"A research design indicates the full research process from conceptualization of the research problem, generation of data, analysis and interpretation of findings, and dissemination of results"
(Magilvy & Thomas, 2009, What and Why… Section, ¶ 4).
The Question of Interest
What type of research design should the researcher use?
To answer the study's critical research consideration, the researcher must first determine the question the study will ask. In the book, Essentials of Research Design and Methodology, Geoffrey R. Marczyk, David DeMatteo, and David Festinger (2010) explain that the type of research design the researcher chooses for a particular study primarily depends on the question the study will address. After the researcher formulates a research question, he "must choose a research design, collect and analyze the data, and draw some conclusions" (Marczyk, DeMatteo, & Festinger, Overview… Section, p. 2). During the current paper, focusing on research design, the researcher investigates similarities and differences of the phenomenology method, the survey method, the ethnography method, and the case study method.
The researcher also describes the case study method in detail as well as discusses the strengths and weaknesses of this research method. The Breadth section of the paper serves as the catalyst for the Depth section, which concentrates on the case study method as well as helps highlight the attributes for a good research study.
Area of Study A research design includes a number of components, Marvin L. Wolverton (2009), a real property valuation theorist and consultant as well as an emeritus professor at Washington State University, explains in the article, "Research design, hypothesis testing, and sampling." These elements can include; however, may not be limited to "a problem statement, a research hypothesis, selection and definition of variables, implementation of design and procedures, findings, and conclusions" (Wolverton, ¶ 1). The methodology differs from the research design as the "methodology refers to the principles, procedures, and practices that govern research, whereas research design refers to the plan used to examine the question of interest" (Marczyk, DeMatteo, & Festinger, 2010, Overview… Section, p. 1). Methodology encompasses the total process of conducting research, like planning and implementing the study, drawing conclusions, and propagating the findings. Research design, albeit, depicts the myriad of ways the researcher can conduct the study to answer the question of interest, the study question being asked. The organization of the paper, focusing on research design includes the following sections:
The study poses the primary research question: What considerations contribute to determine the research design of a study? The following list depicts the study's five sub-research questions, designed to guide the study.
1. What components comprise the phenomenology method of research?
2. What elements constitute the survey method of research?
3. What factors form the design for the ethnography method of research?
4. What fractions formulate the case study method of research?
b. strengths and weaknesses
5. How do the phenomenology, survey, ethnography, and case study methods of research contrast and compare to one another?
During the breadth section, the paper's second segment, the researcher presents a compilation of relevant literature samples to address the first four research questions. This section relates relevant, significant sources relating to study's focus examining the study's phenomenon, research design.
The depth section of the paper expands on the fourth question relating to case study methodology and addresses question five. The researcher recounts and discusses the research effort an presents concluding thoughts during the conclusion section as well as whether the study effectively addressed each research question.
All research "approaches have in common the general process of research that begins with a research problem and proceeds to the questions, the data, the data analysis, and the research report"
(Creswell, 2007, p. 76).
During the breadth section, the researcher presents a sampling of literature, spotlighting an extensive sampling of literature relating to the study's focus. In the book, Doing Your Social Science Dissertation: A Practical Guide for Undergraduates, Karen Smith, Malcolm Todd, and Julia Waldman (2009) recommend that the researcher chooses one of the following three common approaches to develop his literature review.
1. A chronologically organized review;
2. A thematically organized literature review;
3. A methodologically organized review.
During the paper, a qualitative research study investigating the research design, the researcher utilizes a thematically organized arrangement to manipulate the literature to help frame relevant information. The following four themes serve as primary borders for data that addresses the study's research questions:
The Phenomenology Method
The Survey Method
The Ethnography Method
The Case Study Method
Samplings of literature give the reader the necessary background to understand the research, including those which may prove to be contrary to the researcher's intent. As it would be impossible for the researcher to include every published study in the area of the study's focus, the researcher carefully chooses the most significant, relevant sources.
The study design can basically be classified into the three following distinctive groups:
1. Quantitative designs, which focus on testing theory and hypothesis,
1. Qualitative designs which focus on developing theory and generating knowledge, and
1. Mixed designs which tend a combined or mix the two designs (Spitzlinger, 2010, p. 4).
The researcher generally uses qualitative research is to gain in depth knowledge of only a few specific cases as he seeks to understand ways diverse components fit together as well as explain a particular outcome or phenomenon. Qualitative research, characterized by inductive logic, permits understanding a situation without imposing pre-existing expectations on the subject. According to Creswell, quantitative of research constitutes: "An inquiry process of understanding a social or human problem, based on building a complex, holistic picture, formed with words reporting detailed views of informants, and conducted in a natural setting" (Creswell, cited in Spitzlinger, 2010, p. 5). In qualitative research, the researcher uses an interpretive, naturalistic approach.
Fred Kerlinger, a quantitative researcher argues that no such thing as qualitative data exists. "Everything is either 1 or 0" (Qualitative vs. Quantitative…, 2010, ¶ 1) D.T. Campbell, another researcher, asserts that ultimately all research is rooted in qualitative research. Despite the ongoing debate about whether quantitative or qualitative research outranks the other method, numerous researchers agree that more often than not, the two research methods need each other.
Nevertheless, as qualitative data utilizes words and quantitative data utilizes numbers, some researchers perceive one method to outperform or produce more scientific results than the other. Yet another primary difference separating the two methods "is that qualitative research is inductive and quantitative research is deductive. In qualitative research, a hypothesis is not needed to begin research. However, all quantitative research requires a hypothesis before research can begin" (Qualitative vs. Quantitative…, 2010, ¶ 1). The underlying assumptions regarding the researcher's role reflect still one more major difference between qualitative and quantitative research.
Research Choices The researcher's choice of research method depends on the type of study he plans to conduct, his research goal and the study's corresponding setting. Spitzlinger (2010) explains: "The [study] design determines the strategy, the data collection processes as well as the appropriate tools for data analysis" (p. 4). Most qualitative research depends on some kind of comparison to establish categorizations, links, and regularities, or to understand phenomenon within the context they are experienced and observed. In qualitative study, as researchers frequently examine associations, differences, and similarities among diverse objects like individual meanings, political configurations and statements, comparative research proves prominent. To determine these factors, researchers consider vital facets which case or scale of analysis to use. The researcher must define the study's constructs whether he will focus on cases or characteristics. Through various qualitative methods, the researcher can compare components of as well as diverse topics.
Qualitative research, the process of examining and investigating a phenomenon in its natural setting, may reflect experiences "as lived." During this method, after the researcher retrieves data, he typically examines this information to determine differences as well as similarities in the categories, patterns, and themes in the data as well as in the data itself. The researcher then describes and sometimes interprets this information. Joan K. Magilvy, Professor, Associate Dean for Academic Programs, and Eileen Thomas (2009), Assistant Professor College of Nursing, both with the University of Colorado Denver Aurora, Colorado, assert in the journal article, "A First qualitative project: Qualitative descriptive design for novice researchers," that the primary purpose of a qualitative study may be to create a thorough narrative and detailed description of the phenomenon being studied or individuals in their everyday natural setting. The researcher pursuing a qualitative study may be considered the instrument of research. In this instance, the researcher may generate information by questioning individuals or focus groups, observing and documenting comments and remarks. The researcher may even participate in certain events and report personal participation and record this information through photographs.