Types of Research

Research is guided by theories. It builds on knowledge that has been acquired from previous studies with the aim of going one step further or responding to an observed lack of research into a particular issue. Theories, drugs and medical procedures are tested, people’s experiences are explored and new issues are uncovered and addressed. In the healthcare domain, the issues tend to be those which are important to the general population or to specific groups of people (e.g. patients, carers, healthcare professionals or policy makers).

Types of Research

There are two types of research which can be done to develop a thesis or dissertation:

Practical Research: The practical approach consists of the empirical study of the topic under research and chiefly consists of hands on approach. This involves first hand research in the form of questionnaires, surveys, interviews, observations and discussion groups.

Theoretical Research: A non empirical approach to research, this usually involves perusal of mostly published works like researching through archives of public libraries, court rooms and published academic journals.

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Basic Research.

This is also called as “fundamental research” or “pure research”. It seeks to discover basic truths or principles.  If the goal of research is for the development of theories by the discovery of broad generalizations or principles, which often leads to knowledge for knowledge’s sake, is the approach of basic or fundamental research. Fundamental research is usually carried on in a laboratory or other sterile environment, sometimes with animals. This type of research, which has no immediate or planned application, may later result in further research of an applied nature


  • Boyle’s Law
  • Charles’ Law
  • Archimedes’ Principle
  • Hooke’s Law
  • Newton’s Law

Applied Research.

This type of research involves seeking new applications of scientific knowledge to the solution of a problem, such as a development of a new system or procedure, new device, or new method in order to solve the problem. Applied research has most of the characteristics of fundamental research, including ‘the use of sampling techniques and the subsequent inferences about the target population. However, its purpose is improving a product or a process–testing theoretical concepts in actual ‘problem situations. Most educational research is applied research, for it attempts to develop generalizations about teaching-learning processes and instructional materials

Developmental Research.

This is a decision-oriented research involving the application of the steps of the scientific method in response to an immediate need to improve existing practices.

Problem oriented research

Research is done by industry apex body for sorting out problems faced by all the companies. Eg:- WTO does problem oriented research for developing countries, in India agriculture and processed food export development authority (APEDA) conduct regular research for the benefit of agri-industry.

Problem solving

This type of research is done by an individual company for the problem faced by it. Marketing research and market research are the applied research. For eg:- videocon international conducts research to study customer satisfaction level, it will be problem solving research. In short, the main aim of applied research is to discover some solution for some pressing practical problem

Quantitative Research

This research is based on numeric figures or numbers. Quantitative research aim to measure the quantity or amount and compares it with past records and tries to project for future period. In social sciences, “quantitative research refers to the systematic empirical investigation of quantitative properties and phenomena and their relationships”. The objective of quantitative research is to develop and employ mathematical models, theories or hypothesis pertaining to phenomena.

The process of measurement is central to quantitative research because it provides fundamental connection between empirical observation and mathematical expression of quantitative relationships. Statistics is the most widely used branch of mathematics in quantitative research. Statistical methods are used extensively with in fields such as economics and commerce.

Quantitative research involving the use of structured questions, where the response options have been Pre-determined and large number of respondents is involved. eg:-total sales of soap industry in terms of rupees cores and or quantity in terms of lakhs tones for particular year, say 2008,could be researched, compared with past 5 years and then projection for 2009 could be made.

Qualitative Research

Qualitative research presents non-quantitative type of analysis. Qualitative research is collecting, analyzing and interpreting data by observing what people do and say. Qualitative research refers to the meanings, definitions, characteristics, symbols, metaphors, and description of things. Qualitative research is much more subjective and uses very different methods of collecting information,mainly individual, in-depth interviews and focus groups.

The nature of this type of research is exploratory and open ended. Small number of people are interviewed in depth and or a relatively small number of focus groups are conducted. Qualitative research can be further classified in the following type.

I. Phenomenology:- a form of research in which the researcher attempts to understand how one or more individuals experience a phenomenon. Eg:-we might interview 20 victims of bhopal tragedy.

II. Ethnography:- this type of research focuses on describing the culture of a group of people. A culture is the shared attributes, values, norms, practices, language, and material things of a group of people. Eg:-the researcher might decide to go and live with the tribal in Andaman island and study the culture and the educational practices.

III. Case study:- is a form of qualitative research that is focused on providing a detailed account of one or more cases. Eg:-we may study a classroom that was given a new curriculum for technology use.

IV. Grounded theory:- it is an inductive type of research,based or grounded in the observations of data from which it was developed; it uses a variety of data sources, including quantitative data, review of records, interviews, observation and surveys

V. Historical research:- it allows one to discuss past and present events in the context of the present condition, and allows one to reflect and provide possible answers to current issues and problems. Eg:-the lending pattern of business in the 19th century.

In addition to the above, we also have the descriptive research. Fundamental research, of which this is based on establishing various theories

Also the research is classified in to

  1. Descriptive research
  2. Analytical research
  3. Fundamental research
  4. Conceptual research Empirical research
  5. One time research or longitudinal research
  6. Field-setting research or laboratory research or simulation research
  7. Clinical or diagnostic research
  8. Exploratory research
  9. Historical research
  10. Conclusion oriented research
  11. Case study research
  12. Short term research

Types of Educational Research:

John W. Best and James V. Kahn say “Any attempt to classify types of educational research poses a difficult problem”. They agree the fact that practically every textbook suggests-a different system of classification provides convincing evidence that there is no generally accepted scheme.

According to them “it should be noted that the system of classification is not important in itself but only has value in making the analysis of ‘research processes more comprehensible. Actually, all research activities involve the elements of observation, description, and the analysis of what happens under certain circumstances. Practically, all studies fall under one, or a combination, of the following types.

  • Historical research describes what was. The process involves investigating, recording, analyzing, and interpreting the events of the past for the purpose of discovering generalizations that are helpful in understanding the past and the present, and, to a limited extent, in anticipating the future.
  • Quantitative descriptive research uses quantitative methods to describe what is, describing, recording, analyzing, and interpreting conditions, that exist. It involves some type of comparison or contrast and attempts to discover relationships between existing non-manipulated variables. Some form of statistical analysis is used to describe the results of the study.
  • Qualitative descriptive research uses non-quantitative methods to describe what is. Qualitative descriptive research uses systematic procedures to discover non-quantifiable relationships between existing variables.
  • Experimental research describes what will be when certain variables are carefully controlled or manipulated. The focus is on variable relationships. As defined here, deliberate manipulation is always a part of the experimental method.

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