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Descriptive Research: Defining Your Respondents and Drawing Conclusions

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In other words, descriptive research can be said to have a low requirement for internal validity. The description is used for frequencies , averages and other statistical calculations.

Often the best approach, prior to writing descriptive research, is to conduct a survey investigation. Qualitative research often has the aim of description and researchers may follow-up with examinations of why the observations exist and what the implications of the findings are.

In addition, the conceptualizing of descriptive research categorization or taxonomy precedes the hypotheses of explanatory research.

Descriptive research is also known as Statistical Research. 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.

Ilkka Niiniluoto has used the terms "descriptive sciences" and "design sciences" as an updated version of the distinction between basic and applied science. FluidSurveys is no longer offering access, signups or payments to its service as of December 15, Visit our Help Center. So far we have had an overview of the 3 main types of survey research and gave an in depth look at exploratory research. Descriptive research is conclusive in nature, as opposed to exploratory.

This means that descriptive research gathers quantifiable information that can be used for statistical inference on your target audience through data analysis. As a consequence this type of research takes the form of closed-ended questions , which limits its ability to provide unique insights.

However, used properly it can help an organization better define and measure the significance of something about a group of respondents and the population they represent.

When it comes to online surveying, descriptive is by far the most commonly used form of research. But another common use of descriptive research would be the surveying of demographical traits in a certain group age, income, marital status, gender, etc.

This information could then be studied at face value, measuring trends over time, or for more advanced data analysis like drawing correlations, segmentation, benchmarking and other statistical techniques. The trick to conducting any type of research is to gain only valuable information.

In the case of online surveying, your collected data should allow you to take action on a particular problem or opportunity facing your organization. This is why it is essential to create research objectives before you jump into your survey design! Research objectives identify exactly what you are trying to discover in order to make educated decisions on the issues facing your organization.

They could divide their research objectives based different aspects of their site, like navigation, quality of information, and aesthetics.

The next step to effective descriptive research is to ensure your results accuracy. This stems from limiting bias and error in your surveying design and research method. With sample surveys, error is unavoidable. That being said, it is important to control your margin of error and confidence levels by having a proper survey sample size. Check out our Survey Sample Size Calculator to learn how many responses you need for your research.

Avoiding bias can be a bit more challenging because there are so many different types. Bias can stem from the researcher, survey structure and respondent.


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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.

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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 can be explained as a statement of affairs as they are at present with the researcher having no control over variable. Moreover, “descriptive studies may be characterised as simply the attempt to determine, describe or identify what is, while analytical research attempts to establish why it is that way or how it came to be” [1]. Descriptive research Although some people dismiss descriptive research as ‘mere descrip- tion’, good description is fundamental to the research enterprise and it.

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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. 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.