Before I discuss about exploratory research methods, let me tell you what is exploratory research. It is performed to clarify ambiguous problems. It is carried out hoping that subsequent research will probably be needed to provide conclusive evidence.
The exploratory work provides background information needed to plan descriptive or explanatory research. Through exploratory research, researchers desire to generate hypotheses about what is going on in a situation. A hypothesis is a statement which explains how several variables are associated.
Different Methods of Exploratory Research Design
Following are the various exploratory research design techniques:
Review/Survey of concerned Literature: When the investigator proceeds on the path of research he has to take advantage of his predecessors. This technique will save time, cash, and effort. This kind of data can be obtained from professional research organisations, websites, newspapers, magazines, journals of the government, etc. Review and perusal of pertinent literature is very helpful for researcher. Apart from literature directly related to the problem in hand, the literature that is related to similar problems is also very useful. It helps in the formulation of the problem.
Experience Survey: Some people are great source of information. It is better to interview those individuals who know about the subject. The objectives of such survey is to obtain insight into the relationship between variables and new ideas relating to the research problem. The respondents picked are interviewed by the researcher. The researcher should prepare an interview schedule for the systematic questioning of informants. Thus an experience survey may enable the researcher to define the problem more consciously and help in the formulation of hypothesis. This survey may as well also offer information about the practical possibilities for doing different types of research. A number of interviews can be very costly. Well-trained interviewers demand high salaries; data are gathered from one respondent at a time; and, if recorded, audio/video recordings should be transcribed, coded, and examined. This method, however, can deliver important insights and more often than not is well worth the effort.
Analysis of Insight Stimulating Cases: This includes the study of one or a few situations. It is focused on complex situations and problems; this kind of situations occur when the interrelations of several individuals are important. In this method of Exploratory Research, some units are analyzed; each unit is called Case. Study of relationships between different factors of each case is more important and not the number. It is specifically helpful in situations where there is little experience to serve as a guide. Attitude of the investigator, the intensity of the investigator and the ability of the researcher to draw together diverse information into a unified interpretation are the main features which make this method a suitable procedure for evoking insights.
Focus Groups: This is certainly the most used method in research. In a focus group, only a few individuals (e.g., 8-12) are brought together to speak about some topic of interest. The dialogue is coordinated by a moderator. The majority of the organizations engaging in the focus groups, first screen the candidates to find out who will compose the particular group. Organizations also make sure to avoid groups, in which some of the participants have their relatives and friends, as this results in a one-sided discussion. Group interaction is the key factor that differentiates focus group interviews from experience survey that are conducted with one respondent at a time. Furthermore it is the key advantage of the focus group over the majority of exploratory techniques. Due to their interactive nature, ideas sometimes drop “out of the blue” in a focus group discussion.
Read Also: Types of Exploratory Research
In this article, we have discussed about the methods of exploratory research design in brief. Researchers utilize this technique when little is understood about the topic and previous theories or ideas do not apply.