Today, the research design plays an extremely important part in the development and successful accomplishment of researches. In actuality, researchers pay a lot of attention to the research design because the research design can affect the accuracy of a study, its reliability and validity. In such a context, the development of effective research design is essential for the overall success of the study. At the same time, the development of the research design can raise certain problems researchers have to cope with, including the choice of appropriate methods of a study, which ideally should match goals and help to meet goals of the study, the involvement of participants into the study, the adequate and accurate analysis of results of the study and their further discussion, and other issues. In such a situation, researchers should come prepared to cope with numerous challenges and to meet this goal they have to focus on four stages of the research design, including the stage of the elaboration of the research design, data collection, analysis, and reporting. On accomplishing the four aforementioned stages of research design, researchers can develop and conduct a reliable study that can bring positive and accurate results.
2. Research design
2.1 Choice of an appropriate research method
First of all, while working on the research design, it is necessary to focus on the choice of appropriate research methods, which should meet requirements and goals of the specific study. What is meant here is the fact that the study should help to reach goals a researcher sets, whereas methods are tools with the help of which the set goals can be achieved. At the same time, it is worth mentioning the fact that modern studies often involve a combination of different methods to prove the reliability of findings of studies and to enhance their validity.
At this point, a variety of methods can be used. For instance, one of the oldest and widely-used methods of research is the method of experimental studies. Experimental studies are also very important and often used in the study of legal decision-making. However, this method is also widely criticised and many specialists consider that it is not very reliable method to use (Litwack, 1993, p.481).
One of basic concepts of experimental studies is the idea that in order to make a decision it is recommended to add third option to those that are dispensable before the decision is made. In fact, the addition of the third option “alters the choices subjects make between two other options, even if the third option provides no relevant information about the other two choices”¯ (Gilovich 2002, p.398). In such a way, it is possible to analyse the two options, or the two choices objectively upbringing another one.
However, specialists criticise experimental method a lot, including such addition of the third option. Experimental studies are not recommended to be applied to juries. Actually, one of the main reasons of criticism of experimental studies concerns the low effectiveness of the results of the studies, especially in predicting real world situations because of the effect of the selection. For instance, Richard Posner explains that “selection effects suggest that the experimental and real world environments will differ systematically”¯ (1998, p.1570). Such a statement is based on the idea that unlike the experimental subjects that can be chosen more or less objectively and randomly, people cannot be sorted in the same way. As a result, experimental methods can hardly be applied effectively to people.
The research of the quality of life and the assessment of happiness is currently one of the major directions in the development of positive psychology. The development of various empirically validated happiness interventions is very important for the development of the positive psychology and the Quality of Life Inventory (QOLI) may be viewed as one of the most effective tests that have been developed in recent years. The test was developed by Michael B. Frisch, Ph.D., who earned his doctorate degree from the University of Kansas in 1981 and he is currently working as the director of clinical training in the Department of Psychology at Baylor University (Posner, 1998).
The test represents the first and quite comprehensive approach to positive psychology package that may be empirically validated by researchers in randomized controlled trials. Specialists (Blanchard & Bowles, 1993) estimate that this test is only one of seven empirically validated happiness interventions. The test was developed on the research and scientific basis by M.D. Frisch, Ph.D., and its major goal is to tailor interventions to client’s needs, identify areas of strength, and scientifically measure the outcome of interventions (Hesselbein et al., 1997).
Furthermore, the test contains 32 items and it takes 15 minutes to administer. The developer of the test estimates that the test can be used to help screen for mental health and physical problems as well as to help quick measure a patient’s progress (Frisch). In fact, the areas of application of the test are quite wide and it can effectively applied in different fields and for different purposes. For instance, the QOLI can help identify real life issues. Healthcare professional can use the test to develop relevant treatment plan and predict future health problems that is particularly important since the precise prediction may prevent or minimize negative effects of possible health problems of patients.
On the other hand, the QOLI may be used not only in the clinical context, but, according to specialists (Blanchard and Bowles, 1993) it can be also widely applied in an EAP setting. To put it more precisely, the test can help identify employees whose satisfaction with life may be low and professionals naturally may use this information in order to help these employees. At the same time, the use of this test naturally opens large opportunities for employers to reduce costs because, when the test is applied and the undesirable deterioration of the effectiveness of work of employees and their productivity are prevented in the result of the professional response to the assessment received in the result of the test, the employee’s satisfaction will naturally grow and, therefore, employers will benefit from the increasing productivity and effectiveness of his/her work (Rachlinski, 2000). Obviously, without the use of the QOLI such a possibility of the early prevention of employees’ dissatisfaction could hardly be possible.
Along with clinical and job-related setting, the test could be also applied in substance abuse/chemical dependency programs, since it can contribute consistently to the positive motivation of treatment and the prevention of the further drug use to the extent that it is even possible to speak about the development of a treatment that could lead to the drug-free lifestyle (Rachlinski, 2000). Also, the test may be applied in positive psychology to assess and evaluate assets and strength and, simultaneously, identify major problems that disturb patients in a non-pathological way that minimizes the harmful effect of other assessments. The QOLI may be applied in gerontology since the test help assess the “successful aging”¯ that is very important in the evaluation of the state of aging people (Rachlinski, 2000). In fact, applications of the test may be very large and it may be useful wherever the assessment of the client’s strength, needs, and the degree of happiness and satisfaction are assessed.
In addition, it is worth mentioning such methods as interviews and questionnaires, which are applied in qualitative researches mainly because they help to focus on qualitative data, although often results of the studies using interviews and questionnaires are quite subjective and biased on opinionated interviews. Also, researchers may use focus group studies, which is another qualitative method. Alternatively, researchers can use quantitative methods of analysis, such as statistical analysis, T-testing, and others. The main point of choosing methods of research is to find methods that are the most appropriate for the research and its goals.