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The 3 Basic Types of Descriptive Research Methods

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❶Want the full version to study at home, take to school or just scribble on? Case study as a descriptive research definition is used to understand a complex subject.

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Don't miss these related articles:. Check out our quiz-page with tests about: Back to Overview "Research Design". Related articles Related pages: Search over articles on psychology, science, and experiments. Leave this field blank: Want to stay up to date? Login Sign Up Privacy Policy. Get all these articles in 1 guide Want the full version to study at home, take to school or just scribble on? Get PDF Download electronic versions: Save this course for later Don't have time for it all now?

Add to my courses. Take it with you wherever you go. The Research Council of Norway. Often the best approach, prior to writing descriptive research, is to conduct a survey investigation. Qualitative research often has the aim of description and researchers may follow-up with examinations of why the observations exist and what the implications of the findings are.

In addition, the conceptualizing of descriptive research categorization or taxonomy precedes the hypotheses of explanatory research. Descriptive research is also known as Statistical Research.

The main goal of this type of research is to describe the data and characteristics about what is being studied. The idea behind this type of research is to study frequencies, averages, and other statistical calculations. Although this research is highly accurate, it does not gather the causes behind a situation.

Descriptive research is mainly done when a researcher wants to gain a better understanding of a topic. That is, analysis of the past as opposed to the future.

Descriptive research is the exploration of the existing certain phenomena. The details of the facts won't be known. Descriptive science is a category of science that involves descriptive research; that is, observing, recording, describing, and classifying phenomena. Descriptive research is sometimes contrasted with hypothesis-driven research , which is focused on testing a particular hypothesis by means of experimentation. There are two main categories of the observational method — naturalistic observation and laboratory observation.

The biggest advantage of the naturalistic method of research is that researchers view participants in their natural environments. This leads to greater ecological validity than laboratory observation, proponents say. Proponents of laboratory observation often suggest that due to more control in the laboratory, the results found when using laboratory observation are more meaningful than those obtained with naturalistic observation.

Laboratory observations are usually less time-consuming and cheaper than naturalistic observations.

Of course, both naturalistic and laboratory observation are important in regard to the advancement of scientific knowledge. Case study research involves an in-depth study of an individual or group of indviduals.

Case studies often lead to testable hypotheses and allow us to study rare phenomena. Case studies should not be used to determine cause and effect, and they have limited use for making accurate predictions.

There are two serious problems with case studies — expectancy effects and atypical individuals. Describing atypical individuals may lead to poor generalizations and detract from external validity. In survey method research, participants answer questions administered through interviews or questionnaires. After participants answer the questions, researchers describe the responses given. In order for the survey to be both reliable and valid it is important that the questions are constructed properly.


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Descriptive research can be explained as a statement of affairs as they are at present with the researcher having no control over variable. Moreover, “descriptive studies may be characterised as simply the attempt to determine, describe or identify what is, while analytical research attempts to establish why it is that way or how it came to be” [1].

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Descriptive research methods are pretty much as they sound -- they describe situations. They do not make accurate predictions, and they do not determine cause and effect. There are three main types of descriptive methods: observational methods, case-study methods and survey methods.

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Descriptive research is a study designed to depict the participants in an accurate way. More simply put, descriptive research is all about describing people who take part in the study. More simply put, descriptive research is all about describing people who take part in the study. Descriptive research methods help to understand the characteristics of a demographic group. Descriptive research is commonly used in social sciences to study characteristics or phenomenons. Also known as statistical research, researchers look into the frequency, average or other qualitative methods to understand a subject being studied.

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Descriptive research design is a scientific method which involves observing and describing the behavior of a subject without influencing it in any way. The purpose of using the descriptive research method is to acquire accurate, factual, systematic data that can provide you with an actual picture of the data set that you are reviewing.