By the end of this chapter you should be able to: • understand the importance of having thought carefully about your research design; • identify the main research strategies and explain why these should not be thought of as mutually exclusive; • explain the differences between quantitative and qualitative data collection techniques and analysis procedures; • explain the reasons for adopting multiple methods in the conduct of research; • consider the implications of adopting different time horizons for your research design; • explain the concepts of validity and reliability and identify the main threats to validity and reliability; • understand some of the main ethical issues implied by the choice of research strategy.
In Chapter 4 we introduced the research onion as a way of depicting the issues underlying your choice of data collection method or methods and peeled away the outer two layers – research philosophies and research approaches. In this chapter we uncover the next three layers: research strategies, research choices and time horizons. These three layers can be thought of as focusing on the process of research design, that is, turning your research question into a research project (Robson 2002). As we saw, the way you choose to answer your research ques-tion will be influenced by your research philosophy and approach. Your research question will subsequently inform your choice of research strategy, your choices of collection techniques and analysis procedures, and the time horizon over which you undertake your research project. Your research design will be the general plan of how you will go about answering your research question(s) (the importance of clearly defining the research question cannot be