Descriptive research includes surveys and fact-finding enquiries of different kinds.

The major purpose of descriptive research is descriptive state of affairs as it exists at present. In social science and business research we quite often use the term ex post facto research for descriptive research studies. The main characteristic of this method is that the researcher has no control over the variables; he can only report what has happened or what is happening. Most of ex post facto research projects are used for descriptive studies in which the researcher seeks to measure such items. e.g. Frequency of shopping, preference of data.

Ex post facto studies also include attempts by researchers to discover causes even when they cannot control the variables. This method of research utilized in descriptive research is survey methods of all kinds, including comparative and correlation methods. In analytical research, the researcher has to use facts or information already available and analyse these to make a critical evaluation of material.


Applied research aims at finding a solution for immediate problem facing a society or an industrial/business organization, where as fundamental research is mainly concerned with generalisations and with the formulation of a theory. Research concerning to some natural phenomenon or relating to pure mathematics are examples of fundamental research.

Research aimed at certain conclusion facing a concrete social or business problem is an example of applied research.

Thus, central aim of applied research is to discover a solution for some pressing practical problems, whereas basic research is directed towards finding information that has a broad base of applications and thus, adds to the already existing organized body of scientific knowledge.


Quantitative research is base on some quantitative measurements of some characteristics. It is applicable to phenomena that can be expressed in terms of quantities. Qualitative research in concerned with qualitative phenomenon, i.e., phenomena relating to involving quality or kind. E.g. when we are interested in investigating the reasons for human behaviour, we quite often talk about ‘motivational research’, an important type of qualitative research. This type of research aims at discovering the underlying motives and desires, using in-depth interviews for the purpose.

Qualitative research is especially important in behavioural sciences where the aim is to discover the underlying motives of human behaviour. The application of qualitative research in practice is relatively a difficult job.


Conceptual research is that related to some abstract idea(s) or theory.

It is generally used by philosophers and thinkers to develop new concepts or to reinterpret existing ones.

Empirical research relies on experience or 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 such a research it is necessary to get facts at first-hand, and actively go about doing certain things to stimulate the production of desired information. Empirical research is appropriate when proof is sought that certain variables affect other variables in some way.

Evidence gathered through experiments or empirical studies are considered to be the most powerful support possible for testing a given hypothesis.


Research can be field-setting or laboratory research or simulation research, depending upon the environment in which it is being carried out. Research can as well be understood as clinical or diagnostic research. It may be exploratory or formalized. Historical research is that which utilizes historical sources like documents, remains, etc. Research can also be conclusion-oriented or decision-oriented


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