Types of Research Designs: Complete Guide in Detail

Actually, there is a wide variety of types of research designs available. Their form and type depend mostly on the science they are used in. In order to use any of them, you have to understand what are the research designs. The simplest definition will sound like this: this is a set of actions aimed to collect and analyze the information about variables set in the research issue. Any research design can be considered an artificial framework aimed to answer all research questions.

List of Research Designs with Definitions

The types of research design will depend on variables, participants, attitude to the phenomena, ways of acquiring information, ways of interpreting the collected data, etc. The research designs form own types and sub-types. Here is a list of the major types of research designs:

  • Descriptive
  • Experimental
  • Semi-Experimental
  • Correlational
  • Review
  • Meta-analytic

Some people also define the fixed and flexible designs. Flexible ones give freedom in data collection. The fixed design is that one with a particular type that is defined before data collection and cannot be changed during it.

The designs depend on the grouping of participants. For example, in the experimental design, there are two stations of a participant – treatment and control. According to different kinds of grouping the designs can include:

  • cohort studies;
  • cross-sectional studies;
  • sequentialand cross-sequential studies;
  • longitudinal studies.

Qualitative Research Design: Main Characteristics

That is one of the oldest research designs. By some people, this design is considered to be easier than others, but sometimes the depth of understanding of phenomenon can be higher compared with other methods. Mostly, this design is connected with features or metrics that are expressed thematically.

Being the most flexible design, it still makes a researcher unbiased and aware of possible mistakes. Usually, the qualitative research design creates a good connection with a quantitative one.

Quantitative Research Design: General Features

When it comes to something quantitative, it probably deals with numbers. In this case, this type of research design means the action with numeric data, measuring the object or participants and comparing numerical ratios.

The design, like any other, can be descriptive or experimental. The data and statistics in the quantitative research design are usually structured into tables, charts, forms, etc. The computer software is not rare for collecting numerical data.

Experimental Research Design: Possible Fields of Use

This research design actually cannot be placed into a separate group. It is not an antonym to other research designs presented here. All researchers divide all designs into observational and experimental. The second one implies the special treatment given to the participant and noting the possible changes between the two states.

The classic experimental research design requires a particular experimental group or object. It is the best way for a researcher to control the situation.

Correlational Research Design: The Features

This type of research design is applied when the experiment is difficult to be performed. Actually, a correlation means the connection between two different variables. This design is about finding a relationship. However, it can hardly prove that changes that happen to one variable can change the second one. The correlational research design is mostly implemented in psychology.

Case Study Research Design: Peculiarities and Definition

This one differs from others with a deep specialization. It is aimed to research one particular case rather than a bunch of data for giving exact statistics. The case study research design is also used for check if the specific phenomenon or hypothesis can be applied to a particular situation. It is considered to be useful when there is a lack of general information about the phenomenon.

Phenomenological Research Design: A Brief Description

This research design can be referred to studying a phenomenon by collecting the experience of people affected by this phenomenon. The research design involves in-depth interviews and polls. In the phenomenological research design, a participant can be interviewed several times to get a full picture.

Mixed Method Research Design: How to Understand It?

While some people claim this design is just a mixture of qualitative and quantitative research designs, others tell this is the special ‘third way’ to understand the phenomenon. It is used when the different layers of the phenomenon have to be examined. By the majority of people, the mixed method research design is considered as another approach more than a separate design.