Different Research Designs

Research Design in Descriptive and Diagnostic Research Studies

Descriptive research studies describe the characteristics of a person or a group whereas diagnostic research studies determine the frequency of occurrence of something or its association with something else. From the research design point of view, the design of such studies should be rigid and should focus on the following:

(a) Objective of the study (what the study is about and why is it being made?)

(b) Methods of data collection (what techniques of data collection will be adopted?)

(c) Sample selection (how much material will be needed?)

(d) Data collection (where the required data can be found and with what time frequency should the data be related?)

(e) Data processing and analysis

(f) Reporting the findings

Given below is the difference between research designs of exploratory and descriptive research studies:

Type of study

Research Design



Overall design Flexible design Rigid design
  1. Sampling design
Non-probability sampling design Probability sampling design
  1. Statistical design
No pre-planned design for analysis Pre-planned design for analysis
iii. Observational design Unstructured instruments for data collection Structured or well thought out instruments for data collection
iv. Operational design No fixed decisions about the operational procedures Advanced decisions about operational procedures

Research Methods

Research methods may be understood as all those methods/techniques that are used for conduction of research. Research methods or techniques, thus, refer to the methods the researchers use in performing research operations. In other words, all those methods which are used by the researcher during the course of studying his research problem are termed as research methods. Since the object of research, particularly the applied research, it to arrive at a solution for a given problem, the available data and the unknown aspects of the problem have to be related to each other to make a solution possible. Keeping this in view, research methods can be put into the following three groups:

1. In the first group we include those methods which are concerned with the collection of data. These methods will be used where the data already available are not sufficient to arrive at the required solution;
2. The second group consists of those statistical techniques which are used for establishing relationships between the data and the unknowns;
3. The third group consists of those methods which are used to evaluate the accuracy of the results obtained.
Research methods falling in the above stated last two groups are generally taken as the analytical tools of research.


How to Write the Methods Section of a Research Paper

The methods section of a research paper provides the information by which a study’s validity is judged. Therefore, it requires a clear and precise description of how an experiment was done, and the rationale for why specific experimental procedures were chosen. The methods section should describe what was done to answer the research question, describe how it was done, justify the experimental design, and explain how the results were analyzed. Scientific writing is direct and orderly. Therefore, the methods section structure should: describe the materials used in the study, explain how the materials were prepared for the study, describe the research protocol, explain how measurements were made and what calculations were performed, and state which statistical tests were done to analyze the data. Once all elements of the methods section are written, subsequent drafts should focus on how to present those elements as clearly and logically as possibly. The description of preparations, measurements, and the protocol should be organized chronologically. For clarity, when a large amount of detail must be presented, information should be presented in sub-sections according to topic. Material in each section should be organized topic wise, from most to least important.