Research Design Review is intended for the providers, users, and students of qualitative and/or quantitative research who have an interest in thinking about and discussing research design issues. At a time when there is a flurry of discussion concerning an increasing number of alternative approaches to more traditional forms of research – e.g., online surveys/groups, social media, netnography, mobile research – it is reasonable to step back and ask the question, ‘but is it good research?’ That is, does the research design (regardless of method) adhere to common standards or principles that are generally agreed to support some degree of confidence in our research findings.
One doesn’t need to look far to be inundated with cheaper-faster-better design models. In ESOMAR’s November 2009 issue of Research World, Andrew Jeavons talks about advocates of contemporary social-media consumer research who proclaim that “listening more to the plethora of twitters is the way to truth.” While, in the same issue, Simon Chadwick asserts that now is the time to bring innovation into our research designs; and that qualitative is leading the way by, in part, “bringing fun…back into research for both the respondent and the researcher.” All of this may be well and good, but where is the discussion of how (or if) these methods comply with defensible research standards?
It is my hope that a discussion of fundamental research design issues will be as thought-provoking to individuals who provide research services as it is to the individuals who contract out and are responsible for implementing the results of research studies. As the providers of research we owe it to our clients to continually examine the integrity of our research, as well as provide the users of research with the tools (knowledge) they need to evaluate research recommendations and next steps.
I also hope this blog will prove to be a useful resource to graduate students studying research methods in psychology, sociology, healthcare, education, communications, anthropology, business, and IT. In fact, students may find this blog a complementary companion to Applied Qualitative Research Design: A Total Quality Framework Approach, a graduate-level textbook written by myself and Paul Lavrakas.
And finally, if it is not already obvious, this is not a how-to blog. This site will not discuss ’10 easy steps to conducting focus groups’ or ‘do-it-yourself questionnaire design for the novice’. There are plenty of other sources (and viewpoints) for this type of procedure-oriented information. Instead this blog is devoted to an appreciation of the research principles that should form the basis for all our efforts as well as to stimulating a constructive discourse of how these principles enter into the design process.