Research is " creative and systematic work undertaken to increase the stock of knowledge". A research project may be an expansion on past work in the field. To test the validity of instruments, procedures, or experiments, research may replicate elements of prior projects or the project as a whole. Approaches to research depend on epistemologies , which vary considerably both within and between humanities and sciences.
The design is the structure of any scientific work. It gives direction and systematizes the research. Different types of research designs have different advantages and disadvantages. The method you choose will affect your results and how you conclude the findings. Most scientists are interested in getting reliable observations that can help the understanding of a phenomenon.
A pilot study is a standard scientific tool for 'soft' research, allowing scientists to conduct a preliminary analysis before committing to a full-blown study or experiment. A small chemistry experiment in a college laboratory, for example, costs very little, and mistakes or validity problems easily rectified. At the other end of the scale, a medical experiment taking samples from thousands of people from across the world is expensive, often running into the millions of dollars. Finding out that there was a problem with the equipment or with the statistics used is unacceptable, and there will be dire consequences.