01 15

What is research design in dissertation

STEP TWO

Research design

The quantitative research design that you set in your dissertation should reflect the type of research questions/hypotheses that you have set. When we talk about quantitative research designs, we are typically referring to research following either a descriptive, experimental, quasi-experimental and relationship-based research design, which we will return to shortly. However, there are also specific goals that you may want to achieve within these research designs. You may want to: (Goal A) explore whether there is a relationship between different variables; (Goal B) predict a score or a membership of a group; or (Goal C) find out the differences between groups you are interested in or treatment conditions that you want to investigate:

  • GOAL A
    Exploring the relationship between variables

    Are you trying to determine if there is a relationship between two or more variables, and what this relationship is? This kind of design is used to answer questions such as: Is there a relationship between height and basketball performance? Are males more likely to be smokers than females? Does you level of anxiety reduce your exam ability?

  • GOAL B
    Predicting a score or a membership of a group

    Are you trying to examine whether one variable's value (i.e., the dependent or outcome variable) can be predicted based on another's (i.e., the independent variable). These designs answer questions such as: Can I predict 10km run time based on an individual's aerobic capacity? Can I predict exam anxiety based on knowing the number of hours spent revising? Can I predict whether someone is classified as computer literate based on their performance in different computer tasks? Can I predict an individual's preferred transport (car/motorcycle) based on their response to a risk questionnaire?

  • GOAL C
    Testing for differences between groups or treatment conditions

    Are you trying to test for differences between groups (e.g., exam performance of males and females) or treatment conditions (e.g., employee turnover among employees (a) given a bonus and (b) not given a bonus)? This type of design aims to answer questions such as: What is the difference in jump height between males and females? Can an exercise-training programme lead to a reduction in blood sugar levels? Do stressed males and females respond differently to different stress-reduction therapies? In each of these cases, we have different groups that we are comparing (e.g., males versus females), and we may also have different treatments (e.g., the example of multiple stress-reduction therapies).

Goals A and B reflect the use of relationship-based research questions/hypotheses, whilst goal C reflects the use of comparative research questions/hypotheses. Just remember that in addition to relating and comparing (i.e., relationship-based and comparative research questions/hypotheses), quantitative research can also be used to describe the phenomena we are interested in (i.e., descriptive research questions). These three basic approaches (i.e., describing, relating and comparing) can be seen in the following example:

Let's imagine we are interested in examining Facebook usage amongst university students in the United States.

  • We could describe factors relating to the make-up of these Facebook users, quantifying how many (or what proportion) of these university students were male or female, or what their average age was. We could describe factors relating to their behaviour, such as how frequently they used Facebook each week or the reasons why they joined Facebook in the first place (e.g., to connect with friends, to store all their photos in one place, etc.).

  • We could compare some of these factors (i.e., those factors that we had just described). For example, we could compare how frequently the students used Facebook each week, looking for differences between male and female students.

  • We could relate one or more of these factors (e.g., age) to other factors we had examined (e.g., how frequently students used Facebook each week) to find out if there were any associations or relationships between them. For example, we could relate age to how frequently the students used Facebook each week. This could help us discover if there was an association or relationship between these variables (i.e., age and weekly Facebook usage), and if so, tell us something about this association or relationship (e.g., its strength, direction, and/or statistical significance).

These three approaches to examining the constructs you are interested in (i.e., describing, comparing and relating) are addressed by setting descriptive research questions, and/or comparative or relationship-based research questions/hypotheses. By this stage, you should be very clear about the type of research questions/hypotheses you are addressing, but if you are unsure, refer back to the Research Questions & Hypotheses section of the Fundamentals part of Lærd Dissertation now.

If you are exploring the relationship between variables (i.e., Goal A), you are likely to be following a relationship-based research design (i.e., a type of non-experimental research design). However, if you are predicting the score or a membership of a group (i.e., Goal B) or testing for differences between groups or treatment conditions (i.e., Goal C), you are likely to be following either an experimental or quasi-experimental research design. Unless you already understand the differences between experimental, quasi-experimental and relationship-based research designs, you should read about these different research designs in the Research Designs section of the Fundamentals part of Lærd Dissertation now. You need to do this for two main reasons:

  • You will have to state which type of research design you are using in your dissertation when writing up the Research Design section of your Chapter Three: Research Strategy.

  • The research design that you use has a significant influence on your choice of research methods, the research quality of your findings, and even aspects of research ethics that you will have to think about.

Once you are familiar with the four types of research design (i.e., descriptive, experimental, quasi-experimental and relationship-based), you need to think about the route that you are adopting, and the approach within that route in order to set the research design in your dissertation:

Route A: Duplication

If you are taking on Route A: Duplication, you would typically not be expected to make any changes to the research design used in the main journal article when setting the research design for your dissertation. After all, the purpose of the dissertation is duplication, where you are, in effect, re-testing the study in the main journal article to see if the same (or similar) findings are found. An important aspect of such re-testing is typically the use of the same research strategy applied in the main journal article. As such, if an experimental research design was used in the main journal article, with 3 groups (e.g., two treatment groups and one control group), your dissertation would also use an experimental design with the same group characteristics (i.e., 3 groups, with two treatment groups and one control group). The research design you used would also have the same goals as those in the main journal article (e.g., the goal of relating two constructs, perhaps study time and exam performance, in order to answer a relationship-based research question/hypothesis).

However, there are some instances where, from a practical standpoint, you may find that it is not possible to use the same research design, perhaps because an experimental research design was used, but you are unable to randomly selected people from the population you can get access to, forcing you to use a quasi-experimental research design. But the goal will be to use the same research design in your dissertation as the one applied in the main journal article. Again, you can learn about the differences between experimental and quasi-experimental designs in the Research Designs section of the Fundamentals part of Lærd Dissertation.

  • GOAL B
    Predicting a score or a membership of a group

    Are you trying to examine whether one variable's value (i.e., the dependent or outcome variable) can be predicted based on another's (i.e., the independent variable). These designs answer questions such as: Can I predict 10km run time based on an individual's aerobic capacity? Can I predict exam anxiety based on knowing the number of hours spent revising? Can I predict whether someone is classified as computer literate based on their performance in different computer tasks? Can I predict an individual's preferred transport (car/motorcycle) based on their response to a risk questionnaire?

  • GOAL C
    Testing for differences between groups or treatment conditions

    Are you trying to test for differences between groups (e.g., exam performance of males and females) or treatment conditions (e.

  • Can an exercise-training programme lead to a reduction in blood sugar levels? Do stressed males and females respond differently to different stress-reduction therapies? In each of these cases, we have different groups that we are comparing (e.g., males versus females), and we may also have different treatments (e.g., the example of multiple stress-reduction therapies).

    Goals A and B reflect the use of relationship-based research questions/hypotheses, whilst goal C reflects the use of comparative research questions/hypotheses. Just remember that in addition to relating and comparing (i.e., relationship-based and comparative research questions/hypotheses), quantitative research can also be used to describe the phenomena we are interested in (i.

    • We could describe factors relating to the make-up of these Facebook users, quantifying how many (or what proportion) of these university students were male or female, or what their average age was. We could describe factors relating to their behaviour, such as how frequently they used Facebook each week or the reasons why they joined Facebook in the first place (e.g., to connect with friends, to store all their photos in one place, etc.).

    • We could compare some of these factors (i.e., those factors that we had just described). For example, we could compare how frequently the students used Facebook each week, looking for differences between male and female students.

    • We could relate one or more of these factors (e.

    For example, we could relate age to how frequently the students used Facebook each week. This could help us discover if there was an association or relationship between these variables (i.e., age and weekly Facebook usage), and if so, tell us something about this association or relationship (e.g., its strength, direction, and/or statistical significance).

    These three approaches to examining the constructs you are interested in (i.e., describing, comparing and relating) are addressed by setting descriptive research questions, and/or comparative or relationship-based research questions/hypotheses. By this stage, you should be very clear about the type of research questions/hypotheses you are addressing, but if you are unsure, refer back to the Research Questions & Hypotheses section of the Fundamentals part of Lærd Dissertation now.

    e., a type of non-experimental research design). However, if you are predicting the score or a membership of a group (i.e., Goal B) or testing for differences between groups or treatment conditions (i.e., Goal C), you are likely to be following either an experimental or quasi-experimental research design. Unless you already understand the differences between experimental, quasi-experimental and relationship-based research designs, you should read about these different research designs in the Research Designs section of the Fundamentals part of Lærd Dissertation now. You need to do this for two main reasons:
    • You will have to state which type of research design you are using in your dissertation when writing up the Research Design section of your Chapter Three: Research Strategy.

    Once you are familiar with the four types of research design (i.e., descriptive, experimental, quasi-experimental and relationship-based), you need to think about the route that you are adopting, and the approach within that route in order to set the research design in your dissertation:

    Route A: Duplication

    If you are taking on Route A: Duplication, you would typically not be expected to make any changes to the research design used in the main journal article when setting the research design for your dissertation. After all, the purpose of the dissertation is duplication, where you are, in effect, re-testing the study in the main journal article to see if the same (or similar) findings are found. An important aspect of such re-testing is typically the use of the same research strategy applied in the main journal article.

    e., 3 groups, with two treatment groups and one control group). The research design you used would also have the same goals as those in the main journal article (e.g., the goal of relating two constructs, perhaps study time and exam performance, in order to answer a relationship-based research question/hypothesis).

    However, there are some instances where, from a practical standpoint, you may find that it is not possible to use the same research design, perhaps because an experimental research design was used, but you are unable to randomly selected people from the population you can get access to, forcing you to use a quasi-experimental research design. But the goal will be to use the same research design in your dissertation as the one applied in the main journal article. Again, you can learn about the differences between experimental and quasi-experimental designs in the Research Designs section of the Fundamentals part of Lærd Dissertation.

    Why should we care about research design?

    If you’re an undergraduate or masters student, you will need to undertake a significant piece of independent study. Your dissertation will form a large part of your degree, and it is important that it is correctly put together. Your dissertation or piece of independent research has important added value and has many ‘learning outcomes’. No matter what you go on to do in your later career, being able to put together a proposal, argue its merits, and design a project, will be valuable skills that you are likely to rely on.

    PhD students should consider research design early in their first year. The way that you design and plan your research will have significant implications for the success of your project. Although you will probably write the introduction to your thesis last, a well-designed research project should first work through these steps right from the start.

    You may also be writing small grant proposals for awards and fellowships to attend conferences or pay for fieldwork. Nowadays, grant writing is a significant part of my job, and I spend a lot of time writing applications for money.

    Poor scientific methodology can also mean that you are liable to have biased results.

    What makes a strong research proposal?

    Good research proposals will achieve Closure by showing how impacts and deliverables will answer their ‘Big Question’.

    What is research? There are varied definitions, and they include:

    • a systematic investigation to discover facts or collect information’ (Collins Gem English Dictionary, 1992)
    • ‘a detailed study of a subject, especially in order to discover (new) information or reach a (new) understanding’ (Cambridge Dictionaries online, 2008)
    • a process of investigation leading to new insights effectively shared’ (REF consultation document, 2009)

    A key factor in all of these definitions is the focus on new and original facts, information and understanding.

    Strong research proposals must skilfully combine and blend a ‘Big Question’, with wide implications, impact and importance, with a novel approach and a sound methodology.

    After Alon, 2009. Project difficulty versus time spent. For a PhD or Post-doc student, projects in the upper right (not too much time, but large gain in knowledge) are best. For an undergraduate or MSc dissertation, projects in the bottom right are best. But no one wants projects in the bottom right – little gain in knowledge but very difficult. Where does your project fit?

    It is very important that you consider, as a starting point, whether your research is achievable. Research projects can provide us with varying amounts of information, and vary in size from small to large projects. Different problems are suitable for people to tackle at different stages of their careers (cf. Alon, 2009). Is your project of a suitable difficulty for you to tackle, and does to add enough to our body of knowledge?

    The best proposals are appropriate to the career stage and time available of the person concerned. They are concise, clear and complete – not asking to do too much. They have a strong rationale and a wider justification, with a Big Question clearly situated within this. The rationale and wider justification should clearly demonstrate the importance and impact of the ‘Big Question’.

    Whether you are writing a proposal or a thesis or dissertation, you should follow these steps for good research design. You should also take a look at my blog post, “Climate Change Skeptics“, which also talks about research design.

    10 steps to good research design

    Below, I have put together a list of 10 steps for you to think about when designing a research project. Follow these steps for good research design, and for writing a good grant application or introduction to your dissertation or thesis. Of course, I have only covered this topic briefly here; there are many further resources that you can look at that discuss research design in more detail.

    10 steps to a well-designed research project.

    It goes without saying that your teacher or supervisor is the real expert here and they should be consulted at every step of the way. Make use of their years of training and expertise. Discuss your ideas with them, and where you want your research to go. The joy of research is that you get to decide what to do and how to do it. But you should check with your supervisor that your methods are appropriate, that your research is relevant (and hasn’t been done before!

    Comments

    1. Cocaguzobapuf

      Looks like a MA Dissertation project from an interaction design student, which is fine, just don"t expect anyone to ever make it or use one.

    2. Norujorimacove

      Dissertation students, we"ll transcribe your interviews with strict confidentiality, 20 years" experience

    3. Vazuhucux

      Phd dissertation: a speculative news report. research.

    4. Dejimoyemocube

      Must be getting dissertation fatigue. For some reason, the -V design test reminds me of the Eye of Barad-dûr.

    5. Qifuwogosin

      508 words ( 9840 total ) on a dissertation about the political design of encyclopedic knowledge

    6. Texufedukem

      PhD/dissertation students - chill Netflix while we transcribe for you.

    7. Feboniqog

      407 words ( 9332 total ) on a dissertation about the political design of encyclopedic knowledge

    8. Pajekiwofe

      I"ve decided to go back to school to finally finish my dissertation on Why I hate smart guides and bounding box . Wish me luck.

    9. Zonocotepozo

      Epidemiologic Study Design 11 Academic Essay Click for help

    10. Jebuwativen

      Environmental Design- Comparison between two buildings individual report A Click for help

    11. Wibobove

      Time for Design Principles of Online communities -- This was part of Ruth Kermish-Allen"s dissertation research!

    12. Paxelewene

      Descriptive and Correlational design Academic Essay Click for help

    13. Wohowag

      A Design Framework for Live Audience Interaction Management Systems. PhD dissertation by

    14. Pejirarunenoya

      Finished my for my based on the ; )

    Leave a Reply

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

    You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>