Types of Research Designs

types of research design

3 Basic Types of Research Designs

  1. Quantitative (Fixed) Research Design
  2. Qualitative (Flexible) Research Design
  3. Mixed Research Methods

Quantitative (Fixed) Research Design

According to Burns & Grove,

Quantitative research is a formal, objective, systematic process in which numerical data are used to obtain information about the world.

This research method is used to:

  • describe variables
  • examine relationships among variables
  • determine cause-and-effect interactions between variables

Quantitative research is more frequently applied in social sciences such as psychology, economics, sociology, and political science, as compared to in anthropology and history.

Types of Quantitative (Fixed) Research Designs
  • Experimental Designs
  • Semi-Experimental Designs
  • Quasi Experiment

Qualitative (Flexible) Research Design

Cresswell (1994) has defined qualitative research as,

Qualitative research is an inquiry process of understanding based on distinct methodological traditions of inquiry that explore a social or human problem. The researcher builds a complex, holistic picture, analyzes words, reports, detailed views of informants, and conducts the study in a natural setting.

Types of Qualitative Research Designs
  1. Descriptive Research
  2. Research Review
  3. Ethnographic Research
  4. Correlational Research
  5. Critical Social Research
  6. Ethical Inquiry
  7. Grounded Theory
  8. Phenomenology
  9. Test Study

Mixed Research Design

Mixed research design refers to a research design which encompasses the methods of both qualitative and quantitative research methods or models.

Types of Mixed Research Designs
  1. Mixed Method Research
  2. Mixed Model Research

1) Quantitative Research Methods

A) Experimental Designs
  • True Experimental Design
  • Double-Blind Experiment

Simple Experimental Techniques

· Pretest-Posttest Design

· Control Group

· Randomization

· Randomized Controlled Trials

· Between Subjects Design

· Within Subject Design

Complex Experimental Techniques

· Factorial Design

· Solomon Four-Group Design

· Repeated Measures Design

· Counterbalanced Measures Design

· Matched Subjects Design

· Bayesian Probability

B) Semi-Experimental Designs
  • Field Experiment
  • Quasi-Experimental Design
  • Twin Studies

C) Quasi Experimental Designs

2) Qualitative Research Methods/Designs

A) Descriptive Research

Descriptive research or statistical research takes into account the features of a population sample under study. Though this kind of research is conducted on a systematic pattern by following logic and exactness yet it normally does not explains the causative factors of a condition.

Typically, descriptive research studies includes all those subject matters which can be samples, categorized and then studied but it fails to consider the origins and impacts of a condition.

Types of Descriptive Research

  • Case Study
  • Naturalistic Observation
  • Survey
  • Questionnaire

B) Correlational Studies

  • Case Control Study
  • Observational Study
  • Cohort Study
  • Longitudinal Study
  • Cross Sectional Study
  • Correlational Studies in General

C) Research Review

  • Literature Review
  • Meta-analysis
  • Systematic Reviews

D) Ethnography

Ethnography is derived from the Greek language (Ethno: people & grapho: to write) and includes those kinds of qualitative research whose aim is to scrutinize, understand and evaluate human lifestyle, societal formations and communal living.

The discipline typically includes the following areas:


ethnic groups

ethnic formations

ethno genesis



social welfare characteristics

material culture

spiritual culture

E) Critical Social Research

Critical social research assumes that social existence is a universal phenomenon and elements of social, cultural and political dimensions exert a directional influence on bring the societal changes in terms of it’s pattern, formation and evolution.

F) Ethical Inquiry

According to Darwall,

The development of ethical theory began when Aristotle (384 B.C. to 322 B. C.) developed Virtue Theory.

The core purpose of Ethical inquiry is to find out the starting points which bring out positive morality, ethics, moral conduct and nobility in man. It also inquires into the present day ethical issues and threats to morality.

G) Grounded Theory

Grounded theory is a research method cancels out the standard procedures of research as its first step includes data collection and then extraction of main pointers for segmentation and analysis of a hypothesis and formation and testing of a theory.

H) Phenomenology (Philosophical Research)

The philosophical discipline was found by Edmund Husserl with the objective to discern the conscious experiences in terms of its actual existence and form without clouding it in terms of interpretations of causes and effects.

I) Historical Research

Historical research seeks to supply answers for current issues by doing a analytical deduction of the past events or by looking into the patterns of progression of history.