Descriptive Research Design – Overview

Published 16 October, 2023

Descriptive research is an observational method that focuses on identifying patterns in data without making inferences about cause and effect relationships between variables. The purpose of this blog post is to provide a brief description of descriptive research design including its advantages and disadvantages and methods of conducting descriptive research.

What is Descriptive Research?

Descriptive research is a process of systematically describing and analyzing something’s features, properties or characteristics. Descriptive research provides numerical descriptions that identify what the thing being studied looks like in terms of its size, location, and frequency.

This type of research will help you in defining the characteristics of the population on which you have performed the study. A descriptive research design enables you to develop an in-depth understanding of the topic or subjects.  In such a type of investigation, you can’t have control over variables.

By performing descriptive research, you will be able to study participants in a natural setting. Descriptive research basically includes describing the behavior of people to whom you have select as a participant in the research process.

In addition to this, descriptive research also allows you to describe the other various aspects of your investigation.  An important feature is that you can employ different types of variables but you only need a single variable for performing the descriptive investigation.
It is a type of study which includes observation as a technique for gathering facts about the study. You can perform descriptive research for analyzing the relationship between two different variables.

For example, A company whose sale of specific products such as home decor products is going down. Management, in order to analyze the reason for the same, needs to conduct descriptive research. Survey Research is the data collection technique that a research team in an organization can use for collecting the view of people about the decline in the sale of home décor products.

When to Use Descriptive Research Design

Descriptive research is suitable when the aim of the study is to identify characteristics, frequencies, trends, categories, and the behavior of people.

In addition to this, the descriptive research design is appropriate to use when you don’t have much knowledge about the research topics or problems.

This type of study can be used before you start researching why something happens so that we have an idea on how it occurs, where are most likely places this will happen at and who might experience these things more often than others.

Advantages of Descriptive Research

  • One of the biggest advantages of descriptive research is that it allows you to analyze facts and helps you in developing an in-depth understanding of the research problem.
  • Another benefit of descriptive research is that it enables you to determine the behavior of people in a natural setting.
  • In such a type of investigation, you can utilize both qualitative and quantitative research methods for gathering facts.
  • Descriptive research is cost-effective and quick. It can also be used for many different purposes, which makes it a very versatile method of gathering data.
  • You need less time for performing such types of research.
  • With descriptive research, you can get rich data that’s great for future studies. Use it to develop hypotheses or your research objective too!

Disadvantages of Descriptive Research

  • The biggest disadvantage of descriptive research is that you cannot use statistical tools or techniques for verifying problems.
  • Respondents can be affected by the presence of an observer and may engage in pretending. This is called the “observer effect.” In some cases, respondents are less likely to give accurate responses if they feel that a question will assess intimate matters.
  • There are high chances of biases in the research findings.
  • Due to the observational nature, it is quite difficult to repeat the research process.
  • By performing descriptive research you can find the root cause of the problem.

Methods of Descriptive Research Design

You can utilize both Qualitative and Quantitative methods for performing descriptive research. It is very much essential for you to make the choice of a suitable research design for investigation as the reliability and validity of the research outcomes are completely based on it.
There are three different methods that you can use in descriptive research are:

1. Survey

It is the method that includes a detailed description of the subject or topic. The survey is the method by utilizing which you can collect a huge volume of facts about the topic or subject.

You can use a survey technique for directly accumulating information about the perception of people about the topic. The methods which can be applied for performing a survey in descriptive research are questionnaires, telephonic and personal interviews. In descriptive studies, generally, open-ended questions are included in a questionnaire.

2. Observation

It is basically a technique that the researcher utilities for observing and recording participants. By utilizing this technique you can easily view the subject in a natural setting.

Observations are a way of gathering data that can be used to understand how people act in real-life situations. These observations give researchers the opportunity to see behaviors and phenomena without having them rely on honesty or accuracy from respondents, which is often useful for psychologists, social scientists, and market research companies. Furthermore, observations play an important role in understanding things such as physical entities before developing models hypotheses, or theories – because they provide systematic descriptions of what’s being investigated

For example, an investigation is performed for gathering information about the buying decision-making procedure by customers. The investigator for collecting the facts about the topic has observed people in shopping malls while they are making the purchase of specific products or services. By using the observation technique you can ensure the accuracy and honesty in the information provided by respondents.

3. Case study

You can use the case study methods in research for gathering an in-depth understanding of specific phenomena. It is the method that would enable you to study the situation which takes place rarely

Case studies are a great way to provide detailed information about an individual (such as yourself), group, event, or organization. Instead of gathering data across time and space in order to identify patterns, case studies gather extensive detailed data to identify the characteristics of a narrowly defined subject.

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