classification by type of research design

Type of methodology of research design is the third approach in the broad classification of research. This can be generally grouped into three main categories viz:

  • Historical Research
  • Descriptive Research, and
  • Experimental Research.
  1. Historical Research: This type is mostly used by disciplines in social sciences and humanities. It is research that seeks to get information and understand a phenomenon through determining its processes of growth and internal dynamics. It tries to establish a trend from past events and based on such trend make reasonable extrapolation about the future. It is instructive to note that most of the early theories in social sciences were made using the historical method. Auguste Comte’s Evolution Theory, Darwinism Theory of Evolution, Karl Marx Historical Materialism and Rostow’s Growth Stages are some of the propositions, which made extensive use of historical method in its analysis.
  1. Descriptive Research: This type of research attempts to unravel the essential characteristics and elements of any phenomenon or entity. Data are collected, organized and analyzed and the result described as they exist without interference (Anikpo, 1986; Uzoagulu, 1998). It is generally concerned with collecting, presentation and analysis of data aimed at describing existing current opinions, beliefs, attitudes, values and the like. Given this definition, it seems that most of what is described separately in various texts as types of research fall under this category.  In this Section, we shall broadly sub-categorize descriptive research in the following three types:
  1. Survey Studies: Survey means to ‘to view comprehensively and in detail’ or the act of ‘obtaining data for mapping’ (Denscombe, 1998). These are studies whose sole aim is to examine the current opinions, behaviours and other characteristics of a group of people. It is an investigation into what currently exist in an area at the time of the research in their natural setting.. This type of research shares the following characteristics:
  • Wide and inclusive coverage: surveys entail wide coverage and helicopter approach to investigation. In its ideal sense, it should capture the view of the population or its representative- sample.
  • Status-Quo: The word status quo literally means current position. Surveys generally seem to bring things up to date and relate to the present state of events. It tells what is on ground at the time of the study. Any reverences to the past in the course of conducting survey is accidental not typical of it.
  • Empirical research: inherent in this type of study is the fact that it goes out to obtain what exist (facts and figures). The implication is that it is data based and thus empirical.
  • Case Studies: These are studies that focus on a particular social Lesson (organization, commLessony or people) with a view to getting detailed information about such social Lesson. If it is a theory-based research, it will examine how the relationship among variable apply in such a social Lesson as means of validating it. Depending on the profile of the case study, generalization could be made using the finding there-from.  The focus of case study is on the detailed structures, patterns or interrelationships observed within the each individual case included in the study (Eboh, 2009). 
  • Causal Studies: These are studies which seek to establish the relationship among variables in real life situation. It seeks to not only answer the question as to “how, but also as to “why”certain problems occur. It is predicated on the assumption that some variables have effect on the others. So the study seeks to find out which variables are independent and those that are dependent on it. It does the same things as experimental research except that it is used mostly in a social situation where controlled experiment is not possible. A typical example of comparative causal study in a social situation is perhaps a study that seeks to investigate the ‘extent to which
    • Poor teaching methods leads to
    • Increased incidence of examination malpractice in the Nigerian institutions of higher learning. 

The researcher would produce two students group. He would apply poor and high quality teaching methods in each and check the impact of each on exam malpractice to ascertain the effect.

  1. Experimental Research: There is some measure of relationship between casual studies and experimental research. Both involve controlled observation of change and development. In particular, experimental research seeks to, using controlled parameters; assess the consequences of action taken on a particular situation. Experiments can be carried out in a lab or in a field. In each case, it involves deliberate manipulation of variables and population samples so as to ascertain the relationship of one to another.

The current language in social science research as it relates to experimental research is what is called base-line study. This is a study which aims at gathering data on the situation so that when a stimulus is applied, another survey could be made to note the difference. The steps for the conduct of experimental research in social sciences are as follows (Anikpo, 1986).

  • Select a population sample
  • Subject the group to  pretest
  • Apply the stimulus (the thing you want to check its effect)
  • Do a post-stimulus test
  • Find the difference between the two test scenarios
  • Test for significance
  • Draw conclusions.