Research Study Designs

There are many different designs for research studies that are widely in use today. When making a proposal as to which type of research method should be employed, you should consider different factors such as the research hypothesis, length of time the research will require, the type of variable to be measured, and the group or entities to be studied. Here are just some examples of some commonly used research study designs:

  1. Case control studies. Case control studies refer to the analytical comparison of two different group or entities having different conditions, in order to find out how one specific variable would affect these two different groups. If you were to study how sleeping habits affect a child’s school performance for example, you might choose to do case control studies of two groups of children aged 7 years old, with the first group sleeping at 8pm or earlier everyday and the other group sleeping later than 8pm.
  2. Case studies and case reports. Case studies or case reports involve an in-depth study of a particular individual or a group, in an effort to study either their lifestyle or specific elements of their lifestyle for analysis, or to observe the effects of a variable.  To illustrate: when studying the development of a child, a best method would be to conduct a case study of him, taking into consideration different aspects of his life including his schooling, his family life, his interests, etc.
  3. Cohort studies. In research design, the term cohort refers to individuals sharing a characteristic that is being held up for study. Cohort studies consist of long-term qualitative studies of this characteristic, to test if there is any association between that characteristic and one possible outcome. For example: a cohort group, wherein each member has been exposed to a particular drug, is studied to find out whether their drug exposure could lead to a particular side effect. A validity study must be undertaken to account for the possibility of a confounding variable (or a variable which is not intended to be studied but nevertheless brings about a significant alteration to the experiment).
  4. Survey research. Survey research is a type of research design that makes use of either questionnaire or interview tools. There are many ways of administering the survey research method, such as (for questionnaires) by mail; by a group with a researcher acting as coordinator of the survey; or by household drop-off. An interview could be done in person or through the telephone. Survey research methods are commonly used for many purposes such as market and consumer research. 
  5. Randomized control studies. Randomized control studies are typically used in clinical trials to test the effectiveness of a certain treatment method. This kind of research design consists of a treatment group, whose participants receive the treatment being tested; and a control group, which receives the standard treatment. The latter acts as the baseline against which the treatment’s rate of effectiveness (or non-effectiveness) is measured. Each participant must be duly briefed about the entire process and must be given a participant brochure to keep him informed about the research methods and what it will entail.
  6. Meta-analysis. In meta-analysis, various relevant studies are used in conjunction with each other in order to create a more comprehensive, or even a new research hypothesis. This type of research design focuses more on the quantitative (that is, numerical) data within the research.
  7. Systematic analysis. Systematic analysis is a type of research design similar to meta-analysis; however, this focuses more on qualitative study instead of quantitative. 

These are just some of the commonly used research study designs being widely used today. Hopefully this article gave you a clearer picture of each, and would help you in choosing your mode for research. Good luck!


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