interview data.
ii) Descriptive Study
A descriptive study is undertaken to ascertain and describe the characteristics of the variables of interest. Descriptive studies are also undertaken to understand the characteristics of organizations that follow certain standard practices. For example, descriptive studies are age, undertaken in the organization to describe the characteristics of a group of employees – their educational level, job status, and length of service.
iii) Hypotheses Testing
Studies that involve hypotheses testing usually explain the difference among groups or the independence of two or more factors (variables) in a situation. It is one of the elements of research design. Hypotheses testing is undertaken to explain the variance in the dependent variable or to forecast organizational outcomes.
For example, a marketing manager wants to know if the company’s sales will increase if he doubles the advertising expenses. Here, the manager would like to know the nature of the relationship between advertising and sales by testing the hypothesis: If an advertisement is increased, then sales will also go up.
2. Type of Investigation
The causal investigation is done when it is necessary to establish a cause-and-effect relationship. This is another element of research design. It is one of the elements of research design. Here, the manager should decide whether a causal or correlational study is needed to find an answer to the issue at hand.
The correlational investigation is done when a manager wants to identify the crucial factors “associated with the problem.” For example, “Does smoking cause cancer?” is a causal study question. For another example, “Are smoking and cancer related” is a correlational study question. The type of investigation determines the design of the research.
3. Extent of Researcher Interference
The extent of researchers’ interference with regular workplace workflow directly impacts whether the study undertaken is causal or correlational. A correlational study is conducted in the natural environment or the organization with minimum interference by the researcher with the normal flow of work.
In studies conducted to establish cause-and-effect relationships, the researcher has considerable interference with the normal flow of work. For example, a researcher might want to study the influence of lighting on worker performance, and he can manipulate the lighting in the work situation to varying concepts.
4. Study Setting
The study setting involves field studies, field experiments, and lab experiments. Correlational studies done in the organization are called field studies, while studies conducted to establish cause-and-effect relationships in the same organization are called field experiments.
Lab experiments refer to studies that establish cause-and-effect relationships and require an artificial environment where non-related factors are strictly controlled. It is one of the elements of research design.
5. Unit of Analysis
The unit of analysis may be individual, dyads (set of two), or groups. The unit of analysis refers to the level of aggregation of the data collected.
Here the unit of analysis is individual. For example, if the problem statement focuses on how to raise the motivational level of employees in general, then we are interested in individual employees in the organization. If the researcher is interested in studying tow person interactions, then several two-person groups, also known as dyads, will become the unit of analysis. Analysis of supervisor-subordinate relationships at the workplace is an excellent example of dyads as the unit of analysis.
However, if the problem statement is related to group effectiveness, then the unit of analysis would be at the group level. Finally, the unit of analysis determines the research design undertaken.
6. Time Horizon
It includes cross-sectional and longitudinal studies from a period point of view.
Studies or one-shot studies are those for which data are collected just once, perhaps over days, weeks, or months. For example, data were collected from stock brokers between April and June of last year to study their concerns in a turbulent stock market. Data relating to this particular research has not been collected before, nor will it be collected again from stock brokers for this research.
ii) Longitudinal studies
It refers to a study where dependent variables are collected at two or more points in time to answer the research question. For example, a researcher wants to study employees’ behavior before and after a change in top management. Here, because data are collected at two different points in time, the study is not cross-sectional or of the one-shot kind but is carried longitudinally across a period. Hence it is a longitudinal study.
In the end, the factors of the study layout are essential for carrying out a well-dependent and meaningful take look. Research layout refers to the overall plan or blueprint that outlines how the research targets can be accomplished. It encompasses diverse additives, each gambling a full-size position within the research procedure. The factors of study layout, including the study’s hassle, objectives, technique, sampling, records collection methods, statistics analysis, and ethical issues, are interconnected and crucial for a nicely done observation. Properly addressing these factors contributes to the research findings’ validity, reliability, and credibility.