A descriptive study is a relevant and useful type of scientific research. This article will discuss the descriptive study definition and what it takes to write one. We will also give a descriptive study example at the end of the article. If you are interested you can also learn more about prospective and retrospective studies.
What Is a Descriptive Study
A descriptive study is a kind of research that describes a situation, a section of the population, or a phenomenon that is being studied. At the same time, other types of research papers focus on answering the “why” descriptive research aims to solve the questions pertaining to the “how, what, when, and where”.
In many ways, the descriptive paper is more like a preliminary paper before the actual research. The questions answered by a descriptive study are necessary for the full understanding of the problem being tackled. It’s essential to have a complete and proper understanding of what a problem is before tackling it with full-scale research.
Types of Descriptive Research
There are several types of descriptive research that you should know about. They are mainly classified by the method used for descriptive research.
As the name suggests, this kind of study uses surveys to get information. For example, a study is seeking to find information about nurses from a particular location. What the researcher will do is conduct a study among a selected number of nurses from that area. In this case, the surveys can be made up of questions that can be answered with either a yes or a no.
This is an extension of the descriptive survey type of study. The main addition here is the use of the normative element. Under this type, the results of the survey will be compared to the predefined norm. To illustrate, a business might wish to test the performance of its employees for their respective roles.
The employees will be given a survey, and the result of that survey will be compared with the norm for each role. If the result is above the mean, then the results can be considered positive. If it is within the mean then it is acceptable. If it falls below the defined average, then it becomes problematic.
This kind of descriptive study aims at answering questions regarding real-life situations. For example, the employer might want to learn about the connection between the salary of their employees and their performance.
The information about employee salaries can be analyzed in connection with the performance of each employee. The aim is to find a relationship between the two and discover if a high salary actually leads to better performance.
For this type of study, a subject is described through a more in-depth analysis of it. For instance, the employer that is aiming to amylase the role of its workers can work in the further division of the employees. The employees can be grouped under two categories: those who work from home and those work in the office.
A questionnaire can be created for employees working in the same roles and those who are getting similar salaries.
This type of descriptive study is often used in biology. It is used for describing plants and animals. They will gather samples of the plants and animals then reclassify them using the descriptions.
Under this type of study, the writer will be picking two variables that are not manipulated in any way. The writer will then establish which of the two are better. Thus, a researcher may want to determine whether email or social media is better for conducting surveys. Participants can be asked to use the two methods, and then things like success rate speed can be analyzed afterward.
This kind of study is used to determine the relationship between two factors. It determines whether the relation is negative, positive, or even neutral. For example, it will seek to establish if variables X and Y and directly proportional, inversely proportional, or if there is no relation at all between the two.
Purpose of Descriptive Research
What is the purpose of descriptive research?
The purpose of descriptive research is to identify trends, characteristics, and frequencies. It is instrumental when the topic is still largely unknown. Again, it answers a lot of questions about the topic.
There are several reasons why you should use descriptive research study:
- It can be used to define the characteristics of a subject.
- It is particularly useful for measuring the changes in data over a set period of time.
- A descriptive study can also be used to check on how different demographics actually respond to various variables that they are faced with.
- The validation of existing conditions can also be one of the purposes of this kind of study.
- Another important characteristic of a descriptive study is that it is normally conducted over a longer period of time. The number of times it is conducted and the longer the period, gives the results more validity.
These are just some of the characteristics of descriptive research, which you should know about.
Descriptive Research Design
The great thing about the descriptive research design is that it can use a lot of research methods to reveal more about the topic. The researcher will not be manipulating any of the variables here. He or she will just stick to describing them.
Qualitative descriptive research
As you might have noted by now, descriptive research can also use qualitative research methods. It may be described as a quantitative type of research, but descriptive research can also be turned in to a qualitative study.
Characteristics of a Descriptive Research
Here are some of the qualities of a descriptive research:
- The descriptive research method is very quantitative. That’s because it uses quantifiable data to describe its topic.
- It can also be qualitative to properly describe the subject being studied. A qualitative descriptive study is also used quite often.
- In a descriptive study, the variables are not controlled. The only task of the researcher is to describe them.
- A descriptive study is often used as the basis for additional research. The topic explored by the study can be further examined using other forms of research.
Examples of Descriptive Research
Now that you know what is a descriptive study, it’s time to learn about a few examples of this kind of research.
A sports team might want to compare the performance of its players when it comes to playing in their home court compared to when they are playing away from home. This can be useful in finding ways to improve the performance of the team overall. Once the reasons why poor performance has been identified, the team can then find ways to remedy the reasons.
Plants and animals are classified by scientists using a descriptive study. They go and list the various characteristics of an animal and they go and use those for additional classification.
Study of Human Behavior
Descriptive study is often used when it comes to the study of human behavior. This is often used by businesses that want to know the impact of their products on the market. They study the reaction of the people that belong to their market. This is an often-used example of descriptive research.
So what is descriptive research?
Descriptive research methods are very useful in revealing a lot about the topic. Now, that you know a bit more about it, you should be ready to use it.