What is research design?

2 min read

What is research design?

Research design is a systematic outline of research methods and techniques that a researcher determines before research begins. It allows research methods to be carried out in a manner that is relevant to the subject matter and ensures the project is successful.

Elements of a good research design:

  • The purpose of statement
  • Techniques for data collection and analysis
  • Research methods for analyzing data
  • Types of research methodology
  • Possible objections to research
  • Settings for the study
  • Timeline
  • Measurement of the analysis

A research design that is set up for success and impact usually creates a minimal bias in data and ensures that there is both trust and accuracy in the collected data. The aim is to make allowance for the slightest margin of error.

Key characteristics that are crucial for any good research design are:

Neutrality: While making an assumption may be the reference point of every research, the results reflected in the research design should be free from bias, objectivity, and neutrality.

Reliability: Reliability implies the consistency of a measure in the research study. It indicates how well a method, technique, or test measures something.

Validity: Validity refers to the accuracy of a measure and the method used to find it. A high validity is implied when it produces results corresponding to properties, characteristics, and variations in the real world.

Generalization: The outcome of any research design should not be restricted to a sample. It must reflect accuracy when the same research is conducted on any part of the population.

Types of research design

Different subjects, contexts, and fields of study need to be addressed differently. Research designs may be classified into six broad categories:


Explanatory research is a research design that seeks to explain various aspects of the study. While it is less structured, it attempts to prioritize, generates new functional definitions, and makes for an open-ended research model. Lengthy answers are solicited from a small group of participants. It lacks statistical strength, and there are no conclusive points.


In this method of research, the intent is to describe a situation or case study under examination. You gather, analyze, and present compiled data which are mostly empirical. Researchers explore the why and how of the problem statement. In other words, what the explanatory research broached on, descriptive research helps better understand.


Experimental research design seeks to observe the cause-and-effect relationship and the impact of an independent variable on a dependent variable. The independent variables help monitor the change it has on a dependent variable. For instance, you may experiment with different prices for your product as you observe how they impact dependent variables like customer satisfaction or brand loyalty.


Correlation is a non-experimental technique that allows researchers to establish a relationship between two connected variables. This research design needs two different groups. No assumption marks the beginning of the study, and the correlation between the two variables is studied through statistical analysis.


Diagnostic research design evaluates the underlying cause of an issue or phenomenon. It identifies the causes and factors that influence the problem to troubleshoot them eventually. And diagnostic research always has three stages:

  • Cause of the issue
  • Diagnosis of the issue
  • Solution to the issue


It seeks to investigate a problem that has not been defined before and better understand it without providing conclusive results. The starting idea is generic as it explores areas and issues that can be a future research focus. They are best carried out when the problem is at a preliminary stage and there is no need for an immediate solution.

A key aspect of every exploratory research is the need to change course upon discovering new data or insights. Furthermore, grounded theory and interpretive research often answer questions like the why and how of a phenomenon or issue.

Research design is the first baby step towards a successful marketing strategy and strategic business decisions. After hitting a successful research design and beginning your market research,  learn how research firms are making a hit with us!

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