Types And The Process of Research

Types And The Process of Research

 Content Outline 

  1. Classification of research
  2. Exploratory Research
  3. Conclusive Research
  4. Descriptive Research 
  5. Ex-post facto/ Causal Research
  6. The Research Process
  7. Summary

Classification of research

Based on the objectives of the research, the research can be classified into:
  • Exploratory Research
  • Conclusive Research
  • Descriptive Research
  • Causal Research 

Exploratory Research

The exploratory research goes beyond description and undertakes to explain the reasons for the the phenomenon that the descriptive study merely observed. In such a study, the researcher makes use of theories or hypotheses to determine the factors that made a certain phenomenon to occur. Exploratory Research Conclusive Research Descriptive Research Causal Research The lack of structure and flexibility characterize the research design for exploratory research. This research design is diagnostic in nature and is generally used for the development of hypothesis concerning possible problems and opportunities. Exploratory research provides insight and understanding of the problems. Exploratory research includes secondary data sources, opinion of experts, surveys, in-depth discussions, case studies and observations. In most of the times, conclusive research follows exploratory research for conducting more accurate analysis and drawing conclusion.

 Conclusive Research

Conclusive research is usually more formal and structured as compared to exploratory research. Conclusive research is used to supply information for the assessment of alternative courses of action. This type of research can be sub-categorized into (a) Descriptive research and (b) Casual or experimental research. Conclusive research includes Descriptive research with Cross-sectional or Time series or Longitudinal or Case studies methods and Causal or experimental research with the Designs of Experiments. Descriptive research is used to describe marketing phenomena while attempting to decide the association among different variables. It also seeks to predict future marketing phenomenon. The cross-sectional design particularly applied in descriptive research, a sample of population elements is taken at one time. In descriptive research both case study and statistical study can be made use of. Further, in a longitudinal research design a definite sample of population elements is ascertained again and again.

Descriptive Research

Descriptive research is a fact finding investigation aimed at describing the characteristics of the state of affairs as it exists. It attempts to uncover answers to the questions who, what, when, where and how. A descriptive study may necessitate collection of data and the creation of research variables or may involve the interaction of two or more variables, may or may not have the potential to draw inferences. Business organizations preserving databases of their employees, customers and suppliers keep significant data to conduct descriptive studies utilizing internal information. ‘This sort of study is generally admired in business research because of its versatility across disciplines.’ Across organizations, descriptive studies create a vast appeal to the managers for planning, monitoring and evaluating.  

Ex-post facto/ Causal Research

Casual research seeks to reveal cause and affect relations. A good casual research design seeks to minimize the interference of external variables that is an important part of marketing research activity of a firm. They are highly structured and need a rigorous sequential approach to sampling, data collection and data analysis. The design of the study takes on a critical significance here. To establish a reliable and testable relationship between two or more constructs or variables, the other influencing variables must be controlled so that their impact on the effect can be eliminated or minimized. For example, to study the impact of flexible work policies on turnover intentions, the other intervening variables, of age, marital status, organizational commitment and job autonomy would need to be controlled. This kind of research, like pure sciences research, needs experiment to establish causality. In most of the situations, it is quantitative requiring statistical testing of the information collected.

The Research Process

The research process follows a number of steps.
  1. Identify the research problem
    The beginning of research is identifying and knowing the research problem, the sort of information required to solve the problem, the parts of the related information already existing, the literature available for an in depth background study of the problem. The research problem for study must be selected with care. The task is a complex one although it may not appear to be so. Every researcher needs to identify his own salvation for research, as problems cannot be borrowed. Defining a research problem is really a difficult task that must be tackled wisely to avoid the confusion faced in a research operation. The common approach is that the researchers themselves present a question and establish techniques and procedures for highlighting the question concerned. Formulating the research problem suitably is an important part of a research and must in no case be accomplished in a hurry.
  2. Developing Research Design
    The research design is the plan of action for accomplishing objectives and answering the research question. The availability of large number of methods, techniques, procedures, protocols and sampling plans may complicate the choice of a research design. For example, a researcher may determine for a secondary data study, case study, survey, experiment, or simulation. If a survey design is selected, it needs to be determined whether it should be administered by mail, computer, telephone or personal interview, all relevant data is collected at one time or at regular intervals, the kind of structure of the questionnaire or the qualifications interview guide should possess, the wording of the questions employed and the scaling of the responses open-ended or closed ended, the means of achieving the reliability and validity of the measures. It is also to be determined whether the characteristics of the interviewer will influence responses to the measurement questions, kind of training the data collectors should receive, a sample or a census is to be taken, the type of sampling to be considered. These issues represent only few of the decisions to be made when just single method is selected.
  3. Sampling Design
    Next step in formulating the design is to identify the target population and select the sample if a census is not taken up for study. The research must decide how many people to contact interview and who the respondents will be; number of events to observe; or the number of records to inspect. A sample is a representative portion of the target population. When researchers undertake sampling studies, they usually estimate population values and test statistical hypotheses. The sampling process must ensure that every element of the population target find same probability of selection if probability sampling is applied. In case on non-availability of an alternative, a non-probability sampling may be applied. 
  4. Collection of Data
    The collection of data may take place from a simple observation at one location to an important survey of multinational corporations in different countries. The method selected will determine the method of data collection. Questionnaires, standard tests, observational forms, laboratory notes, and instrument calibration logs are among the devices applied to record raw data. A researcher has to plan for collection of secondary data, primary data or both, as may be required. Primary data provides the original information for purposes whereas secondary data consists of information that has already been collected. The researcher would either select one of the methods or both depending on the nature of the study, the objectives of the study, availability of financial resources, availability of time available and the desired degree of accuracy required. Primary data can be collected through experiment or survey method. If the researcher performs an experiment, he needs some quantitative measurements, the data with which he investigates the relationship contained in research hypothesis. But in the case of a survey, data can be collected by either one or more methods out of questionnaire, telephonic or personal interview, and observation methods.
  5. Analysis of Data 
    Raw data are exceptionally useful for making management decisions, Managers require information. Researchers create information by data analysis involving the reduction of accumulated data to a manageable size, making summaries, searching for patterns, and employing statistical techniques. Scaled responses on questionnaires and experimental instruments often demand the analyst to obtain various functions, and relationships among variables. Further, researchers need interpret these findings in the light of the research questions and check the consistency of the results with respect to hypotheses and theories The data analysis involves different steps include coding, editing, tabulation, analysis, and interpretation. 
  6. Preparation of Research Report 
    Ultimately, it is essential to prepare a report and convey the findings and recommendations to the manager for the purpose of decision-making. The organization of the report and the style of writing differ according to the targeted audience, the juncture and purpose of the research. The results of applied research may be communicated in a conference call, a letter, a written report or an oral presentation and at occasion all of them. The design, sampling plan and statistical techniques for analyzing the data assist to establish the researcher’s credibility. Thus, the researcher must exactly evaluate the manager’s needs throughout the research process and incorporate this understanding in the final product, the research report. Taking the objectives of the study into consideration, the researcher should make the study report. The findings should be written in a concise, simple, and objective-oriented manner.


Research is a quintessential tool, no matter what the field of learning is. It takes on special significant in the area of management as it would aid in more informed decision-making by business managers. The researcher might carry out basic or applied research based on his orientation. Basic research is carried out for the purpose of adding to the body of management science and usually does not have immediate utility. On the other hand, applied research is more problem-centric and is focused on a specific business problem to which the manager-researcher is seeking an answer. There are other categorizations for classifying business research. Exploratory research is usually preliminary, a loosely designed study carried out to get the actual study perspective. On the other end of the continuum are conclusive research studies, which are clearly designed and follow a sequential progression to arrive at concrete findings. Conclusive research can be of two types – descriptive or causal studies. Descriptive studies are formulated to describe the environment/population under study in comprehensive detail and by following a predefined structure. Causal research studies are the most scientific in nature as they are designed to study a cause and effect relationship in a controlled environment. These studies are basically predictive in nature.

  1. Mukherji, P. N. 2000. Methodology in Social Research; Dilemmas and Perspectives. Sage Publications: New Delhi
  2. Srivastava, Vinay Kumar (ed. ) 2004. Methodology and Fieldwork. Oxford University Press: New Delhi 


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