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❶Take it with you wherever you go. Descriptive Research — Offers a basic summary of descriptive research and provides links for more information on the three main types of descriptive research.

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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.

Grimaldi and Michael S. Engel suggest that descriptive science in biology is currently undervalued and misunderstood:. A negative attitude by scientists toward descriptive science is not limited to biological disciplines: Lord Rutherford's notorious quote , "All science is either physics or stamp collecting," displays a clear negative attitude about descriptive science, and it is known that he was dismissive of astronomy , which at the beginning of the 20th century was still gathering largely descriptive data about stars, nebulae, and galaxies, and was only beginning to develop a satisfactory integration of these observations within the framework of physical law , a cornerstone of the philosophy of physics.

It attempts to gather quantifiable information that can be used to statistically analyze a target audience or a particular subject. Description research is used to observe and describe a research subject or problem without influencing or manipulating the variables in any way. Hence, these studies are really correlational or observational, and not truly experimental.

This type of research is conclusive in nature, rather than exploratory. Descriptive research is used extensively in social science, psychology and educational research. It can provide a rich data set that often brings to light new knowledge or awareness that may have otherwise gone unnoticed or encountered.

It is particularly useful when it is important to gather information with disruption of the subjects or when it is not possible to test and measure large numbers of samples. It allows researchers to observe natural behaviors without affecting them in any way. Following is a list of research questions or problems that may lend themselves to descriptive research:.

In some types of descriptive research, the researcher does not interact with the subjects. In other types, the researcher does interact with the subjects and collects information directly from them. Some descriptive studies may be cross-sectional, whereby the researcher has a one-time interaction with the test subjects. Other studies may be longitudinal, where the same test subjects are followed over time. There are three main methods that may be used in descriptive research:. The data collected from descriptive research may be quantitative, qualitative or both.

The quantitative data is typically presented in the form of descriptive statistics that provide basic information such as the mean, median, and mode of a data set. Quantitative date may also be tabulated along a continuum in numerical form, such as scores on a test.

It can also be used to describe categories of information or patterns of interactions. Such quantitative data is typically represented in tables, graphs, and charts which makes it user-friendly and easy to interpret. Qualitative data, such as the type of narrative data collected in a case study, may be organized into patterns that emerge or it may be classified in some way, but requires more detailed analysis.

The remaining modules in this series will take a more in-depth look at each method and will delve further into the advantages and disadvantages associated with descriptive research. The results from a descriptive research can in no way be used as a definitive answer or to disprove a hypothesis but, if the limitations are understood, they can still be a useful tool in many areas of scientific research.

The subject is being observed in a completely natural and unchanged natural environment. A good example of this would be an anthropologist who wanted to study a tribe without affecting their normal behavior in any way. True experiments , whilst giving analyzable data, often adversely influence the normal behavior of the subject.

Descriptive research is often used as a pre-cursor to quantitative research designs, the general overview giving some valuable pointers as to what variables are worth testing quantitatively. Quantitative experiments are often expensive and time-consuming so it is often good sense to get an idea of what hypotheses are worth testing. Because there are no variables manipulated , there is no way to statistically analyze the results.

In addition, the results of observational studies are not repeatable , and so there can be no replication of the experiment and reviewing of the results. Descriptive research design is a valid method for researching specific subjects and as a precursor to more quantitative studies.

Whilst there are some valid concerns about the statistical validity , as long as the limitations are understood by the researcher, this type of study is an invaluable scientific tool. Whilst the results are always open to question and to different interpretations, there is no doubt that they are preferable to performing no research at all.

Check out our quiz-page with tests about:. Martyn Shuttleworth Sep 26, Retrieved Sep 10, from Explorable.


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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 “aimed at casting light on current issues or problems through a process of data collection that enables them to describe the situation more completely than was possible without employing this method.” In its essence, descriptive studies .

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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. 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.

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Descriptive research describes a situation while inferential (or experimental) research attempts to explain or forecast. There are three main types of descriptive methods: observational methods, case-study methods and ; survey methods. This article [link] will briefly describe each of these methods, their advantages, and their drawbacks. There are a variety of descriptive research methods available, and once again, the nature of the question that needs to be answered drives which method is used.