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Some basic tips for designing a scientific study

  • Given that scientific research plays a significant role within the research community, it becomes imperative to get hold up what constitutes its design. A proper approach to research shows a more defined path to figuring out the right things. Proper research will take you a long way when it comes to design, and in this article, I would like to stress on a few main components to consider when designing one.

    Start with a plan or proposal

    When designing scientific research begin by outlining some essential points. There are fundamental areas that every scientific study needs to cover in-depth. Make a list of those areas and briefly explain what the reader should expect. This is what graduate schools call proposal, and every postgraduate candidate is expected to present to his supervisor to establish an idea of what the candidate is interested in and to what extent he/she can research the area. Different schools require different formats of a research proposal, so make sure you know what is required. 

    Statement of purpose

    Nothing, as important as a research, is embarked upon without a purpose. What are you out to achieve with your work? What human or societal problem are you trying to improve? What, in the first instance, stroke you to venture into the work? In essence, the objective of your work is the driving force (in terms of solving a problem) behind the work.

    The scientific questions that need to be asked

    Nearly all studies are designed to answer a question or to solve a problem. What question (s) are you trying to answer? Research questions differ with research objectives in a way that objectives are a statement of purpose. It could be one statement. While questions are the breaking down of the objectives in a question form to enable the research tackle every aspect of the problem individually and more explicit. Here's a practical article on how to craft research questions. It also touches an aspect of designing hypotheses. 

    Statements of hypothesis

    Hypotheses are a kind of assumptions that a researcher makes as the answer to his questions. After coming up with questions, it is possible the researcher must have done some pre-observations on a phenomenon or an object, which perhaps even let to the formulation of the questions. These observations often lead to assumptions of what the possible answers are. These are hypotheses. That's why we often here, researchers prove or disprove hypotheses.

    A summary of the literature with the given field

    Read articles related to what you are studying to see what other researchers have done, and what space your contribution is occupying in the current discourse. Reviewing a literature will properly position your research to evaluate current issues in the field. A literature review is what leads to the formulation of questions and hypotheses and placing a research in other studies. It helps to avoid unnecessary repetition or what can be considered a reinvention of the wheel.

    Research design

    You must come up with a systematic way through which your research will be conducted, from the beginning to the end. It must be suitable for your research context to ensure the validity of the results. Also, your research designed should be able to mention or take cognisance of your research participants, methods of data collection and data analysis. This article on designing an educational research may help you better conceptualise the idea of research design.

    Participants that are taking part in the study

    Determine the participants of your research. What subjects are you examining? Are you trying to investigate the impact of certain drugs in humans or animals suffering from a particular disease? Or are you trying to see the effect of specific teaching method or teaching tools on students performance? The humans, the animals, and the students are your research participants.

    Identifying your participants is as important as formulating the questions. And you achieve that through both observation and extensive literature review. The number of participants you need solely depends on the kind of research you conduct and availability of resources. It also depends on the type of methodology you employ.

    Method of data collection

    What method are you using to collect your data? It must align with the kind of data you are collecting and the context of your study. It is worth noting that within the method itself there is or there are tools for data collection. So, mention the method and the tools and how you intend to administer to your subjects?  Whether you are using a questionnaire an observation or some tools specific to some field, mention them.

    Have an analysis method already planned

    Even before you embark on your study, you must be able to identify the methods and tools you will be using for your analysis. That is why all these are included in the research design, and collectively are described as systematic.

    The final results

    At this point, you don't have any conclusions, but you can only make an assumption. This is mainly to be a guiding principle, but research finding can always be different from what was earlier expected.

    OTHER THINGS TO CONSIDER

    Do a pilot research

    Scientific researchers need to run a pilot study to ensure the validity of their plan and help find any possible flaws. Generally, the pilot is carried out with the participants that are representing the audience that has been targeted. Doing that will help to identify any errors that might be present in the plan. You wouldn't want to go midway to discover something that would make all your time, energy and resources wasted. A pilot will provide you with vital information and feedback.

    Have proper scientific methods

    When designing a scientific research be sure to use a scientific method and gather all the relevant information and documentation that you need. Have your participants well studied on the topic and leave no room for error as this could lead to bad critiquing, and remember that including the opinions of others could lead you to success.

    What eventually works well for you in designing your research depends on your context because sometimes research can be messy too, especially when one is into it. Always remember to get your questions nailed down, your participants defined and your methodology of data collection and analysis clearly outlined.

    The scientific research plan aims to be entirely sure that all aspects of the research are appropriately considered and developed. Therefore, it's always important to begin a scientific study with a proposal.

    Let me leave you with this article about the general distinction between a project and a dissertation. It will definitely help you make sense of the essential components of various forms of a research report.

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