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: careful study that is done to find and report new knowledge about something
: the activity of getting information about a subject
Research is a careful and detailed study into a specific problem, concern, or issue using the scientific method.
The systematic investigation into and study of materials and sources in order to establish facts and reach new conclusions:
Systematic investigative process employed to increase or revise current knowledge by discovering new facts. It is divided into
two general categories: (1) Basic research is inquiry aimed at increasing scientific knowledge, and (2) Applied research is effort aimed at using basic
research for solving problems or developing new processes, products, or techniques.
Careful study of a given subject, field, or problem, undertaken to discover facts or principles.
BASIC RESEARCH is concerned with knowledge for the sake of theory. Its design is not controlled by the practical usefulness of the findings.
APPLIED RESEARCH is concerned with showing how the findings can be applied or summarized into some type of teaching methodology.
PRACTICAL RESEARCH goes one step further and applies the findings of research to a specific "practical" teaching situation.
Applied vs Basic research. Applied research is research designed to solve a particular problem in a particular circumstance, such as determining the
cause of low morale in a given department of an organization. Basic research is designed to understand the underlying principles behind human
behavior. For example, you might try to understand what motivates people to work hard at their jobs. This distinction is discussed in more detail in
another handout. Click here to read it.
Exploratory vs Confirmatory. Exploratory research is research into the unknown. It is used when you are investigating something but really don't
understand it all, or are not completely sure what you are looking for. It's sort of like a journalist whose curiousity is peaked by something and just
starts looking into something without really knowing what they're looking for. Confirmatory research is where you have a pretty good idea what's
going on. That is, you have a theory (or several theories), and the objective of the research is to find out if the theory is supported by the facts.
Quantitative vs Qualitative. Quantitative studies measure variables with some precision using numeric scales. For example, you might measure a
person's height and weight. Or you might construct a survey in which you measure how much respondents like President Clinton, using a 1 to 10
scale. Qualitative studies are based on direct observation of behavior, or on transcripts of unstructured interviews with informants. For example, you
might talk to ten female executives about their the decision-making process behind their choice to have children or not, and if so, when. You might
interview them for several hours, tape-recording the whole thing, and then transcribe the recordings to written text, and then analyze the text.
Obtrusive research - where the researcher introduces conditions that influence participants. Where the researcher manipulates the environment. Nonobtrusive research - where researcher avoids influencing subjects in any way and tries to be as inconspicuous as possible.

Explanation - Possibly the most cited reason for conducting research is to use it to explain why something is occurring. Most often this
means identifying and explaining a problem facing the marketing organization. For example, marketers may seek to know why sales in a certain
geographic region are declining when it was forecasted to rise.

Prediction - Research is used to help assess a situation and predict what may happen in the future. This type of information is critical in
many marketing decisions such as forecasting demand for a new product. It is also used to predict what may happen if something is changed
such as a key marketing variable decision (e.g., effect on sales if price is changed).

Monitoring - Many decisions made by marketers must be monitored to insure that goals are being attained. A sales manger, for instance,
will look to monitoring research in order to track the performance of the sales force in meeting sales targets.

Discovery - Most marketers are continually on the look out for ways to improve their marketing efforts. Improvements may include such
things as new product options, ways to increase sales or decrease costs, promotional approaches that improve the companys image and many
more. Finding new opportunities is sometimes the result of luck but more often the marketer engages in research to locate these.

Hypothesis Testing - Finally, marketers use research to help test theories or gut feelings about some issues. For instance, a marketer may
suspect there is a difference between the purchasing habits of one type of customer as compared to another type. Hypothesis testing, which is at
the heart of scientific research, relies on statistical analysis to help evaluate a hypothesis. It should be noted that each of the previously described
purposes for doing research can also be undertaken as a hypothesis test. For example, a marketer looking to explain why sales are declining in a
certain region may have a gut feeling for why this is occurring and thus can combine explanation with hypothesis testing.

Social research serves many purposes. Three of the most common and useful purposes, however, are exploration, description, and
explanation. Many studies can and often do have more than one of these purposes, however each have different implications for other
aspects of research design.


A great deal of social research is conducted to explore a topic or familiarize oneself with a topic. This typically occurs when a researcher
becomes interested in a new topic or when the subject of study itself is relatively new.

Often times, exploratory research is done through the use of focus groups or small group discussions, which are frequently used in market

Exploratory studies are typically done for three purposes: to satisfy the researchers curiosity and desire for better understanding, to test the
feasibility of undertaking a more extensive study, and to develop the methods to be employed in any subsequent studies.

Exploratory studies can be extremely valuable in social research. They are essential when a researcher is breaking new ground and they
typically yield new insights into a topic for research. They are also a source for grounded theory.

Exploratory studies do have a few downsides, however. The main shortcoming is that they rarely provide satisfactory answers to research
questions, although they can hint at the answers and provide direction as to which research methods could provide definitive answers. The
reason why exploratory studies themselves are rarely definitive is because the people studied in exploratory research may not be typical of
the larger population of interest.

That is, the sample is likely not a representative one.


Another major purpose of social research is to describe situations and events. The researcher observes and then describes what he or she
observed. One great example of descriptive social research is the U.S. Census. The goal of the census is to describe accurately and
precisely several characteristics of the U.S. population, including race/ethnicity, age, sex, household size, income, etc.

Other examples of descriptive social research studies include the calculation of crime rates for various cities, the computation of age-gender
profiles of populations by demographers, and a product-marketing survey that describes who uses, or would use, a certain product.

Many qualitative studies set out with the primary goal of description. For example, anethnography might try to detail the culture of a
particular society. At the same time, however, such studies are rarely purely descriptive purposed. Researchers usually go on to
examine why the observed patterns exist and what the implications are.


A third major purpose of social research is to explain things. While descriptive studies attempt to answer the what, when, where, and how,
explanatory studies attempt to answer the why. For example, reporting the crime rates of different cities is descriptive. Identifying the
variables that explain why some cities have higher crime rates than others involves explanation. Likewise, reporting the frequency of
church attendance is descriptive, but reporting why some people attend church while others dont is explanatory.


While there are three distinct purposes of social science research, most studies will have elements of all three. For example, suppose a
researcher sets out to evaluate the effectiveness of a new form of psychotherapy. The study will have exploratory aspects as he or she
explores possible relevant variables and their effects on the therapy. The researcher will also likely want to describe things such as recovery
rate. In addition, he or she will likely want to explain why the new form of therapy works better for some types of people or problems than