Research Design in Psychology

By considering study methods, we can deduce that study is a compiled body of knowledge that contains essential details. It is a collection of facts or information that has been analyzed to prove or disprove a theory. Both academic and scientific approaches might be used in a study project. First, let us define what we mean by "study design." A Study Design is an overarching plan that guides how a study chooses, organizes, and applies the many different methodologies and approaches at its disposal.

What is Research Design?

Since research is such an essential endeavour that affects society as a whole, it necessitates a great deal of decision making. A lot of decision - making goes into research design. It gives your study project organisation and form. You pick how you will do your research when you have finalised your topic. It entails developing a plan for each stage, beginning with the creation of hypotheses and ending with data analysis. Kerlinger describes research design as a plan, structure, and strategy for conducting research in order to find solutions to research questions or challenges. The plan is the entire study strategy or programme.

The study design is the overarching strategy for implementing the specific set of study procedures and techniques that will be used in a given study. Studies can hone down on the most effective study methodologies for their specific topics and establish solid foundations for their investigations thanks to this layout. Experimental, survey, correlational, semi-experimental, and review studies, as well as their sub-types of experimental design, study issue, and descriptive case study, are all explained in the process of developing a study subject.

The study design aids a study in continuing its exploration of uncharted territory while maintaining a methodical perspective. In the same way an architect or engineer frames a design, a study chooses a design from various methods to determine what study should be conducted.

It outlines what the investigator will do, from drafting the hypotheses and their operational implications to data analysis. Thayer defines research design as a blueprint or detailed plan for a research study, beginning with operationalizing variables so they can be measured, moving on to selecting an interesting sample to study, collecting data to be used as a basis for testing hypotheses, and finally analyzing the results. As a result, the study design offers a foundation for doing research.

Types of Research Design

The inquiry might be exploratory, descriptive, causal/experimental, semi- or quasi-experimental, non-experimental, or field research in character. Exploration is an essential aspect of the study. Any investigation begins when the researcher ventures into the uncharted and unresolved territory. He/she begins with a desire to learn more via investigation, and it is the first excursion into the unknown density.

Exploration begins with a hazy understanding of what is to be investigated and serves as the study's foundation. Otherwise, the sequence of research to be conducted could be more methodical. It is a versatile research method in which sampling is generally non-probability, and data collection methods are unstructured.

The following research designs are based on data-gathering methods: surveys, case studies, and content analysis. For a big population, a survey technique is employed. However, rather than analyzing the entire population, a sample is investigated. The sample size is often considerable. It is most commonly employed in descriptive research, although it may also be utilized in experimental research. Data collecting methods utilized include questionnaires and interviews. The questionnaire can be completed online or mailed, and it can be structured or not. The survey approach is commonly employed in social science research.

In contrast to the vast sample size of a survey, case studies investigate a small number of instances. However, the degree of investigation in a case study is extensive, which is not the case in a survey. "Automation in University Libraries in North India: A Case Study of University Libraries in Kurukshetra, Punjab, and Jammu" is an example of a case study. The study entails collecting a sample and thoroughly examining it. This would allow the researcher to analyze automation in greater depth in these libraries than if the study had included all University libraries in North India. However, the question is whether we can generalize the study's findings and draw conclusions for all of North India.

Another data-collecting approach is content analysis, which collects information from documentary sources. The contents of documents are analyzed in this manner to get a conclusion. This is an approach that is commonly employed in historical research. It facilitates the examination of current events that occurred in the past. Only papers such as diaries, autobiographies, and historical records can serve as data sources. Content analysis can be done both statistically and qualitatively. The quantitative analysis process entails counting words or phrases. Analyzing documents to discover the concepts hidden beneath the words is known as qualitative analysis.

Criteria of Research Design

There are numerous sorts of study designs, as you are aware. Some are bad designs, while others are excellent. Behavioral researchers have developed a set of criteria that may be used to discern between excellent and bad design. These criteria have been beneficial in directing research in the appropriate direction.

Control of Variables

Another requirement for a successful study design is that it should control the impacts of extraneous factors comparable to independent variables that might influence dependent variables. When such factors are uncontrolled, they are referred to as independent extraneous variables or superfluous variables. A design that fails to regulate the influence of extraneous factors is deemed poor, and such designs should be avoided in future research. There are several methods for controlling the influence of extraneous factors. Many believe that randomization is one of the finest approaches to controlling unnecessary factors.

Randomization involves three main phases: random subject selection, random assignment of subjects to control and experimental groups, and random assignment of experimental treatments among various groups. It is only sometimes possible for the researcher to pick subjects randomly, and in such cases, the researcher distributes the selected people to various experimental groups. When this random assignment is not practicable, the researcher divides the various experimental treatments into experimental groups at random. Randomization has effectively controlled unnecessary factors, improving the research's internal validity.

Capability to Answer Research Questions Adequately

A good research design is one that appropriately addresses research questions. Occasionally, the researcher chooses a design inappropriate for solving the study subject. Such designs are an example of poor research design. A design like this does not sufficiently evaluate the hypotheses. It is standard practice for students to match the sex, age, and IQ of subjects when attempting to answer a study topic by experimentation or research on the belief that such matching will result in the establishment of a superior experimental group and control group. In actuality, if there is no relationship between age and the dependent variable, then matching an age is meaningless. As a result, any design focused on matching would be a poor design.


The final research design criterion is generalizability. The external validity of the research is its generalizability. In other words, it relates to the amount to which the outcomes of an experiment or research may be generalized to persons, groups, or situations that were not included in the research sample. The design is deemed excellent if the design allows the collected results to be generalized to bigger groups or people.

Significance of Research Design

Major significances are −

  • It is a plan that describes the study's objectives and the hypotheses to be investigated.

  • It is a plan outlining the sources and types of information pertinent to the research questions.

  • It is a plan that specifies data collection and analysis procedures.

  • It supports the seamless execution of diverse research processes, making research as efficient as feasible in generating maximum knowledge with the least effort, time, and money. It significantly impacts the dependability of the results obtained and, as such, serves as the solid foundation for the entire superstructure of the research effort.


The goal of the research design is to gain answers to research questions while controlling variation. Furthermore, the study design provides the topic's most objective, valid, and cost-effective solution. The study design's main functions are to maximize the influence of systematic variation, manage extraneous variance by randomization, elimination, matching, and statistical control, and reduce error variance. Feasibility, adaptability, generalizability, theory background, cost, and time are all characteristics of a successful study design.

Updated on: 12-Apr-2023


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