Types of research

1. Basic research
It is also referred to as pure or fundamental research. It is a type of research which is characterized by a desire to know or to expound the frontiers of knowledge. It is research based on the creation of new knowledge. It is mainly theoretical and for advancement of knowledge. Basic researchers are interested in deriving scientific knowledge which will be a broad base for further research. The main purpose for conducting this research is to generate more information and understanding the phenomena that operate in a situation. The aim is not usually to apply findings, to solve an immediate problem but rather to understand more about a certain phenomenon and expound that knowledge. Another focus of basic research is to generate new knowledge in order to refine or expand existing theories. However, there is no consideration of the practical applications of the findings to actual problems or situations. Such research does however often lead to further research of the practical nature and may in fact provide the very basis of this further research.

2. Applied Research
The type of research which is conducted for purpose of improving present practice, normally applied research is conducted for the purposes of applying or testing theory and evaluating its usefulness in solving problems. Applied research provides data to support theory or suggest the development of new theories. It is the research done with the intention of applying the results of its findings to solve specific problems, currently being experienced in an Organization.

3. Action Research
This is a small scale intervention in the functioning of the real world and a close examination of the effects of such interventions. Action research is normally situational and it is concerned with diagnosing a problem in a specific context and attempting to solve it in that context. Normally action research is conducted with the primary intention of solving a specific, immediate and concrete problem in a local setting. Action research is not concerned with whether the results of the study are generalized to other settings, since its major goal is to seek a solution to a given problem. Action research is limited in its contribution to theory, but it is useful because it provides answers to problems that cannot wait for theoretical solutions.

4. Descriptive Research
A descriptive study is undertaken in order to ascertain and be able to describe the characteristics of variables in a situation. Quite often descriptive studies are undertaken in organizations in order to learn about and describe characteristics of employees. E.g. Education level, job status, length of service etc. The most prevalent method of gathering information in a descriptive study is the questionnaire.
Others include: interviews, job analysis, documentary analysis etc. Descriptive statistics such as the mean, standard, deviation, frequencies, percentages are used in the analysis of descriptive research.

5. Correlational Research
Correlation research is descriptive in that it cannot presume a cause-and-effect relationship. It can only establish that there is an association between two or more traits or performance. This involves collecting data to determine whether a relationship exists between two or more quantifiable variables. The main purpose of correlation research is to describe the nature of the relationship between the two variables. Correlational research helps in identifying the magnitude if the relationship.

Many techniques have been devised to provide us with numerical representations of such relationships and these are known as measures of association. The most commonly used measures of association are two:

  • Pearson‘s product moment of coefficients.
  • Spearman‘s rank order correlation.

Correlational techniques are generally intended to answer 3 questions:
1. Is there a relationship between the two variables?
2. If the answer is Yes, what is the direction of the relationship (nature of relationship) (- or +)
3. What is the magnitude of the relationship?

6. Casual Research
A casual study is one which is done to establish a definitive ‗cause‘ ‗effect‘ relationship among variables. In this type of research, the researcher is keen to delineating one or more factors that are certainly causing the problem. The intention of the researcher conducting a casual study is to be able to state that variable X cause‘s variable Y to change. A casual study is more effective in a situation where the researcher has already identified the cause of the problem. However, this type of a design is limiting in that quite often, especially in an Organization, there are a multiple cases of a problem which are linked to many factors i.e. Does a pay rise cause higher productivity?

7. Historical Research
This is the systematic and objective location and synthesis of evidence in order to establish facts and draw conclusions about past events. The act of historical research involves the identification and limitation of a problem of an area of study which is based on past events. The researcher aims to:

  • Locate as many pertinent sources of information as possible concerning the specific problem.
  • Then analyze the information to ascertain its authenticity and accuracy, and then be able to use it to generalize on future occurrences.

Historical research is important because:

  • It enables solutions to contemporary problems to be solved in the past.
  • Historical research throws light on present and future trends.
  • Historical research allows for the revelation of data in relation to select hypothesis, theories and generalizations that are presently held about the past.

Ability of history to employ the past, to predict the future and to use the present to explain the past gives historical research a dual and unique quality which makes is exceptionally useful for all types of scholarly study and research.

8. Experimental Research
In experimental research, the investigator deliberately controls and manipulates the conditions which determine the events to which he is interested. It involves making a change in the value of one variable (the independent variable) and observing the effect of that change on another variable (the dependent variable). In experimental design, the independent variable is a stimulus i.e., it is stimulated while the dependent variable is responsive. If all extraneous factors can be successfully controlled then the researcher can presume that changes in the dependent variable are due to the independent variable.

9. Longitudinal Studies

These are designed to permit observations over an extended period. For example, analyses of newspaper editorials overtime. Three special type of longitudinal studies should be noted here:

  • Trend Studies: are those that study changes within some general population over time. i.e. a series of opinion polls during the course of an election campaign, showing trends in the relative strengths and standing of different candidates.
  • Cohort Studies: examine more specific subpopulations (cohorts) as they change overtime. Typically a cohort is an age group, such as those people born during the 1920s, people who got married in 1964, and so forth. An example of cohort study would be a series of national surveys, conducted perhaps every ten years, to the study the economic attitudes of the cohort born during the early 1960s. A sample of persons 20-25 years of age might be surveyed in 1970, another sample of those 30-35 years of age in 1980, and another sample of those 30-35 years of age in 1970, and another sample of those 40-45 years of age in 1990. Although the specific set of people studied in each of these surveys would be different, each sample would represent the survivors of the cohort born between 1960 and 1964
  • Panel Studies: are similar to trend and cohort studies except that the same set of people is studied each time. One example would be a voting study in which the same sample of voters are interviewed every month during an election campaign and asked for whom they intended to vote for. Such a study would not only make it possible to analyse overall trends in voter preferences for different candidates, but would have the added advantage of showing the precise patterns of persistence and change in intentions.
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