Descriptive research methods are used when the researcher wants
to describe specific behavior as it occurs in the environment. There
are a variety of descriptive research methods available, the nature
of the question that needs to be answered drives which method is
used. It does not answer questions about how/when/why the
characteristics occurred. Rather it addresses the "what" question
(what are the characteristics of the population or situation being
The characteristics used to describe the situation or population are
usually some kind of categorical scheme also known as descriptive
categories. Eg: Periodic Table.
Types of Descriptive Research
Case Study Method
Observational research (or field research) is a type of correlational
(i.e., non-experimental) research in which a researcher observes
There are a variety of types of observational research, each of
which has both strengths and weaknesses.
3 Approaches of Observational Research:
3 Approaches of Observational
• The researchers do not
identify themselves. Either
they mix in with the subjects
undetected, or they
observe from a distance.
The advantages of this
(1) It is not necessary to get the
subjects’ cooperation, and
(2) The subjects’ behavior will
not be contaminated by
the presence of the
• The researchers identify
themselves as researchers
and explain the purpose of
• The problem with this
approach is subjects may
modify their behavior when
they know they are being
• The researcher participates
in what they are observing
so as to get a finer
appreciation of the
Case Study Method
Case studies are analyses of persons, events, decisions, periods,
projects, policies, institutions, or other systems that are studied
holistically by one or more method.
The case that is the subject of the inquiry will be an instance of a
class of phenomena that provides an analytical frame — an object
— within which the study is conducted and which the case
illuminates and explicates.
Strengths & Limitations of Case
Provides detailed (rich qualitative)
Provides insight for further
Permitting investigation of
otherwise impractical (or
Can’t generalize the results to the
Researchers own subjective
feeling may influence the case
study (researcher bias).
Difficult to replicate.
A survey is defined as a brief interview or discussion with individuals
about a specific topic. Survey research is often used to assess
thoughts, opinions, and feelings. Survey research can be specific
and limited, or it can have more global, widespread goals.
A survey consists of a predetermined set of questions that is given to
a sample. With a representative sample, that is, one that is
representative of the larger population of interest, one can describe
the attitudes of the population from which the sample was drawn.
3 Techniques of Survey Research are:
Techniques of Survey Research
• A series of written questions
a participant answers.
• This method gathers
responses to questions that
are essay or
• Questions posed to an
individual to obtain
information about him or
• This type of survey is like a
job interview, with one
person asking another a
load of questions.
• Brief interviews and
discussions with individuals
about a specific topic.
• A survey is a quick interview,
with the surveyor asking only
a few questions.