Types of scientific research
Research is a logical and systematic search for new and useful information on a particular topic. Research is important both in scientific and nonscientific fields. In our life new problems, events, phenomena and processes occur every day. Practically, implementable solutions and suggestions are required for tackling new problems that arise. Scientists have to undertake research on them and find their causes, solutions, explanations and applications.
The research is broadly classified into two main classes: 1. Fundamental or basic research and 2. Applied research. Basic and applied researches are generally of two kinds: normal research and revolutionary research. In any particular field, normal research is performed in accordance with a set of rules, concepts and procedures called a paradigm, which is well accepted by the scientists working in that field. In addition, the basic and applied researches can be quantitative or qualitative or even both (mixed research).
1. Fundamental or basic research:
Basic research is an investigation on basic principles and reasons for occurrence of a particular event or process or phenomenon. It is also called theoretical research. Study or investigation of some natural phenomenon or relating to pure science are termed as basic research. Basic researches sometimes may not lead to immediate use or application. It is not concerned with solving any practical problems of immediate interest. But it is original or basic in character. It provides a systematic and deep insight into a problem and facilitates extraction of scientific and logical explanation and conclusion on it. It helps build new frontiers of knowledge. The outcomes of basic research form the basis for many applied research.
- Seeks generalization
- Aims at basic processes
- Attempts to explain why things happen
- Tries to get all the facts
- Reports in technical language of the topic
2. Applied research:
In an applied research one solves certain problems employing well known and accepted theories and principles. Most of the experimental research, case studies and inter-disciplinary research are essentially applied research. Applied research is helpful for basic research. A research, the outcome of which has immediate application is also termed as applied research. Such a research is of practical use to current activity.
- Studies individual or specific cases without the objective to generalize
- Aims at any variable which makes the desired difference
- Tries to say how things can be changed
- Tries to correct the facts which are problematic
- Reports in common language
Basic and applied research, further divided into three types of research bearing some characteristics feature as follows:
- It is numerical, non-descriptive, applies statistics or mathematics and uses numbers.
- It is an iterative process whereby evidence is evaluated.
- The results are often presented in tables and graphs.
- It is conclusive.
- It investigates the what, where and when of decision making.
- It is non-numerical, descriptive, applies reasoning and uses words.
- Its aim is to get the meaning, feeling and describe the situation.
- Qualitative data cannot be graphed.
- It is exploratory.
- It investigates the why and how of decision making.
Mixed research- research that involves the mixing of quantitative and qualitative methods or paradigm characteristics. Nature of data is mixture of variables, words and images.
Other types of research
Exploratory research might involve a literature search or conducting focus group interviews. The exploration of new phenomena in this way may help the researcher’s need for better understanding, may test the feasibility of a more extensive study, or determine the best methods to be used in a subsequent study. For these reasons, exploratory research is broad in focus and rarely provides definite answers to specific research issues.
The objective of exploratory research is to identify key issues and key variables.
The descriptive research is directed toward studying “what” and how many off this “what”. Thus, it is directed toward answering questions such as, “What is this?”.
- Its primary goal is to understand or to explain relationships.
- It uses correlations to study relationships between dimensions or characteristics off individuals, groups, situations, or events.
- Explanatory research explains (How the parts of a phenomenon are related to each other).
- Explanatory research asks the “Why” question.
Research carried out longitudinally involves data collection at multiple points in time. Longitudinal studies may take the form of:
- Trend study- looks at population characteristics over time, e.g. organizational absenteeism rates during the course of a year
- Cohort study- traces a sub-population over time, e.g. absenteeism rates for the sales department;
- Panel study- traces the same sample over time, e.g. graduate career tracks over the period 1990 – 2000 for the same starting cohort.
While longitudinal studies will often be more time consuming and expensive than cross-sectional studies, they are more likely to identify causal relationships between variables.
One-shot or cross-sectional studies are those in which data is gathered once, during a period of days, weeks or months. Many cross-sectional studies are exploratory or descriptive in purpose. They are designed to look at how things are now, without any sense of whether there is a history or trend at work.
- Fact findings to improve the quality of action in the social world
- Reports employing this type of research focus on the question ‘How can problem ‘X’ be solved or prevented ?’
- It aims at categorization of units in to groups
- To demonstrate differences
- To explain relationships
- To identify similarities and differences between units at all levels
- It aims at establishing cause and effect relationship among variable
- It aims at testing validity of a unit
- To establish and formulate the theory
Last of all, it is needless to say that scientific research helps us in many ways:
- A research problem refers to a difficulty which a researcher or a scientific community or an industry or a government organization or a society experiences. It may be a theoretical or a practical situation. It calls for a thorough understanding and possible solution.
- Research provides basis for many government policies. For example, research on the needs and desires of the people and on the availability of revenues to meet the needs helps a government to prepare a budget.
- It is the fountain of knowledge and provide guidelines for solving problems.
- Only through research inventions can be made; for example, new and novel phenomena and processes such as superconductivity and cloning have been discovered only through research.
- It is important in industry and business for higher gain and productivity and to improve the quality of products.
- Research leads to a new style of life and makes it delightful and glorious.
- It leads to the identification and characterization of new materials, new living things, new stars, etc.
- Mathematical and logical research on business and industry optimizes the problems in them.
- Social research helps find answers to social problems. They explain social phenomena and seek solution to social problems.