Types of research in academia

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  • Updated.jpg 24 June 2017


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What are the main types of research in academic circles?

Research can be classified in many different ways on the basis of the methodology of research. The knowledge it creates, the user group, the research problem it investigates etc,.

Basic research

The research which is done for knowledge enhancement, the research which does not have immediate commercial potential. The research which is done for human welfare, animal welfare and plant kingdom welfare. It is called basic,pure,fundamental research. The main motivation is to expand man's knowledge, not to create or invent something. There is no obvious commercial value to the discoveries that result from basic research. Basic research lay down the foundation for the applied research. Dr.G.Smoot says “people cannot foresee the future well enough to predict what is going to develop from the basic research” Eg:-how did the universe begin?

Applied research

Applied research is designed to solve practical problem of the modern world, rather than to acquire knowledge for knowledges sake. The goal of applied research is to improve the human condition. It focus on analysis and solving social and real life problems. This research is generally conducted on large scale basis, it is expensive. As such, it often conducted with the support of some financing agency like government , public corporation , world bank, UNICEF, UGC,Etc,. According to hunt, “applied research is an investigation for ways of using scientific knowledge to solve practical problems” for example:- improve agriculture crop production, treat or cure a specific disease, improve the energy efficiency homes, offices, how can communication among workers in large companies be improved? Applied research can be further classified as problem oriented and problem solving research.

Problem oriented research:- research is done by industry apex body for sorting out problems faced by all the companies. Eg:- WTO does problem oriented research for developing countries, in india agriculture and processed food export development authority (APEDA) conduct regular research for the benefit of agri-industry.

Problem solving:-this type of research is done by an individual company for the problem faced by it. Marketing research and market research are the applied research. For eg:- videocon international conducts research to study customer satisfaction level, it will be problem solving research. In short, the main aim of applied research is to discover some solution for some pressing practical problem.

Quantitative research

This research is base on numeric figures or numbers. Quantitative research aim to measure the quantity or amount and compares it with past records and tries to project for future period. In social sciences, “quantitative research refers to the systematic empirical investigation of quantitative properties and phenomena and their relationships”. The objective of quantitative research is to develop and employ mathematical models, theories or hypothesis pertaining to phenomena.

The process of measurement is central to quantitative research because it provides fundamental connection between empirical observation and mathematical expression of quantitative relationships. Statistics is the most widely used branch of mathematics in quantitative research. Statistical methods are used extensively with in fields such as economics and commerce.

Quantitative research involving the use of structured questions, where the response options have been Pre-determined and large number of respondents is involved.eg:-total sales of soap industry interms of rupees cores and or quantity interms of lakhs tones for particular year, say 2008,could be researched, compared with past 5 years and then projection for 2009 could be made.

Qualitative research

Qualitative research presents non-quantitative type of analysis. Qualitative research is collecting, analyzing and interpreting data by observing what people do and say. Qualitative research refers to the meanings, definitions, characteristics, symbols, metaphors, and description of things. Qualitative research is much more subjective and uses very different methods of collecting information,mainly individual, in-depth interviews and focus groups.

The nature of this type of research is exploratory and open ended. Small number of people are interviewed in depth and or a relatively small number of focus groups are conducted. Qualitative research can be further classified in the following type.

  1. Phenomenology:-a form of research in which the researcher attempts to understand how one or more individuals experience a phenomenon. Eg:-we might interview 20 victims of bhopal tragedy.
  2. Ethnography:- this type of research focuses on describing the culture of a group of people. A culture is the shared attributes, values, norms, practices, language, and material things of a group of people. Eg:-the researcher might decide to go and live with the tribal in Andaman island and study the culture and the educational practices.
  3. Case study:-is a form of qualitative research that is focused on providing a detailed account of one or more cases. Eg:-we may study a classroom that was given a new curriculum for technology use.
  4. Grounded theory:- it is an inductive type of research,based or grounded in the observations of data from which it was developed; it uses a variety of data sources, including quantitative data, review of records, interviews, observation and surveys
  5. Historical research:-it allows one to discuss past and present events in the context of the present condition, and allows one to reflect and provide possible answers to current issues and problems. Eg:-the lending pattern of business in the 19th century.

In addition we have descriptive research. Fundamental research, of which this is based on establishing various theories. Research can be classified into:

  1. Descriptive research
  2. Analytical research
  3. Fundamental research
  4. Conceptual research
  5. Empirical research
  6. One time research or longitudinal research
  7. Field-setting research or laboratory research or simulation research
  8. Clinical or diagnostic research
  9. Exploratory research
  10. Historical research
  11. Conclusion-oriented research
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