In the construction of research designs, four basic elements have been known to apply. Among these elements, time is considered to play a key role in research design (Babbie and Lucia, p. 201). It is a common assumption that the root cause of any event does not happen at the same time as its outcome. Some period of time must elapse between the two. This has been demonstrated to be true of all cases in social sciences by Babbie and Lucia (p. 201). This element of time is usually represented in horizontal dimensions and is thus read from left to right. In view of this, it is inherent to maintain that majority of research designs entail observations and treatments done over time. Secondly, it has been established that the cause of any event may happen naturally or as a result of a treatment applied by the researcher, as argued by Babbie and Lucia (p. 203). In the same vein, Babbie and Lucia (p. 203) explain that when several treatments are under study using the same design, several subsets of this element are thus used in line with the number of treatments applied.
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The third element of research design includes all observations or measures carried out on the study using the same design. Researchers have agreed to depict this element as letter “O” every time the same observation is made in the design. Babbie and Lucia (p. 205) explain that this letter is used every time the subjects in the study are subjected to the same set of measures. But incase the subjects are treated differently; several subsets of the element are used to indicate the type of measurement given at each particular time. Finally, the fourth element involves the individuals taking part in the study under various conditions. In essence, these individuals, also referred to as subjects may be allocated to their conditions either randomly or following a certain criterion, where appropriate symbols may be assigned to each category.
Other than the basic elements of research design, four basic ethical principles have been identified and should be observed particularly when carrying out research involving human subjects. Firstly, respect for persons participating in the study must be observed. This principle is exhibited by giving the subjects autonomy to freely deliberate on their personal affairs (Babbie and Lucia, P. 107). Additionally, the principle stipulates that all susceptible subjects must be accorded protection against any possible harm or abuse (p. 108). Secondly, it is obligatory for research to reap maximum benefits as much as possible while at the same time minimizing harms and wrongs to the subjects. This principle is referred to as beneficence (Babbie and Lucia, p.109) and outlines the acceptable standards in conducting research using human subjects.
The third principle requires that the researcher should be extra careful not to harm the research subjects. The principle plays a critical role in studies involving the use of chemicals as treatments to the subjects. It therefore reminds the researchers to observe their medical ethics and ensure no avoidable harm is perpetuated to research subjects (Babbie and Lucia, p. 110). Finally, the principle of justice demands that utmost fairness is observed when handling research subjects. Babbie and Lucia (p. 211) explain that this principle requires that similar cases be treated in the same manner while those that seem different be treated in a manner that brings out the difference. The two authors further explain that the main concern of this principle is to ensure that justice is distributed across all the research subjects. The implication here is that subjects bearing the most risks and burdens of the study (Babbie and Lucia, p. 212) should benefit most than those bearing minimal risks and burdens.
Babbie, Earl and Lucia Benaquisto. Fundamentals of Social Research (1stCanadiaedition). Nelson College Indigenous, 2002. Print.