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types of academic research


Research is an investigation conducted to seek knowledge and find the solution to the scientific and social problems. It includes the collection of information from various sources. New research can contribute to existing knowledge.

The types of research can be categorized from the following perspectives;

  • Application of the study
  • Aim of the research
  • Mode of inquiry
  • Research approach
Categories of ResearchTypes of Research
Types of research according to the application perspective
  • Basic research
  • Applied Research
Types of research according to the aims of the research
Types of research according to the mode of inquiry
Types of research according to the aims of the research approach
  •    Longitudinal research
  •    Cross-sectional research
  •    Conceptual research
  •    Empirical research

Types of Research According to the Application Perspective

Basic Research

Primary research is conducted to increase knowledge. It is also known as theoretical research, pure research, and fundamental research. It provides in-depth knowledge about the scientific and logical explanations and its conclusions.

The results of the primary research are used as the base of applied research. It is based on experiment and observation. The results of basic research are published in peer-reviewed journals.


  • What is global warming?
  • How did the Universe begin?
  • What do humans get stress?

Applied Research

Applied research is conducted to find solutions for practical problems. It uses the outcomes of basic research as its base. The results of applied research are applied immediately. It includes case studies, experimental research.

Finding the solution to control air pollution.

Descriptive Research

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. It follows the Ex post facto research, which predicts the possible reasons behind the situation that has already occurred.

A researcher cannot control its variables and can report only about the current situation and its occurring.

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

Analytical Research

In analytical research, a researcher can use the existing data, facts, and knowledge and critically analyses and evaluates the sources and material. It attempts to describe why a specific situation exists.

Impact of video games on teenagers.


Explanatory research is conducted to know why and how two or more variables are interrelated. Researchers usually conduct experiments to know the effect of specific changes among two or more variables.

A study to identify the impact of a nutritious diet on pregnant women.


Exploratory research is conducted to understand the nature of the problem. It does not focus on finding evidence or conclusion of the problem. It studies the problem to explore the research in-depth and covers such topics which were not studied before.

Example: An investigation about the growing crimes against women in India.

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Types of Research According to the Mode of Inquiry

Qualitative Research

Qualitative research is based on quality, and it looks in-depth at non-numerical data. It enables us to understand the comprehensive details of the problem. The researcher prepares open-ended questions to gather as much information as possible.


  • Stress level among men and women.
  • The obesity rate among teenagers.

Quantitative Research

Quantitative research is associated with the aspects measurement, quantity, and extent. It follows the statistical, mathematical, and computational techniques in the form of numerical data such as percentages and statistics. The research is conducted on a large group of population.


  • Find out the weight of students of the fifth standard
  • Studying in government schools.

Types of Research According to the Research Approach

Longitudinal Research

Researchers collect the information at multiple points in time. Usually, a specific group of participants is selected and examined numerous times at various periods.

If a researcher experiments on a group of women to find out the impact of a low carb diet within six months. The women's weight and a health check-up will be done multiple times to get the evidence of the study.

Cross-Sectional Research

Cross-sectional research gathers and compares the information from various groups of the population at the same point. It may not provide the exact reason and relationship between the subjects but gives a broad picture to study multiple groups at the same time.

If a researcher wants to know the number of students studying in a school, he will get to know about the age groups, height, weight, and gender of the students at the same time.

Conceptual Research

It is associated with the concept and theory that describes the hypothesis being studied. It is based on the inductive approach of reasoning. It does not follow practical experiments. Philosophers, thinkers, logicians, and theorists use such kind of research to discover new concepts and to understand the existing knowledge.

discoveries of Sir Isaac Newton and Einstein.

Empirical Research

It is also known as experimental research, which depends on observation and experience. It is based on the deductive approach of reasoning. A researcher focuses on gathering information about the facts, its sources, and investigating the existing knowledge. Example: Is intermittent fasting the healthy weight loss option for women?

The researcher can come up with the result that a certain number of women lost their weight, and it improved their health. On the other hand, a certain number of women suffering from low blood pressure and diabetes didn’t lose weight, and they faced negative impacts of intermittent fasting on their health.

Mixed Methods of Research

When you combine quantitative and qualitative methods of research, the resulting approach becomes mixed methods of research.

Over the last few decades, much of the research in the world of academia has been conducted using mixed methods. Due to its greater legitimacy, this particular technique has gained for several reasons, including the feeling that combining the two types of research can provide holistic and more dependable results.

Here is what mix methods of research involve.

  • Interpreting and investigating the information gathered through quantitative and qualitative techniques.
  • There could be more than one stage of research. Depending on the topic of research, occasionally, it would be more appropriate to perform qualitative research in the first stage to figure out and investigate a problem to unveil key themes; and conduct quantitative research in stage two of the process for measuring relationships between the themes.

Carmen Troy
Carmen Troy
Troy has been the leading content creator for Research Prospect since 2017. He loves to write about the different types of data collection and data analysis methods used in research. Troy has also been lucky enough to work as an editor for BBC.
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