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Types of research and their characteristics

Research is one of the human resources that has made us evolve the most. Science relies on research to collect data, pose hypotheses and offer conclusions that can be refuted to continue advancing and improving.

These advances have offered us all the comforts that we enjoy today , and have caused us to increase our life expectancy. As we will see in this text, there are different types of research , each with its own characteristics and methodology.

We owe, without a doubt, to research that today we can better understand our planet and our existence. Although there are many things that we do not know, with the passage of time and scientific development we have made really surprising great advances .

That have required a lot of effort and a great investment of time. There are many researchers who dedicate their lives to make small contributions, with which the next generation will support each other to reach what is proposed one day.

We owe many improvements to research, however, in our complexity and lack of understanding towards everything that surrounds us in this world, there are more potholes to overcome those that appear, and the challenges continue to increase.

Depending on the objectives that we are considering, there is a type of investigation, so it is necessary to know what characteristics each one of them has. This is essential and indispensable for researchers starting with a new challenge within their scientific discipline.

What does it mean to investigate?

One of the main objectives of research is to try to discover something, in order to obtain data that helps generate new knowledge . For this, different strategies and actions are used.

The reality that we perceive is subjective, and through research we try to explain a certain reality so that it becomes something more objective. Through the explanation of a concrete reality, ways of solving certain fundamental questions for the human being can be determined . Research is therefore the basis of scientific knowledge. Although it cannot be said that all research meets the necessary scientific rigor.

Investigations comply with scientific rigor when they conform to certain axioms. For this, the objectives that are specified must be clear, so that the results can be replicated and therefore verified.

The results obtained must be analyzed with an objective method, taking into account all the variables, to control those that are possible and specify those that could not be controlled, depending on the phenomenon under study.

There are different perspectives from which it can be investigated, depending on the phenomenon of study, and the methods used to obtain the data. Depending on certain important characteristics, such as the object of study, its variables, the techniques used to obtain data, etc., we may be talking about different types of research ; which we will analyze below.

Types of research in relation to the objective

Depending on the purpose of the research we can find these different types:

Basic or pure research

The main purpose of this research is to increase the theoretical knowledge that we have. It is not necessarily interested in practical applications. Its objective is to make generalizations with the intention of establishing principles and laws, on which other investigations can be based.

Applied research

Unlike basic research, applied research is used to put your knowledge into practice. Since, generally, it aims to be of benefit to society , seeking important benefits, such as curing a disease.

Analytical research

It is used to compare the different variables between the study groups and the control groups. This is how the researcher proposes his hypotheses in order to corroborate or invalidate a fact.

Field research

It is a type of applied research, which serves to understand and solve a specific situation, problem or need in a certain context . We work in a natural environment so that the data to be collected is as less contaminated as possible. This type of research is mainly used in fields such as sociology, psychology and education , to analyze the structures that unfold in a daily and real context of the object to be analyzed.

Types of research based on their level of depth

The depth of each investigation may be different depending on one case or another, as we will see below:

Descriptive research

Also known as statistical research. Try to describe the data you get from the research to see what its impact is on people’s lives. So that it is possible to act in a preventive way in certain sectors of the population and in specific places.

Explanatory research

The objective is to know why a series of events occurs to determine a relationship between cause and effect. It is the most in-depth investigation since trying to find what are the reasons why something has occurred. So that both causes and consequences can be understood

Exploratory investigation

Its development is less deep, since the data is analyzed in a more superficial way. It serves to get an idea, with which to work and be expanded later.

Types of research depending on the manipulation of the variables

Depending on the data obtained and the manipulation of the variables, we find three different types of research:

Experimental research

The conditions in which the variable is manipulated are rigorously controlled . It is an experimental variable that has not yet been verified. The purpose is to describe the cause of why a specific event or situation occurs. The data are obtained through randomized samples so that they are representative of reality. Thus various hypotheses are obtained that can be contrasted and refuted.

You may also be interested in:   Experimental Psychology

Quasi-experimental research

Under this type of research, the variables to be studied cannot be randomized, so we work with intact groups, and although it is based on the scientific method, the variables cannot be rigorously controlled, due to their nature. In this type of research the validity of the hypotheses thus decreases.

Non-experimental research

The variables of this research cannot be controlled either, they occur in a situation and context where they can only be observed .

Types of research in relation to the time period of their study

Depending on the follow-up that is done on the study of the variables, we can be talking about one type or another:


Research on the comparison of certain characteristics of the different objects of study is done on a specific moment in time, in which all the subjects are present and are in the same period of time . The research does not provide any follow-up on the data that has been collected.


This type of research does offer a follow-up of the subjects who have participated in the research . In this way, you can see the evolution of the characteristics and variables that have been the object of study, over time.

Types of research based on inference

This classification refers to the method used to draw conclusions by inferring how reality works.

Inductive method

It is based exclusively on the observation and analysis of a concrete situation; from there the pertinent hypotheses, reasoning and conclusions are extracted. Although what is concluded cannot be generalized, since it does not have sufficient validity.

Deductive method

It is based on the study of reality, promoting the search for the verification or falsification of the basic premises that are going to be verified. Unlike the inductive method, the deductive method focuses on general laws to consider what will happen in a particular situation.

Hypothetico-deductive method

This is the method of the types of research that is considered really scientific. Hypotheses are extracted by the observed facts, through the induction method. These hypotheses are proven, falsified and refuted thanks to experimentation.

Types of research based on the type of data used

Depending on the type of data that is collected, these will be part of one type of investigation or another:

Qualitative data

The qualitative data belongs mainly to the investigations of the social sciences . Qualitative data is considered to be data that does not come from surveys and experiments. An attempt is made to establish possible relationships between the variables through discussion groups, open questions and observation . It has external validity problems since its data cannot be generalized to a certain population.

Quantitative data

Numerical data is used, to be able to make measurements and comparisons. These data can be processed under tools that belong to the field of statistics . Thanks to this data, the problem can be defined, limited and where it starts. These data are descriptive in nature, and allow researchers to predict behaviors and generalize to the population based on a significant sample.

Types of research according to the degree of interaction between disciplines

Depending on the relationship and interaction between disciplines, different types of research are also extracted:


Under this level of investigation between disciplines, the object to be studied is seen from different perspectives, which each analyze it separately, without reaching integration .


Thanks to this type of research, a methodological, theoretical and conceptual identity is created. The various disciplines interact with each other to provide more integrated and therefore more consistent results.


It goes much further than the previous types of interaction between disciplines. A working group is created in which the different disciplines converge, and they agree on a mutual epistemology for a deeper integration of the disciplines .

In conclusion about the types of research

These types of research that we have analyzed are the main classifications that can be made. As we have been able to verify, each type of research has its own peculiarities and characteristics , differing from each other. In this way, depending on the object to be analyzed, the field of study and the discipline to which we refer, we know that it will use specific types of research, according to its characteristics and objectives.

It is true that the scientific method can only be one, although as we have seen there are different ways of recognizing its practice or application to each investigation, in such a way that it can be classified in different ways .

The most objective research is that which is supported by quantitative data , which can be analyzed through traditional statistical tests. Although not all disciplines can use this data to conduct their research. This is why the social sciences inevitably use qualitative data, which, although they are less objective and less valid data, are the ones that best explain their object of study.

Depending on the area in which we are interested in investigating, the classification may be different. Since there are researchers who make a distinction between different types of sciences. For them there would be the so-called “sciences of spirit”: which allow us to know the human being with greater complexity, studying everything that makes us unique.

And there would be the branches of science that are called “natural sciences”: that study phenomena that can be measurable and directly observable, so that we can thus respond to universal laws. There are also the researchers who emphasize that there are no substantial differences between the different scientific disciplines, admitting that their differences exist at the ontological level. Therefore, their methodological differences would not necessarily be radical, they would simply be caused by the object of study to be analyzed.

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Hello Readers, I am Nikki Bella a Psychology student. I have always been concerned about human behavior and the mental processes that lead us to act and think the way we do. My collaboration as an editor in the psychology area of ​​Well Being Pole has allowed me to investigate further and expand my knowledge in the field of mental health; I have also acquired great knowledge about physical health and well-being, two fundamental bases that are directly related and are part of all mental health.

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