Good research skills are a must for students, so you need to be familiar with the different types of research you can use. This is what we discuss in this article.
Definition: Types of research
There are many different types of research based on their purpose, the type of data involved, the sources used, etc.
Which types of research you use depends on your area of study and the scope of your project.
Types of research – Purpose
This type of research deepens or expands existing knowledge, but it doesn’t try to solve specific problems.
Applied research focuses on real-world issues and its conclusions have practical applications.1
Types of research – Depth of scope
This type of research aims to provide a general framework around a particular topic, without going into too much detail.
Descriptive research gathers extensive data about a topic or about research subjects, so it has a deeper scope than exploratory research.
This type of research focuses on answering “why”-questions. This requires a detailed cause-and-effect assessment.
This research compares two facts or data sets, to find meaningful connections between them.
Types of research – Type of data
Data consists of words or concepts, which can be assessed and interpreted but not objectively measured.3
This research relies on any data units that can be objectively measured.2
Types of research – Manipulation of variables
Independent variables are applied to dependent variables to determine their impact and to test a hypothesis.4
Non-experimental research doesn’t manipulate the independent variable, and it’s not always necessary to find a correlation between variables.5
Types of research – Type of inference
In deductive research, inferences or conclusions are reached by testing a theory and/or a hypothesis. Data is collected and analyzed to either prove or disprove the hypothesis.
The starting point isn’t a theory or hypothesis, but a set of observations that can later be turned into generalizations.
Types of research – Time of execution
Diachronic research studies a fact or phenomenon over a period of time.
Synchronous research examines a fact or phenomenon as it happens during a specific point in time.
Types of research – Sources of information
This means that your data comes from your own research.6
This means that your research data comes from existing sources.7
Types of research – State of data
Data consists of existing official documents, photos, personal communications, or audio files.
Field data is created and collected in real-world settings, for example in the form of interviews, surveys, etc.
Lab data is usually collected in lab settings under controlled conditions.
Mixed-Method: Documentary, field, and/or laboratory
This refers to the combination of all three types of research in a single study.
In terms of purpose, the 2 main types of research are theoretical and applied. In terms of the data used, research can be classified into qualitative and quantitative.
Yes, using several types of research is possible as long as they’re compatible and suited to your topic and research question.
A research question, data, and a framework to analyze the data.
1 Dudovskiy, John. “Applied Research.” Business Research Methodology. Accessed October 24, 2022. https://research-methodology.net/research-methodology/research-types/applied-research/.
2 UTA Libraries. “Quantitative and Qualitative Research.” University of Texas Arlington. September 14, 2022. https://libguides.uta.edu/quantitative_and_qualitative_research/quant.
3 UTA Libraries. “Quantitative and Qualitative Research.” University of Texas Arlington. September 14, 2022. https://libguides.uta.edu/quantitative_and_qualitative_research/qual.
4 Pollfish. “What is Experimental Research & How is it Significant for Your Business?.” Accessed October 24, 2022. https://resources.pollfish.com/survey-guides/what-is-experimental-research-how-is-it-significant-for-your-business/.
5 Price, Paul C., Rajiv Jhangiani, I-Chant A. Chiang, Dana C. Leighton, and Carrie Cuttler. “Overview of Non-Experimental Research.” Pressbooks. Accessed October 25, 2022. https://opentext.wsu.edu/carriecuttler/chapter/overview-of-non-experimental-research/.
6 University of Southampton. “Primary research.” Accessed October 24, 2022. https://library.soton.ac.uk/sash/primary-research.
7 Oxford Reference. “Secondary Research.” Accessed October 24, 2022. https://www.oxfordreference.com/view/10.1093/oi/authority.20110803100451291.