The formulation of a research design is very important for the success of a research programme. Research design is a plan of activities that, in the final analysis, would constitute a research study. It is logical and systematic planning and directing of a piece of research.
Normally while formulating a research proposal, the whole scheme of things is categorized in a threefold fashion as plan, structure and strategy of research study.
Plan includes the major framework of activities that the researcher wishes to accomplish under the banner of a particular research study. It includes everything the investigator will do from writing the hypothesis and their operational implications to the final analysis of the data. The second part of a research design, the structure, is the outline and the scheme of integrating the variables of investigation into a cohesive piece of analysis.
The third part of a research design, the strategy, refers to the specific methods which are to be used for obtaining the research data, analyzing it, verifying its reliability and interpreting the results. As a matter of fact it refers to the methodology used for conducting the research investigation.
A research design usually comprises of the following major steps:-
1. Selection and statement of research problem
2. Formulation of hypothesis
3. Methodology and definitions of concepts and variables;
4. Data collection
1. Selecting a Topic for Research:
The selection of a research topic is a very important job for a researcher. The range of potential topics for social research is as broad as the range of social behaviour itself.
As is usually the case every problem may not be researchable and, therefore, if the researcher has not been able to select the problem properly, his efforts may not yield the desired results and in some cases it may lead to frustration and desperateness of the researcher.
The selection of problem is not simple. On the face of it, the selection of a problem may appear to be simple but when one envisages the operational difficulties of putting a design into effective research, he may find that the selection of problem is a very complex phenomenon and warrants several considerations.
There is no tool proof rule which will guide the investigator in formulating significant questions about a given research area. Here, the training and gifts of the individual are of major importance.
2. Formulation of Hypothesis:
The next important part of a research is the formulation of a hypothesis. A hypothesis is an assertion that the investigator seeks to investigate. A hypothesis is “a proposition, condition, or principle which is assumed, perhaps without belief in order to draw out its logical consequences and by this method to test its accord with facts which are known or may be determined.”
Sources of Hypothesis
1. General Culture:
The general pattern of culture helps not only to formulae a hypothesis, but also to guide its trend. The culture has a great influence upon the thinking process of people and hypothesis may be formed to test one or more of these ideas.
2. Scientific theory:
The knowledge of theory leads us to form further generalizations from it. These generalizations form the part of hypothesis.
Sometimes a hypothesis is formed from the analogy. A similarity between two phenomena is observed and a hypothesis is formed to test whether the two phenomena are similar in any other respect.
4. Personal Experience:
According to Goode & Hatt not only do culture, science and analogy effect the formation of hypothesis? The way in which an individual reacts to each of these, is also a factor in the statement of hypothesis.
The formulation of hypothesis, thus, is very crucial and the success or the failure of a research study depends upon how best it has been formulated by the researcher. We may conclude by saying that it is hard to conceive modern science in all its rigorous and disciplined fertility without the guiding power of hypothesis.
Hypothesis may be developed from various sources. It may be based simply on a hunch, it may rest on the findings of another study or studies and the expectations that a similar relationship between study, and it may stem from a body of theory that by process of logical deduction leads to the prediction that if certain conditions are present, certain results will follow. It may also originate from personal experience.
The formulation of the hypothesis is central step in good research and it is important to give it a great deal of thought. There is little doubt that hypotheses are indispensable tools of scientific research and in absence of a proper or suitable hypothesis, a lot of time and labour of the researcher will be wasted in fruitless research.
3. Methodology and Definitions of Concepts and Variables
Defining Concepts and Variables:
The third important step in the formulation of research design deals with defining concepts and variables many a times researcher has to set new definitions for the terms and concepts that he uses in his research the assumptions that the researcher makes, and the restrictions and limitations that he recognizes, must be frankly stated this recognition helps to focus attention orgy-laid objectives, and helps to minimize the dangers of over-generalization.
Selecting Appropriate Methodology:
The next step in the formulation of a research design is the selection of an appropriate methodology. This part of the research design outlines the entire research plan. It describes just what must be done, how it will be done, what data will be needed, what data gathering devices will be employed, how sources of data will be selected, and how the data will be analysed and conclusion reached.
Selection of proper research method is a very crucial problem, If a wrong methodology has been adopted for completing a piece of research, the results are bound to be vague, implausible and unscientific.
The methodology for any research study is drawn in a careful examination of the available literature and depending, to a large extent, on the imagination and long term vision and understanding of the researcher. The researcher while selecting his methodology should also know the recent developments in that particular branch of knowledge.
Collection of data is of utmost importance for a research investigation. If the data is not accurate and adequate, the findings of the study are bound to be misleading, however, scientific a research might have been. The collection of data depends on the field for which the data is to be collected and the methods which are to be used for its collection.
The investigator has to decide what methods to use in order to study his problem; whether it is questionnaire, an interview schedule, a case study or observation method or a combination of any of these. The person collecting the data is equally important. He must be unbiased, sharp and courteous to respondents so that they can pleasantly part away with the information.