Research Methods: Design and Analysis

Evaluation of Qualitative Study

Researchers need to evaluate qualitative studies to establish their scientific merit before using their findings. According to Lodico, Spaulding, and Voegtle (2010), dependability, credibility, and transferability are the major factors that researchers consider when evaluating qualitative studies. The first factor, dependability, is the ability of a research instrument, procedures, or processes to provide consistent results under the same settings of a study.

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Willis (2007) states an important feature of qualitative study is the consistency of data collected, which is dependent on the reliability of a research instrument and procedures of a qualitative study. For instance, in measuring intelligence quotient, the instrument and procedures of data collection must be dependable. Credibility is a second factor that enhances validity of findings in a qualitative study.

Lodico et al. (2010) argue that the credibility test of a study measures a given variable and eliminates confounding variables. For example, a study that assesses intelligence quotient must be accurate. Transferability is a third factor that examines the ability of a study to offer a rich description of participants and the environment under which the study occurs. For example, a study that measures intelligence quotient must describe the participants in terms of gender, age, and location to enhance generalization of the findings.

Research Design

The type of research design that one uses in a study is dependent on a number of factors that are inherent in the study. Firstly, the nature of data is a factor that determines a research design. One can choose a qualitative design, a quantitative research design, or a mixed research design if the nature of data is qualitative, quantitative, or both respectively. Secondly, the participants or subjects of a study to determine the type of research design.

Due to ethical reasons, researchers use non-experimental designs in a study that involve people and use experimental designs in studies that involve objects and animals (Panter & Sterba, 2011). Hence, in the eye-surgery, non-experimental research design like case study is appropriate because ethics reduces the feasibility of experimental study of humans. Availability of resources dictates the type of design that researchers use (Nirmala & Silvia, 2011). Hence, in the case of eye-surgery, a well-equipped laboratory and ophthalmologist are critical resources.

Critical Elements of the Research Process

Identifying Broad Area of Inquiry

Identification of the broad area of inquiry is important in research because it provides background of the research problem. Yin (2010) argues that an area of inquiry should examine an issue from diverse disciplines for it to be broad. The diversity of disciplines gives an unbiased view of a research problem.

According to Hoban (2007), a broad area of inquiry contextualizes a research issue and thus enhances readers to understand the importance of a certain study. Identification of the broad area of inquiry is relevant among researchers because it provides diverse views and sets the foundation of a research problem. Hence, researchers should identify a broad area of inquiry by examining an issue from diverse perspectives and contextualize an inquiry in the appropriate field of study.

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Literature Review

Conducting a review of literature is very important in research because it provides the basis of research. By conducting an extensive review of available literature, researchers gain an in-depth understanding of an issue they are studying (Neuman, 2011). Understanding of the issue is imperative because it enables researchers to formulate relevant questions and hypotheses. Without literature review, researchers can duplicate studies of other people because they do not understand the current state of an issue that they are struggling to study (Leedy & Osmond, 2010). Thus, a review of literature enables researchers to be in tandem with the current issues in a given field of study.

Identifying a Researchable Problem

A review of literature plays a significant role in identification of a research problem. A review of literature review prepares the foundations of a researchable problem. Turk (2011) asserts that literature progressively builds up to researchable problem. This means the literature review identifies many issues and narrows down to specific one. Literature review enables researchers to understand the depth and breadth of previous studies, and consequently aid in the identification of gaps and formulation of a researchable problem (Jupp, 2006). Thus, researchers should structure a literature review in a manner that defines a problem and leads to a researchable problem.

Describing a Study Purpose

Description of the research purpose is very important in research because it guides and directs readers in the research process. Blaikie (2009) argues that the purpose of a study guides researchers in the process of formulating questions and hypotheses, which are the pillars of a study. A study should have a specific purpose for it to provide effective answers to the research questions. Babbie (2009) states that the purpose of a study underpins the scope of research and thus delineates what a study entails. Therefore, researchers should state the purpose of study so that they can not only formulate appropriate questions and hypotheses, but also define the scope of study.

Method and Research Design

During data collection, methodology is a critical aspect as it determines the validity of data. Kumar (2010) states that methodology provides procedures and processes, which researchers follow and arrive at the intended findings. In essence, a method of a given study is constant and independent from the influence of researchers.

This implies that methodology determines the validity and reliability of a study as it sets procedures and processes of conducting research. As an important part of methodology, research design outlines procedures and processes of data collection and analysis in detail. According to Marczyk, DeMatteo, and Festinger (2010), research design defines the type of study, describes variables, and specifies collection and analysis of data. Hence, method and research design are the heart of a scientific study for they determine the findings.

Population and Sampling

Population and sampling are inseparable elements of the research process, which influence the validity of findings. Population is a group of people, animals, or objects that a study seeks to examine. Target population and sample population are the types of populations that a study needs. While researchers apply their findings to target population, sample population comprises subjects or participants that undergo through the research process (Ott, & Longnecker, 2008).

To obtain sample population, researchers identify the target population and select sample population for purposes of research. Sampling is a process of selecting participants or objects to represent the target population (Mertens, 2009). Probability sampling methods are applicable in the sampling process since they provide a representative sample population.

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Collecting Data

The process of gathering data from the study participants or objects of study through observation, interviews, surveys, or measurements constitutes data collection. To enhance the validity of the findings, researchers should follow data collection procedure thoroughly (Krysik & Fin, 2013). The thoroughness of data collection is essential because a minor error could have significant impact on the findings thus making them invalid. Christensen, Johnson, and Turner (2011) argue that data collection is prone to the biases of the researchers. This implies that researchers should apply scientific procedures in data collection and prevent their biases from interfering with the accuracy of data collected.


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Christensen, L., Johnson, R., & Turner, L. (2011). Research Methods, Design, and Analysis. Boston: Allyn & Bacon.

Hoban, G. (2007). The Missing Links in Teacher Education Design: Developing a Multi-linked Conceptual Framework. New York: Springer.

Jupp, V. (2006). The Sage Dictionary of Social Research Methods. London: Sage.

Krysik, N., & Fin, J. (2013). Research for Effective Social Work Practice. New York: Routledge.

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Yin, R. (2010). Qualitative Research from Start to Finish. London: Guilford Press.

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