Types of Research

Types of Research: The research can be categorized into the following types-

a) Basic Vs Applied: Fundamental research is also known as pure research, theoretical research or basic research. It belongs to the domain of fundamental, intellectual, natural problem and queries and hence is quite theoretical in nature and approach. According to Pauline “gathering of knowledge for knowledge’s sake is termed pure or basic research” i.e studies conducted to achieve a fuller understanding of a phenomena without considering of how their findings will be applied belongs to basic research. Its major preoccupation lies with designing the tools of analysis and with discovering universal laws and theories. It may be note that the scope of the sphere of activity of basic research is extraordinarily wide.

            Research concerning some natural phenomena or relating to pure mathematics are examples of fundamental research. Similarly research studies concerning human behavior carried on with a view to make generalization about human behavior are also examples of fundamental research. It is also widely used in the case of environment protection, conflict resolution, crisis prevention, health pandemics, etc. Again basic research findings can be subsequently used to enrich applied or strategic research.

“Basic research is necessary to develop and question concepts and theories and to bring new perspectives into the development discourse”. It considers knowledge as an end in itself, and the purpose is to discover the truth. There is no guarantee of short-term practical gain from basic research that result in low rate of funding for basic research.

Applied research is pursued for some purpose outside of its own domain, either for an immediate distinct utility or as an aid to the development of some other subject. Thus the central aim of applied research is to discover a solution for some pressing practical problems.

Applied research aims to provide knowledge on which the best decisions can be made regarding the problem associated with serious risks which otherwise can cause disaster. The objective of applied social research is to use data so that decisions can be made. Its purpose is to understand the nature and sources of human and social problems. The marketing research or evolution researches are examples of applied research.

b) Descriptive Vs. Analytical Research: Descriptive research includes surveys and fact findings enquiries of different kind. It provides description of the conditions / existing relationship / opinions held / process going on / effects evident / trend developing on the present cases / event with relation to the past. In other words, descriptive studies are the one whose purpose is to describe accurately the characteristic of a group. The major purpose of descriptive research is description of the state of affair as it exists at present. The main characteristic of this method is that the researcher has no control over the variables. He can only report what happened or what is happening.

Descriptive Studies is used in the following cases-

i) While gathering empirical data regarding certain phenomena so as to interpret them in a broader perspective of generalization;

ii) To study psychological phenomena of a group of individuals;

iii) To study relationship between variables under uncontrolled observation.

            In analytical research, the researcher has to use facts or information already available and analyze these to make a critical evaluation of the material.

c) Quantitative Vs. Qualitative Research: Quantitative research is based on the measurement of quantity or amount. It is applicable to phenomena that can be expressed in terms of quantity.

            Qualitative research on the other hand is concerned with qualitative phenomena i.e. phenomena relating to or involving quality or kind. Research design to find out, how people feel or what they think about a particular subject or institution is a qualitative research. To apply qualitative research in practice is relatively a difficult job and therefore one should seek guidance for experimental psychologists.

d) Conceptual Vs. Empirical Research: Conceptual research is that related to some abstract ideas or theory. It is generally used by philosopher and thinker to develop new concepts or to reinterpret existing ones.

            Empirical research relies on experience or observation alone, often without due respect for system and theory. It is data based research coming up with conclusions which are capable of being verified by observation or experiment.

e) Diagnostic Studies: The diagnostic study is concerned with the discovering and testing certain variables with respect to their association or disassociation. It enquires into the basic nature and cause of an existing problem. In its broadest sense, the diagnosis corresponds to the fact finding aspect of the clinical practice.

Diagnostic Studies is applicable to the instances like solution of a specific problem by the discovery of the relevant variables, discovering or analyzing a specific problem.

f) Explanatory Research: It structures and identifies new problems. Exploratory research is a type of research conducted because a problem has not been clearly defined. Exploratory research helps determine the best research design, data collection method and selection of subjects. Given its fundamental nature, exploratory research often concludes that a perceived problem does not actually exist. The objective of explanatory research is the development of hypothesis rather than their testing.

Exploratory research often relies on secondary research such as reviewing available literature and/or data, or qualitative approaches such as informal discussions with consumers, employees, management or competitors, and more formal approaches through in-depth interviews, focus groups, projective methods, case studies or pilot studies. The Internet allows for research methods that are more interactive in nature: E.g., RSS feeds efficiently supply researchers with up-to-date information; major search engine search results may be sent by email to researchers by services such as Google Alerts; comprehensive search results are tracked over lengthy periods of time by services such as Google Trends; and Web sites may be created to attract worldwide feedback on any subject.

g) Historical Research: Historical research is that which utilizes historical sources like documents remains, etc. to study event or ideas of the past including the philosophy of the person and groups at any remote point of time.

h) Action Research: Action research is a reflective process of progressive problem solving led by individuals working with others in teams or as part of a "community of practice" to improve the way they address issues and solve problems. Action research can also be undertaken by larger organizations or institutions, assisted or guided by professional researchers, with the aim of improving their strategies, practices, and knowledge of the environments within which they practice.

Kurt Lewin, then a professor at MIT, first coined the term “action research” in about 1944, and it appears in his 1946 paper “Action Research and Minority Problems”. In that paper, he described action research as “a comparative research on the conditions and effects of various forms of social action and research leading to social action” that uses “a spiral of steps, each of which is composed of a circle of planning, action, and fact-finding about the result of the action”.