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Research design

The selection of an appropriate research design is critical to the success of your research project.

Your research design should align with your research questions. Overall it should represent a considered plan that is suitable for approaching your research questions and is appropriate for your discipline and the likely expectations of your examiners.

Elements of a research design

Your research design should be realistic and achievable within the time and resources available. There is no ‘perfect’ research design; you may need to explore several designs, and consider the following criteria:

  • Testability of hypotheses or research questions;
  • Sample and sample size;
  • Sampling techniques and method of data collection;
  • Ethical considerations;
  • Theories and constructs;
  • Metrics, models and measures;
  • Analysis techniques;
  • Practical application of results; and
  • Feasibility of the research design.

Feasibility of the research design

It’s essential that you consider the feasibility of your proposed research design. You must be realistic about the time, money, equipment and expertise needed to fulfill your research plan.

Logistical issues that you should think about include:

  • access to and recruitment of participants;
  • resources and facilities available;
  • access to and cost of equipment, software and consumables;
  • access to datasets; and
  • availability of technical support or training.

Part of risk management in research is considering the likelihood and potential impact of the ‘worst case’ scenario on your research objectives. For example, what happens if you’re unable to achieve your desired sample? If the risk is high, it may be appropriate to consider a less risky research design.

You should talk to your supervisors about possible risks to achieving your research goals.

Additional support

It is critical that you work in conjunction with your supervisor to develop your research design. Your School Research Consultant is also available to assist you and workshops are held throughout the year on various types of research methods.

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