Research Methods: Developing your research design

Eira Patterson | View as single page | Feedback/Impact

Developing your Research Design

Your research design is a plan for your research project and it enables you to identify the most appropriate research approach and methods to investigate your research focus. An overview of the stages involved in preparing a research design is included here:

  • converting your research focus into a purpose statement, research question or hypothesis

  • identifying the variables or factors you need to measure or explore (see the section on Developing indicators), which will impact on the type of data you collect

  • selecting the sample you want to study

  • identifying ethical focus that may arise during your study and action that needs to be taken to address these, especially with regard to safeguarding and other risks For further guidance, look at the MESH Guide: Considering Ethics in your Research).

  • deciding on the structure of your research (what you will do, the order in which you will do it and the timeframe you have to work within)

  • deciding on the methodology that would work best for your research question (e.g. a case study, a quantitative survey, an experiment) or in the case of a mixed methods approach the combination of methodologies you could use

  • considering what might impact on the validity and reliability of your research findings

  • deciding on the methods that you will use to collect your data

  • identifying challenges that may arise in the collection of your data and considering ways that you could overcome these e.g. low response rate from questionnaires; subjectivity in observations; bias in the design of research tools.

(Adapted from Cohen et al. 2011)