Researchers from all disciplines may be required to create a research design - also known as a method - for their projects. This is especially common in the sciences, both physical and behavioral, as these studies require researchers to perform experiments that must be designed to prove a hypothesis. No matter what the topic, all research projects benefit from a well-considered plan. While not every project will require a formal writeup of all the steps below, each is important when planning an efficient research process.
Explain the topic you are researching. Determine what exactly you would like to study and why you believe it merits research.
Review the literature. Go over historic research on this topic and develop a basic knowledge of what is commonly known from prior researchers. Review the methods others have used to prove their hypotheses.
Generate a hypothesis or thesis. Create a definitive statement that you will either prove or disprove.
Design an experiment or course of study that will show whether or not your hypothesis or thesis is correct. This is your research design or method.
Write out step-by-step instructions for completing the method. Remember that this paper is written for an academic audience familiar with the processes of your discipline. Include all processes and crucial information, but don't worry about detailed descriptions of common procedures unless you need them for your own notes.
Check your work. It is a wise idea to have a peer review your research design before you execute it or turn in the paper. Your peer can offer feedback on your method as a whole -- will it do what you want it to do? -- and note any places within the plan where you have offered too much or too little detail, or are missing steps.
Always adhere to the guidelines for the assignment and the conventions of your discipline. Consult your professor or teaching assistant if you have questions.
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