There are different types of research based on the purpose, method, level of investigation and outcomes. Different authors have classified the types of research differently. In this post, I share few types of research that are used in social science research.
Types of Research
This type of research applies its findings to solve a specific existing problem. It is a methodical quest for solutions to practical problems. Hence, it is used for finding solutions to everyday problems. In this type of research, the researchers test and verify theories and discovers new facts. Its main strength is its immediate practical use. It is conducted when decisions need to be taken for some real-life problems.
When the research problem is of a less specific nature and the research is being conducted primarily to improve our understanding of general issues without emphasis on its immediate application, it is classified as basic or pure research. It can be descriptive, explanatory or exploratory in nature. Generally it is conducted without any practical end-use in mind. It is basically conducted for gathering knowledge. Therefore, it is not conducted for inventing or creating something new.
Exploratory Research is conducted to explore a research problem or issue on which there are very few or no earlier studies to refer for information about the issue or problem. It is conducted when a problem is not clearly defined. Though exploratory research cannot be used for getting direct solutions, they help in providing research leads and insights for a particular problem. It helps in laying the foundation for future studies. Also, it helps for developing new ideas or hypotheses.
This is conducted in order to describe a phenomenon, as they exist. It is used to identify and obtain information on the features of a particular problem or issue. Descriptive research explains and provides additional information on a topic. It provides accurate information about an individual, group or event. As the term implies, the purpose is to describe the characteristics of a phenomenon or population. It seeks to fetch answers for the what, who, where, when and how questions.
Analytical or Explanatory Research
This is a furtherance of descriptive research. It deals with analysing and explaining why or how the phenomenon being studied is occuring. Here, the researcher has to make use of available information and analyze them for making a critical evaluation. It seeks answers to ‘why’ something happens.
This is a study of an identified problem, based on testing a theory, measured with numbers, and evaluated using statistical methods. The research tests if the predicted outcome holds verity or not. Generally, it involves collecting and converting data into some nurmerical form for the purpose of performing statistical analysis and drawing inferences. This uses methods such as questionnaires and structured interviews.
This investigates a social or human problem from different perspectives. It produces information only on the particular cases deliberated, and general conclusions are only suggestions. It is not concerned with numerical data for making generalizations. Qualitative research expores the attitudes, behaviors and experiences of people through interviews or focus group interventions.
This type of research is generally used for developing new concepts / ideas or for representing existing concepts from a different perspective. It is related to some abstract theory or ideas.
This depends on data and drawn conclusions which could be proved or verifed by observation or experiment. Therefore, this type of research needs facts and an established hypothesis. The researcher then tries to prove or disprove the hypothesis. It is also known as experimental research.
Deductive research is a study in which a conceptual and theoretical structure is developed and then tested by empirical observation; thus, moving from general to specific. Here a hypothesis is developed based on existing theory. The researcher tests a theory after collecting and analyzing empirical data. Therefore, one starts with theory and hypotheses and proceeds to check if the theory is true. Hence it is kind of narrow in its approach.
This involves a study where a theory is developed by observing the experiential reality; thus, general inferences are made from particular instances, which is the opposite of the deductive method. Therefore, the researcher collects and analyzes data and based on inferences draws a theory. It is more open-ended and exploratory.
Predictive research launches an explanation for what is happening in a particular situation. It intends to generalize by predicting certain phenomena on the basis of hypothesized, general relationships. It attemps to forecast what will happen in the event of something taking its course.
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- Kothari, C.R., (2011), Research Methodology – Methods and Techniques, (2nd Rev. Ed.), New Age International Publishers.
- Saunders, M., Lewis, P & Thornhill, A. (2009), Research Methods for Business Students, (5th Ed. ), Pearson Education. (e-book)
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