Determining Research Design and Data Analysis: Suggestions for Navigating Postgraduate Research

Determining Research Design and Data Analysis: Suggestions for Navigating Postgraduate Research

Goodness Wobihiele Orluwene (University of Port Harcourt, Nigeria) and Ibrahim Ajala (Ignatius Ajuru University of Education, Nigeria)
Copyright: © 2020 |Pages: 22
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-0264-8.ch003

Abstract

Research is the framework for the development of human social and scientific progress. Foundations for improved scientific thinking is often established at the post-graduate level where students undertake independent investigations aimed at exploring a chosen topic within their chosen area of specialization. Irrespective of the discipline, institution, or topic chosen, post-graduate students often adopt specific research framework(s) and processes which involves selecting design(s) and data analysis procedure. This seemingly routine task has been the bane of many post-graduate students. This chapter focuses on research methodology involving the selection of appropriate design that aims to establish the general data collection and analyses procedures, selection of a sample from population, and discussion of findings in line with existing literature or controlled observation. This chapter provides suggestions for improving the research engagement process through the adoption of appropriate research design and selection of statistical tool for data analysis.
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Introduction

Postgraduate research often involves the development of new knowledge, often through a rigorous and systematic process, which is generally referred to as research. From a general perspective, research provides the fundamental framework necessary for the promotion and advancement of knowledge and understanding, clarification of doubt, provision of insight for actions as well as the development of self and the society. Research activities are as varied as the researchers and it is conducted in a wide array of settings all with the ultimate goals of developing the self and the society.

Despite research being an integral part of post-graduate studies, it's not one of the areas students consider meaningful. On their own design, most postgraduate students will not involve in research activities as it is considered cumbersome. However, because involving in research methods course and research project are prerequisite in for academic graduation, students give only minimum attention to their research practice. Considering the fact that research thinking and the development of critical thinking skills are established and strengthened at the postgraduate level it becomes necessary that students are helped to develop the skills needed for to undertake independent investigations aimed at exploring a chosen topic within their area of specialization. Irrespective of the discipline, institution or topic chosen post-graduate students often adopt the scientific method which involves step-by-step procedures which often culminates in the selection of appropriate research design(s) and data analysis technique(s). This seemingly routine task has been the bane of many post-graduate students. On the basis of this all too common challenge, this chapter is geared towards providing suggestions for improving the research engagement process through the adoption of appropriate research design and data analysis techniques.

Operationalizing Research Design

A research design is a general sketch on the process involved in conducting a scientific study (McQueen & Knussen, 2006). It refers to a plan or strategy on how to conduct the research, in order to address the issues related to the identified problem(s). Research design, therefore, is the conceptual blueprint, the road map, which is akin to the skeleton (backbone) that guides and shape the conduct of the study.

Just like the architect prepares the building plan before commencement of the building that is how a researcher determines the design of the study before all other components of the research study can be meaningfully integrated. This research design is the scheme of work the researcher act on. It helps in the following ways:

  • 1.

    To provide answers to the research questions.

  • 2.

    To control variance mostly in quantitative research (Kerlinger & Lee in Wiersman & Jurs, 2005).

  • 3.

    The drawing of apposite conclusions from research results

  • 4.

    It helps to enhance the smooth conduct of the study through proper data collection and analysis.

  • 5.

    It enhances the internal validity of the study.

The validity of the research findings depends so much on the appropriateness and adequacy of the design selected. Inappropriate research design can mar other aspects of the study leading to wrong decision making further leading to invalid conclusions. However, to be properly guided, some factors are to be considered when selecting a research design. Research designs are chosen not based on familiarity or likeness but on their suitability and appropriateness to the study purpose, Post-graduate students and research practitioners need to take the following factors into consideration before selecting the research design:

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