Difference Between Research Methods and Research Design

Main Difference – Research Methods vs Research Design

Research methods and research design are terms you must know before starting a research project. Both these elements are essential to the success of a research project. However, many new researchers assume research methods and research design to be the same. Research design is the overall structure of a research project. For example, if you are building a house, you need to have a good idea about what kind of house you are going to build; you cannot do anything without knowing this. A research design is the same – you cannot proceed with the research study without having a proper research design. Research methods are the procedures that are used to collect and analyze data. Thus, the main difference between research methods and research design is that research design is the overall structure of the research study whereas research methods are the various processes, procedures, and tools used to collect and analyze data.

1. What are Research Methods?
     – Definition, Features, Characteristics

2. What is Research Design?
     – Definition, Features, Characteristics

3. What is the difference between Research Methods and Research Design?Difference Between Research Methods and Research Design - Comparison Summary

What are Research Methods

Research methods are concerned with the various research processes, procedures, and tools – techniques of gathering information, various ways of analyzing them. Research problems can be categorized into two basic sections: qualitative research and quantitative research. Researchers may use one or both of these methods (mixed method) in their research studies. The type of research method you choose would depend on your research questions or problem and research design.

The main aim of a research study is to produce new knowledge or deepen the existing understanding of a field. This can be done by three forms.

Exploratory research – identifies and outlines a problem or question

Constructive research – tests theories and suggests solutions to a problem or question

Empirical research – tests the viability of a solution using empirical evidence

Main Difference -  Research Methods vs  Research Design

What is a Research Design

Research design is the overall plan or structure of the research project. It indicates what type of study is planned and what kind of results are expected from this project. It specifically focuses on the final results of the research. It is almost impossible to proceed with a research project without a proper research design. The main function of a research design is to make sure that the information gathered throughout the research answers the initial question unambiguously. In other words, the final outcomes and conclusions of the research must correspond with the research problems chosen at the beginning of the research.

A research design can be,

Descriptive (case study, survey, naturalistic observation, etc.)

Correlational (case-control study, observational study, etc.)

Experimental (experiments)

Semi-experimental (field experiment, quasi-experiment, etc.)

Meta-analytic (meta-analysis)

Review (literature review, systematic review)

Research methods are always based on the research. For example, a case study may involve different methods of data collection such as survey, interviews, observations, analysis of documents, etc.Difference Between Research Methods and Research Design

Difference Between Research Methods and Research Design

Function

Research Methods: Research methods are the procedures that will be used to collect and analyze data.

Research Design: Research design is the overall structure of the research.

Focus

Research Methods: Research methods focus on what type of methods are more suitable to collect and analyze the evidence we need.

Research Design: Research design focuses on what type of study is planned and what kind of results are expected from the research.

Base

Research Methods: Research methods depend on the research design.

Research Design: Research design is based on the research question or problem.

Reference:

De Vaus, D. A. 2001. Research design in social research. London: SAGE.

Image Courtesy:

“The Scientific Method” By CK-12 Foundation – File:High_School_Chemistry.pdf, page 23 (CC BY-SA 3.0) via Commons Wikimedia

“How to do ethnography” by Sam Ladner (CC BY 2.0) via Flickr

About the Author: Hasa

Hasa has a BA degree in English, French and Translation studies. She is currently reading for a Masters degree in English. Her areas of interests include literature, language, linguistics and also food.

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