Types of research

Types of research

Types of research Research types are the different approaches and modalities that we can use to conduct research. As the main tool to expand knowledge , research is used for the purpose of describing, discovering or making predictions about phenomena, events, relationships, among others.

The different types of investigations depend on the type of question or problem to be solved.

Types of researchNameExamples
According to the purposeBasicResearch to determine the radius of the proton.
AppliedThe study of the immune response against a certain pathogen.
According to the resultCorrelationalThe correlation between smoking mothers and children with asthma.
DescriptiveThe description of a case of Progeria, children who are aging rapidly.
According to the main sourceObservationalThe study of gorilla behavior in the Borneo rainforest.
ExperimentalThe effect of compound X on blood glucose levels.
Documentary filmThe study of fatal accidents and their causes in oil companies from 2010 to 2020.
According to the research methodQuantitativeThe study of the effect of alcohol on the blood pressure of adults between 30 and 60 years.
QualitativeThe study of the satisfaction levels of users of a cable television service.
MixedThe evaluation of the state of well-being and physical activity of the employees of a company.
According to the study timeCrossInvestigation of the length of the incubation period of a viral disease.
LongitudinalThe ten-year study of cardiovascular risk factors in a certain population.
According to the academic areaScientificResearch on the protein that serves as a proton entry into a cell.
SocialThe impact of social isolation on the economy.
JournalisticThe journalistic investigation on corruption in the “Panama papers”.
CriminalThe search for a serial killer.
According to the disciplines involvedInterdisciplinaryBiological anthropology.
MultidisciplinaryEffect of parasites on the allergy status of minors.
TransdisciplinaryOrthodontics in adults

Types of research according to purpose

Basic or fundamental research

Basic research is aimed at investigating abstract or intricate subjects whose depth and results seem to have no applications of immediate importance for society. For example, studying elementary particles like neutrinos and antineutrinos in physics.

Applied research

In applied research, the main purpose is to find solutions that have a short or medium term applicability . For example, the study of the immune response against a pathogen to produce a vaccine that can protect against infection.

Types of research according to the results

Correlational research

In this investigation the goal is to determine if two or more variables are related . A variable is a characteristic of interest that can change between individuals, such as weight, temperature, state of health, and many others.

However, correlational research does not allow to determine the causes with respect to the correlations. For example, there is a correlation between children with asthma and mothers who smoked during pregnancy; however this does not mean that asthma in children is caused by their parents’ smoking habit.

Descriptive research

Descriptive research seeks to define, classify, or categorize a phenomenon . It is a type of non-experimental research, where the researcher has no control over the events, variables or environments of the study. In addition, it does not explain why this phenomenon occurs.

Within descriptive research we can have different classes:

  • Case study (s) : a detailed description of a person or a few people is made. For example, when investigating a rare disease in a person.
  • Naturalistic observation: observation of organisms in their natural environment without the researcher interfering or establishing any interaction. For example, Jane Goodall’s research on chimpanzees since the 1970s.
  • Survey Studies – Tackles a large number of people and asks them about their opinions, attitudes, or behaviors. For example, product marketing studies where a large group of people are surveyed about it.
  • Focus groups: they are structured and organized groups to discuss a topic during a specific time. For example, groups of teachers to analyze the teaching strategies of the mathematics curriculum in high school.

Types of research according to the method

Quantitative investigation

It is research that uses data that can be statistically measured and analyzed. For example, to determine which genes are related to a disease, genetic tests are done on patients and their healthy relatives to determine where the differences or mutations lie.

Qualitative research

It is research that does not involve numerical measurements. Qualitative studies are carried out through interviews or observations. For example, marketing studies for the degree of acceptance of a certain brand of toothpaste.

Mixed investigation

When quantitative and qualitative methods are combined in an investigation, we speak of mixed investigation. An example is the study carried out by Thøgersen-Ntoumani and Fox to investigate the physical activity and well-being of the employees of a company. The quantitative part consisted of the measurement of physical activity while the qualitative analysis was carried out through interviews.

Types of research according to the study time of the object

Cross-sectional research

Cross-sectional research is the study of a phenomenon over a certain period of time . It is characterized by showing “like a photograph” the state of the phenomenon. For example, if you want to answer the question of how health services are used during an epidemic in a region, a cross-sectional investigation is designed.

Longitudinal investigation

A longitudinal investigation spans a long period of time with the intention of studying a case or a group of cases. For this, multiple measurements are taken for each participant and then the evolution is compared.

For example, the ROOTS study lasted 10 years from 2005 to 2015 evaluating the mental health of more than 1000 adolescents, from 14 to 17 years of age.

Types of research according to sources

Observational research

The research is based on the observations that the researcher makes , without intervening in what he is observing. For example, anthropologists to study the customs and traditions of a certain population are based on what they can observe of their behavior.

Experimental research

In experimental research the variables are manipulated and the results are compared with the appropriate controls . In this type of study, the researcher modifies in a controlled way the conditions that can affect a given phenomenon, and from there he draws his conclusions.

For example, to determine the effect of a compound on blood glucose levels, said compound is administered in different concentrations to a group of individuals. The blood glucose results are compared to individuals who did not receive the compound.

documentary research

Documentary research bases its conclusions on documents , which can be printed or audiovisual. For example, to analyze the causes of fatalities in oil companies, records of such events kept by companies are used.

Types of research according to academic area

Scientific investigation

Scientific research addresses issues associated with natural sciences, such as physics, biology, chemistry, among others, where the scientific method is applied , an objective systematic procedure that consists of testing the hypotheses that can explain a certain observed phenomenon .

For example, insects or other animals that feed on sucking the blood of other animals must have some mechanism to prevent clotting. This observation has led to hundreds of studies looking in the saliva of these bloodsuckers for compounds that can be used as anticoagulants.

Social investigation

Social science research is typically based on observing the behaviors of human populations . The social sciences include sociology, anthropology, political science, psychology, and education, among others. They generally rely on qualitative or mixed methods, case studies, and documentation.

Investigation criminal

Criminalistics carries out actions to discover the background of a crime or crime . For example, the investigation of corporate or “white collar” crimes, crimes generally committed by people of high socioeconomic status, who act illegally to obtain economic and / or social benefits.

Journalistic investigation

Within journalism, investigations are also carried out that seek to discover information that is not visible to the general public.

For example, journalist Brian Deer in 2004 highlighted work failures that linked the measles, rubella, and mumps vaccine to autism.

Types of research according to the disciplines involved

Interdisciplinary research

Interdisciplinary research merges knowledge from one discipline to gain knowledge from a different discipline. Fusion can be seen in some cases as a new discipline. For example, biological anthropology that studies the human being as a biological entity.

Multidisciplinary research

In multidisciplinary research, various disciplines are complemented that contribute their particular knowledge in solving a problem. For example, to discover the reasons why older male adults had a higher mortality rate from a certain disease, immunologists, geriatricians, geneticists, hematologists, and bioinformaticians came together.

Transdisciplinary research

In transdisciplinary research, collaboration between disciplines is established in such a way that new models and innovations are created to solve a common problem. For example, in the investigation of the relationship between cancer and energy, biology, genetics and genomics of energy balance are combined with the contribution of psychology, nutrition and oncology.