Selecting Appropriate Research Type

 We shall have a look at the different research types.

On the basis of application

·         Pure research

Also called fundamental or basic research, the pure research type is mainly concerned with generalizations and with the formulation of a theory. Gathering knowledge for knowledge’s sake is termed ‘pure’ or ‘basic’ research. Research concerning some natural phenomenon or relating to pure mathematics are examples of pure research. Pure research type is directed towards finding information that has a broad base of applications and thus, adds to the already existing organized body of scientific knowledge.

·         Applied Research

This research type aims at finding a solution for an immediate problem facing a society or an industrial / business organization. The research type that aimed at certain conclusions (ex. solution) facing a concrete social or business problem is an example of applied research. The research to identify social, economic, or political trends that may affect a particular institution or the copy research (research to find out whether certain communications will be read and understood) or the marketing research or evaluation research are examples of this research type. Thus, the central aim of applied research type is to discover a solution for some pressing practical problem.

On the basis of Objectives

·         Exploratory research

It is a research type that is conducted for a problem that has not been clearly defined. The research type helps determine the best research design, data collection method, and selection of subjects. The results of exploratory research are not usually useful for decision-making by themselves, but they can provide significant insight into a given situation. This research type is not typically generalizable to the population at large. The exploratory research can be quite informal, relying on secondary research such as reviewing available literature and/or data like informal discussions with consumers, employees, management, case studies or pilot studies, etc.

    Conclusive research

This research type is meant to provide information that is useful in reaching conclusions or decision-making. It tends to be quantitative in nature, that is to say in the form of numbers that can be quantified and summarized. It relies on both secondary data, particularly existing databases that are re-analyzed to shed light on a different problem and primary data.

·         Descriptive research

Descriptive research type includes surveys and fact-finding inquiries of different kinds. The major purpose of the research type is a description of the state of affairs as it exists at present. In social science and business research, it is quite often, the term Ex post facto research is used for descriptive research studies. The main characteristic of this research type is that the researcher has no control over the variables; she/he can only report what has happened or what is happening. The methods of research utilized in the research type and survey methods of all kinds, including comparative and correlation methods.

·         Causal / Experimental research

Appropriate Research

This research type is an objective, systematic, controlled investigation for the purpose of predicting and controlling phenomena and examining probability and causality among selected variables. The research type helps in best establishing the cause-and-effect relationships.

The simplest experimental research type includes two variables (Dependent and Independent variables) and two groups of participants (Control and Experimental group).

The independent variable, in the research type, is the predictor variable whereas the dependent variable is the outcome variable. Researchers manipulate and control the independent variable to study its effect on the dependent variable. Before the beginning of the experiment, the researcher (randomly) assigns her/his sample to two different groups; the control group and the experimental (treatment group or clinical group). The control group receives no manipulation of the independent variable (no treatment), whereas the experimental group receives the manipulation of the independent variable.


On the basis of the extent of theory

·         Theoretical research

This research type generally uses the findings from existing works to develop new ideas through analysing existing theories and explanations. These new ideas are not tested through collecting evidence in the form of primary data in this research type.

·         Empirical research

This research type relies on experience and observation alone, often without due regard for system and theory. It is data-based research, coming up with conclusions that are capable of being verified by observation or experiment. In the research type, the researcher must first provide himself with a working hypothesis or guess as to the probable results. He then works to get enough facts (data) to prove or disprove his hypothesis made in this research type.


On the basis of the time dimension

Appropriate Research

·         Cross-sectional research

This research type is used to examine one variable in different groups that are similar in all other characteristics. It means the research type involves using different groups of people who differ in the variable of interest but share other characteristics, such as socioeconomic status, educational background, and ethnicity. The research type studies are based on observations that take place in different groups at one time. This means there is no experimental procedure, so no variables are manipulated by the researcher. Instead of performing an experiment, the researcher would simply record the information that she/he observes in the groups they are examining.

The following are the characteristics of this research type:

o   Takes place at a single point in time

o   Variables are not manipulated by the researcher

o   Provide information only; do not answer why


·         Longitudinal research

This research type is used to study individuals at different stages in their lives. A longitudinal study is correlational research that follows one group of individuals over a long period of time, perhaps decades. Frequently, researchers meet with the subjects many times on a regular basis.

a. Time series

An ordered sequence of values of a variable at equally spaced time intervals. The usage of time series models is twofold: Obtain an understanding of the underlying forces and structure that produced the observed data. Fit a model and proceed to forecasting, monitoring, or even feedback and feedforward control.

b. Panel study

A panel usually involves a somewhat random sample of subjects. Panel studies are a particular design of the longitudinal study in which the unit of analysis is followed at specified intervals over a long period, often many years. The key feature of panel studies is that they collect repeated measures from the same sample at different points in time. Most panel studies are designed for quantitative analysis and use structured survey data. Panel (data) analysis is a statistical method, widely used in social science, epidemiology, and econometrics, which deals with two and "n"-dimensional (in and by the -cross sectional/times series time)panel data.[1] The data are usually collected over time and over the same individuals and then a regression is run over these two dimensions.

c. Cohort study

A cohort study observes subjects in a similar group based on region, age, or common experiences. A cohort is a group of people who share a common characteristic or experience within a defined period. Prospective cohort studies re-investigate groups of people who share some social characteristics. Cohort study takes its name from two intellectual traditions. Cohort studies are observational in design and are generally concerned with information regarding the prevalence distribution and interrelationship of variables in a population. They are also used to identify risk factors and to collect information to describe the natural history or progression of the disease. Cohort studies provide a wealth of valuable information about population health- which informs the planning and implementation of health policy. Cohort designs are thus ideal for many of the health-related areas that interest nursing and midwifery researchers. An algorithm is a well-defined sequence of steps to solve a problem of interest in industry, business, and government.

·         Algorithmic Research Report:

This research type provides well-defined sequence of steps to solve organizational problems; it may be government business or any industry. These problems can be polynomial or combinatorial. Combinatorial problems are those problems that take the exponential form of volume and time complexity. In polynomial category researchers develop the proper algorithm for optimal solution. Otherwise, the researchers should develop efficient heuristic for the problem. There are problems, viz., production scheduling. JIT, supply chain management, line balancing, layout design, portfolio management, etc., exist in reality. The solution for each of the above problems can be obtained through this research type.