Research Methods vs Research Design
In a research project, two significant elements between that certain differences can be identified are the research design and methods. Hence, for those pursuing research in any field of study, an awareness of research methods and research design is vital. There are many research methods that provide a loose framework or guidelines to conduct a research project. One has to choose a method that suits the requirements of the project, and the researcher is comfortable with. On the other hand, the research design is the specific framework within which a project is pursued and completed. Many remain confused about the differences between research methods and research design. This article will differentiate between the two and make it easier for research students.
What is a Research Method?
A research method refers to the techniques that the researcher uses to gather information. Interview method, surveys, observation, are some of the most commonly used methods in the social sciences. If the researcher wishes to unravel in depth information about individual attitudes, and life experiences, the researcher would use in-depth interviews. However, if the aim of the research is to gain a holistic, more statistically significant information he would use a survey.
Also, it is important to highlight that although there are scores of research methods, not every method can perfectly match a particular research project. There are qualitative as well as quantitative research methods. Qualitative methods assist the researcher to gain rich in-depth data while quantitative methods allow the researcher to collect data that are more statistically significant. Methods are generalized outlines that provide a framework, and the choice is narrowed down depending upon the area of research that you have chosen. Once you have selected a particular research method, you need to apply it in the best possible manner to your project.
What is a Research Design?
Research design refers to the blueprint that you prepare using the research method chosen, and it delineates the steps that you need to take. Research design thus tells what is to be done at what time. Research design tells how the goals of a research project can be accomplished. Key features of any research design are the methodology, collection and assignment of samples, collection, and analysis of data along with procedures and instruments to be used.
If one is not careful enough while choosing a research design and a research method, the results obtained from a research project may not be satisfactory or may be anomalous. In such a situation, because of a flaw in the research design you may have to look for alternative research methods that would necessitate changes in your research design as well.
What is the Difference Between Research Methods and the Research Design?
Definitions of Research Methods and Research Design:
- A research method refers to the techniques that the researcher uses to gather information.
- Research design refers to the blueprint that you prepare using the research method chosen, and it delineates the steps that you need to take.
Characteristics of Research Methods and Research Design:
- Both research methods, as well as research design, are crucial for successful completion of any research project.
- Research methods are loose framework or guidelines from which one has to select one and then apply a research design on that method to achieve desired results.
- Research methods focus mainly on data collection, but the research design provides an overall picture of the entire research project.
1. “Microscopy lab” by Idaho National Laboratory – Flickr: Microscopy lab. [CC BY 2.0] via Wikimedia Commons