The process of planning a research project is one of the essential aspects of conducting a research study. Lack of effective planning has negative effects on the quality of a research project, and thus its generalization to the entire research population. One of the most important phases in the planning process involves determining the research design method to be adopted. Some of the commonly used research methods include qualitative and quantitative research designs.
The choice of research design is influenced by the research question being evaluated. However, the two methods can be applied simultaneously in order to enhance the quality of the study, which leads to the development of the mixed-research method. However, the effectiveness of the two research methods in improving the quality of a study is influenced by the researchers’ skills and competence in applying them (Jankowicz, 2011). This paper illustrates hypothetical qualitative and quantitative research design plans.
Qualitative research design plan
Krosnick and Presser (2010) define qualitative research design as a systematic and subjective approach, which is used in exploring life experiences. The objective of qualitative research design entails providing insight regarding a particular phenomenon. Lietz (2010) further emphasizes that the qualitative research method “is often employed in answering the why and how of human behavior, opinion, experience, and information that is difficult to obtain through more quantitatively-oriented methods of data collection” (p.257).
In order to illustrate the application of the qualitative method, a hypothetical research study, which entails evaluating the effect of economic changes on the consumption of fashion products amongst fashion consumers in the UK, is used. The findings of the study will provide market intelligence to firms that deal with fashion clothes. Subsequently, they will be in a position to adjust their marketing strategies accordingly. Some of the key aspects considered in the planning phase are illustrated below.
Target population and sampling
In order to improve the relevance of the study to the target stakeholders, the researcher will identify the study population, which will be comprised of ardent consumers of luxury products. Cohen, Morrison, and Manion (2003) define a population as a universal set of all objects or subjects under study. The choice of this population is informed by the view that the researchers will be in a position to understand the change in their behavior due to economic changes.
Considering the extensive nature of the fashion market in the UK, the researcher will target fashion consumers in London. The study will adopt a simple random sampling technique in selecting the research sample in order to minimize the cost of the study and make the study manageable. Simple random sampling will enable the researcher to avoid bias in the process of selecting the respondents. A sample of 100 respondents will be selected from the study population.
During the research process, the researcher will adhere to effective ethical standards by observing the confidentiality of the respondents’ personal information. Moreover, the researcher will ensure that the selected respondents are adequately informed of the purpose of the study in order to increase the rate of participation.
The data collected influences the quality and reliability of the study. Thus, it is vital for researchers to adopt effective data collection methods. This study will be based on an inductive research approach. Consequently, the researcher will collect data from primary sources in order to gather real market information. Subsequently, primary methods of data collection, which include interviews and questionnaires, will be used. A well-designed questionnaire comprising of open and close-ended questionnaires will be distributed to the selected respondents through emails. A pilot test will be conducted before conducting the actual study in order to determine the effectiveness of the questionnaire (Lewis & Slack, 2007).
Data analysis and presentation
The primary methods of data collection adopted will enable the researcher to gather adequate data from the field. In order to condense the data, the researcher will adopt a Likert scale. Subsequently, a 5-point scale based on the responses obtained from the field will be used in condensing the data collected. Additionally, the researcher will also utilize Microsoft Excel in conducting data analysis and presentation. Thus, the researcher will be in a position to present the data using tables, graphs, and charts.
According to Krosnick and Presser (2010), the quantitative research method is aimed at explaining a particular phenomenon using numerical data. The data collected is analyzed using statistical methods. The quantitative research design is mainly applied when examining various issues such as the relationship between variables or differences between groups and change over time. In order to illustrate the application of the quantitative research design method, a hypothetical research plan is illustrated below. The plan is based on the following research question.
What is the impact of the rate of interest on the UK’s economic growth between 2000 and 2012?
The above research question is comprised of the dependent variable [economic growth] and the independent variable [rate of interest]. Thus, the study will be based on a quantitative research method. The choice of this design emanates from the view that the research question requires numerical data in order to be answered appropriately. In a bid to conduct this study successively, the researcher will undertake correlation research to determine the degree to which the country’s economic growth is influenced by the rate of interest rate. Krosnick and Presser (2010) assert that correlation research enables a researcher to understand the relationship amongst various quantifiable variables. Additionally, the correlation research design will enable the researcher to calculate the degree of correlation between the rate of interest rate and economic growth.
In order to gather sufficient data from the field, the researcher will collect data from different secondary sources. Some of the secondary sources that will be considered include published reports on the UK economic performance from credible institutions such as the Bank of England. Additionally, secondary data will also be collected from well-established and credible research databases such as Euromonitor. The researcher will specifically focus on the rate of interest and the UK’s economic performance.
The data collected will be analyzed and presented using Microsoft Excel in order to condense and present it using bar graphs, pie charts, and tables. Additionally, Microsoft Excel will enable the researcher to illustrate the trend in the UK’s economic performance due to changes in the rate of interest rate. Therefore, using the quantitative research method will enable the target stakeholders [for example, the UK government and investors] to understand the relationship between the rate of interest and the country’s economic growth. Furthermore, the data collected from the field will be analyzed by calculating the correlation coefficient between the rate of interest and the country’s economic growth. Thus, the researcher will be in a position to present the trend in the country’s economic growth from 2000 to 2012.
Considering the complexity associated with research projects, it is vital for researchers to improve the quality of their study by focusing on the elements of validity and reliability. In order to achieve these goals, effective research designs should be adopted. Some of the most effective designs include the qualitative and quantitative research methods.
The application of these two methods varies depending on the nature of the study. In most cases, the qualitative research design is adopted in the process of conducting exploratory studies involving human behavior. On the other hand, the quantitative research method is mainly applied in conducting studies involving numerical or statistical measures. In order to improve the quality of a study, it is fundamental for researchers to possess adequate knowledge on how to apply the aforementioned research methods.
This aspect will improve the effectiveness with which the research study is planned. A number of issues should be taken into account in the research-planning phase. Some of these issues include identifying the sources of data to be used in conducting the study and the method of data collection. These aspects have a significant impact on the relevance of the data collected. Researchers should integrate an effective data analysis and presentation technique.
Some of the data analysis techniques that can be applied in qualitative research entail developing a measurement scale such as the Likert scale. On the other hand, data analysis in the quantitative research method can be achieved by calculating various measures such as the correlation coefficient between the independent and the dependent variables. In summary, the choice of research method is influenced by the nature of the data collected.
Cohen, L., Manion, L., & Morrison, K. (2003). Research methods in education. New York, NY: Routledge.
Jankowicz, D. (2011). Research methods for business and management. Edinburgh, Scotland: Edinburgh Business School.
Krosnick, J., & Presser, S. (2010). Question and questionnaire design. New York, NY: Emerald Group Publishing Limited.
Lewis, M., & Slack, N. (2007). Operations management; critical perspective on business. New York, NY: Taylor & Francis.
Lietz, P. (2010). Research into questionnaire design; a summary of the literature. International Journal of Market Research, 52(2), 249-274.