Explore the Elements of Research Design


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Research design is a blueprint for your entire research process. It helps you seamlessly navigate through the complexities of sampling, data collection, analysis, and interpretation. Whether you are venturing into the world of social sciences or conducting market research, understanding the elements and intricacies of the methodologies behind research will help you conduct the study with more clarity and confidence. 

In this blog, we’ll explore the characteristics and types of research methodology to help you understand how to design your research process. 

What is research design?

According to the definition of research design, it refers to the framework of market research methods and techniques that are chosen by a researcher. The design that is chosen by the researchers allow them to utilise the methods that are suitable for the study and to set up their studies successfully in the future as well.

Research design offers a variety of options. It can be qualitative, quantitative, or mixed. Under these designs, researchers can choose from various research methods such as experimental studies, surveys, correlational studies, or quasi-experimental review studies. There are also sub-types of research methods including experimental design, defining research problems, and descriptive studies.

Research designs are influenced by the research problem a company chooses to work on. This problem serves as the determining factor in the choice of research design, highlighting the logical sequence of steps in conducting a research study. 

The market research study’s design phase is when the researchers determine the tools to be used and how they will be used. Good research usually ensures minimum levels of bias in the data collection method to improve both the internal and external validity of the research. The desired outcome of experimental research is to have a design that will result in the least amount of error in the study.

What are the elements of research design?

Some essential elements of research designs are highlighted below:

1. Research purpose: 

A research design cannot be decided without an accurate purpose or problem statement.

2. Appropriate sampling:

This includes determining the appropriate sampling methods, correct sample size, and key characteristics of the population. Tools like a market research panel can simplify this step by giving you access to vetted and willing survey participants. 

3. Data collection methods: 

The process of gathering data from the participants is also a critical element. This includes selecting what data to collect, the right mode of data collection, and the tools used for the purpose. Voxco offers three modes of data collection – online, CATI, and mobile-offline

4. Data analysis: 

Research designs include data analysis and interpretation. This element includes deciding which statistical method to use to analyze the data to mitigate any error or bias in research results. 

5. Types of methodology: 

This step includes determining the best among the several types of research methodology. Different research designs require different settings for the conduction of a study.

6. Setting up time frame: 

Another element is to outline the general timeline it will take to conduct a study using different research methods.

7. Integrity: 

Using an accurate research design will help your study be successful. Research studies that are successful and include the least amount of error provide important insights that are free of bias. 

8. Ethical considerations: 

It must also ensure adhering to ethical considerations such as informed consent, confidentiality, and anonymity. 

What are the main characteristics of research design?

To better understand how you can design your own research process, let’s take a look at the main characteristics of the subject. 

01. Neutrality before research initiation: 

When you are planning to study a phenomenon, you may have an assumption about the kind of data you are expecting to collect. However, the results you find from the study should not be driven by bias and must be neutral. In order to understand the opinions on the obtained results, you can discuss it with multiple people and consider the points made by individuals who agree with the results obtained.

02. Reliability of research design: 

When you replicate an already conducted market research, you expect similar results. Decide the type of research questions you are going to ask through your surveys and define that in your research design. This will help set a standard for the results. Only if your design is reliable it will help you obtain the expected results.

03. Validity of insights: 

You need to ensure that the survey questionnaire you are using is valid. Validity refers to the fact that the research tool you use measures what it purports to measure. Only valid tools will help researchers in gathering accurate results for their study.

04. Generalizability of research findings:

The outcome of your research design should be generalizable to a wider population. Good research design findings are generalizable to everyone, and they indicate that if your survey were to be replicated on any subgroup of the population, it would yield similar results.

A good research design balances all the above characteristics. Researchers must also understand the different research design types to choose from. This understanding will help them implement the most accurate research design for their study.

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What are the different types of research design?

Broadly, there are two types of research design types: 

  1. Qualitative research design
  2. Quantitative research design

Quantitative Research Design:

Quantitative research is the process of collecting and analyzing numerical data. It is generally used to find patterns, averages, predictions, and cause-effect relationships between the variables being studied. It is also used to generalize the results of a particular study to the population in consideration. 

Quantitative research is widely used in science, both in the natural and social sciences. It provides actionable insights that are essential for company growth.

Qualitative Research Design:

Qualitative research is a method used for market research that aims to obtain data through open-ended questions and conversations with the intended consumers. 

This method aims to establish not only “what” people think but also “how” they came to that opinion and “why” they think so.

What are the subtypes of research design?

We can further explore research design in five sub-types based on the objective, methodology, and focus. 

01. Descriptive research design

Descriptive research refers to the methods that describe the characteristics of the variables under study. This methodology focuses on answering questions relating to “what” than the “why” of the research subject. The primary focus of descriptive research is to simply describe the nature of the demographics under the study instead of focusing on the “why”. 

Descriptive research is called an observational research method, as none of the variables in the study are influenced during the research process. If the problem is unclear enough to conduct a descriptive analysis, researchers can use exploratory research methods first.

02. Experimental research design 

Experimental research, also called experimentation, is conducted using a scientific approach with two or more variables. The first variable is a constant that can be manipulated to see the differences caused by the second variable. Most studies using quantitative research methods are experimental in nature.

Experimental research helps you in gathering the necessary data for you to make better decisions about your proposed hypothesis. The success of experimental research usually confirms that the change observed in the variable under study is solely based on the manipulation of the independent variable. 

Experimental research design is the most practical and accurate kind of research method that helps establish causation. This research design is used in social sciences to understand and observe human behavior. The behavior is observed by placing humans in two groups so that researchers can make comparisons.

03. Correlational research design

A correlation refers to an association or a relationship between two entities.

Correlational research studies how one entity impacts the other and what are changes are observed when either one of them changes. This research method is carried out to understand naturally occurring relationships between variables. 

Hence, at least two groups are required to conduct correlational quantitative research successfully. The variables in this study are not under the researcher’s control; the researcher is simply trying to establish whether or not a relationship between two variables exists. 

Since correlational studies only explain whether there is a relationship between two groups, they do not establish causation. Thus, it is not recommended to draw conclusions solely based on correlational studies; just because two variables are in sync does not mean they are interrelated or that one variable is causing the changes in the other variable!

A numeric correlation coefficient determines the strength of the relationship between two variables and ranges from -1 to +1. If the correlation coefficient obtained is -1, it indicates a perfect negative relationship between the two variables, i.e., as one variable increases (age), the other variable decreases (purchase of sports products). 

If the correlation coefficient of a study is found to be +1, it indicates a perfect positive relationship between the two variables, whereas one variable increases (age) and the other variable also increases (purchasing beauty-enhancing products).

04. Diagnostic research design

In a diagnostic research design, the researcher is trying to evaluate the cause of a specific problem or phenomenon.

This research design is used to understand more in detail the factors that are creating problems in the company. Diagnostic research design includes three steps:

Step -1: The inception of the issue – When did the issue arise? In what situations is the issue more evident?

Step -2: Diagnosis of the issue – What is the underlying cause of the issue? What is influencing the issue to worsen?

Step -3: Solution for the issue – What is working in curing the issue? Under what situations does the problem seem to become less evident?

05. Explanatory research design

Explanatory research design uses the ideas and thoughts of a researcher on one subject to be the guiding point for future studies, it is also used in exploring theories further. The research focuses on explaining the unexplored patterns of phenomena and elaborates on the details pertaining to the research questions such as; what, why, and how.

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A clear research design provides a direction guiding your process with a clear objective and questions to investigate the topic of interest. Research design ensures the validity and reliability of the research findings and confirms that one can replicate the result even for future research. An appropriately created and executed research design helps you draw meaningful conclusions. 

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