How to Conduct Research: Understanding the Characteristics of Research Design

Research Method

Research methods are the tools and/or instruments used to accomplish the goals while conducting a research process. Think of the methodology as a structured process in which the tools or mechanisms will be employed.

It’s pointless to utilize a tool if it’s ineffective.

Research is a detailed study of a specific problem or concern using scientific methods, tools, and instruments.

Research can be done in many ways, scientific, basic applied, market research- qualitative market research and quantitative market research, problem-oriented research, problem-solving research.

To start research, you first need to identify a problem or a need in need of a solution.

One of the most significant features of research is the statistics connected with it, conclusion or result. It is about the “philosophy” that goes along with the research. Research is conducted with a purpose to understand:

  • What do groups or companies really want to discover?
  • What are the rules that need to be followed to pursue an idea?
  • What are the arguments that need to be developed around a theory?
  • What is the proof that will be expected that people believe in the idea or concept?

How to Conduct Research: Understanding the Characteristics of Research Design

What is the Purpose of Research?

There are three purposes of research and it’s important to understand them while conducting research:

  1. Exploratory Research: As the name implies, exploratory research is conducted to investigate the study questions and may or may not offer a final conclusion to the research carried out. It is conducted to examine new problem areas which haven’t been examined before. Exploratory research lays the groundwork for more definitive research and data collection. For example, research conducted to identify the level of customer satisfaction among the clients of a restaurant.
  2. Descriptive Research: Descriptive research focuses on presenting more light on contemporary issues through a method of data collection. Descriptive studies are used to illustrate the behavior of a specimen population. In descriptive research, only one variable (anything that has quantity or quality that varies) is required to conduct a study. The three main purposes of descriptive research are describing, explaining and validating the findings. For example, research conducted to know if top-level management leaders in the 21st century possess the moral right to receive a huge sum of money from the company profit?
  3. Explanatory Research: Explanatory research or causal research is conducted to understand the impact of certain changes in existing standard procedures. Conducting experiments is the most popular form of causal research. For example, research conducted to understand the effect of rebranding on customer loyalty.

Types of Research Methods and Example

When it comes to research methods it’s broadly divided into two.

Qualitative and Quantitative Research and it’s important to understand them while conducting research.

They both have different properties and data collection methods.

Qualitative Research Methods

Qualitative research is a research method that collects data using conversational methods, where the contributors to the research are asked open-ended questions. The feedback is then collected and collated.

This is essentially non-numerical. This method not only helps a researcher understand “what” participant think but also, “why” they think in a specific way.

Here are the widely used qualitative research methods:

  • One-to-one Interview: This interview technique is systematically planned and as the name suggests is conducted with one participant at a given point in time. One-to-one interviews need a researcher to prepare questions in advance and to make sure the researcher asks only the most important questions to the participant. This type of interview lasts anywhere between 20 minutes to half an hour. During this time the researcher collects as many meaningful data as possible from the participants to draw inferences.
  • Focus Groups: Focus groups are small groups comprising of around 6-10 participants who are usually specialists in the subject matter.

A moderator is attached to a focus group who facilitates the dialogue amongst the group members. A moderator’s experience in conducting focus group plays a vital role. An experienced moderator can investigate the participants by asking the accurate research questions that will help him/her accumulate a sizable amount of research data.

  • Ethnographic Research: Ethnographic research is an in-depth form of research where characters are observed in their native environment without any alterations. This method can prove to be considerably demanding in terms of a researcher getting adapted to the native environment of the target audience which could even be the Sahara Desert! Geographic places can be a restraint in this type of research method. Instead of conducting interviews a researcher needs to experience the settings in-person to collate data.
  • Text Analysis: Text analysis is a bit different from other qualitative research methods as it is used to examine social life by decoding words, texts, etc. basically through already available data. The researcher examines and understands the circumstances in which the data was furnished and draws essential inferences from it. In recent times, researchers follow social media activities and try to discover a pattern of thoughts.
  • Case Study Research: Case study research, as the name implies is employed to study an institution or an entity. This research method has developed over the years and is one of the most relevant qualitative research methods known to researchers. This is a deep dive into ongoing research. This type of research is used in fields like education sector, philosophical and psychological studies.

Quantitative Research Methods

Quantitative research methods are the methods that utilize numbers and anything that can be measurable in a systematic way of studying the phenomenon. It is used to answer questions in terms of supporting relationships with measurable variables to either explain, predict or control a phenomenon.

There are three methods that are often used by researchers to conduct this type of research, they are: 

  • Survey Research: The ultimate goal of survey research is to learn about a sizable population by deploying the survey. Gone are the days where a survey was carried out using a pen and paper. In today’s world, online surveys are a popular method of research as they are comfortable and can be sent in an email or made available on the internet and social media platforms. In this method, a researcher develops a survey with relevant questions and deploys the survey. Upon receiving responses, the researcher summarizes them to formulate meaningful findings and data.
  • Descriptive Research: Descriptive research is a quantitative research method, which corresponds to recognizing the characteristics of a recorded phenomenon and collecting more data. This research method is designed to represent the participants in a very methodical and accurate way. In simple words, descriptive research is all about explaining a phenomenon, examining it and drawing conclusions from it.
  • Correlational Research: Correlational research examines the relationship between two or more variables. Let us take an example to understand correlational research. Let us take an example to understand correlational research, consider hypothetically, a researcher is studying a correlation between heart disease and single men. Let us say single men have a negative correlation with liver disease. In this example, there are two variables: liver disease, and single men. When we say negative correlation, it means men who are single are less likely to develop liver disease. However, it doesn’t mean that being single directly avoids liver disease.

Characteristics of Research

  1. A systematic approach is observed in research. Rules and procedures are an essential part of the research that set the goal of a research process. Researchers need to practice ethics and code of conduct while making conclusions.
  2. Research is based on logical thinking and involves both inductive and deductive reasoning.
  3. The data or knowledge that is acquired is in real-time, actual observations in the native settings.
  4. There is an in-depth analysis of all the data collected from research so that there are no anomalies associated with it.
  5. Research creates a path for generating new questions. More research opportunity can be generated from existing research.
  6. Research is analytical in nature. It makes use of all the available data so that there is no ambiguity in inference.
  7. Accuracy is one of the important characters of research, the information that is obtained while conducting the research should be accurate and true to its nature. For example, research conducted in a controlled environment like a laboratory. Here accuracy is measured of instruments used, calibrations, and the final result of the experiment.