Descriptive research, as the name implies, is used to describe a phenomenon or a subject. Eventually, data can be gathered to study a specific audience or subject.


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The goal of descriptive research is to accurately and thoroughly describe a population, situation, or phenomenon. It can answer the questions of what, where, when, and how, but not why.


To investigate one or more variables, a descriptive research design can employ a wide range of research methods. In contrast to experimental research, the researcher does not control or manipulate any of the variables, but instead simply observes and measures them.


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When to use a descriptive research design 

When the goal of the research is to identify characteristics, frequencies, trends, and categories, descriptive research is an excellent choice.


It is useful when little is known about a topic or problem. Before you can investigate why something occurs, you must first understand how, when, and where it occurs.


Descriptive research question examples 

Here are a few examples: 


  1. Over the past 20 years, how has the property market in Amsterdam changed?

  2. Which product do clients of firm X like, X or Y?

  3. What fundamental distinctions exist between domestic cats and European wildcats in terms of genetics, behavior, and morphology?

  4. What news websites are the most favored by teenagers?

  5. How common is illness A in populace B?

  6. Market researchers might wish to look into consumer buying patterns.

  7. To determine whether students prefer utilizing online textbooks over paper ones, a school may use questionnaires.

  8. A school might seek to evaluate how pupils’ general fitness is affected by their physical activity levels.


Descriptive research methods 

Descriptive Methods are classified into three types: observational methods, case-study methods, and survey methods.

Descriptive Methods

Descriptive Methods are classified into three types: observational methods, case-study methods, and survey methods.


Observations allow you to collect data on behaviors and phenomena without having to rely on respondents’ honesty and accuracy. Psychological, social, and market researchers frequently employ this method to better understand how people behave in real-life situations.


Research in the natural sciences also heavily relies on observation of actual objects and phenomena. It’s important to observe and thoroughly explain the subject of your research before you can create testable hypotheses, models, or theories.


It involves:


  1. It entails observing and recording a group’s behavior in their natural environment.
  2. Typically, a researcher does not interact with the test subject.
  3. Cons: If the subjects are aware that they are being watched or observed, they may behave differently than usual.


Survey research collects large amounts of data that can be analyzed for frequencies, averages, and patterns. Surveys are commonly used for the following purposes:


  1. Defining a country’s or region’s demographics
  2. determining public opinion on political and social issues
  3. assessing customer satisfaction with a company’s or organization’s products or services
It involves:
  1. Ascertaining certain people’s opinions and behavior, usually by questioning a representative or a group of people
  2. A great way to gather a large amount of information 
  3. Cons: People may not be honest when answering the questionnaire 


Case Study 

A case study can be used to describe the features of a particular subject (such as a person, group, event or organization). Case studies collect detailed data to identify the characteristics of a narrowly defined subject rather than a large volume of data to identify patterns across time or location.


Case studies frequently concentrate on peculiar or interesting situations that test presumptions, add complexity, or provide fresh information about a study subject rather than attempting to convey generalizable facts.


It involves: 
  1. A thorough examination of a single person or a group of people.
  2. This method is useful when the situation is unusual or complex. It can provide valuable information for further research and serve as a foundation for other research applications.
  3. Cons: It cannot be applied to an entire population.


Descriptive studies are observational or correlational in nature; they are used to observe and describe a research subject or problem without interfering with or manipulating the variables in any way.


Descriptive research is essential in fields such as social science, psychology, and educational research. It has the potential to provide insights that would otherwise go unnoticed.


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