Types of research

Research is the set of methods that are applied to know an issue or problem in depth and generate new knowledge in the area in which it is being applied.

It is a vital tool for scientific progress, because it allows to verify or discard hypotheses with reliable parameters, in a sustained way over time, and with clear objectives.In this way it is guaranteed that the contributions to the field of researched knowledge can be verified and replicated.

There are several types of research that are classified depending on their objective, the depth of the study carried out, the data that is analyzed, the time required to study the phenomenon, among other factors.

Classification of types of research

The types of research are classified according to their purpose, the level of depth with which a phenomenon is studied, the type of data used, the time it takes to study the problem, etc.

According to its purpose

Theoretical research

Its objective is the generation of knowledge, regardless of its practical application. In this case, data collection is used to generate new general concepts.

For example, a philosophical dissertation, since the objective is to generate new approaches from existing data, without taking into account a possible application in reality.

See also Desk Research.

Applied research

In this case, the goal is to find strategies that can be used to address a specific problem. Applied research draws on theory to generate practical knowledge, and its use is very common in branches of knowledge such as engineering or medicine.

This type of research is subdivided into two types:

  • Technological applied research: it serves to generate knowledge that can be put into practice in the productive sector, in order to promote a positive impact on daily life.
  • Scientific applied research: has predictive purposes. Through this type of research, certain variables can be measured to predict behaviors that are useful to the goods and services sector, such as consumption patterns, viability of commercial projects, etc.

For example, market research, since through the study of consumption patterns, strategies for the development of new products, marketing campaigns, etc. can be created.

See also Scientific research.

According to your level of deepening

Exploratory investigation

It is used when the objective of making a first approach to an unknown matter or on which it has not been sufficiently investigated. This will make it possible to decide whether further and in-depth investigations can indeed be carried out.

As this method starts from the study of little-studied phenomena, it does not rely so much on theory, but on the collection of data that allow the detection of patterns to explain these phenomena.

For example, surveys to measure the perception of a public figure.

Descriptive research

As its title indicates, it is responsible for describing the characteristics of the reality to be studied in order to understand it more accurately. In this type of research, the results do not have a qualitative assessment, they are only used to understand the nature of the phenomenon.

For example, population censuses are a descriptive investigation.

Explanatory research

It is the most common type of research and is responsible for establishing cause and effect relationships that allow generalizations that can be extended to similar realities. It is a very useful study to verify theories.

For example, market research that is done after a product is launched to understand the reasons for its success or failure.

See also Analysis.

According to the type of data used

Qualitative research

It is used frequently in social sciences. It has a linguistic-semiotic base and is applied in techniques such as discourse analysis, open interviews and participant observation.

In order to apply statistical methods to validate their results, the collected observations must be valued numerically. However, it is a form of research with a tendency to subjectivity, since not all data can be fully controlled.

For example, anthropological studies are framed in qualitative research.

See also Qualitative Research.

Quantitative investigation

It delves into the phenomena through data collection and uses the use of mathematical, statistical and computer tools to measure them. This allows generalized conclusions that can be projected over time.

For example, telephone surveys are a type of quantitative research.

See also:

  • Qualitative and quantitative research
  • Quantitative investigation.

According to the degree of manipulation of variables

Experimental research

It is about designing or replicating a phenomenon whose variables are manipulated under controlled conditions. The phenomenon to be studied is measured through study and control groups, and according to the guidelines of the scientific method.

For example, the studies of the pharmaceutical industry to create new medicines.

See also:

  • Experimental research
  • Scientific method.
  • Experiment.

Non-experimental research

Unlike the experimental method, the variables are not controlled, and the analysis of the phenomenon is based on observation within its natural context.

For example, a study on the effects of the use of certain chemical substances in a certain population group can be considered as a non-experimental investigation.

Quasi experimental research

It controls only some variables of the phenomenon to be studied, therefore it is not totally experimental. In this case, the study and control groups cannot be chosen at random, but are chosen from existing groups or populations.

For example, a program for the prevention of automobile accidents in heavy load transportation workers.

According to the type of inference

Deductive investigation

In this type of research, reality is explained from general laws that point to particular conclusions. The conclusions are expected to be part of the premises of the problem, therefore, if the premises are correct and the inductive method is applied properly, the conclusion will also be correct.

For instance:

  1. General premise: all dogs have four legs.
  2. Minor premise: the chow chow is a dog.
  3. Conclusion: the chow chow has 4 legs.

See also Deductive method.

Inductive research

In this type of research, knowledge is generated from the particular to reach a generalization. It is based on the collection of specific data in order to create new theories.

For instance:

  • Premise 1: the Siberian husky walks on all fours and is a dog.
  • Premise 2: the chow chow walks on all fours and is a dog.
  • Premise 3: the sheepdog walks on all fours and is a dog.
  • Conclusion: all dogs walk on all fours.

Hypothetical-deductive investigation

It is based on the observation of reality to create a hypothesis. Then a deduction is applied to obtain a conclusion and finally it is verified or discarded through experience.

For instance:

  • Problem: are the products used to fumigate plants toxic to humans?
  • Hypothesis: it is inferred that, due to their toxic components, plant fumigation products can be harmful to humans.
  • Contrast: if the components of the products to be fumigated can be toxic for certain microorganisms, they could be equally toxic for the human being.
  • Negative conclusion: the components of the fumigation products are toxic for insects and small microorganisms, but not for humans.
  • Positive conclusion: indeed, plant spraying products are toxic to humans.

According to the time in which it is carried out

Longitudinal investigation

It involves the monitoring of an event, individual or group for a clearly defined period. The objective is to be able to observe changes in the variables analyzed.

For example, a study dedicated to analyzing the changes in a specific indigenous population over 10 years.

Cross-sectional research

It is applied to observe the changes that have occurred in phenomena, individuals or groups during a specific moment.

For example, an investigation into the emotional changes that a group of 16-year-old adolescents from a certain public school go through as they prepare for their entrance to university.

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