Difference Between Descriptive and Exploratory Research

Descriptive vs Exploratory Research

Research is one systematic activity that is undertaken by scholars, to help in widening our knowledge base in all fields of education. Research is undertaken in both social sciences as well as science subjects such as physics and biology. There are many different types of researches such as descriptive, exploratory, explanatory, and evaluation research that confuse humanity students because of similarities in these types. This article attempts to highlight the differences between descriptive and exploratory research for the benefit of the readers.

What is Descriptive Research?

As the name implies, a descriptive research is descriptive in nature and gathers statistics, which is later carefully studied to arrive at conclusions. In fact, descriptive research often leads to formulation of hypothesis as collation and analysis of data produces conclusions that form the basis of another research. So, if there is a research about the use of alcohol among teenagers, it typically begins with collection of data that is descriptive in nature and lets people know the age and drinking habits of students. Descriptive research is helpful for calculations and to arrive at statistical tools such as median, averages, and frequencies.

What is Exploratory Research?

Exploratory research is challenging in the sense that it tackles vaguely defined hypothesis and tries to find answers to questions. This kind of research is social in nature and requires some preliminary work in the direction of the research. In fact, sociologist Earl Babbie treats exploratory as the purpose of the research saying this kind of research proves to be useful when the hypothesis has yet not been formed or developed. There are certain basic premises that need to be tested at the start of an exploratory research. With the help of these hypotheses, the researcher hopes to arrive at more generalizations.

What is the difference between Descriptive and Exploratory Research?

• Descriptive research, being quantitative in nature, is restrictive in terms of open ended questions, which can be better answered using exploratory research.

• Flexibility of design is offered by exploratory research more than by descriptive research.

• Descriptive research is used more to arrive at statistical tools such as mean, average, median and frequency. On the other hand, exploratory research allows the researcher to develop designs that are more qualitative in nature.

• The amount of information known to the researcher at the start of the research plays an important role in deciding upon the type of research. With only vague ideas in the minds of the researcher, it is better to go for exploratory design. On the other hand, more information such as quantitative data allows a researcher to go for descriptive research that leads to unearthing causal relationships.

• Exploratory research needs to be conducted first to have a platform that allows for collation of data required in descriptive research.