There are many ways to categorize the different types of research. For example, research in different fields can be called different types of research, such as scientific research, social research, medical research, environmental research and so forth. The research methods that are used and purposes of the research also can be used to categorize the different types of research. A few of these types of research include quantitative and qualitative research; observational and experimental research; and basic, applied and developmental research.
Quantitative and Qualitative
Quantitative research is the collecting of objective numerical data. Features are classified and counted, and statistical models are constructed to analyze and explain the information that has been gathered. Some of the tools used for this type of research include questionnaires that are given to test subjects, equipment that is used to measure something and databases of existing information. The goal of quantitative research is to compile statistical evidence, so the questionnaires used in this method typically include yes-or-no questions or multiple-choice questions rather than open-ended questions such as essay questions.
Unlike quantitative research, qualitative research is subjective and seeks to describe or interpret whatever is being researched. Instead of numbers, this type of research provides information in the form of words or visual representations. It relies on the researcher to observe, record what happens, such as participants' answers to open-ended questions, subjects' behavior or the results of experiments. Case studies are common examples of qualitative research.
Observational and Experimental
Observational research is the collection of information without interference or input from the researcher. It is the examination of things as they naturally or inherently are. The researcher simply observes, measures or records what occurs. That information is then analyzed and used to draw conclusions.
This is in contrast with experimental research, in which the researcher sets the parameters or conditions and is able to change them to determine their effects. Experimental research often occurs in laboratories but can occur anywhere. It merely requires the researcher to be able to control one or more conditions of the experiment. This method helps researchers understand how certain variables — the different aspects or conditions that can change — can affect whatever it is they are studying.
Basic, Applied and Developmental
When the purpose of research is simply to reveal or discover what is true, it can be called basic research. This type of research involves exploring that which is not known or understood. Applied research is taking what is already known and looking for ways to use it, such as to solve problems. Developmental research is similar to applied research but focuses on using what is already known to improve products or existing technology or to create something new.