Types of Research Design

The research design sets the direction of the whole study. According to Selluz, et al. as cited in Mukul Gupta’s book (2011) Research Methodology, “research design is the arrangement of conditions for the collection and analysis of data in a manner that aims to combine relevance to the research purpose with the economy in procedure.”The research design determines the type of data that will be used in the study, the methodology that will be used in gathering and analyzing data, and the direction of the narrative, which ultimately addresses the research problem. The University of South Carolina Libraries offers some examples of research designs and their characteristics. 

Descriptive research

It provides answers to basic questions associated with the research problem. It may not be able to conclusively provide the answer to the question ‘why’ but it is able to describe ‘what exists’ with respect to the variables of a given situation.


A descriptive study of the factors that lead to domestic violence

Historical research

This design collects, verifies, and synthesizes evidence from the past in order to validate or reject a hypothesis. It uses secondary sources and a variety of primary sources like newspaper clippings, diaries, government records, and archival materials.


Martial law in the Philippines: the golden or the cursed years in the country’s history?

Experimental research

This type of research answers the question, ‘What causes something to occur?’ This design uses both an experimental group and a control group, which allows a measurement of the dependent variable when the independent variable is administered to the experimental group and not to the control group.


A study on the effect of sleep deprivation on health and productivity

Exploratory research

This design tackles research problems that have little or no previous studies done on it. It aims to develop tentative theories or hypotheses on research problems that are still in the preliminary stages of investigation.


A comparative study on the effectiveness of same sex parenting vis-a-vis conventional parenting

Cross- sectional research

This design measures similarities or differences across groups and subjects. A specific variable is examined across different groups or subjects. It is rather limited because it does not capture The process of change following intervention.


A study on the incidence of breast cancer across i different age groups of women 

Longitudinal research

It studies the same sample across time or across regular time intervals. This type of study allows researchers to track changes that occur over a period of and identify the I variable or variables that might be causing the changes.


A study on the effect of TV programming to violent behavior among children

Sequential research

This is a type of research design carried out in a series over a time interval. It has no predetermined sample size as the researcher can accept the null hypothesis, accept an alternative hypothesis, or choose a new set of samples and repeat the study once again.


A study on the effects of diet, exercise, and common medication on heart disease conducted across different age groups

Case study

This type of design is applied to study a very particular research problem. This is used to test whether a specific theory or model is applicable to real-world issues or scenarios.


Improving school conditions by changing public I policy in South Los Angeles: the Community Coalition Partnership


This is a type of design that evaluates and summarizes the results of other individual studies. It requires strict adherence to a set of criteria in selecting the studies that will be used. An analysis of the pervious studies increases the explanatory power of the new study.


Fertility and women’s employment: A meta-analysis