What is the quantitative research design? Why is the research design needed? What are the four main types of quantitative research designs used by researchers?
This article illustrates research design using an analogy, explains why a research design is needed, describes four main types of research designs, and gives examples of each research design’s application.
In doing your research for whatever goals you have in mind, you make a plan to reach those goals. You spell out the specific items that you want to pursue in your research objectives.
An Analogy of Research Design
Researching to reach a predetermined goal is like building a house. To avoid costly rebuilds, it would be a good idea to make a plan first and consider all the requirements to produce one that appeals to your taste.
You need to engage the architect’s help to draw what you have in mind (your concept), estimate the cost to build it, and list the steps to follow to bring that plan into reality. The architect comes up with a blueprint of the house, detailing the size and quantity of reinforced steel bars, the floor plan, dimensions of the house, and aesthetics.
If your house consists of not only one floor but two, or even three, and you want the house to be sturdy that could last decades or generations; you will need to engage a structural engineer. He makes sure that the home maintains its integrity and can handle the loads and forces they encounter through time.
And of course, the electrical connections require the expertise of an electrical engineer. He plans how the electrical circuits are arranged in the whole house to make it convenient for you to access electricity.
To build your dream house, you will need to have a good plan–your design.
Why is a Research Design Needed?
As pointed out earlier, the main reasons for coming up with a research design relate to efficiency and effectiveness. If you have a good research design, you will save time, energy, and cost in doing your research. You have a plan to obtain the data that you want to answer the research objectives.
Thus, before conducting research, you already have in mind what to expect. And of course, you will know how much that would cost you. If you cannot afford it, then you revise your plan.
Defining the Research Objectives
However, your research design or plan cannot be carried out if you don’t have a clear idea about what you want. The architect cannot design a project based on a simple directive to make a house plan. The outcome may not be to your liking, and you will just be wasting your money and his time. It will be a hit-and-miss approach.
Thus, you will need to define your research objectives based on your topic of interest. What do you want to achieve in your research? Will you be dealing with people, animals, plants, or things?
Will you manipulate some variables? Will you compare different groups? Would you want to know which variable causes an effect on other variables? Or will you describe what is there?
It all boils down to what you want. You have to be very clear if you’re going to describe things, correlate them, find out if one causes the other, or put up an experiment to test if manipulating one variable can effect a change to another variable.
Now, here are the four types of quantitative research designs.
The Four Main Types of Quantitative Research Design
Experts classify quantitative research design into four types. These are descriptive, correlational, causal-comparative, and experimental research.
The four types of quantitative research design are distinguished from each other in Figure 1. You will note that as you go from left to right, the approach becomes more manipulative. The descriptive research design studies the existing situation, whereas the researcher manipulates variables at the other end, the experimental method.
Examples of the Application of the Different Types of Research Design on the Same Subject
Descriptive Research Design
A study aimed to determine the vehicle owner’s knowledge about air quality and attitude towards the government’s regulation of requiring emission testing every time the car’s registration is renewed. This investigation will provide information that will show how knowledgeable the respondents are about air quality and reveal patterns of behavior towards the government’s measures to control carbon emissions.
Correlational Research Design
The same study on air quality may be conducted as in Example 1, but this time, the respondent’s awareness about air quality is correlated with their attitude towards emission testing.
Causal-Comparative Research Design
Still, on the air quality study, you might want to know what causes the respondents to behave positively or negatively towards emission testing. Does it have something to do with that person’s educational background? Or perhaps, his capacity to pay for emission testing.
Experimental Research Design
Using still the air quality study, you might now want to test if two groups of drivers behaved in a different way when one group was required to attend a seminar on air pollution, and the other group was not required to attend. You are interested in a difference between a person’s attitude towards emission testing if they attended or not given a seminar on air pollution. The two groups’ members were randomly assigned, and all other variables kept constant, meaning the respondents have similar characteristics where only attendance to the seminar is the difference.
Note that those listed are not mutually exclusive research designs. For example, you can combine descriptive and correlational research designs and state your research design as a descriptive-correlational research design. Hence, you describe this approach in your methodology as a descriptive-correlational research design.
That wraps it up. There are still other types of research designs out there. What is important here is that you are clear about what you want to investigate.
© 2020 October 15 P. A. Regoniel