Science and its types of research are the invisible engine of society. Thanks to technological advances and knowledge, the human being has managed to go further than he could ever have imagined (literally and figuratively).
In this article we are going to discover the different types of research that exist in science depending on how they are classified. From the difference between quantitative or qualitative research, to cross-sectional and longitudinal research , among others.
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Why different types of research
The existence of so many types of research is no accident. Among the reasons that explain this fact we find, for example, the different objects of study, since a research on physics is not the same as one on psychology; that is, the type of object of study influences the design of the investigation.
The type of variables used to carry out the study is also a very important factor that conditions the entire investigation and its course. This can make us end up choosing a qualitative research instead of a quantitative one (or vice versa).
The amount of information that is available also has to do with using one type of research or another, opting more strongly for an exploratory investigation instead of an explanatory one, as we will see below.
Be that as it may, before carrying out any type of research we must ask ourselves a series of questions to shape our theoretical framework and select the characteristics of the research according to the following types.
Types of investigation according to depth
It is not the same to seek knowledge about the causes, than a description of the facts. Depending on this we will have the following types of research:
1. Exploratory research
This type of research is especially used when the object of study is not yet highly known, so a first approach is made. This allows for a more general and flexible approach .
2. Descriptive research
The main objective of this type of research is to describe the object of study without establishing causality or underlying effects. It would be a form of detailed and complete observation.
3. Explanatory Research
In this case, the explanatory research does seek to know why events happen. Therefore, the ultimate goal is to establish causality.between the studied variables as well as to determine which is its directionality and to what extent they correlate and influence each other.
Types of research according to the goal
There are two types of research depending on the final objective or goal of the same.
4. Theoretical research
It is not usually very frequent, since science needs financing and this is achieved by developing practical knowledge (and not purely theoretical), however, there is this type of research whose objective is not to carry out discoveries, but simply acquire them.
Theoretical physics and some branches of mathematics are examples of this type of research.
5. Applied research
Unlike the previous one, it is the most frequent and aims to make useful discoveries for society that have a practical and applicable value. They can be anything from curing a disease to devising a new, greener method of transportation.
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Types of research according to the variables
The variables chosen for an investigation are one of the most important elements. It will depend on them that the investigation is of three types.
6. Experimental research
Allows absolute or almost absolute control of the variables . These variables allow in turn to replicate certain phenomena and establish very strong cause and effect relationships.
It is the most used method in science, or at least, the most desired, but its application in areas such as medicine or psychology normally seems difficult .
7. Quasi-experimental research
In this type of research there is also a control of the variables but it is less than the experimental research. Anyway, it throws some useful information and some clues about a possible causality of the events .
research Allows mostly descriptive research, since it does not control the variables studied. A large number of statistical studies on the population that look for correlations between different variables are examples of it.
Types of research according to the data
Along with the variables and the type of sample, the data that we are going to handle are also of the utmost importance.
9. Qualitative research
This type of research works withnon-quantifiable mathematical data (at least a priori). It usually allows very useful and varied information to be obtained, but not as generalizable as in the following type of research.
10. Quantitative Research
The ability to measure data and apply various types of mathematical and statistical calculations will be the foundation of all quantitative research. This type of research gives very generalizable data (although it will depend on more factors).
Types of research according to the logical method
The logical process that is followed until conclusions are drawn from the results obtained through different inference mechanisms, allows us to classify the types of research in these three cases.
11. Deductive method
A deduction is to draw conclusions through hypotheses (proved or refuted).
12. Inductive method
The main difference between induction and deduction is that the former does not always start from proven premises , which gives the investigation little support and value.
method The method used in science. It begins with the creation of hypotheses through (normally) the observation of phenomena, to later check if these hypotheses are true or false.
Types of research according to temporality
The investigations can be carried out at a specific moment in time or be extended. This, together with the type of sample selected, gives us the following types of research.
14. Longitudinal research
Consists of collecting data over time (days, months, years…) from a specific sample. In the case of people, they can be evaluated, for example, once a week for 1 year .
This type of research can also be done with many other elements, as long as the passage of time plays a role in the research, which can also happen when evaluating cells, animals, or even buildings.
15. Cross-sectional research Cross-sectional
research collects all the data at a specific moment in time. The sample can be homogeneous or heterogeneous.
For example, on May 5, 2000, data was taken from a group of people and the data was compared with each other.
16. Sequential investigation
It is the combination of the previous two , so we could say that a cross-sectional investigation would be carried out, but several times over time.
What type of research is better?
One of the central pillars of the scientific method is the acquisition of information, always starting from known facts. This forces all types of research to be necessary for the scientific process .
For knowledge on any subject to be solid, we must carry out all kinds of research in the most diverse ways and see if the results coincide and/or complement each other. Otherwise, it will mean that we are not on the right track.
That is why none of these types of research have preference, greater importance or are “better”; all are necessary and allow us to get closer to the truth.
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