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Common Research Design Types

Omkar Phatak Sep 30, 2018
If you are looking for information on research design types that represent different ways of approaching your subject matter, this information will be helpful. Here, you will find a basic outline of the various types of designs employed by researchers in different fields.
Research involves covering the known knowledge frontier in your field, designing experiments/surveys, collecting and processing data, analyzing it, and arriving at conclusions, disapprove a known theory, or create a new theoretical framework. This definition is not all-encompassing but it covers the essentials.
Be it a research project in any field, one of the most important steps before beginning, is deciding on your methodology or design. It is the way in which you plan to approach the subject, collect data, analyze it, and study the problem.

Selecting a Design

There are as many methods, as there are research problems. Types of designs are dependent on many different factors, including the nature of the problem, field, depth of required detail, and its objective.
To make the best choice, you need to state your objective clearly. Your objective will decide what information you need to proceed and how you are going to go about collecting and analyzing it.
If it is a scientific project, you need to think about designing experiments to prove your point. If it is a project in social studies, a major part is creating a survey questionnaire and exploring channels of information, that are related to the topic.

Characteristics of Research Designs

Be it research of any form and in any field, every one of the methodologies has some things in similar. One is the literature review of the subject matter till that point. This covers the known frontier of knowledge in this field and involves the review of published papers, related to the research problem at hand.
Next is the development of a causal line of thinking that proves the research objective and a program of gathering evidence to back it up. The last part is drawing conclusions from the researched data.

Types of Research Methodologies in Various Fields


Causal: The causal approach goes about analyzing the problem through 'cause and effect' line of reasoning. A mention must be made of the connection between exploratory formalized and causal design. Exploratory type starts out with no clear objective but analyzes known results for possible research clues which ultimately lead to causative reasoning.
Descriptive: This approach consists of purely describing the state of things as they are and employs polls and surveys as part of the information gathering mechanism.

Relational: Two or more separate properties of a population group are probed for connections or relations through surveys and investigation.


Marketing research is aimed at the singular objective of increasing sales of a product. Here are the two main types of designs in the marketing field.
Qualitative: Information gathered is of qualitative nature and focus is on gathering data from specific focus groups and in-depth interviews.

Quantitative: Uses polls, surveys, and mass media for gathering of consumer related data. Quantitative details are more focused upon and statistical techniques are used for analysis.


Research in any kind of scientific field like chemistry, physics, biology, or medicine follows two design types, which are the following:
Analytical: This type of design focuses on theoretical lines, to solve the problem.

Experimental: This approach focuses on designing experiments to verify theoretical models.
Combinations of both these approaches, leads to an effective research methodology. Ultimately, you choose one from the various design types or a combination of two or more types, that suits your research objective.