Research Designs

Research Designs


Types of Research Designs

Exploratory Research (huh?)
Designed to generate basic knowledge, clarify relevant issues uncover variables associated with a problem, uncover information needs, and/or define alternatives for addressing research objectives.
A very flexible, open-ended process.
Descriptive Research (who, what, where, how)
Designed to provide further insight into the research problem by describing the variables of interest.
Can be used for profiling, defining, segmentation, estimating, predicting, and examining associative relationships.
Causal Research (If-then)
Designed to provide information on potential cause-and-effect relationships.
Most practical in marketing to talk about associations or impact of one variable on another.

Types and Characteristics of Exploratory Studies

Literature Search
Conceptual literature
Trade literature
Published statistics
Library homepage (

Analysis of Selected Cases
Intensive study of related cases or past activities
May be internal or external
Can help provide clues as to how other units or companies have dealt with similar issues

Types and Characteristics of Exploratory Studies

Experience Surveys (a.k.a., depth interviews)
Knowledgeable people with varying points of view
Unstructured and informal interviews
Respondent free to choose issues to be discussed
Focus Groups
8 to 10 people at one time
Relatively homogeneous groups
Multiple, heterogeneous groups
Group dynamics
Moderator is key
Relies on general topical guide with plenty of time for interaction

The Growing Role of Focus Groups

Goal of focus group research: learn and understand what people have to say and why.
Find out how participants feel about a product, concept, idea, organization, etc.;
How it fit into their lives;
Their emotional involvement with it
May be conducted alone or as part of a broader project
May be use to define issues or to confirm findings from survey research.


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