Classification of Research Method on the Basis of Objectives

Classification of Research Method on the Basis of Objectives

On the basis of objectives, research can be classified into the following:

  1. Descriptive Research
  2. Correlational Research
  3. Exploratory Research
  4. Experimental Research


The term ‘Descriptive” is self-explanatory, and the research that describes a situation, an event, and an institution is descriptive research. It describes the nature of a situation as it exists at the time of the study. Descriptive research answers the questions of who, what, where, when, and how.

Descriptive research is a quantitative research method. In this, information is collected without changing the environment (i.e., nothing is manipulated).

It includes surveys and fact-finding inquiries with adequate interpretation.

Studying relationships between two or more variables also falls under the scope of descriptive studies. We can go beyond and study the cause and effect relationships among variables.

Depending on the number of times the data is collected, descriptive research can be of two types:

  1. Cross-sectional Study: One-time interaction or one-time data collection.
  2. Longitudinal Study: A study that collects data more than once from the same individuals.


This categorization helps us to understand the phenomenon (research) more clearly.

  1. Survey Studies: Often, descriptive research itself is equated with survey research. It is better to consider survey as one category of research under descriptive research. Surveys are conducted to create authentic descriptions of an existing situation, phenomena that help carry out situational analysis, and diagnostic problems and make more informed decisions and intelligent plans for improving the situation.
  2. Correlational Studies: The purpose of correlational studies is to explore whether there is any relationship of interdependence between two variables or characteristics, and to ascertain the degree of such relationships. The value of correlational research is to discover relationships among phenomena with a view to predicting and, in some situations, controlling their occurrence.
    The correlational statistics will help test researchers, hypotheses about the relationship between two variables and assess the magnitude of the relationship.

Ex Post Facto Research

  1. It is used in social sciences and business organizations.
  2. It is conducted in the context of a phenomenon after it has occurred or at the time of its occurrence.
  3. It basically deals with non-manipulated variables of a phenomenon.

Historical Research

  1. It is another dimension of descriptive research and somewhat similar to ex post facto research.
  2. It usually focuses on the historical aspect of an issue of interest or problem.
  3. Examples are the growth of trade unions in India, the evolution of the modern education system in India, etc.

Analytical Research

  1. In this method, the researcher uses facts or information already available.
  2. It attempts to make a critical evaluation of the material.

Exploratory Research

  1. It is generally done at the beginning of a research. It is undertaken to explore an area where little is known or to investigate the possibilities of undertaking a particular research study and is akin to a feasibility study or pilot study. A “small-scale study” is undertaken to decide whether it is worth carrying out a detailed investigation.
  2. It attempts to clarify why and how there is a relationship between two or more aspects of a situation or phenomenon.
  3. The purpose of exploratory research is to gain background information, define terms, clarify the problems, develop hypotheses, establish research priorities and objectives and develop questions to be answered.
  4. It makes use of secondary data (mainly literature review), experience surveys, case studies, interviews (mainly focus group interviews), projective techniques, and Delphi techniques.

Experimental Research

Experimental research is designed to establish causal relationships. It begins with a question concerning the relationship between two or more variables. Simultaneously, the researcher develops one or more hypotheses to state the nature of the expected relationship. The experiment is the event planned and carried out by the researcher trying to get evidence.

An experiment has the three following characteristics:

  1. An independent variables is manipulated.
  2. All other variables except the independent variables are held constant.
  3. The effect of manipulation of the independent variable on the dependent variable is observed.

The variable upon which the effects of changes are observed is called the dependent variable, which is observed but not manipulated by the experimenter. The dependent variable is so named because its value is hypothesized, to depend upon and vary with the value of the independent variable.

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