A research design can be defined as the preparation of conditions, for the collection and analysis of data in such a manner, which aims at combining relevance to the research purpose with economy in procedure. In other words, the design arrangement of a research project is commonly known as the “research design”. Besides, the decisions like what, where, when, how, etc., in regard to a research study, creates a research design. In fact, the research design is the conceptual structure within which a research is conducted. Moreover, it comprises the outline for the collection, measurement and analysis of data. Hence, the design carries a blueprint of what the researcher will do, from composing the hypothesis and its operational implications to the final analysis of data. Overtly, the design decisions happen to be in respect of:
1) What is the research?
2) Where and why will the research be conducted?
3) What data is required for the research?
4) Where can be the data found?
5) What will be the time period of the research?
6) What will be the sample design?
7) What methods will be used for data collection?
8) How will be the data analysed?
9) In which style will be the research report prepared?
Based on the above mentioned design decisions, the complete research design may be divided into the following parts:
(a) Sample design: this deals with the technique of selecting items and thus requires careful observation for the given research study.
(b) Observational design: this relates to the conditions under which the experiments are to be conducted.
(c) Statistical design: this concerns the question of how many items are to be observed, and how are the collected data and information going to be analysed.
(d) Operational design: this deals with the methods by which the procedures specified in the sample, observational and statistical designs can be conducted.
The essential characteristics of a research design are as the following.
(a) It is a plan, which specifies the sources and types of data relevant to the research problem.
(b) It is a strategy, which decides the approach that will be used to collect and analyse the data.
(c) Since most of the research studies are conducted under these two controls, it also includes the time and cost budgets.
In short, the research design must contain the followings.
(i) A clear and concise statement of the research problem,
(ii) The population to be studied, and
(iii) The various procedures, methods, and techniques to be used for collecting and analysing the data.