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Types of Research

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Table of Contents

What is Research?

Research refers to the systematic investigation, study, or inquiry conducted to discover new knowledge, expand understanding, solve problems, or validate existing theories. It is a process of gathering information, analyzing data, and drawing conclusions to contribute to the body of knowledge in a particular field.

Research typically involves the following key elements:

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  1. Purpose: Research is driven by a specific purpose or objective, such as exploring a new topic, answering a research question, testing a hypothesis, or addressing a problem or gap in knowledge.
  2. Systematic approach: It follows a systematic and structured approach, involving the formulation of research questions or hypotheses, designing appropriate methodologies, collecting and analyzing data, and interpreting the results.
  3. Rigorous methodology: Research employs rigorous methods and techniques to ensure accuracy, reliability, and validity of the findings. The methodology can vary depending on the research type, such as qualitative or quantitative approaches.
  4. Data collection and analysis: Researchers gather relevant data through various methods, which may include surveys, interviews, observations, experiments, or analysis of existing data. The collected data is then analyzed using appropriate analytical techniques to draw meaningful conclusions.
  5. Contribution to knowledge: Research aims to generate new knowledge, contribute to existing theories, expand understanding, or provide practical insights that can be applied in real-world contexts. It often involves disseminating findings through publications, presentations, or other means to share discoveries with the scientific community or the public.

Research is conducted across various disciplines, including sciences, social sciences, humanities, engineering, and more. It plays a vital role in advancing knowledge, driving innovation, informing policy decisions, and solving complex problems in a wide range of fields.

Types of Research

  1. Descriptive Research: Descriptive research aims to describe and present facts, characteristics, or phenomena as they naturally occur. It focuses on providing an accurate depiction of a situation or event.
  2. Analytical Research: Analytical research goes beyond description to analyze and interpret data. It involves examining relationships between variables, identifying patterns, and drawing conclusions. Analytical research often tests hypotheses and aims to explain why certain phenomena occur.
  3. Applied Research: Applied research is conducted with the intention of solving practical problems or addressing specific issues. It is often carried out in real-world settings and focuses on immediate applications and practical implications.
  4. Basic Research: Basic research, also known as fundamental or pure research, is driven by curiosity and the pursuit of knowledge. Its primary goal is to expand understanding in a particular field without direct practical application in mind. Basic research forms the foundation for applied research.
  5. Qualitative Research: Qualitative research involves exploring and understanding complex phenomena, often using non-numerical data such as interviews, observations, or textual analysis. It aims to gain insights into people’s experiences, attitudes, and behaviors.
  6. Quantitative Research: Quantitative research involves the measurement and analysis of numerical data. It focuses on generating statistical evidence, establishing patterns, and testing hypotheses. It often uses surveys, experiments, or other structured data collection methods.
  7. Conceptual Research: Conceptual research involves theoretical or conceptual exploration of ideas, theories, or frameworks. It aims to develop new concepts, models, or theories without directly collecting empirical data.
  8. Empirical Research: Empirical research relies on direct observation or experimentation to gather and analyze data. It involves the collection of real-world data to test hypotheses or validate existing theories.
  9. Survey Research: Survey research involves collecting data from a sample of individuals or groups through questionnaires, interviews, or online surveys. It aims to gather information about attitudes, opinions, behaviors, or characteristics of a population.
  10. Experimental Research: Experimental research involves manipulating variables and studying the effects of those manipulations on a dependent variable. It often includes control groups and random assignment to determine cause-and-effect relationships.

These different types of research are used based on the research question, objectives, available resources, and the nature of the phenomenon being investigated. Researchers may employ one or a combination of these types to answer their research inquiries effectively.

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Descriptive vs Analytical

Descriptive and analytical are two approaches or methods commonly used in various fields to examine and interpret information or data. While they have some similarities, they also have distinct characteristics and purposes. Let’s explore each approach in more detail:

  1. Descriptive Approach: The descriptive approach focuses on providing a detailed account or summary of the observed facts, characteristics, or phenomena. It aims to objectively describe and present information in a clear and understandable manner without necessarily seeking deeper explanations or interpretations. Descriptive analysis typically involves organizing and summarizing data, calculating basic statistics (such as mean, median, and mode), and creating visual representations (such as charts, graphs, or tables) to present the findings.Examples of descriptive analysis:
    • Summarizing demographic data by calculating percentages, averages, or frequencies.
    • Creating a pie chart to display the distribution of different product categories in a sales dataset.
    • Describing the key features and trends observed in a dataset without providing explanations for why they occur.
  2. Analytical Approach: The analytical approach focuses on examining data or information to gain insights, discover patterns, establish relationships, and provide explanations or interpretations of the observed phenomena. It involves a deeper investigation into the underlying causes, reasons, or factors that contribute to the observed outcomes or trends. Analytical analysis often employs various techniques, such as statistical modeling, hypothesis testing, regression analysis, and data mining, to uncover meaningful insights and support decision-making processes.Examples of analytical analysis:
    • Conducting a regression analysis to determine the impact of advertising expenditure on sales revenue.
    • Using inferential statistics to test hypotheses about the relationship between two variables.
    • Applying data mining techniques to discover patterns or associations in a large dataset and derive actionable insights.

In summary, while both descriptive and analytical approaches aim to understand and interpret information or data, the descriptive approach focuses on providing a clear and comprehensive summary of observed facts, while the analytical approach goes deeper to uncover relationships, patterns, and explanations behind the observed phenomena.

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AspectsDescriptive ApproachAnalytical Approach
PurposeTo provide a detailed account or summary of observed facts or phenomena.To gain insights, discover patterns, establish relationships, and provide explanations or interpretations.
FocusPresenting information objectively and clearly.Investigating underlying causes, reasons, or factors.
Analysis MethodsOrganizing and summarizing data, calculating basic statistics, creating visual representations.Statistical modeling, hypothesis testing, regression analysis, data mining.
Examples– Summarizing demographic data using percentages, averages, or frequencies.
– Creating charts or graphs to display data distributions.
– Describing key features and trends in a dataset.
– Conducting regression analysis to determine the impact of variables.
– Using inferential statistics to test hypotheses.
– Applying data mining techniques to discover patterns or associations.

Applied vs Basic

“Applied” and “basic” are terms often used to describe different levels or types of knowledge, skills, or research approaches in various fields. Let’s explore the characteristics and distinctions between applied and basic in the context of knowledge and research:

  1. Applied: Applied knowledge or research refers to the practical use or application of existing knowledge, theories, or methodologies to address real-world problems or challenges. It focuses on utilizing knowledge and techniques to solve specific problems, develop practical solutions, or improve processes or systems. Applied research often involves collaboration with industry or stakeholders and aims to produce actionable outcomes that can be directly implemented or applied in practice.Characteristics of applied knowledge or research:
    • Practical and problem-solving orientation.
    • Emphasis on real-world application.
    • Utilization of existing knowledge and methodologies.
    • Collaboration with stakeholders or industry partners.
    • Aim to produce tangible and actionable outcomes.
  2. Basic (also known as fundamental or pure): Basic knowledge or research, on the other hand, refers to the pursuit of knowledge for its own sake, without immediate or direct application to practical problems or specific contexts. It focuses on expanding the fundamental understanding of phenomena, exploring new theories or concepts, and contributing to the existing knowledge base. Basic research often involves theoretical or conceptual investigations, experimentation, and exploration of uncharted areas.Characteristics of basic knowledge or research:
    • Pursuit of knowledge for its own sake.
    • Exploration of theoretical or conceptual aspects.
    • Focus on expanding fundamental understanding.
    • Independence from immediate practical applications.
    • Aim to contribute to the knowledge base.

In summary, “applied” refers to the practical use and direct application of knowledge or research to address real-world problems, while “basic” relates to the pursuit of knowledge for its intrinsic value and the expansion of fundamental understanding. Applied research focuses on solving specific problems, while basic research explores new theories or concepts. Both applied and basic approaches play important roles in advancing knowledge and addressing practical challenges in different domains.

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Qualitative vs Quantitative

AspectsAppliedBasicDescriptive ApproachAnalytical Approach
KnowledgePractical, focused on solving real-world problems.Theoretical, exploring fundamental concepts and understanding.Provides a detailed account or summary of observed facts or phenomena.Gains insights, discovers patterns, establishes relationships, and provides explanations or interpretations.
ResearchUtilizes existing knowledge and methodologies for practical applications.Pursues new theories or concepts without immediate practical applications.Organizes and summarizes data, calculates basic statistics, creates visual representations.Utilizes statistical modeling, hypothesis testing, regression analysis, data mining.
OrientationProblem-solving and real-world application.Knowledge expansion and theoretical exploration.Presents information objectively and clearly.Investigates underlying causes, reasons, or factors.
CollaborationOften involves collaboration with industry or stakeholders.Independent pursuit of knowledge.N/AN/A
OutcomesProduces actionable solutions for implementation.Contributes to the knowledge base and theoretical advancements.Provides a clear and comprehensive summary of observed facts or phenomena.Uncovers meaningful insights and supports decision-making processes.

Conceptual vs Empirical

“Conceptual” and “empirical” are terms used to describe different types of research or approaches in various fields. Let’s explore the characteristics and distinctions between conceptual and empirical research:

  1. Conceptual: Conceptual research is based on theoretical or conceptual frameworks. It focuses on developing new theories, models, or concepts and exploring the relationships between ideas or constructs. Conceptual research often involves literature reviews, theoretical analysis, and conceptual frameworks to propose new ideas or explanations. It aims to advance knowledge and understanding by refining or developing theoretical frameworks without necessarily involving empirical data collection or experimentation.Characteristics of conceptual research:
    • Focuses on theoretical or conceptual frameworks.
    • Involves literature reviews and theoretical analysis.
    • Develops new theories, models, or concepts.
    • Explores relationships between ideas or constructs.
    • Does not rely on empirical data collection.
  2. Empirical: Empirical research is based on the collection and analysis of empirical data from observations, experiments, or surveys. It aims to gather evidence and test hypotheses or research questions through systematic data collection and analysis. Empirical research can involve quantitative or qualitative methods, depending on the nature of the research questions. It focuses on gathering real-world data to validate or refute theories, generate new insights, or provide evidence-based conclusions.Characteristics of empirical research:
    • Relies on the collection and analysis of empirical data.
    • Involves observations, experiments, surveys, or interviews.
    • Tests hypotheses or research questions.
    • Can employ quantitative or qualitative methods.
    • Seeks to generate evidence-based conclusions.

In summary, conceptual research is focused on developing new theories or conceptual frameworks, refining existing ideas, and exploring relationships between concepts. It is based on theoretical analysis and does not rely on empirical data collection. On the other hand, empirical research involves the collection and analysis of empirical data to test hypotheses, validate theories, or generate new insights. It relies on observations, experiments, or surveys to provide evidence-based conclusions.

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AspectsConceptualEmpiricalDescriptive ApproachAnalytical Approach
ResearchFocuses on theoretical or conceptual frameworks.Relies on the collection and analysis of empirical data.Provides a detailed account or summary of observed facts or phenomena.Gains insights, discovers patterns, establishes relationships, and provides explanations or interpretations.
MethodsLiterature reviews, theoretical analysis, development of new theories or concepts.Observations, experiments, surveys, interviews to collect empirical data.Organizes and summarizes data, calculates basic statistics, creates visual representations.Utilizes statistical modeling, hypothesis testing, regression analysis, data mining.
PurposeRefine or develop theoretical frameworks, explore relationships between ideas.Test hypotheses, validate theories, generate new insights.Presents information objectively and clearly.Investigates underlying causes, reasons, or factors.
DataDoes not rely on empirical data collection.Relies on empirical data collected through observations or experiments.Provides a clear and comprehensive summary of observed facts or phenomena.Uncovers meaningful insights and supports decision-making processes.
ApproachTheoretical analysis and development of new concepts.Systematic data collection and analysis to gather evidence.N/AN/A

Survey vs Experimental

“Survey” and “experimental” are two common research methods used in various fields to gather data and gain insights. Let’s explore the characteristics and distinctions between survey and experimental research:

  1. Survey: Survey research involves collecting data by asking individuals a series of questions designed to gather information about their opinions, behaviors, attitudes, or characteristics. Surveys are typically conducted using questionnaires or interviews, and they aim to capture a representative sample of the target population. Survey research focuses on obtaining self-reported data from participants and can be used to explore relationships, trends, or patterns among variables of interest.Characteristics of survey research:
    • Involves collecting data through questionnaires or interviews.
    • Focuses on self-reported information from participants.
    • Aims to capture a representative sample of the target population.
    • Used to gather data on opinions, behaviors, attitudes, or characteristics.
    • Can explore relationships, trends, or patterns among variables.
  2. Experimental: Experimental research involves the manipulation of variables in a controlled setting to determine cause-and-effect relationships. In experimental studies, researchers actively intervene and assign participants to different conditions or treatments. They then observe and measure the effects of these manipulations on the dependent variable(s). Experimental research aims to establish causal relationships and understand the impact of specific variables by controlling for other factors that could influence the outcome.Characteristics of experimental research:
    • Involves manipulating variables and observing the effects.
    • Controlled setting with active interventions by researchers.
    • Participants are assigned to different conditions or treatments.
    • Focuses on determining cause-and-effect relationships.
    • Aims to establish causal relationships by controlling for confounding factors.

In summary, survey research focuses on collecting self-reported data through questionnaires or interviews to explore opinions, behaviors, attitudes, or characteristics. It aims to capture a representative sample of the population and can identify relationships or patterns among variables. Experimental research, on the other hand, involves manipulating variables in a controlled setting to establish cause-and-effect relationships. It aims to understand the impact of specific variables by actively intervening and controlling other influencing factors. Both survey and experimental methods have their unique applications and strengths, depending on the research goals and the nature of the research question.

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AspectsSurveyExperimentalDescriptive ApproachAnalytical Approach
ResearchInvolves collecting data through questionnaires or interviews.Involves manipulating variables and observing the effects.Provides a detailed account or summary of observed facts or phenomena.Gains insights, discovers patterns, establishes relationships, and provides explanations or interpretations.
MethodsQuestionnaires, interviews to gather self-reported data.Controlled settings with active interventions and manipulation of variables.Organizes and summarizes data, calculates basic statistics, creates visual representations.Utilizes statistical modeling, hypothesis testing, regression analysis, data mining.
PurposeCapture information about opinions, behaviors, attitudes, or characteristics.Determine cause-and-effect relationships, establish causal links.Presents information objectively and clearly.Investigates underlying causes, reasons, or factors.
DataSelf-reported information from participants.Controlled manipulation of variables and observations.Provides a clear and comprehensive summary of observed facts or phenomena.Uncovers meaningful insights and supports decision-making processes.
ApproachCapturing data through surveys or interviews.Manipulating variables and observing effects.N/AN/A

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