Causes of Poverty in Africa: Research Designs

Quantitative Research Design

Quantitative research designs pose various advantages and disadvantages to a researcher. More importantly, the quantitative research design poses several advantages and disadvantages to the analysis of how poverty can be reduced in Africa. Quantitative designs are categorized in various groups including experimental designs, longitudinal designs, cross-sectional designs, or case study designs (Black, 1999). However, this paper focuses on experimental designs, longitudinal designs and cross-sectional designs, with a clear aim of determining the best research design to establish the prevalence of poverty in Africa and determine the major causes of poverty in Africa. The research design will also be used to identify the best strategies to use in curbing poverty in Africa. However, the quantitative design to be chosen will largely depend on the objective of the research (Black, 1999).

Experimental Research Design

An experimental research design is normally used when there is a variation to be done, involving two or more variables (Colorado State University, 2011). In a statistical context, experimental research designs are normally used when there is a controlled experiment to be done (Colorado State University, 2011, p. 1).There are several types of study designs under the experimental research design. They include quasi-experimental designs and statistical surveys (ITL, 2011, p. 1). The greatest strength of the experimental research design is that, it provides a strong insight into the methods of instruction, and provides an intuitive practice shaped by research (Colorado State University, 2011). Researchers using the experimental research design also have a strong control over the variables to be analysed and can equally combine the research design with any other type of research design (Black, 1999). Finally, the experimental research design is known to provide a stronger sense of transferability as opposed to anecdotal research (Creswell, 2003).

However, just like many other typesof reserch designs, the experimental research design is subject to several weaknesses. First, this reserch design is subject to human errors because it majorly depends on human input for its success (Colorado State University, 2011). Secondly, this research design is strongly subject to personal bias, and may represent only a small population group. Experimental research designs may also provide artificial research results, which do not represent the natural environment. In close association to this observation, experimental research designs may provide findings which cannot be compared to other similar studies (Colorado State University, 2011, p. 1). Sometimes, these findings may be very difficult to replicate in a different situation. Finally, it is difficult to include human input into the experimental research design because it is difficult to measure this input. Furthermore, the research design can be influenced by prevailing political pressures (Colorado State University, 2011).

Longitudinal Research Design

Often, longitudinal research designs are undertaken to ascertain the results of experimental research design (Cherry, 2011, p. 1). In this type of research design, a second research is normally undertaken after an initial study has been done. The research is therefore aimed at affirming previous research findings. Many researchers have often used longitudinal research designs to determine if the initial research findings are still applicable, over a long period of time (even decades) (Cherry, 2011, p. 1). The longitudinal research design has several strengths and weaknesses. The major benefit of this research design is that, it allows researchers to affirm if initial findings are still true (over a long period of time). Due to this reason, longitudinal research designs are majorly applicable in events where developmental or lifespan researches are to be done (because they can go on for a long period of time) (Cherry, 2011, p. 1).

However, the longitudinal research design is also subject to several drawbacks. For instance, it is very expensive to carry out this type of study (Menard, 2002). Also, longitudinal research designs take a very long time to be completed. As a result of these factors, it is often common to find researchers only using a small group of people for the longitudinal research design (Menard, 2002). Moreover, sometimes, longitudinal research studies are subject to participants dropping out of the process, thereby severely affecting the credibility of the findings.

Cross-Sectional Designs

Cross-sectional designs have normally been confused with case study designs because they represent a sample group population (Levin, 2006, p. 1). However, the cross-sectional research design samples a population group that represents a large population and the case study design identifies a small population group that represents a different population with similar qualities. The difference is in the fact that, the latter selects a population group with unique qualities, but the former does not (Levin, 2006, p. 1). Cross-sectional research designs however pose several advantages and disadvantages. A major advantage of the research design is that, it is relatively cheap when compared to other research studies, and it usually requires very little time to complete. Another advantage is that, the cross-sectional design represents the prevalence of a given issue because a small population group is analyzed and its findings generalized across the population sample. This is the reason, many health researchers have preferred this research design (because it is easy to assess the disease antilogy) (Levin, 2006, p. 1). It is also easy to analyze various outcomes from the research design and their attached risk. Finally, it is difficult to realize any losses resulting from failing to undertake a follow up of the initial study.

The major disadvantage of the cross-sectional research design is the difficulty researchers experience when making causal inferences (Levin, 2006, p. 1). Also, since the research design provides a snapshot of the findings, there may be different results observed if a different time-frame was analyzed. Finally, the cross-sectional research design is subject to the Neyman bias (under-representation of the risk factors and findings) (Levin, 2006, p. 1).

Recommendation and Justification

In analyzing the major reasons for the causes of poverty in Africa, and identifying how poverty can be reduced in the continent, it will be appropriate to use the cross-sectional research design. This choice is motivated by the fact that the cross-sectional research design is normally used to test the prevalence of various factors within a given population group (Sigelman, 2008). In the context of the intended research, the prevalence of poverty in Africa will be tested. Also, since Africa is a large population group, it will be difficult to sample every section of the continent. Taking a small population group will therefore be the most practical strategy of researching the continent. The cross-sectional research design provides a framework for this analysis (Sigelman, 2008).

Justification of Choice

The cross-sectional research design was chosen because of its appropriateness in measuring the prevalence of a given factor within a large population group. However, other research designs identified were not chosen because of several reasons. For instance, the experimental research design was not chosen because its nature provides for a determination of given variables, and how each variable is related to the outcome (Colorado State University, 2011, p. 1). However, analyzing the prevalence of poverty in Africa and determining the best strategies to curb it cannot be done through experiments. Moreover, the experimental research design is not accommodative of human elements in the research because it is difficult to measure this input (Colorado State University, 2011, p. 1). The analysis of poverty in Africa and how it can be curbed however revolves around human elements of analysis.

The longitudinal research design was not chosen because there was no initial research design done to affirm the hypothesis of the intended study. In this regard, it is important to note that, the intended research study to be done in Africa defines the first type of study of this nature (Cherry, 2011, p. 1). However, the longitudinal research design is used as a second study meant to affirm initial findings (which are absent here) (Cherry, 2011, p. 1). Another crucial element existing in the longitudinal research design, but missing in the intended research, is the aspect of time. Longitudinal research designs are used in research studies to be done across a long period of time (Cherry, 2011, p. 1). However, this study will only be done within a short period of time. There is also no intention of undertaking the same research study in future. The best research design for the intended research is therefore the cross-sectional research design.

References

Black, T. (1999). Doing Quantitative Research in the Social Sciences: An Integrated Approach to Research Design, Measurement and Statistics. London: SAGE.

Cherry, K. (2011). What Is Longitudinal Research? Web.

Colorado State University. (2011). Advantages and Disadvantages of Experimental Research: Quick Reference List.

Creswell, J. (2003). Research Design: Qualitative, Quantitative, and Mixed Method Approaches. London: SAGE.

ITL. (2011). How Do You Select an Experimental Design?

Levin, K. (2006). Study Design III: Cross-Sectional Studies. Evidence-Based Dentistry,7, 24–25.

Menard, S. (2002). Longitudinal Research. London: SAGE.

Sigelman, C. (2008). Life-Span Human Development. London: Cengage Learning.