Research design, as stated by Hagan (2010), is a “plan or blueprint for a study” (p. 65), and contains investigative questions familiar to criminal justice personnel: who, what, where, when, how, and why. Research design addresses quasi-experimental and experimental areas. Experimental studies randomize subjects into treatment and control groups. This randomization is a way of controlling for variables not expressly included in the study. Quantitative research explores the relationship between an independent variable and a dependent variable. Quantitative research designs may be descriptive or experimental. A descriptive study is concerned with associations between variables, whereas an experimental study establishes causality. One of the most difficult tasks in any phase of the process is to develop an effective research design. The rationale is to link abstract concepts and questions with real problems and issues. The research design must be specific and flexible. The methodology should be an extension of the research question and theory of knowledge.
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