Three Types of Research Design

Three Types of Research DesignA research design includes the process and methods used to carry out scientific research. There are numerous methods of classifying research designs, but often the distinction is artificial and other times different designs are combined. A research design is a framework or plan for a study employed as a guide in gathering and evaluating data.

What are the Types of Research Design ?

On the basis of the fundamental objectives, we can classify into the following major types of research designs:

Exploratory Research Design

The aim of exploratory research is to find out ideas and insights. Exploratory research is carried out to give a better understanding of a situation. It is not made to produce final answers or decisions. Through exploratory research, researchers wish to generate hypotheses about what is happening in a situation.

Exploratory research is meant to offer a background, to familiarize and, as the word implies, just “explore” the general subject. A part of exploratory research is the investigation of associations between variables without knowing why they’re studied. It borders on an idle curiosity approach, differing from it only in that the researcher thinks there may be a payoff in application somewhere in the forest of questions. Following are the major types of exploratory research:

  • Literature survey: One of the fastest and least expensive methods to discover hypotheses is to conduct a literature survey. Virtually all research projects should start here. It also familiarizes researcher with past results, data sources, and the type of data available.
  • Experience survey: It concentrates on individuals who are knowledgeable in the specific area. Representative samples are not desired. A covering of widely divergent views is much better. Researchers are not searching for conclusions; they are looking for ideas.
  • Focus Groups: It is a frequently used approach in research. In a focus group, only a few individuals are brought together to discuss some topic of interest to the focus group sponsor. The moderator tries to follow a rough outline of issues while at the same time having the comments made by each individual considered in group discussion.
  • Case Analyses: Usually, researchers can understand a lot about a situation by exploring carefully chosen examples or cases of the phenomenon. This is the essence of case analysis.

Descriptive Research Design

Descriptive research is quite common in business and other aspects of life. With a descriptive research we are generally aiming to describe some group of people or other entities.

For example, the characteristics of consumers of a specified product; the degree to which product use varies with income, age group, sex or other characteristics; or the number of individuals who saw a particular tv advertisement.

Descriptive research enables you to achieve a multitude of research objectives. Having said that, descriptive data become helpful for solving problems only if the process is guided by one or more specific research problems, much thought and effort, and quite often exploratory research to clarify the situation and create hypotheses. It enables both implicit and explicit hypotheses to be tested based on the research problem.

For instance, a breakfast cereal company may find its sales declining. Based on the market feedback the company may hypothesise that teens avoid eating its cereal in the morning. A descriptive study can then be designed to test this hypothesis.

Experimental Research Design

Experimenting refers to the process of research where one or more variables are altered under conditions that allow the collection of data which show the effects. Experiments create artificial situation so the researcher can get the particular data required and can study the data precisely.

In experiments the situations are generally made for testing purposes. This artificiality is the essence of the experimental technique, because it provides researchers additional control over the factors they are exploring. If they can control the factors that are found in a provided situation, they can obtain more definitive proof of cause and effect relationships between any two of them. Thus the capability to create a situation for the objective of observing and recording accurately the effect on one factor when another is intentionally modified makes it possible for researchers to accept or reject hypothesis beyond reasonable doubt.

In case the objective is to validate in a resounding way the cause and effect relationship between variables, then definitely experiments are far better than descriptive techniques.

Watch a video on Different Types of Research Design in Research Methodology

Research design supplies the glue which holds the research study together. A design is employed to structure the research. In this article we have discussed the about the three types of research design namely Exploratory, Descriptive and Experimental Research.


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