Plan Your Research the Decision Circuit Way

Plan an actual study through 3 stages of activity for answering your research question.

Video transcript

If you watched our video Writing a Literature Review the Confetti Way, then you know how to elaborate a viable research question; now it’s time to move from this question to planning an actual study.

This video will show you how to plan your research with the Decision Circuit, which guides you through 3 stages of activity for answering your question.

If a precise, standardized approach is more suitable to addressing your question, consider formulating a hypothesis.

A thesis statement may be the better option if you require a more open-ended, interpretive approach.

These considerations will help you decide which problem formulation is best to answer your question:

A hypothesis is a prediction. It tests for relationships or differences between clearly defined variables.

A thesis is an interpretation, expressed as a position statement and supported by evidence and argumentation.

Next, determine the best approach for collecting data based on your research goals.

An EXPLANATORY research project focuses on answering WHY? Because it often involves complex, expensive and time-consuming study designs, this is usually not an appropriate goal for student projects.

The EXPLORATORY approach attempts to deepen understanding of a phenomenon by studying one small aspect that raises new questions and prompts further study.

The DESCRIPTIVE approach aims for a neutral, accurate report of a phenomenon. It is detailed yet broad in scope.

Next, decide what kind of information you need and how you can obtain it.

Most studies have a “mixed method” design that draws on a variety of sources.

Data can be collected directly; however, this is not feasible for most student projects.

In contrast, data and information collected without direct human contact is very practical. Almost all study designs include some form of existing data.

Decide which collection techniques will permit you to gather the necessary information in an organized manner, and then choose which instruments you will need to process it all.

Data processing instruments can be standardized or non-standardized.

Clearly identify the various units of analysis and which ones will be your central focus.

Each unit of analysis requires its own sampling strategy. First, identify your population and then, determine how best to select a sample from it.

A randomly drawn sample is calculated for probability and size so it’s representative of the larger population. Non-random sampling is used when randomization is impractical or not appropriate. Instead of representing a larger population, it’s chosen for its relevance to the study.

Your analytical strategy depends on your study’s goal.

DEDUCTIVE ANALYSIS hypothesizes specific results by virtue of larger theories. 

INDUCTIVE ANALYSIS is more open-ended, attempting to capture larger patterns through the interpretation of specific examples.

It’s important to acknowledge your study’s limitations. This betters informs the reader, but also honesty about your biases or level of expertise reflects well on your credibility and perspective. Be mindful of the ethical considerations for your research, even if it doesn’t involve direct human contact.

This should help you understand how to apply The Decision Circuit to create your method plan.

Also check out our video on how to write a literature review the Confetti Way and listen to our podcast where two students chat about their own research development using The Decision Circuit.