The Research Methods Knowledge Base is an online “textbook” that teaches about “social research methods” (Trochim, 2006). For the purposes of this paper, which is to focus on the design of research methods, I have chosen to examine the major types of research designs as described on the Research Methods Knowledge Base.
There are three major types of research design, and it is simple to determine what design a project has used by asking some basic questions (Trochim, 2006). First, one must determine if the design is based on random assignment, such as splitting a group of people by numbering off (Trochim, 2006). If this is the case, the experiment is known as “randomized,” or in some cases “true” (Trochim, 2006). If this is not the case, one must ask further questions.
The second question is related to the information the design used. If it used “either multiple groups or multiple waves of measurement”, it is known as a “quasi-experimental design” (Trochim, 2006). If it did not use either of the above, it is known as a “non-experimental design” (Trochim, 2006). These two simple questions give the researcher the three classifications of research design.
When looking for a “cause – effect relationship,” the randomized approach has the greatest “validity,” and the non-experimental has the least (Trochim, 2006). Non-experimental designs are better used in cases of “descriptive” research, and this design is actually one of the most commonly used, especially in cases of simple surveys (Trochim, 2006).
Each type of design has its own place in research. When we know the types and how to distinguish them, we can understand the basis behind even the most complicated research (Trochim, 2006).
Trochim, W. (2006). Types of designs. Research Methods Knowledge Base, http://www.socialresearchmethods.net/kb/destypes.php