Research Design: Defined and Explained

research design, desinition, types, explained

Definition of Research Design

The term “research design” can be defined as,

The systematic study plan used to turn a research question or research questions into a “testing project” or “experimental study”.


A research design is a set of advance decisions that make up the master plan specifying the methods and procedures for collecting and analyzing the needed information.

A research design is based on the research questions and can be considered as a "blueprint" for research, addressing at least four of the problems:

  1. What questions to study?
  2. Which data are relevant?
  3. What data to collect?
  4. How to analyze the results?

Understanding the Research Design in Detail

The research design is used to form a systematic structure of the research procedure and elucidates all of the major parts and tasks (to be carried off) in a research project. It takes into account the study samples or groups, measurements, treatments or programs, and methods of assignment, evaluation and testing which are supposed to work together to try to address the central research questions hence reaching the hypothesis in affirmation or negation.

Components of a Typical Research Design

Following are the essential components of a basic research design, irrespective of its qualitative or quantitative nature:

Research Instrument(s)
  • Design and development of research instruments
  • Questionnaire development
  • Survey designing
  • Formulating interview
  • Sample selection and designing
  • Defining and Finalizing variables
Data: Observations or Measures
  • Data collection
  • Data analysis
  • Deriving results
  • Testing against hypothesis
  • Stating limitations

Types of Research Design

There are two basic types of a research design, which are then further sub-categorized into other types.

  1. Qualitative Research Design
  2. Quantitative Research Design