Research Designs: Correlational, Experimental and Case Study

12 Jan 2019 0

Once you have selected research questions, the next step is to determine an appropriate research design to answer them. A research design refers to a strategy used to analyse the variables of research. There are many factors that can affect your choice regarding a research design.

  • How quickly can you acquire data?

  • Does your study involve participants?

  • How many variables can you manage and interpret?

  • Will you be able to answer your research questions with available data?

Here are the types of research designs that you can choose on the basis of research questions your research needs to cater to.

Correlational Design

Correlation is a nonexperimental research design in which you measure two or more variables with statistical representation. This design is useful in case of a quantitative research method. This design is generally used in psychology to gain information where experiments are impracticable. Correlation research design will determine either positive, negative or no correlation between variables.

  • Naturalistic observation - It requires you to observe subjects in a natural environment. If your research background in psychology or social science, this method can be benign as many times people don’t behave naturally in a lab setting. This observation includes the perception of natural behaviour without your interruption.
    For instance, classroom interaction between teachers and students. Creating a classroom environment in a lab can influence the behaviour of participants, and therefore generalisation will become difficult. By observing them in a natural setting, you can perceive their behaviour in a real-world situation.

  • Survey methods - Survey methods require participants’ involvement. It requires questionnaires to collect information from the targeted group of the population.  

Experimental Design

Experimental research design allows you to manipulate one or more variables. This approach is used to investigate cause and effect relationship. Experimental research designs include the following types:

  • Independent measures - Different participants are used in each condition of an independent variable.
    For instance, this study design can be used for a drug trial. You will conduct your study between two groups: one will be taking the drug, and another group will be receiving a placebo. Participants will be randomly assigned to one of the two groups. Each participant will either be in group A or group B but not in both groups.

  • Repeated measures - Same participants are involved in each condition of an independent variable.
    For instance, this research design can be used to analyse the effects of caffeine on cognitive function. A group of participants will be tested after they consume caffeine and another time when they are given a placebo.

Case Study

Case study research designs are used when your study is based on qualitative data. These research designs are used to analyse whether scientific theories work in the real world. Case studies refer to a descriptive research approach that requires in-depth analysis. These are often used in clinical research to describe rare conditions.  

Deciding an appropriate research design for your research is essential, in fact, it is a crucial determinant of good research.  


Category : PhD

, Research Method

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