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A Quick Guide to Descriptive Research

Published by at August 16th, 2021 , Revised On August 29, 2023

Descriptive research is carried out to describe current issues, programs, and provides information about the issue through surveys and various fact-finding methods.

It includes co-relational and comparative methods of research. Descriptive research has an essential role in sociological and psychological studies. It follows the Ex post facto research, which predicts the possible reasons behind the situation that has already occurred.

It describes the existing theory and discovers new facts about it. It is conducted to solve a problem and answer a specific question.

Descriptive research covers everything that can be counted and studied.

Example: The widespread of contaminated diseases in a specific area of the town. Investigation reveals that there is no trash removal system in that area. A researcher can hypothesise the reason that the improper trash removal system leads to the widespread of contaminated disease.


What is the Purpose of Descriptive Research?

Descriptive research is used to

  • To observe, describe, and explain any hypothesis or situation related to a specific individual, situation, or group of people.
  • To describe characteristics.
  • To measure the percentage of units.
  • To determine the perception of the product category.
  • To determine the degree of the associated variables.

Examples of Descriptive Research

  • Why do engineers leave the profession?
  • What is the level of job satisfaction with the career of engineering students?
  • What are the symptoms of Coronavirus?

Descriptive Research Methods

Descriptive research uses both qualitative and quantitative methods. Some of the essential methods are discussed below:

Analysing Secondary Data

A researcher can use the existing information collected by others as the base of new research to answer a question and describe the phenomena.


Surveys can be conducted online and offline, depending on the requirement and sample size of the participants. It includes a questionnaire, including open-ended and closed-ended questions.


It is the most effective descriptive method of research. Quantitative observation aims at observing the volume, weight, shape, age, height, and scale of an entity. At the same time, qualitative observation monitors the characteristics of the participants. A researcher can also act as a participant.

Case Study

It includes in-depth study, investigation, and data collection from multiple sources over time. A case study is widely used in social sciences to study the underlying information, organisation, community, or event. It does not provide any solution to the problem. Researchers cannot act as the participants of the research. The results may not be accurate due to the incorrect response of the participants.

Research Design

A research design is an outline of the procedure of the research. It depends on the aim and nature of the study and includes:

  • Methods of data collection
  • Tools used for data collection
  • Methods of data analysis

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Advantages and Disadvantages of Descriptive Research



  • It uses both qualitative and quantitative methodologies.
  • It can be carried out without informing the participants about the research to behave naturally as they usually act in their day-to-day life.
  •   It is inexpensive and time-saving.
  •  It collects an ample amount of data and documents it.
  • It focuses on solving the problem rather than inventing new theories.
  • It requires more skills.
  • It doesn’t find out the reason behind a situation, problem, or phenomena.
  • It includes a low response rate of the participants.
  • A researcher cannot control its variables and can report only about the current situation and its occurring.
  •  It doesn’t invent new theories and methods.
  • The results may vary over time.

Frequently Asked Questions

To start descriptive research:

  1. Define your research question.
  2. Select the target population.
  3. Choose data collection methods (surveys, observations, etc.).
  4. Develop a structured plan.
  5. Collect and analyze data.
  6. Interpret and present findings objectively.

About Carmen Troy

Avatar for Carmen TroyTroy has been the leading content creator for ResearchProspect since 2017. He loves to write about the different types of data collection and data analysis methods used in research.