Research Methods: Developing your research design

Eira Patterson | View as single page | Feedback/Impact

Some practical points to consider when planning your research

When planning your research project it is important to consider whether what you are planning is achievable within the constraints of time and resources available to you. If not then you will need to modify your research question so that you are able to achieve what you plan. The following checklist will help you evaluate whether your planned research design is achievable within the real life constraints of time and resources:

  • How much time do you have available? The scale of the planned research is dependant on the research question you ask, therefore it is important not to ask a question which will require research on too large a scale.

  • What costs will be incurred and is there a budget available for this? If not you may need to modify your question so that a different form of data collection is used.

  • Do you have all of the necessary skills or will you require help e.g. for statistical analysis? If so how will you access this?

  • Have you negotiated access to the setting or subjects required for data collection? How will you decide on the sample you are going to work with?

It is advisable to carry out a pilot to test out your research tools. A pilot enables you to evaluate:

  • how effective your research tools are for collecting data that is useful for answering your research questions (validity)

  • Whether they are collecting data that represents what is actually taking place in the context being studied (reliability)

Following the pilot you can implement improvements in the design before carrying your main research project.