22 Types of research

The investigation consists of using established methods to seek the resolution of problems or unknowns in order to generate new knowledge about them. It is a vital tool for scientific advancement because it allows researchers to test or disprove hypotheses based on clearly defined parameters, settings, and assumptions.

Knowing the 22 types of research and what each one focuses on will allow you to better plan your project, use the most appropriate methodologies and techniques, and correctly communicate your findings to other researchers and supervisors.

DefinitionThe investigation consists of using established methods to seek the resolution of problems or unknowns in order to generate new knowledge about them. It is a vital tool for scientific advancement because it allows researchers to test or disprove hypotheses based on clearly defined parameters, settings, and assumptions.
  • Theoretical research
  • Applied research
  • Exploratory investigation
  • Descriptive research
  • Explanatory research
  • Correlational research
  • Qualitative research
  • Quantitative investigation
  • Experimental research
  • Non-experimental research
  • Quasi-experimental research
  • Deductive investigation
  • Inductive research
  • Hypothetical-deductive investigation
  • Longitudinal study (also called diachronic research)
  • Cross-sectional study (also called synchronous research)
  • Primary research
  • Secondary research
  • Documentary research
  • Field research
  • Laboratory research
  • Mixed method: documentary, field and / or laboratory

Types of research

There are several types of research that are classified according to their objective, depth of study, data analyzed, time required to study the phenomenon and other factors. It is important to note that a research project will not be limited to one type of research, but will likely use several.

According to its purpose

1. Theoretical research

Theoretical research, also known as pure or basic research, focuses on generating knowledge, regardless of its practical application . Here, data collection is used to generate new general concepts for a better understanding of a particular field or to answer a theoretical research question.

Results of this type are usually oriented to the formulation of theories and are usually based on documentary analysis, the development of mathematical formulas and the reflection of high-level researchers. For example, a philosophical dissertation, as the goal is to generate new approaches from existing data without considering how its findings can be applied or implemented in practice.

2 Applied research

Here, the goal is to find strategies that can be used to address a specific research problem . Applied research relies on theory to generate practical scientific knowledge, and its use is very common in STEM fields such as engineering, computer science, and medicine.

This type of research is subdivided into two types:

  • Applied technological research: seeks to improve efficiency in a specific productive sector by improving processes or machinery related to said productive processes.
  • Applied scientific research: has predictive purposes. Through this type of research design, we can measure certain variables to predict behaviors useful to the goods and services sector, such as consumption patterns and the viability of commercial projects.

For example, market research, because by examining consumption patterns you can develop strategies for the development of new products and marketing campaigns, etc.

According to its depth of reach

3. Exploratory research

Exploratory research is used for preliminary investigation of a topic that is not yet well understood or has not been sufficiently investigated . It serves to establish a frame of reference and a hypothesis from which an in-depth study can be developed to generate conclusive results.

Because exploratory research relies on little-studied phenomena, it relies less on theory and more on collecting data to identify patterns that explain these phenomena. For example, an investigation on the role of social networks in the perception of self-image.

4. Descriptive research

The main objective of descriptive research is to define the characteristics of a particular phenomenon without necessarily investigating the causes that produce it . In this type of research, the researcher must take special care not to intervene in the object or phenomenon observed, since its behavior can change if an external factor intervenes. For example, investigate how the public census of influential government officials differs between urban and non-urban areas.

5. Explanatory research

Explanatory research is the most common type of research method and is responsible for establishing cause and effect relationships that allow generalizations to be extended to similar realities . It is closely related to descriptive research, although it provides additional information about the observed object and its interactions with the environment. For example, investigate the brittle behavior of a specific material under compressive load.

6. Correlational research

The purpose of this type of scientific investigation is to identify the relationship between two or more variables . A correlational study aims to determine if a variable changes, how much the other elements of the observed system change.

According to the type of data used

7. Qualitative research

Qualitative methods are often used in the social sciences to collect, compare, and interpret information , they have a linguistic-semiotic basis, and are used in techniques such as discourse analysis, interviews, surveys, records, and participant observations.

To use statistical methods to validate your results, the collected observations must be evaluated numerically . However, qualitative research tends to be subjective, as not all data can be fully controlled. Therefore, this type of research design is better suited for extracting meaning from an event or phenomenon (the “why”) than its cause (the “how”). For example, examine the effects of lack of sleep on mood.

8. Quantitative research

The quantitative research study delves into a phenomenon through the collection of quantitative data and the use of mathematical, statistical and computer-aided tools to measure them. This allows generalized conclusions to be projected over time. For example, run a computer simulation of vehicle crash impacts to collect quantitative data.

According to the degree of manipulation of variables

9. Experimental research

It is about designing or replicating a phenomenon whose variables are manipulated under strictly controlled conditions in order to identify or discover their effect on another independent variable or object. The phenomenon to be studied is measured through study and control groups, and in accordance with the guidelines of the scientific method. For example, studies of randomized controlled trials to measure the efficacy of new pharmaceutical drugs in humans.

10. Non-experimental research

Also known as an observational study, it focuses on the analysis of a phenomenon in its natural context . As such, the researcher does not intervene directly, but limits his involvement to measuring the variables required for the study. Due to its observational nature, it is often used in descriptive research. For example, a study on the effects of the use of certain chemicals in a particular population group can be considered a non-experimental study.

11. Quasi-experimental research

It controls only some variables of the phenomenon under investigation and, therefore, it is not entirely experimental. In this case, the study and the focus group cannot be randomly selected, but rather are chosen from existing groups or populations. This is to ensure that the data collected is relevant and that the knowledge, perspectives and opinions of the population can be incorporated into the study. For example, evaluate the effectiveness of an intervention measure to reduce the spread of antibiotic-resistant bacteria.

According to the type of inference

12. Deductive investigation

In this type of research, reality is explained by general laws that point to certain conclusions ; The conclusions are expected to be part of the premise of the research problem and to be considered correct if the premise is valid and the inductive method is applied correctly.

13. Inductive research

In this type of research, knowledge is generated from an observation to achieve a generalization . It is based on the collection of specific data to develop new theories.

14. Hypothetical-deductive investigation

It is based on observing reality to make a hypothesis , then using deduction to obtain a conclusion and finally verify or reject it through experience.

According to the time in which it is carried out

15. Longitudinal study (also called diachronic investigation)

It is the monitoring of the same event, individual or group during a defined period of time . Your goal is to track changes in a number of variables and see how they evolve over time. It is often used in medical, psychological and social areas. For example, a cohort study looking at changes in a particular indigenous population over a 15-year period.

16. Cross-sectional study (also called synchronous research)

The cross-sectional research design is used to observe phenomena, an individual or a group of research subjects at a given time.

According to information sources

17. Primary research

This type of fundamental research is defined by the fact that the data is collected directly from the source , that is, it consists of first-hand primary information.

18. Secondary research

Unlike primary research, secondary research is developed with information from secondary sources , which are generally based on scientific literature and other documents collected by another researcher.

Depending on how the data is obtained

19. Documentary

Documentary research, or secondary sources, is based on a systematic review of existing information sources on a particular topic. This type of scientific research is commonly used when conducting literature reviews or producing a case study.

20. Field

The field research study involves the direct collection of information in the place where the observed phenomenon occurs.

21. Laboratory

Laboratory research is carried out in a controlled environment in order to isolate a dependent variable and establish its relationship with other variables through scientific methods.

22. Mixed method: documentary, field and / or laboratory

Mixed research methodologies combine results from secondary (documentary) sources and primary sources through field or laboratory research.

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