Mastering the Types of Research Methodology


Table of Contents

Research is a methodology used by scientists from various fields to experiment with different topics of interest. Researchers do their experiments to either reject or accept a formulated hypothesis or to just study about a topic in deep. The conclusions from such are mostly for the betterment of the society and to enhance the knowledge about subjects that were not touched many times before. 

Research as a scientific tool helps these researchers to measure sample data with as minimum as possible biases and much higher accuracy rate. This helps them to confidently put forth a conclusion to the society knowing that the data gathered is legit and the results drawn from the studies are systematic and statistically sensible. 

Researchers adopt various methods of research which best suits their study. In this article we will be seeing various types of research methodology that are classified based on their common features and use.

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Types of research methodology

Research types are classified based on their objective, depth of study, data analysis, time and cost efficiency. Researchers are likely to use various types in a combination for their study. 

Based on PURPOSE

  • Theoretical research

Also known as pure research or basic research. Theoretical research is used when the researcher wants to just gather more information about a particular topic without considering its practical working. Such researches are used mostly for documentaries, mathematical formulas which gives a better understanding of the subject. 

Example: a social research was conducted to understand the economical mentality of the middle class citizens.

  • Applied research

Applied research works to find a solution to a scientific problem. The main objective is to address the STEM fields such as engineering, medicine, etc. which are more closely connected to human lives with their actual applications. There are two types fo applied research:

  • Technological applied research that aims to enhance efficiency of the products through betterments in the technological aspects. 
  • Scientific applied research helps to generate a predictive analysis based on the available data which will be even more helpful in goods and services sector. 

Example: a business can analyze the customers’ purchase strategies and plan the marketing accordingly. 

Based on the DEPTH OF SCOPE

  • Exploratory research 

As the name suggests, exploratory research is used as a preliminary study for the topics about which there is no deeper knowledge explored yet. It acts as a reference to the further in-depth studies that will emerge from this hypothesis. As it is not a deep study, it focuses more on just data collection that will explain the causes of the phenomena. 

Example: a study conducted to understand the relation between millennials and social media usage. 

  • Descriptive research

This too does not go in very deep in the phenomena as it just focuses on finding out the characteristics the phenomena shows rather than the factors that cause it. Researchers have to make sure they are not disturbing the observed phenomena and causing a change in them. 

Example: investigating the standard of living in rural and urban areas.

  • Explanatory research 

It is most commonly used for establishing the cause-effect relationship between the variables. The results from explanatory research can be then generalised for the rest of the variables. 

Example: understanding a toddler’s behaviour while watching cartoons.

Based on the TYPE OF DATA USED 

  • Qualitative research 

Qualitative research is used to collect, compare, analyse large descriptive data from the sample. This data is often collected through surveys, interviews, focus groups where people are allowed to express their opinions and thoughts openly to the open-ended questions. The data from qualitative research is usually larges and need data labelling or coding while analysing it. 

Example: studying the effects of exercise on health

  • Quantitative research 

Quantitative research collects the data through quantitative and close-ended questions and the data is analysed using statistics, mathematical and computerized tools. The data is mostly collected through surveys and it is in the form of numeric values. 

Example: conducting a survey on the likes and dislikes of the customers regarding clothing. 

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  • Experimental research 

Experimental research starts with replicating a phenomenon under a scientific environment. The variables are tested for the cause-effects on the sample chosen at random by putting them in two groups – a control group and treatment groups. The result is an understood cause-effect relationship between the variables. 

Example: experiment to test a new drug in the market on patients. 

  • Non-experimental research 

It focuses on experimenting with the population in their natural environment. Also known as an observational study, researchers do not directly intervene in the experiment. As it is observed it is also used with descriptive research.

Example: a study on the effects of a certain education program on a batch of students. 

  • Quasi-experimental research 

It is very similar to experimental research but the only difference is the sample for the experiment is not selected at random. Since it is a narrowed down study focusing on a certain kind of population, the sample should be tested and then assigned to the treatment or control group.

Example: a study was conducted to know the effects eating more cheese have on bad breath. 


  • Deductive investigation

It focuses on explaining reality with the help of general laws referring to certain conclusions. These conclusions are a part of research problems and are said to be true if the deductive investigation turns out to be applied in the right way.

  • Inductive investigation

It is also an observational study that focuses on achieving generalised results. It collects the data from which new theories can be generated. 

  • Hypothetical-deductive investigation

It first formulated the hypothesis based on basic observation and then uses deductive investigation to conclude the study which will in return reject or accept the hypothesis. 

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  • Longitudinal study 

Also known as Diachronic research, it observes one event, individual or a group at different times. It aims to track the changes in the subject over time. It is generally used in medical, para-medical and social fields. 

Example: to study the health of a patient under treatment over several weeks. 

  • Cross-sectional study

Also known as Synchronous research, it focuses on observing events, individuals or groups of subjects over time. 


  • Primary research

This is research that is done from scratch. Researchers themselves gather data that is specific to their study and is more reliable since it is first-hand information. 

  • Secondary research 

This research is conducted on someone else’s work. Researchers use available material like research papers, interviews, documentaries as a source of data and information in their research. The problem with this is there is no guarantee that the collected information is reliable or not and there is a chance of getting more irrelevant data outside of the research topic at hand. 

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