Sunday, July 28, 2013

Difference between Research Methods and Research Design

I am just writing this post as many beginners in social science research are asking an FAQ: what is the difference between 'research method' and 'research design'? Here is my succinct answer to facilitate others understanding. As I understand so far, research method is only about the approach you take in answering research questions, for e.g. qualitative/quantitative, constructivist, positivist, postpositivist methods. But research design involves more than that. It should answer how you'll use these methods in every steps of research. It includes identification of literature bodies, sample selection, data collection processes, instruments etc. So, research methods are there already created by somebody else in research theories whereas you have to craft research design yourself.
Researchers should try to link 'research' with 'development'/Photo: Safal Ghimire

To understand practically, let us suppose you are building a house. Then, research method is whether you build a thatched hut or a stucco palace. But research design is all about how many rooms will you have, what sorts of windows, where will be the main entrance, where will be the lounge and kitchen etc. Along with this, design should also answer how you are going to protect it from earthquakes and fire etc.

[PS: Don't get confused 'research methods' for 'research methodology'. Methodology is the science of studying methods, as in Sociology, Criminology etc.]

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