1 Describe the various types of research designs and discuss the strengths and
weaknesses of each design. Which type of research design is most commonly
used by researchers, and which type of research design is the least reliable
and why? If you were conducting research which design would you use and
Research in any field begins with curiosity. Yet method texts often read as primers
on how to kill curiosity by subjecting it to formula. As a social process, all research
involves a good deal of guesswork, fumbling about, looking around, following rather
loosely formulated hunches, filling in empty spaces and, generally, figuring out ways
to usefully categorize and explain what it is that one has learned ( Stebbins, 2001).
Research design is a plan that deals with entire research project which includes
some major quires like the aims of study, what information to seek, how the
researcher can collect data and how to process and interpret the data and so forth.
According to Keith F Punch,
“…Research design in general was described as the overall plan for a piece of
research, including four main ideas: the strategy, the conceptual framework, the
question of who or what will be studied, and the tools to be used for collecting and
analyzing empirical materials. Design situates the researcher in the empirical world.
When research questions are pre-specified, the design sits between the research
questions and the data, and it shows how the research questions will be connected
to the data. When research questions are developed as the study unfolds, the design
still needs to connect the question to the data and to fit in with both” (1998, pp149-
Therefore, creating an effective research design, anticipating possible complexities
and challenges in the field, is an exceedingly functional task in understanding any
type of study. Although, the choice of methods should reflects both one's research
topic and the overall research strategy as one's methodology shapes which methods
are used and how each method is used (Silverman, 2005). Thus, I can argue that
different types of methodology need to be required for different investigation.
However, the logic of adopting certain methodological approach depends on the
nature and purpose of the study. In addition, time, space and cost factors are also
considered in adopting of any particular approach.
2 There are different types of research which can be classified by the following ways-
• Quantitative research
• Qualitative research
• Mixed method research.
Quantitative research is tries to quantify the problem and understand how prevalent
it is by looking for projectable results to a larger population. Quantitative research
uses the deductive or confirmatory or “top down” scientific method; it is used
primarily for description, explanation, and prediction. It is based on quantitative data,
in particular on the analysis of variables. Trochim and Land (1982, p.1) defined
quantitative research design as the glue that holds the research project together. A
design is used to structure the research, to show how all of the major parts of the
research project—the samples or groups, measures, treatments or programs, and
methods of assignment—work together to try to address the central research
questions. Bryman (2004) argues that quantitative research strategy is associated
with an epistemological position of ‘positivism’ and an ontological position of
‘objectivism’. From this understanding we may identify the following strengths and
weaknesses of this research-
Strengths of quantitative research:
• The researcher may look at relationship between variables, and then allow
one to more variables credibly to establish cause-and-effect relationships.
• Provides precise, quantitative, numerical data.
• Data analysis is relatively less time consuming (using statistical software
• It is useful for studying large numbers of people.
• Data collection using some quantitative methods is relatively quick (e.g.,
survey method by telephone interviews) in comparison to qualitative research
with in-depth interview or case study and so on.
Weaknesses of quantitative research:
3 • Quantitative research does not study things in a natural setting or discuss the
meaning things have for different people as qualitative research does
• Experimental research involves artificiality, and the researcher tends to ignore
many behaviors that can be important because they are not thought to be
related to the variable of interest.
• It ignores the direct observation of the phenomena.
Bryman (2004) also argues that qualitative research strategy is associated with an
epistemological consideration of ‘interpretivism’ and an ontological concern with
‘constuctionism’. Mason states:
Qualitative research is interpretive, which means that it is concerned with how
the social world is interpreted, understood, experienced and produced.
Qualitative research aims to produce rounded understandings on the basis of
rich, contextual and detailed data. There is more emphasis on ‘holistic’ forms
of analysis and explanation, in this sense, than on charting surface patterns,
trends and correlations (Mason, 1996, p.4).
In the context of the above ideas, it could be argued that quantitative research
methods tend to be used in survey research with a positivistic framework, and they
seek to reveal causal relationships. On the other hand, qualitative research is usually
described as allowing a detailed exploration of a topic of interest in which information is
collected by a researcher through case studies, ethnographic work, interviews, and so on.
Strengths of qualitative research:
• Qualitative research can feel authentic because they directly deal with
participants’ own views or observations.
• Qualitative research methods are concerned with opinions, feelings and
experiences, and describe the social phenomena with the interpretation of
particular research participants’.
• It can also provide an opportunity to represent a feminist sensitivity (Bryman,
2004, p.287) such as domestic violence or gender inequality.
4 • It is useful to understand the complex phenomena such as ethnic racial
problems or immigrant people problems in Canada etc.
Weaknesses of qualitative research:
• Qualitative research methods objectively verifiable such as, focus group
discussion, ethnography etc.
• It is very time consuming and can last for months or even years such as
• Sometimes qualitative researchers interpret their data according to his or her
observation which may likely to reflect with some biasness.
• Data analysis is often time consuming and so on.
Mixed method research:
For decades, scholars in the social sciences have made use of mixed method
research that is, combining both qualitative and quantitative data in a single study.
The mixing of research methods has been given many names including multiple
methods, blended research, multi-method, triangulated studies, and mixed research.
In business, mixed methods and multi-methods research are commonly used as in
the same labels. However, some scholars argued that multi method research
involves multiple types of qualitative inquiry (e.g. interviews and observations) or
multiple types of quantitative inquiry (e.g. surveys and experiments) and mixed
methods which involve the mixing of the two types of data such as qualitative and
quantitative data in a single study ( Johnson, Onwuegbuzie, & Turner, 2007)
Mixed methods research is the type of research in which are searcher or team
of researchers combines elements of qualitative and quantitative research
approaches (e.g., use of qualitative and quantitative viewpoints, data
collection, analysis, inference techniques) for the broad purpose of breadth
and depth of understanding and corroboration (Johnson et al., 2007, pp. 123)
Furthermore, we can conduct the above research by using the following methods,
5 A survey can be thought to consist of several interconnected steps which include:
defining the objectives, selecting a survey frame, determinin