Categories of Research

You can classify Research in one of three categories:

1. Exploratory research

2. Descriptive research

3. Causal research

These classifications are made according to your objective of the research. In some cases the research will fall into one of these categories, but in other cases different phases of the same research project will fall into different categories.

1. Exploratory Research

Exploratory research has the goal of formulating problems more precisely, clarifying concepts, gathering explanations, gaining insight, eliminating impractical ideas, and forming hypotheses. Exploratory research can be performed using a literature search, surveying certain people about their experiences, focus groups, and case studies.

When you will be surveying people, exploratory research studies would not try to acquire a representative sample, but rather, seek to interview those who are knowledgeable and who might be able to provide you the insight concerning the relationship among variables.

Case studies can include contrasting situations or benchmarking against an organization known for its excellence. Exploratory research may develop hypotheses, but it does not seek to test them. Exploratory research is characterized by its flexibility.

Exploratory research could also be used in conjunction with other research. As mentioned below, since it is used as a first step in the research process, defining the problem, other designs will be used later as steps to solve the problem. For instance, it could be used in situations when a firm finds the going gets tough in terms of sales volume, the researcher may develop use exploratory research to develop probable explanations.

2. Descriptive Research

Descriptive research is more rigid than exploratory research and seeks to describe users of a product, determine the proportion of the population that uses a product, or predict future demand for a product or describes the happening of a certain phenomenon.

As opposed to exploratory research, if you are doing descriptive research you should define questions, people surveyed, and the method of analysis prior to beginning data collection.

Descriptive studies require a clear specification of the who, when, where, what, why and how. Such preparation allows you the opportunity to make any required changes before the costly process of data collection has begun.

While designing a descriptive research, the researcher should also have sufficient knowledge on the nature and type of statistical techniques he/she is going to use. This will greatly help to have the right design in place.

There are two basic types of descriptive research:

Longitudinal Studies

Longitudinal studies are time series analyses that make repeated measurements of the same individuals, thus allowing you to monitor behaviour such as brand switching. However, longitudinal studies are not necessarily representative since many people may

refuse to participate because of the commitment required.

Cross-sectional Studies

Cross-sectional studies sample the population to make measurements at a specific point in time. A special type of cross sectional analysis is a cohort analysis, which tracks an aggregate of individuals who experience the same event within the same time interval over time. You can use Cohort analyses for long forecasting of product demand.

3. Causal Research

It is used to obtain evidence of cause-and-effect relationships with is otherwise known as the independent-dependent relationship or the predictive relationships. This is an important type of research useful for marketers as this allows marketers to base their decision on assumed causal relationships.

Casual Research seeks to find cause and affect relationships between variables. It accomplishes this goal through laboratory and field experiments.

Research process involves important steps-

  • Problem definition
  • Research proposal
  • Research Design
  • Data Collection
  • Data Analysis & interpretation
  • Report writing
  • Interpretation of Research
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