Classification of Designs

Early in any research study, one faces the task of selecting the specific design to use. A number of different design approaches exist, but unfortunately, no simple classification system defines all the variations that must be considered. We can classify research design using at least eight different perspectives.

  1. The degree to which the research problem has been crystallized (the study may be either exploratory or formal).

  2. The method of data collection (studies may be observational or survey).

  3. The power of the researcher to produce effects in the variables under study (the two major types of research are the experimental and the ex post facto).

  4. The purpose of the study (research studies may be descriptive or causal).

  5. The time dimension (research may be cross-sectional or longitudinal).

  6. The topical scope – breadth and depth – of the study (a case or statistical study).

  7. The research environment (most business research is conducted in a field setting, although laboratory research is not unusual; simulation is another category).

  8. The subjects’ perception of the research (do they perceive deviations from their everyday routines).

A brief discussion of these perspectives illustrate their nature and contribution to research.

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