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Home Market Research

Business Research: Methods, Types & Examples

Business Research

Content Index

Business research: Definition

Quantitative research methods, qualitative research methods, advantages of business research, disadvantages of business research, importance of business research.

Business research is a process of acquiring detailed information on all the areas of business and using such information to maximize the sales and profit of the business. Such a study helps companies determine which product/service is most profitable or in demand. In simple words, it can be stated as the acquisition of information or knowledge for professional or commercial purposes to determine opportunities and goals for a business.

Business research can be done for anything and everything. In general, when people speak about business research design , it means asking research questions to know where the money can be spent to increase sales, profits, or market share. Such research is critical to make wise and informed decisions.

LEARN ABOUT: Research Process Steps

For example: A mobile company wants to launch a new model in the market. But they are not aware of what are the dimensions of a mobile that are in most demand. Hence, the company conducts business research using various methods to gather information, and the same is then evaluated, and conclusions are drawn as to what dimensions are most in demand.

This will enable the researcher to make wise decisions to position his phone at the right price in the market and hence acquire a larger market share.

LEARN ABOUT:  Test Market Demand

Business research: Types and methodologies

Business research is a part of the business intelligence process. It is usually conducted to determine whether a company can succeed in a new region, to understand its competitors, or simply select a marketing approach for a product. This research can be carried out using steps in qualitative research methods or quantitative research methods.

Quantitative research methods are research methods that deal with numbers. It is a systematic empirical investigation using statistical, mathematical, or computational techniques . Such methods usually start with data collection and then proceed to statistical analysis using various methods. The following are some of the research methods used to carry out business research.

LEARN ABOUT: Data Management Framework

Survey research

Survey research is one of the most widely used methods to gather data, especially for conducting business research. Surveys involve asking various survey questions to a set of audiences through various types like online polls, online surveys, questionnaires, etc. Nowadays, most of the major corporations use this method to gather data and use it to understand the market and make appropriate business decisions.

Various types of surveys, like cross-sectional studies , which need to collect data from a set of audiences at a given point of time, or longitudinal surveys which are needed to collect data from a set of audiences across various time durations in order to understand changes in the respondents’ behavior are used to conduct survey research. With the advancement in technology, surveys can now be sent online through email or social media .

For example: A company wants to know the NPS score for their website i.e. how satisfied are people who are visiting their website. An increase in traffic to their website or the audience spending more time on a website can result in higher rankings on search engines which will enable the company to get more leads as well as increase its visibility.

Hence, the company can ask people who visit their website a few questions through an online survey to understand their opinions or gain feedback and hence make appropriate changes to the website to increase satisfaction.

Learn More:  Business Survey Template

Correlational research

Correlational research is conducted to understand the relationship between two entities and what impact each one of them has on the other. Using mathematical analysis methods, correlational research enables the researcher to correlate two or more variables .

Such research can help understand patterns, relationships, trends, etc. Manipulation of one variable is possible to get the desired results as well. Generally, a conclusion cannot be drawn only on the basis of correlational research.

For example: Research can be conducted to understand the relationship between colors and gender-based audiences. Using such research and identifying the target audience, a company can choose the production of particular color products to be released in the market. This can enable the company to understand the supply and demand requirements of its products.

Causal-Comparative research

Causal-comparative research is a method based on the comparison. It is used to deduce the cause-effect relationship between variables. Sometimes also known as quasi-experimental research, it involves establishing an independent variable and analyzing the effects on the dependent variable.

In such research, data manipulation is not done; however, changes are observed in the variables or groups under the influence of the same changes. Drawing conclusions through such research is a little tricky as independent and dependent variables will always exist in a group. Hence all other parameters have to be taken into consideration before drawing any inferences from the research.

LEARN ABOUT: Causal Research

For example: Research can be conducted to analyze the effect of good educational facilities in rural areas. Such a study can be done to analyze the changes in the group of people from rural areas when they are provided with good educational facilities and before that.

Another example can be to analyze the effect of having dams and how it will affect the farmers or the production of crops in that area.

LEARN ABOUT: Market research trends

Experimental research

Experimental research is based on trying to prove a theory. Such research may be useful in business research as it can let the product company know some behavioral traits of its consumers, which can lead to more revenue. In this method, an experiment is carried out on a set of audiences to observe and later analyze their behavior when impacted by certain parameters.

LEARN ABOUT: Behavioral Targeting

For example: Experimental research was conducted recently to understand if particular colors have an effect on consumers’ hunger. A set of the audience was then exposed to those particular colors while they were eating, and the subjects were observed. It was seen that certain colors like red or yellow increase hunger.

Hence, such research was a boon to the hospitality industry. You can see many food chains like Mcdonalds, KFC, etc., using such colors in their interiors, brands, as well as packaging.

Another example of inferences drawn from experimental research, which is used widely by most bars/pubs across the world, is that loud music in the workplace or anywhere makes a person drink more in less time. This was proven through experimental research and was a key finding for many business owners across the globe.

Online research / Literature research

Literature research is one of the oldest methods available. It is very economical, and a lot of information can be gathered using such research. Online research or literature research involves gathering information from existing documents and studies, which can be available at Libraries, annual reports, etc.

Nowadays, with the advancement in technology, such research has become even more simple and accessible to everyone. An individual can directly research online for any information that is needed, which will give him in-depth information about the topic or the organization.

Such research is used mostly by marketing and salespeople in the business sector to understand the market or their customers. Such research is carried out using existing information that is available from various sources. However, care has to be taken to validate the sources from where the information is going to be collected.

For example , a salesperson has heard a particular firm is looking for some solution that their company provides. Hence, the salesperson will first search for a decision maker from the company, investigate what department he is from, and understand what the target company is looking for and what they are into.

Using this research, he can cater his solution to be spot on when he pitches it to this client. He can also reach out to the customer directly by finding a means to communicate with him by researching online.’

LEARN ABOUT: 12 Best Tools for Researchers

Qualitative research is a method that has a high importance in business research. Qualitative research involves obtaining data through open-ended conversational means of communication. Such research enables the researcher to not only understand what the audience thinks but also why he thinks it.

In such research, in-depth information can be gathered from the subjects depending on their responses. There are various types of qualitative research methods, such as interviews, focus groups, ethnographic research, content analysis, and case study research, that are widely used.

Such methods are of very high importance in business research as they enable the researcher to understand the consumer. What motivates the consumer to buy and what does not is what will lead to higher sales, and that is the prime objective for any business.

Following are a few methods that are widely used in today’s world by most businesses.

Interviews are somewhat similar to surveys, like sometimes they may have the same types of questions used. The difference is that the respondent can answer these open-ended questions at length, and the direction of the conversation or the questions being asked can be changed depending on the response of the subject.

Such a method usually gives the researcher detailed information about the perspective or opinions of its subject. Carrying out interviews with subject matter experts can also give important information critical to some businesses.

For example: An interview was conducted by a telecom manufacturer with a group of women to understand why they have less number of female customers. After interviewing them, the researcher understood that there were fewer feminine colors in some of the models, and females preferred not to purchase them.

Such information can be critical to a business such as a  telecom manufacturer and hence it can be used to increase its market share by targeting women customers by launching some feminine colors in the market.

Another example would be to interview a subject matter expert in social media marketing. Such an interview can enable a researcher to understand why certain types of social media advertising strategies work for a company and why some of them don’t.

LEARN ABOUT: Qualitative Interview

Focus groups

Focus groups are a set of individuals selected specifically to understand their opinions and behaviors. It is usually a small set of a group that is selected keeping in mind the parameters for their target market audience to discuss a particular product or service. Such a method enables a researcher with a larger sample than the interview or a case study while taking advantage of conversational communication.

Focus group is also one of the best examples of qualitative data in education . Nowadays, focus groups can be sent online surveys as well to collect data and answer why, what, and how questions. Such a method is very crucial to test new concepts or products before they are launched in the market.

For example: Research is conducted with a focus group to understand what dimension of screen size is preferred most by the current target market. Such a method can enable a researcher to dig deeper if the target market focuses more on the screen size, features, or colors of the phone. Using this data, a company can make wise decisions about its product line and secure a higher market share.

Ethnographic research

Ethnographic research is one of the most challenging research but can give extremely precise results. Such research is used quite rarely, as it is time-consuming and can be expensive as well. It involves the researcher adapting to the natural environment and observing its target audience to collect data. Such a method is generally used to understand cultures, challenges, or other things that can occur in that particular setting.

For example: The world-renowned show “Undercover Boss” would be an apt example of how ethnographic research can be used in businesses. In this show, the senior management of a large organization works in his own company as a regular employee to understand what improvements can be made, what is the culture in the organization, and to identify hard-working employees and reward them.

It can be seen that the researcher had to spend a good amount of time in the natural setting of the employees and adapt to their ways and processes. While observing in this setting, the researcher could find out the information he needed firsthand without losing any information or any bias and improve certain things that would impact his business.

LEARN ABOUT:   Workforce Planning Model

Case study research

Case study research is one of the most important in business research. It is also used as marketing collateral by most businesses to land up more clients. Case study research is conducted to assess customer satisfaction and document the challenges that were faced and the solutions that the firm gave them.

These inferences are made to point out the benefits that the customer enjoyed for choosing their specific firm. Such research is widely used in other fields like education, social sciences, and similar. Case studies are provided by businesses to new clients to showcase their capabilities, and hence such research plays a crucial role in the business sector.

For example: A services company has provided a testing solution to one of its clients. A case study research is conducted to find out what were the challenges faced during the project, what was the scope of their work, what objective was to be achieved, and what solutions were given to tackle the challenges.

The study can end with the benefits that the company provided through its solutions, like reduced time to test batches, easy implementation or integration of the system, or even cost reduction. Such a study showcases the capability of the company, and hence it can be stated as empirical evidence of the new prospect.

Website visitor profiling/research

Website intercept surveys or website visitor profiling/research is something new that has come up and is quite helpful in the business sector. It is an innovative approach to collect direct feedback from your website visitors using surveys. In recent times a lot of business generation happens online, and hence it is important to understand the visitors of your website as they are your potential customers.

Collecting feedback is critical to any business, as without understanding a customer, no business can be successful. A company has to keep its customers satisfied and try to make them loyal customers in order to stay on top.

A website intercept survey is an online survey that allows you to target visitors to understand their intent and collect feedback to evaluate the customers’ online experience. Information like visitor intention, behavior path, and satisfaction with the overall website can be collected using this.

Depending on what information a company is looking for, multiple forms of website intercept surveys can be used to gather responses. Some of the popular ones are Pop-ups, also called Modal boxes, and on-page surveys.

For example: A prospective customer is looking for a particular product that a company is selling. Once he is directed to the website, an intercept survey will start noting his intent and path. Once the transaction has been made, a pop-up or an on-page survey is provided to the customer to rate the website.

Such research enables the researcher to put this data to good use and hence understand the customers’ intent and path and improve any parts of the website depending on the responses, which in turn would lead to satisfied customers and hence, higher revenues and market share.

LEARN ABOUT: Qualitative Research Questions and Questionnaires

  • Business research helps to identify opportunities and threats.
  • It helps identify research problems , and using this information, wise decisions can be made to tackle the issue appropriately.
  • It helps to understand customers better and hence can be useful to communicate better with the customers or stakeholders.
  • Risks and uncertainties can be minimized by conducting business research in advance.
  • Financial outcomes and investments that will be needed can be planned effectively using business research.
  • Such research can help track competition in the business sector.
  • Business research can enable a company to make wise decisions as to where to spend and how much.
  • Business research can enable a company to stay up-to-date with the market and its trends, and appropriate innovations can be made to stay ahead in the game.
  • Business research helps to measure reputation management
  • Business research can be a high-cost affair
  • Most of the time, business research is based on assumptions
  • Business research can be time-consuming
  • Business research can sometimes give you inaccurate information because of a biased population or a small focus group.
  • Business research results can quickly become obsolete because of the fast-changing markets

Business research is one of the most effective ways to understand customers, the market, and competitors. Such research helps companies to understand the demand and supply of the market. Using such research will help businesses reduce costs and create solutions or products that are targeted to the demand in the market and the correct audience.

In-house business research can enable senior management to build an effective team or train or mentor when needed. Business research enables the company to track its competitors and hence can give you the upper hand to stay ahead of them.

Failures can be avoided by conducting such research as it can give the researcher an idea if the time is right to launch its product/solution and also if the audience is right. It will help understand the brand value and measure customer satisfaction which is essential to continuously innovate and meet customer demands.

This will help the company grow its revenue and market share. Business research also helps recruit ideal candidates for various roles in the company. By conducting such research, a company can carry out a SWOT analysis , i.e. understand the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. With the help of this information, wise decisions can be made to ensure business success.

LEARN ABOUT:  Market research industry

Business research is the first step that any business owner needs to set up his business to survive or to excel in the market. The main reason why such research is of utmost importance is that it helps businesses to grow in terms of revenue, market share, and brand value.


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Research methods--quantitative, qualitative, and more: overview.

  • Quantitative Research
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About Research Methods

This guide provides an overview of research methods, how to choose and use them, and supports and resources at UC Berkeley. 

As Patten and Newhart note in the book Understanding Research Methods , "Research methods are the building blocks of the scientific enterprise. They are the "how" for building systematic knowledge. The accumulation of knowledge through research is by its nature a collective endeavor. Each well-designed study provides evidence that may support, amend, refute, or deepen the understanding of existing knowledge...Decisions are important throughout the practice of research and are designed to help researchers collect evidence that includes the full spectrum of the phenomenon under study, to maintain logical rules, and to mitigate or account for possible sources of bias. In many ways, learning research methods is learning how to see and make these decisions."

The choice of methods varies by discipline, by the kind of phenomenon being studied and the data being used to study it, by the technology available, and more.  This guide is an introduction, but if you don't see what you need here, always contact your subject librarian, and/or take a look to see if there's a library research guide that will answer your question. 

Suggestions for changes and additions to this guide are welcome! 

START HERE: SAGE Research Methods

Without question, the most comprehensive resource available from the library is SAGE Research Methods.  HERE IS THE ONLINE GUIDE  to this one-stop shopping collection, and some helpful links are below:

  • SAGE Research Methods
  • Little Green Books  (Quantitative Methods)
  • Little Blue Books  (Qualitative Methods)
  • Dictionaries and Encyclopedias  
  • Case studies of real research projects
  • Sample datasets for hands-on practice
  • Streaming video--see methods come to life
  • Methodspace- -a community for researchers
  • SAGE Research Methods Course Mapping

Library Data Services at UC Berkeley

Library Data Services Program and Digital Scholarship Services

The LDSP offers a variety of services and tools !  From this link, check out pages for each of the following topics:  discovering data, managing data, collecting data, GIS data, text data mining, publishing data, digital scholarship, open science, and the Research Data Management Program.

Be sure also to check out the visual guide to where to seek assistance on campus with any research question you may have!

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Other Data Services at Berkeley

D-Lab Supports Berkeley faculty, staff, and graduate students with research in data intensive social science, including a wide range of training and workshop offerings Dryad Dryad is a simple self-service tool for researchers to use in publishing their datasets. It provides tools for the effective publication of and access to research data. Geospatial Innovation Facility (GIF) Provides leadership and training across a broad array of integrated mapping technologies on campu Research Data Management A UC Berkeley guide and consulting service for research data management issues

General Research Methods Resources

Here are some general resources for assistance:

  • Assistance from ICPSR (must create an account to access): Getting Help with Data , and Resources for Students
  • Wiley Stats Ref for background information on statistics topics
  • Survey Documentation and Analysis (SDA) .  Program for easy web-based analysis of survey data.


  • D-Lab/Data Science Discovery Consultants Request help with your research project from peer consultants.
  • Research data (RDM) consulting Meet with RDM consultants before designing the data security, storage, and sharing aspects of your qualitative project.
  • Statistics Department Consulting Services A service in which advanced graduate students, under faculty supervision, are available to consult during specified hours in the Fall and Spring semesters.

Related Resourcex

  • IRB / CPHS Qualitative research projects with human subjects often require that you go through an ethics review.
  • OURS (Office of Undergraduate Research and Scholarships) OURS supports undergraduates who want to embark on research projects and assistantships. In particular, check out their "Getting Started in Research" workshops
  • Sponsored Projects Sponsored projects works with researchers applying for major external grants.
  • Next: Quantitative Research >>
  • Last Updated: Apr 25, 2024 11:09 AM
  • URL: https://guides.lib.berkeley.edu/researchmethods

Doing Research in Business and Management: An Essential Guide to Planning Your Project

Management Decision

ISSN : 0025-1747

Article publication date: 21 June 2013

Berbegal‐Mirabent, J. (2013), "Doing Research in Business and Management: An Essential Guide to Planning Your Project", Management Decision , Vol. 51 No. 6, pp. 1311-1316. https://doi.org/10.1108/MD-06-2012-0505

Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2013, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

“Publish or perish”. We've all heard this expression referring to the need academic, but especially PhD students and young academics have to make their research results public in order to promote and improve their contractual position, consolidating their careers. Nevertheless, it is also well‐known that this is a long‐distance race conditioned to the capacity to publish the research findings.

This means that students whether undergraduate, postgraduate or enrolled in a PhD programme need to develop their research knowledge from the very begging in order to refine their writing skills, paying attention to a large list of details and requirements which may vary from one situation to another. Indeed, academics invest innumerable hours and resources in writing their research results to succeed when submitting them to a peer‐reviewed journal. Therefore, it is not surprising that planning and writing a research project is often considered by inexperienced students as a challenging, time‐consuming and a demanding task. Yet, despite all these constraints, writing up the findings in a form that can be published and read for others, constitutes a very rewarding effort.

Emerging from the necessity to instruct students in acquiring the appropriate skills and abilities to effectively complete a research project, many courses are now incorporating a research module in their syllabuses as a mean to improve students' probabilities to succeed when doing so.

The editorial industry has also echoed these concerns and demands in the recent years, leading to the flowering of a large number of books and manuals addressing this issue (i.e. Bryman and Bell, 2011 ; Cooper and Schindler, 2011 ; Creswell, 2009 ; Flick, 2011 ; Sekaran, 2010 ). One of the most compelling books tackling this problem is Doing Research in Business and Management: An Essential Guide to Planning Your Project , written by Saunders and Lewis and published in 2012 by Pearson Education Limited.

Saunders and Lewis are experienced professors in teaching research methods in the fields of Business and Management. Indeed, they have published several books offering guidelines for students that need to conduct and produce a competent piece of research. According to the authors it is now fourteen years since their first book on research methods was printed. In 2009 the fifth edition was published ( Saunders et al. , 2009 ) and due to its popularity and good acceptance among academics and students they are now presenting this new and updated approach, providing a detailed coverage of all the relevant aspects (both theoretical and empirical) that may face students when carrying out a research project.

Combining their years of academic practice and their vast practical experience, with this book Andersen and Lewis aim at providing, in an accessible and friendly manner, some assistance to students and early career individuals who need to undertake an assessed research project by means of a written project report. This way, Doing Research in Business and Management provides a comprehensive and holistic overview of how to develop quality research in the fields of business and management, offering a detailed coverage of the relevant research approaches and methods used in these disciplines, and bringing together the essential components of the process of writing up a research project.

The authors take the reader through all the major stages involved in this process, introducing the different contexts and purposes that may guide a research project, as well as highlighting the key methods, strategies, tactics, programmes and processes that are recurrent in a management and business research context.

One noteworthy aspect of this book is that it takes extraordinary care to focus the reader on the logic and techniques of research methods using an accurate but simple language, that is, bearing in mind that the targeted audience is inexperienced students on undergraduate and postgraduate degree programmes in business, management or related disciplines, that may not yet be familiar with the language and style required by the scientific community. Therefore, employing a concise, highly accessible style and a logical structure, this book enables students that face for their first time the challenge of writing a research project to understand the practical relevance of research methods on business and management research. It also discusses the interrelationships of theoretical and empirical research, how these apply to practice, and the most recurrent software packages available in the market.

An important feature of this book is its clear structure and ease of reading. Furthermore, within each chapter, the use of illustrations, contemporary examples and key research terms placed in definition boxes to demystify their meaning, helps breaking up the text and brings it to life due to the practical perspective adopted. Certainly, it is presented in a logical and structured manner, organising the content in eight chapters that correspond to eight stages of the process of writing a research project.

Although the chapters follow a sequential order, the authors have written them in such a way that they stand alone, so any chapter in isolation make sense of it. Therefore, it is not necessary to read this book progressively from Chapter 1 through to Chapter 8, but allow readers to select those chapters that really match with their needs.

Each chapter follows a similar structure, starting with a brief summary that gives some ideas of the content and the approach adopted to afford the topic discussed (“Why read this chapter?”). Also each chapter contains a set of different examples to illustrate, from a practical point of view, some of the points addressed in the chapter (“Research in practice”). Every chapter ends with a “Thinking about” section, where the content is summarised in the form of concise and succinct bullets, and where authors make some suggestions on how to reinforce the contents learned.

Revising each chapter individually, Chapter 1 starts with some preliminary considerations on what is meant by a research process. Conducting research is something more than writing the findings using a formal language and a specific structure. It means to embark on a journey of discovery, where researchers have the chance to express their skills and resourcefulness demonstrating their abilities to carry out research projects of high quality.

Given these initial thoughts, Chapter 1 is then entirely devoted to the first matter academics come across: the selection of the research topic. As any process, a research project starts with the choice of a research theme. This is an issue entailing an extraordinary significance as the student/researcher should have to live with and live for, perhaps for a considerable period of time. Thus, it is important that the research topic matches with his/her expectations and motivations, contributing to the development of his/her personal skills and strengths, rather than being imposed by a supervisor.

The chapter follows with the main difficulties students face when choosing the research topic, and suggests novel ways in which to generate ideas, including for instance the use of relevant literature in the field to identify gaps that may constitute new research avenues. Discussions with friends and lecturers or drawing a concept map, are also listed as intermediate steps that may help filtering ideas, moving from the general to the specific question.

In the latter part of the chapter the authors focus on how to turn an idea into a research topic. At this point Sanders and Lewis recommend the use of the Russian doll principle ( Clough and Nutbrown, 2008 ), consisting of breaking down from the original statement to something which strips away all the complicated layers and obscurities until the heart of the question, in a similar fashion as the Russian doll is taken apart to reveal a tiny doll at the centre (p. 21).

Chapter 2 focuses on the subject of the literature review. A literature review is a very hard and time‐consuming process, as it should discuss relevant previous work and provide a comprehensive review of the major findings in the current area of study. This section is mandatory for any research project as it allows the researcher to demonstrate the need for a new study and that he/she has the appropriate background. Moreover, knowing what is known, it comes out easier to state what is still unknown, facilitating the identification of the gaps in the current understanding of the field, and making it simply to justify the research question(s) underlying the research and the context in which the study is going to be performed.

Thus, in this chapter the authors explain what constitutes an effective critical literature review, giving some ideas on how to start writing it and how to organise ideas and findings in a coherent logical argument.

A careful selection of the references to support statements and previous research findings is essential. In this sense, the authors make explicit differentiation of the main types and sources of literature available. A detailed description of the process of searching for obtaining the relevant literature is then provided, emphasising the use of an abstract to assess likely use of an article.

In accordance with the Harvard College Library (2006) , the authors also suggest that while reading, it is extremely important to take notes, summarise findings, compare information and contrast results. Likewise, they emphasise that a good literature review can lead to interesting insights into possible ways of collecting and analysing data.

Chapter 3 is concerned with how to manage the research process, focusing on four main aspects. First, questioning how to manage respondents, that is, how to access organisations for data collection. Here a set of six strategies are listed. Second, the authors focus on how to manage oneself in terms of keeping up the motivation, organising time and resources, and keeping in touch with individuals who may provide insightful comments on the work in progress. The relationship with the supervisor is believed to be indispensable, as he/she is expected to give advice at every stage of the process. But in order to succeed in this relationship, students are asked to report in a regular basis the partial results throughout the entire length of the project. A fourth issue deals with the management of the university context, that is, how to fit with the regulations, specific norms and other requirements imposed by the university. Paying special attention to the assessment criteria is also essential in order to guarantee that the research outcomes fulfil the requirements.

This chapter ends with a section covering the subject of research ethics, pointing out the key ethical principles and responsibilities that should be taken into account and that apply to all stages of any research process. This topic has perhaps been underexplored in the management and business literature; however it seems that it is now increasingly entering into the agendas of many academics ( Academy of Management, n.d. ; Frechtling and Boo, 2012 ; Payne, 2000 )).

Chapter 4 begins with a definition of what is meant by secondary data. A full definition is given, differentiating between qualitative and quantitative data and the possible transformation processes data may have suffered. Figure 4.1 (page 86) exhaustively summarises potential forms of secondary data according to their nature.

In this chapter the authors discuss the potential of using secondary data as a method for accessing large datasets and saving time and money, as they can often be found in the public domain as a result of the growth of the Internet. Nevertheless, secondary data also presents some pitfalls. For instance the authors emphasise that data are not always value‐neutral or only meet research needs partially. Although data available are rich and allows the creation of reliable variables, it is relevant to question whether the selected variables represent the core influential factors that match with the exact requirements of the study. The chapter ends with a list of some gateways to secondary data sources that are relevant for its broad scope and content.

Chapter 5 is entirely devoted to research strategy and design. Using the research onion metaphor presented in the authors' previous work ( Saunders et al. , 2009 ), Saunders and Lewis illustrate the different stages that conform the research process. Techniques and procedures for data collection and analysis are placed in the centre of the onion. As we move away from the centre we found the intermediate layers, where the strategies and choices have to be selected. Finally, the outer layers consider the research philosophies and approaches that embody the research. Building on this approach, the different layers of the onion are presented and complemented with readable examples. Definitions are also given, clarifying some terms that may be unknown for the freshman student, for instance, differences between inductive and deductive approaches, and alternative types of studies (exploratory, descriptive and explanatory).

This chapter also includes a section devoted to the description of different strategies that students may use in their attempt to answer their research question(s). Some useful insights are given on the use of experiments, surveys, case studies, action research methods, ethnography studies, grounded theory, archival research methods or the combination of any of the above. Although the aim of this book is not to in‐depth in the technical specifications behind these strategies, Saunders and Lewis provide the reader with the main features characterising each method. Further information on these approaches may be accompanied with the reading of the specific literature on each particular topic, such as Yin (2009) for case studies; the book of Berg and Lune (2008) with two chapters entirely focused on action research methods and ethnography studies; Corbin and Strauss (2008) and their approach to the grounded theory; or Ventresca and Mohr (2002) studying archival research methods. Correspondingly, the books of Miles and Huberman (1994) and Marshall and Rossman (2010) offer an exhaustive review of all aspects related to qualitative data analysis.

Chapter 6 pays attention to the methods used to collect data. The uses of different techniques and statistical procedures to obtain a sample that satisfies the research requirements, or how to draft an effective questionnaire, are some of the issues addressed in this chapter.

Part of this chapter is devoted to the importance of using a pilot test with a small group of respondents in order to corroborate the validity of a test/questionnaire before launching it to the whole sample. The chapter ends with some guidelines on how to successfully conduct interviews (either semi‐structured or unstructured), giving some examples on how to ask questions, how to interact with the respondent and how to prepare the material needed. A transcription of a potential interview is also provided.

The subject of Chapter 7 is about getting data ready for analysis, the use of different techniques for the analysis, and how to interpret the results obtained.

The chapter begins with the particularities of different types of data, namely quantitative and qualitative. Then the authors address each sort of data individually, first focusing on how to prepare and analyse quantitative data, and second, qualitative data. Essential statistical terms are defined, providing the reader with the basic instruments and techniques. Examples on how to interpret descriptives, correlation coefficients, associations between variables, predict cause‐effect relationships, or how to transcript an interview are provided, facilitating the understanding of those terms that the reader may not yet be familiar with. Screenshots of the most commonly used software packages for processing data are also introduced (i.e. SPSS, ATLAS.it, NVivo).

Writing an effective research proposal is a vital part of the research process. In the eighth and last chapter, the authors provide some insightful comments on the writing style students should adopt when compiling their research proposal and suggest some of the criteria against which the quality of the research project may be assessed.

Although each research process has its own particularities and layout, to a great extent, the content of a research project tends to follow a standardized structure: the title; an abstract; an introduction section presenting the research question(s); a review of the literature ending with the formulation of the hypotheses to be tested and the statement of the research objectives; a method section detailing how the research will be carried out; a discussion of the results; the conclusions and limitations of the study; and a list of the cited references. By way of conclusion, two research proposals are presented exemplifying all the aspects and issues discussed throughout the book.

Although the content of this book is quite predictable for a book of this type, it enables an effective learning process, representing a very useful guide for students planning or undertaking a research project or a dissertation in the fields of business and management. An eminently practical approach and a language free of an excessive use of technical terms helps students obtaining a thorough understanding of the main methodological issues a research project entails.

Therefore, taken as a whole, the value and rigour of this book is unquestionable, underpinning the strength of this publication.

A About the reviewer

Jasmina Berbegal‐Mirabent (PhD) received the MS degrees in Industrial Engineering and Industrial Scheduling, both from UPC BarcelonaTech (Spain) in 2008 and 2009, respectively. She is now working as an Associate Professor at the Department of Management at the UPC BarcelonaTech. She has been a Visiting Research Associate at the Institute of Education at the University of London. She has published her works in international and peer‐reviewed journals such as The Service Industries Journal , Management Decision , Journal of Technology Management & Innovation , Intangible Capital and Economía Industrial . She has recently been named Book Review Editor of Management Decision , and she is also on the editorial board of the Journal of Industrial Engineering and Management . Her research interests are in the areas of the management of higher education institutions and their role in regional development; academic entrepreneurship; and technology transfer. Jasmina Berbegal‐Mirabent can be contacted at: [email protected]

Academy of Management ( n.d. ), “Code of ethics”, available at: www.aomonline.org/aomPrint.asp?ID=268&page_ID=240 (accessed 19 July 2012).

Berg , B.L. and Lune , H. ( 2008 ), Qualitative Research Methods for the Social Sciences , 8th ed., international edition, , Person Education , Boston, MA .

Bryman , A. and Bell , E. ( 2011 ), Business Research Methods , 3rd ed. , Oxford University Press , New York, NY .

Clough , P. and Nutbrown , C. ( 2008 ), A Student's Guide to Methodology , 2nd ed. , Sage Publications , London .

Cooper , D.R. and Schindler , P.S. ( 2011 ), Business Research Methods , 11th ed. , McGraw‐Hill Companies , New York, NY .

Corbin , J. and Strauss , A. ( 2008 ), Basics of Qualitative Research: Techniques and Procedures for Developing Grounded Theory , 3rd ed. , Sage Publications , London .

Creswell , J.W. ( 2009 ), Research Design: Qualitative, Quantitative, and Mixed Methods Approaches , 3rd ed. , Sage Publications , Thousand Oaks, CA .

Flick , U. ( 2011 ), Introducing Research Methodology: A Beginner's Guide to Doing a Research , Sage Publications , Los Angeles, CA .

Frechtling , D.C. and Boo , S. ( 2012 ), “ On the ethics of management research: an exploratory investigation ”, Journal of Business Ethics , Vol. 106 No. 2 , pp. 149 ‐ 160 .

Harvard College Library ( 2006 ), “Interrogating text: 6 reading habits to develop in your first year at Harvard”, available at: http://hcl.harvard.edu/research/guides/lamont_handouts/interrogatingtexts.html (accessed 18 July 2012).

Marshall , C. and Rossman , G.B. ( 2010 ), Designing Qualitative Research , 5th ed. , Sage Publications , London .

Miles , M.B. and Huberman , A.M. ( 1994 ), Qualitative Data Analysis: An Expanded Sourcebook , 2nd ed. , Sage Publications , Beverly Hills, CA .

Payne , S.L. ( 2000 ), “ Challenges for research ethics and moral knowledge construction in the applied social sciences ”, Journal of Business Ethics , Vol. 26 No. 4 , pp. 307 ‐ 318 .

Saunders , M. , Lewis , P. and Thornhill , A. ( 2009 ), Research Methods for Business Students , 5th ed. , Pearson Education , Harlow .

Sekaran , U. ( 2010 ), Research Methods for Business: A Skill Building Approach , 5th ed. , John Wiley & Sons , New York, NY .

Ventresca , M.J. and Mohr , J.W. ( 2002 ), “ Archival research methods ”, in Baum , J.A.C. (Ed.), Companion to Organizations , Blackwell , New York, NY , pp. 805 ‐ 828 .

Yin , R.K. ( 2009 ), Case Study Research: Design and Methods , 5th ed. , Sage Publications , London .

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Business Research: Types, Methods, Examples

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  • Jan 29, 2024

business research

Ever wondered what it takes to build a flourishing business ? Aiming to provide maximum sales and profit, business research helps you to gather comprehensive information about your business and accordingly make relevant changes if required. So, in this process of being successful, we gather all types of data to better define our strategies and understand what products or services customers want. And in case, you’re planning to expand your business, research can help you determine your odds of positive results. In this blog, we’ll help you understand the basics of research and analysis .

“Whoever gets closer to the customer, wins.” – Bernadette Jiwa

This Blog Includes:

What is business research, business research example, importance of business research, types & methods, focus groups , case study research , ethnographic research, survey , correlation research , experimental research , advantages and disadvantages of business research, scope of business research, role of business research, business research books, business research report, top 10 tools for business research, business research partners, top 10 business research topics, career prospects , [bonus] best mba colleges in the world.

Business Research can be simply defined as a process of gathering comprehensive data and information on all the areas of business and incorporating this information for sales and profit maximization. If you are wondering what is Business Research, it is a systematic management activity helping companies to determine which product will be most profitable for companies to produce. Also, there are multiple steps in conducting research, with each thoroughly reviewed to ensure that the best decision is made for the company as a whole.

Also Read: Scope of MBA in International Business

Let’s say there’s an automobile company that is planning to launch a car that runs on CNG. To promote cleaner fuel, the company will be involved in developing different plans and strategies to identify the demand for the car they intend to launch. Other than this, the company will also look for competitors, and the target audience, keeping in mind the distribution of CNG in India. Hence the research is conducted on various ideas to formulate a sustainable and more efficient design. 

When it comes to the question of why Business Research is important, it has an essential role to play in varied areas of business. Here are some of the reasons describing the importance of Business Research:

  • It helps businesses gain better insights into their target customer’s preferences, buying patterns, pain points, as well as demographics.
  • Business Research also provides businesses with a detailed overview of their target markets, what’s in trend, as well as market demand.
  • By studying consumers’ buying patterns and preferences as well as market trends and demands with the help of business research, businesses can effectively and efficiently curate the best possible plans and strategies accordingly.
  • The importance of business research also lies in highlighting the areas where unnecessary costs can be minimized and those areas in a business which need more attention and can bring in more customers and hence boost profits.
  • Businesses can constantly innovate as per their customers’ preferences and interests and keep their attention on the brand.
  • Business Research also plays the role of a catalyst as it helps businesses thrive in their markets by capturing all the available opportunities and also meeting the needs and preferences of their customers.

Also Read: Business Analyst vs Data Analyst

what are the four types of studies in business research

Business research plays an important role in the business intelligence process. This is usually conducted to determine if a company can succeed in a new region through competitive analyses and a better marketing approach. Due to this, this broad field has been distinguished into two types namely, Qualitative Research and Quantitative Research Method.

Here are the most important types of Business Research :

Qualitative Research Methods 

It involves putting open-ended questions to the audience through different channels of communication to understand why researchers think in a particular manner. Stress is laid on understanding the intent, attitude, and beliefs to figure out the behaviour and response of the customers. Moreover, the goal of Qualitative Business Research is to get in-depth knowledge about the subjects of the research. Moreover, qualitative research enables us to put the perspective of the consumer in front of the researcher so that we can understand and see the alignment of the ideas between the market and the business. 

The data collected in this type of business research is by the following methods:  

  • Interviews 
  • Case Study 
  • Ethnographic Research 
  • Website Visitor Profiling 
  • Content Analysis 

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Let us take a detailed look at some of the ways-

Interviews and surveys are similar. The only difference lies in the fact that the responder can put a question in an interview whilst it is not possible during a survey. Through interviews, it is easier to understand the detailed perspective of the person concerning the subject of research. A mobile brand researched to understand why certain colours are preferred by male and female customers. The research revealed that since red is assumed to be a feminine colour, it is more preferred by females than males. 

Focus groups are a type of business research that involves only a set of individuals. Each selected individual represents a particular category of the target market. The major difference between interviews and focus groups is the number of people that it involves. To launch a new product for a particular group of society, focus groups prove to be the best way to understand the needs of the local audience. 

For example, Tesla decides to launch their latest car model in India. The company, therefore, will require feedback from the Indian audience only.

Did you know? Amazon, the internet giant changed its payment strategy to enter the Indian market. Since the Indian economy was not entirely ready for online modes of payment, amazon introduced a new payment method and came up with ‘ cash on delivery ’ to gain consumers’ trust.

One of the most effective ways for business research is conducting case studies. With the motive to understand customer satisfaction, challenges that usually the customers face while using the product and hence, providing them with the right solution can be achieved by analysing data secured through data secured by case studies. Case study researchers are conducted in many fields of business that ultimately aid organisations in improving their products or services. 

Ethnographic Research refers to understanding people as a whole. One must be able to grok their consumers or target audience which will help identify patterns, flaws, etc. Ethnography is a branch of anthropology that is the study of what elements or features make us humans. How did people live? What aspect made us so dependent on smartphones and technology? Why would people buy one product over the other? It refers to asking questions about lifestyle, communities, etc., and trying to gain insight into consumer behaviour and buying patterns.

For example, consider a random product. Are people looking for that product? Do they need it? Is it a necessity or a luxury? Which class of people are most likely to buy it? People often cannot comprehend what they are looking for. Gaining different perceptions can help us tailor our products accordingly to the consumers. Who would have thought that the majority of humans will need face masks for survival?

Also Read: How to Become a Research Analyst?

Quantitative Research Methods 

With the employment of mathematical, statistical and computational techniques, quantitative research is carried out to deal with numbers. This systematical empirical investigation starts with the acquisition of the data and then moves on to analyzing it with the help of different tools. The goal is to identify clientele and then meet the targets of the audience. As the method of business research employs a questionnaire to determine the audience’s response, the questions are built around the idea that the audience knows about the product or the services that the firm offers. Some of the key questions answered in quantitative research methods include, who is connected with your network, how they qualify for the ‘product’ or how regularly they visit your website.

The data is collected based on the following research:

  • Correlational
  • Online 
  • Casual Comparative 
  • Experimental 

It is the most common method under quantitative research via which a huge amount of data can be collected concerning a product or service. A common set of questions are asked to the people and they are asked to provide their inputs. To understand the nature of the market in-depth, this method is massively used by leading organisations all across the globe. Analysing data recorded through service helps organisations make suitable decisions.

Under this research, usually two entities are put together to examine the impact they create on each other. As suggested by the name it is the best process to understand patterns, relationships and trends. the data grasped through correlation research is generally combined with other tools as one cannot achieve a firm conclusion using this type of business research.  

Experimental research is purely based on proving a particular theory that is pre-assumed. True experimental research companies can understand varied behavioural traits of the customers that further assist them in generating more revenue. Exposing a set of audience to common parameters, their behaviour is recorded and hence analysed. This can be understood as the main basis of the experimental research. 

Also Read: Scope of Operation Research

There are certain pros and cons of business research that you must know about. Here are the advantages and disadvantages of Business Research.

Advantages of Business Research

  • Business Research plays the role of a catalyst in identifying potential threats, issues as well as opportunities .
  • It provides a detailed analysis of customers and the target audience , thus helping in building better relationships with one’s audience and capturing the areas which we might be missing out on.
  • It also anticipates future problems thus the enterprise is able to tackle those uncertainties and prepare for them beforehand.
  • It keeps a continuous track of competition in the market and gives businesses the scope to come up with better strategies to tackle their competitors.
  • Business Research also conducts a thorough cost analysis thus helping the company efficiently manage resources and allocate them in an optimal manner.
  • It keeps you updated with the latest trends and competitor analysis .

Disadvantages of Business Research

  • Business Research can be expensive and time-consuming .
  • It also has the danger of being assumptive and imprecise at times , because the focus groups might be small or can be highly based on assumptions.
  • The market is ever-changing and ever-evolving and capturing the right trends or anticipating them can constitute a complicated process for business research.

Also Read: Types of Research Design

The process of business research can be as comprehensive and as detailed as a business wants it to be. Generally, a company takes up research with a certain aim or hypothesis in order to figure out the issues, opportunities and trends and how they can be leveraged in the best way.

Here is the step-by-step process of Business Research:

  • Identifying the Opportunity or Problem – To begin with the research, we first need to know what is the problem or the opportunity we would be leveraging on. It can be a popular trend or a common problem that a business is facing and can potentially become the headstart for the research process. Once you know the problem or the opportunity, go ahead with giving an understandable statement of what it’s about, what the hypothesis of the research will be as well as its objectives.
  • Decide and Plan the Research Design – The next step in the business research process to find the right research design which suits the objectives and overall plan of the research. The most popular research designs are Quantitative and Qualitative Research.
  • Determining the Research Method – The research design is closely connected to the research method since both qualitative and quantitative research designs have different methods for data collection, analysis, amongst others. So, once you have put a finger on what the right research design will be, go ahead with finding the right research method as per the plan, types of data collection, objective, costs involved, and other determining factors.
  • Collect Data – Utilizing the research method and design, the next step in the business research process is to collect data and assimilate it.
  • Data Analysis and Evaluation – After assimilating the data required, the data analysis will take place to gather all the observations and findings.
  • Communicate Results – The presentation of the business research report is the concluding step of this procedure after which the higher management works upon the best techniques and strategies to leverage the opportunity or tackle the issue.

Also Read: MBA in Business Analytics

The scope of Business Research is multifarious and reaches out to many specialisations and areas. Let’s take a look the scope of business research across various specialisations:

  • Marketing Management When it comes to business research, becomes an important part of marketing management that analyses consumer behaviour, target audiences, competition, price policy, promotional plans and much more.
  • Financial Management It also plays an essential role in budgeting, financial planning, cost allocation, capital raising, tackling fluctuations with international currency as well as taking finance-related decisions.
  • Production Management Production Management also includes business research as it helps in product development, planning out for a newer one, finalizing the right technologies for production, and so on.
  • Materials Management Business Research is an important aspect of checking the best materials and carrying out its production, supply chain management , logistics , as well as shortlisting negotiation strategies.

There is an incremental role of business research as its importance is across every aspect of the business. Let’s take a look at the role of business research in an enterprise:

  • The most primary role of business research is that it helps across every decision in the business, from product innovation to marketing and promotional planning.
  • Business Research also helps in forecasting a business, whether in terms of competition or any other types of problems it will be facing.
  • Another key area where this plays a bigger role is ensuring consumer satisfaction as through research, we can carry out research and highlight areas where we can efficiently serve our target audience.
  • Business research also helps in implementing cost-effectiveness in a business as it can assist in cutting costs wherever needed and investing more in those areas, where profit is coming from.

Want to understand and learn more about business research? Here are some of the books that will make you a pro in this field. Check out the list of business research books:

Also Read: Is It Possible to Study MBA in Europe Without GMAT?

The purpose of a report is to inform the other members, junior and subordinates of the team to provide information on the specific topic. There is a specific format of a business report which makes it look more professional and presentable. There should be a title with the date and nature. The second section includes the introduction, body, and then conclusion. Reports help to identify the issues and helps in resolving them at earlier stages. It can include graphs, surveys, interviews, flow, and piecharts also.

Are you wondering why is there a need to do business research? Business is not stable and it is vital to stay up to date with all the data and developments. It is also important to make business-related decisions, and keep track of competitors, customer feedback, and market changes. The basic objective of business research is to identify the issues and evaluate a plan to resolve them for better managerial functioning.

Now that you are familiar with the objective, importance, and advantages the next important step is to know how to conduct research. There are numerous tools available for free while for some advanced tools there is a membership. Check out the list of top 10 tools:

  • Google Keyword Tools
  • Google Analytics
  • Google Trends

The one thing constant in a business is market changes. A new trend or change comes every time you blink an eye. To keep track of everything externally and internally a research partner comes helpful. There are a few things to keep in mind that will help you in choosing the right business partner. The first thing to keep in mind is that the person should have relevant work experience and expertise in that particular field. An experienced partner can help businesses reach new heights. Look for a partner that can provide well-curated solutions and not the generic ideas that every enterprise follows. Last but not least is that your business research partner should have knowledge of the latest tools and techniques.

Also Read: MBA in Sustainable Development: Courses & Universities

Is your big presentation coming up or your report is due on Monday but you still haven’t finalized your business research topic? Here are some of the trendiest research topics for you:

  • How advertisements influence consumer behaviour?
  • Does incentive motivation increase employee productivity?
  • How to handle crises in the business?
  • How to create a work-life balance in the organization?
  • What are the things a small business owner has to face?
  • How to expand the company globally?
  • How is digital marketing helping every business type?
  • How to maintain the quality and quantity of products?
  • What are the struggles entrepreneurs of a start-up face?
  • How to create a budget and maintain company finances?

In order to build a career in Research , you can simply grab a degree in the field of Management , Business or Administration. So, students with an understanding of the core concepts of business and an inclination for research can consider it as a go-to option. Other suitable programs can be Master in Management , MBA Business Analytics , and MBA Data Analytics , to name a few.

To know more, check out Qualitative Research Methods !

It can simply mean researching every area of a business and using the provided information and data to ensure profit maximization.

There are different types of business research such as interviews, surveys, focus groups, correlational research, ethnographic research, case study research, and quantitative research methods, amongst others.

It is essentially important for various aspects of a business such as profit maximization, cost-cutting, financial management , personnel management, consumer behaviour, etc.

The process of research depends upon the type of research design you are opting for. To start with, we first need to determine the aim or objective of the research, then plan out the whole process which includes the types of methods we will be using, then the actual research that takes place followed by the data found that helps in understanding the key observations and how they can be implemented to actualize research hypothesis.

If you’re thinking to start a product line in your existing business or planning a startup, business research is a fundamental process that helps you to navigate the opportunities and obstacles in the marketplace. Knowing your strengths and weaknesses can help you come up with advanced and powerful research techniques that will make it easier to manage. Are you planning to take your higher education abroad? Then, you can quickly book a counselling session with the experts at Leverage Edu and we can help you build the right platform for you to grow in the corporate world.

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Which are the best business research methods.

12 min read Business research is a well-established way to get an edge in your market. In this article, we’ll cover some of the most valuable business research methods.

Business research is a well-established way to gain an edge in your target market . But less than 40% of US marketers use consumer research to make decisions, according to data from Google. Could the huge range of methodologies and techniques be preventing business research takeup?

In this article, we’ll lay out some of the most popular and valuable business research methods, from general approaches to industry-specific techniques, to help you decide which business research process is the best fit for you and your company.

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What do we mean by business research?

There are two primary areas of business research – understanding the market in which you’re operating, including the target consumers out there who don’t yet buy from you, and understanding your existing customers.

Market research

Market research is an umbrella term covering a wide variety of business research techniques which are used to help a business understand its target customer’s preferences.

This arm of business research often involves techniques like the focus group, where a moderated discussion helps companies understand their target audience, and survey research, including online surveys.

Customer feedback is an important part of any business intelligence process. This might come in the form of direct feedback, where a customer provides their opinion to a business either spontaneously or in response to a survey invitation or feedback form, or through indirect methods like social media listening.

As well as being able to assess customer satisfaction , this allows businesses to discover the unmet needs of their current customers. This kind of business research helps seed new product development, among other improvements.

Qualitative research methods for business

Qualitative business research techniques are all about the ‘why’ of what’s happening in your business. Rather than relying on data and statistics, they use description and human interpretation to investigate situations and events.

Qualitative research can be quite time-consuming and historically it has been harder to automate than quantitative methods, although nowadays tools are available to scale up qualitative data collection.

Even without these tools, qualitative research can be done with smaller sample sizes and still provides rich information that can offer lasting value.

Focus groups

Focus groups are a business research mainstay. They can help companies understand their current customers or target customers in a deep and authentic way using the power of conversation and connection. Focus groups can be valuable for nuanced topics, as well as controversial ones, since you can use the format to bring in multiple points of view from within your target audience.

As a form of qualitative research, focus groups are well-established with plenty of best practice advice and techniques available. They are also relatively familiar to the general public, which means low effort is required to on-board your participants.

At the height of COVID-19, Jittrapirom et al. (2021) used remote focus groups to study perceptions of car-sharing services in Bangkok, Thailand as a way of improving transport planning. They found that the ‘mental models’ of different stakeholder groups were significantly different depending on their understanding of the car-sharing concept. Working with the focus group, the researchers were able to collaboratively build a diagrammatic representation of how car-sharing works, which could then be used to help roll it out as a more sustainable means of transport in developing countries.

Ethnographic research

In ethnographic research, you study people in a naturally occurring setting. Rather than bringing them into your offices or restricting your data collection to a survey, you’re looking at the person and their environment as a whole.

In this sense, ethnographic research is all about understanding the context. You might be observing customers in a store, or interviewing them as they interact with your products and services. Ethnographic research in contexts like shopping malls, online discussion boards or social media can help you understand your target consumer too. Business research of this kind can be especially valuable in consultancy and B2B settings, where one business is looking to gain a deep understanding of another in order to help them improve.

Autmaring et al. (2018) studied SMEs working in B2B to investigate the potential for ethnographic research to improve product development. They found that although SME-level businesses had good access to their customers, their uptake of ethnographic research was low because of a lack of familiarity and concerns about expense. The B2B SMEs studied had low awareness of the benefits of ethnographic research and did not recognize that they were in a strong position to carry it out. This suggests that ethnographic research is an underused technique in business, and one that could offer significant advantages for SMEs especially.

Quantitative research methods for business

Like qualitative research methods, quantitative research methods help you understand your customer and your market better. Quantitative research can also be used to make forecasts and predictions about what might happen in the future. You can develop an in depth knowledge of your customers using existing data, or you can carry out business research to find out more about a specific research question.

Experimental research

In experimental research, you start out with a hypothesis about something happening in your business, and test it by manipulating an independent variable – or multiple independent variables – to find out the effect on a dependent variable. Strictly speaking, experimental research should follow rigorous scientific principles, but in business it’s more likely you will adopt a quasi-experimental approach with less emphasis on method and more on results.

One of the most popular applications of experimental research in business is A/B testing. A/B testing pits two or more variations of something against one another to find out which is more successful. It’s commonly used in marketing management when developing ads or marketing campaigns. In A/B testing, the hypothesis you’re testing is that both or all variations are equally successful. You’ll disprove this if one of the variants gets better results.

One of the benefits of A/B testing is that you can test multiple variants simultaneously by segmenting your audience.

For example, Kornitzer et. al (2020) used A/B testing in a healthcare setting to compare 9 patient messaging options to see which were more effective at preventing hospital appointment no-shows. The options each used a behavioral ‘nudge’ to encourage patients not to skip their appointments. By randomly assigning patients with upcoming appointments into groups, the researchers were able to test all 9 messaging approaches simultaneously. They determined that the most successful messages were those reminding people that skipping their appointment negatively impacted other patients who needed care.

Correlational research

Unlike causal research and experimental research, which look at relationships between a dependent variable and the independent variables acting on it, correlational research doesn’t deal with cause and effect. Instead it looks at phenomena that occur in proportion to one another, without one necessarily having to act on the other.

This kind of business research is helpful because it acts as a starting-point for further research. It can provide promising hypotheses that are worth investing in, as opposed to just guessing which variables might be related causally. Correlational research can also be used to bust myths and remove unhelpful assumptions.

For example, a correlational study by Stanley (2011) explored the relationship between corporate social responsibility and financial performance, using quantitative data to challenge assumptions that socially responsible behavior is negatively associated with financial success in business.

Combined qualitative and quantitative research methods

Mixed mode research.

Mixed mode is a form of business research that combines quantitative and qualitative research methods in a single research project. Qualitative business research can be used in an exploratory way to uncover the questions that should be addressed more deeply. Quantitative research is used to investigate specific research questions arising from the qualitative study. Then, a second round of qualitative research might be used to add depth and nuance to the quantitative verdict, bringing the insights to life.

Survey research

Surveys are a staple among business research methods, as well as being to collect data in other forms of research such as academic studies. A survey can generate both qualitative and quantitative data, depending on the question formats used. It’s a familiar format for most people, and can be taken in a variety of formats from online surveys to telephone surveys. This makes it a very inclusive method, giving you maximum access to your target audience. Survey business research can be used for everything from customer satisfaction to concept testing.

Today’s technology means that surveys can be integrated right into the experiences they’re measuring. This helps offset some of the weaknesses of the survey method, such as participants misremembering or generalizing their experiences, or forgetting details because of the time lag between the events being studied and the participant taking the survey.

For example, Virgin Media used on page surveys to gather user feedback from website customers who had abandoned their carts. These in-the-moment insights helped them not only to understand the customer pain points , but to put them right quickly and efficiently.

Case study research

In case study research, the emphasis is on depth rather than breadth. Researchers explore a particular phenomenon in situ, looking at how a group or organization behaved in a specific time and place, and what happened as a result. It is both a quantitative research method and a qualitative research method, as the research involves both types of data.

Case study research can be very helpful in business, as it offers an opportunity to learn how other companies approached a challenge you might be facing, and to learn from the solutions they devised and the obstacles they faced. However, this research method does require care and attention on the part of the researcher to make sure the research involves relevant cases. They must fully understand the similarities and differences between their own business goals and the situation being explored, in order to avoid incorrectly assuming equivalence and coming to faulty conclusions.

Case study research really comes into its own in emerging areas where best practice approaches are not yet firmly established.

For example, Urbaniti et al. (2020) conducted case study research on circular economy practices in multiple European manufacturing businesses. They noted different managers’ peculiar and innovative approaches to achieving the circular economy business model, taking into account environmental factors like legislation which helped shape the approaches.

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Types of Research – Explained with Examples


  • By DiscoverPhDs
  • October 2, 2020

Types of Research Design

Types of Research

Research is about using established methods to investigate a problem or question in detail with the aim of generating new knowledge about it.

It is a vital tool for scientific advancement because it allows researchers to prove or refute hypotheses based on clearly defined parameters, environments and assumptions. Due to this, it enables us to confidently contribute to knowledge as it allows research to be verified and replicated.

Knowing the types of research and what each of them focuses on will allow you to better plan your project, utilises the most appropriate methodologies and techniques and better communicate your findings to other researchers and supervisors.

Classification of Types of Research

There are various types of research that are classified according to their objective, depth of study, analysed data, time required to study the phenomenon and other factors. It’s important to note that a research project will not be limited to one type of research, but will likely use several.

According to its Purpose

Theoretical research.

Theoretical research, also referred to as pure or basic research, focuses on generating knowledge , regardless of its practical application. Here, data collection is used to generate new general concepts for a better understanding of a particular field or to answer a theoretical research question.

Results of this kind are usually oriented towards the formulation of theories and are usually based on documentary analysis, the development of mathematical formulas and the reflection of high-level researchers.

Applied Research

Here, the goal is to find strategies that can be used to address a specific research problem. Applied research draws on theory to generate practical scientific knowledge, and its use is very common in STEM fields such as engineering, computer science and medicine.

This type of research is subdivided into two types:

  • Technological applied research : looks towards improving efficiency in a particular productive sector through the improvement of processes or machinery related to said productive processes.
  • Scientific applied research : has predictive purposes. Through this type of research design, we can measure certain variables to predict behaviours useful to the goods and services sector, such as consumption patterns and viability of commercial projects.

Methodology Research

According to your Depth of Scope

Exploratory research.

Exploratory research is used for the preliminary investigation of a subject that is not yet well understood or sufficiently researched. It serves to establish a frame of reference and a hypothesis from which an in-depth study can be developed that will enable conclusive results to be generated.

Because exploratory research is based on the study of little-studied phenomena, it relies less on theory and more on the collection of data to identify patterns that explain these phenomena.

Descriptive Research

The primary objective of descriptive research is to define the characteristics of a particular phenomenon without necessarily investigating the causes that produce it.

In this type of research, the researcher must take particular care not to intervene in the observed object or phenomenon, as its behaviour may change if an external factor is involved.

Explanatory Research

Explanatory research is the most common type of research method and is responsible for establishing cause-and-effect relationships that allow generalisations to be extended to similar realities. It is closely related to descriptive research, although it provides additional information about the observed object and its interactions with the environment.

Correlational Research

The purpose of this type of scientific research is to identify the relationship between two or more variables. A correlational study aims to determine whether a variable changes, how much the other elements of the observed system change.

According to the Type of Data Used

Qualitative research.

Qualitative methods are often used in the social sciences to collect, compare and interpret information, has a linguistic-semiotic basis and is used in techniques such as discourse analysis, interviews, surveys, records and participant observations.

In order to use statistical methods to validate their results, the observations collected must be evaluated numerically. Qualitative research, however, tends to be subjective, since not all data can be fully controlled. Therefore, this type of research design is better suited to extracting meaning from an event or phenomenon (the ‘why’) than its cause (the ‘how’).

Quantitative Research

Quantitative research study delves into a phenomena through quantitative data collection and using mathematical, statistical and computer-aided tools to measure them . This allows generalised conclusions to be projected over time.

Types of Research Methodology

According to the Degree of Manipulation of Variables

Experimental research.

It is about designing or replicating a phenomenon whose variables are manipulated under strictly controlled conditions in order to identify or discover its effect on another independent variable or object. The phenomenon to be studied is measured through study and control groups, and according to the guidelines of the scientific method.

Non-Experimental Research

Also known as an observational study, it focuses on the analysis of a phenomenon in its natural context. As such, the researcher does not intervene directly, but limits their involvement to measuring the variables required for the study. Due to its observational nature, it is often used in descriptive research.

Quasi-Experimental Research

It controls only some variables of the phenomenon under investigation and is therefore not entirely experimental. In this case, the study and the focus group cannot be randomly selected, but are chosen from existing groups or populations . This is to ensure the collected data is relevant and that the knowledge, perspectives and opinions of the population can be incorporated into the study.

According to the Type of Inference

Deductive investigation.

In this type of research, reality is explained by general laws that point to certain conclusions; conclusions are expected to be part of the premise of the research problem and considered correct if the premise is valid and the inductive method is applied correctly.

Inductive Research

In this type of research, knowledge is generated from an observation to achieve a generalisation. It is based on the collection of specific data to develop new theories.

Hypothetical-Deductive Investigation

It is based on observing reality to make a hypothesis, then use deduction to obtain a conclusion and finally verify or reject it through experience.

Descriptive Research Design

According to the Time in Which it is Carried Out

Longitudinal study (also referred to as diachronic research).

It is the monitoring of the same event, individual or group over a defined period of time. It aims to track changes in a number of variables and see how they evolve over time. It is often used in medical, psychological and social areas .

Cross-Sectional Study (also referred to as Synchronous Research)

Cross-sectional research design is used to observe phenomena, an individual or a group of research subjects at a given time.

According to The Sources of Information

Primary research.

This fundamental research type is defined by the fact that the data is collected directly from the source, that is, it consists of primary, first-hand information.

Secondary research

Unlike primary research, secondary research is developed with information from secondary sources, which are generally based on scientific literature and other documents compiled by another researcher.

Action Research Methods

According to How the Data is Obtained

Documentary (cabinet).

Documentary research, or secondary sources, is based on a systematic review of existing sources of information on a particular subject. This type of scientific research is commonly used when undertaking literature reviews or producing a case study.

Field research study involves the direct collection of information at the location where the observed phenomenon occurs.

From Laboratory

Laboratory research is carried out in a controlled environment in order to isolate a dependent variable and establish its relationship with other variables through scientific methods.

Mixed-Method: Documentary, Field and/or Laboratory

Mixed research methodologies combine results from both secondary (documentary) sources and primary sources through field or laboratory research.

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The Four Types of Research Design — Everything You Need to Know

Jenny Romanchuk

Updated: December 11, 2023

Published: January 18, 2023

When you conduct research, you need to have a clear idea of what you want to achieve and how to accomplish it. A good research design enables you to collect accurate and reliable data to draw valid conclusions.

research design used to test different beauty products

In this blog post, we'll outline the key features of the four common types of research design with real-life examples from UnderArmor, Carmex, and more. Then, you can easily choose the right approach for your project.

Table of Contents

What is research design?

The four types of research design, research design examples.

Research design is the process of planning and executing a study to answer specific questions. This process allows you to test hypotheses in the business or scientific fields.

Research design involves choosing the right methodology, selecting the most appropriate data collection methods, and devising a plan (or framework) for analyzing the data. In short, a good research design helps us to structure our research.

Marketers use different types of research design when conducting research .

There are four common types of research design — descriptive, correlational, experimental, and diagnostic designs. Let’s take a look at each in more detail.

Researchers use different designs to accomplish different research objectives. Here, we'll discuss how to choose the right type, the benefits of each, and use cases.

Research can also be classified as quantitative or qualitative at a higher level. Some experiments exhibit both qualitative and quantitative characteristics.

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An experimental design is used when the researcher wants to examine how variables interact with each other. The researcher manipulates one variable (the independent variable) and observes the effect on another variable (the dependent variable).

In other words, the researcher wants to test a causal relationship between two or more variables.

In marketing, an example of experimental research would be comparing the effects of a television commercial versus an online advertisement conducted in a controlled environment (e.g. a lab). The objective of the research is to test which advertisement gets more attention among people of different age groups, gender, etc.

Another example is a study of the effect of music on productivity. A researcher assigns participants to one of two groups — those who listen to music while working and those who don't — and measure their productivity.

The main benefit of an experimental design is that it allows the researcher to draw causal relationships between variables.

One limitation: This research requires a great deal of control over the environment and participants, making it difficult to replicate in the real world. In addition, it’s quite costly.

Best for: Testing a cause-and-effect relationship (i.e., the effect of an independent variable on a dependent variable).


A correlational design examines the relationship between two or more variables without intervening in the process.

Correlational design allows the analyst to observe natural relationships between variables. This results in data being more reflective of real-world situations.

For example, marketers can use correlational design to examine the relationship between brand loyalty and customer satisfaction. In particular, the researcher would look for patterns or trends in the data to see if there is a relationship between these two entities.

Similarly, you can study the relationship between physical activity and mental health. The analyst here would ask participants to complete surveys about their physical activity levels and mental health status. Data would show how the two variables are related.

Best for: Understanding the extent to which two or more variables are associated with each other in the real world.


Descriptive research refers to a systematic process of observing and describing what a subject does without influencing them.

Methods include surveys, interviews, case studies, and observations. Descriptive research aims to gather an in-depth understanding of a phenomenon and answers when/what/where.

SaaS companies use descriptive design to understand how customers interact with specific features. Findings can be used to spot patterns and roadblocks.

For instance, product managers can use screen recordings by Hotjar to observe in-app user behavior. This way, the team can precisely understand what is happening at a certain stage of the user journey and act accordingly.

Brand24, a social listening tool, tripled its sign-up conversion rate from 2.56% to 7.42%, thanks to locating friction points in the sign-up form through screen recordings.

different types of research design: descriptive research example.

Carma Laboratories worked with research company MMR to measure customers’ reactions to the lip-care company’s packaging and product . The goal was to find the cause of low sales for a recently launched line extension in Europe.

The team moderated a live, online focus group. Participants were shown w product samples, while AI and NLP natural language processing identified key themes in customer feedback.

This helped uncover key reasons for poor performance and guided changes in packaging.

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Home » Research Methods – Types, Examples and Guide

Research Methods – Types, Examples and Guide

Table of Contents

Research Methods

Research Methods


Research Methods refer to the techniques, procedures, and processes used by researchers to collect , analyze, and interpret data in order to answer research questions or test hypotheses. The methods used in research can vary depending on the research questions, the type of data that is being collected, and the research design.

Types of Research Methods

Types of Research Methods are as follows:

Qualitative research Method

Qualitative research methods are used to collect and analyze non-numerical data. This type of research is useful when the objective is to explore the meaning of phenomena, understand the experiences of individuals, or gain insights into complex social processes. Qualitative research methods include interviews, focus groups, ethnography, and content analysis.

Quantitative Research Method

Quantitative research methods are used to collect and analyze numerical data. This type of research is useful when the objective is to test a hypothesis, determine cause-and-effect relationships, and measure the prevalence of certain phenomena. Quantitative research methods include surveys, experiments, and secondary data analysis.

Mixed Method Research

Mixed Method Research refers to the combination of both qualitative and quantitative research methods in a single study. This approach aims to overcome the limitations of each individual method and to provide a more comprehensive understanding of the research topic. This approach allows researchers to gather both quantitative data, which is often used to test hypotheses and make generalizations about a population, and qualitative data, which provides a more in-depth understanding of the experiences and perspectives of individuals.

Key Differences Between Research Methods

The following Table shows the key differences between Quantitative, Qualitative and Mixed Research Methods

Examples of Research Methods

Examples of Research Methods are as follows:

Qualitative Research Example:

A researcher wants to study the experience of cancer patients during their treatment. They conduct in-depth interviews with patients to gather data on their emotional state, coping mechanisms, and support systems.

Quantitative Research Example:

A company wants to determine the effectiveness of a new advertisement campaign. They survey a large group of people, asking them to rate their awareness of the product and their likelihood of purchasing it.

Mixed Research Example:

A university wants to evaluate the effectiveness of a new teaching method in improving student performance. They collect both quantitative data (such as test scores) and qualitative data (such as feedback from students and teachers) to get a complete picture of the impact of the new method.

Applications of Research Methods

Research methods are used in various fields to investigate, analyze, and answer research questions. Here are some examples of how research methods are applied in different fields:

  • Psychology : Research methods are widely used in psychology to study human behavior, emotions, and mental processes. For example, researchers may use experiments, surveys, and observational studies to understand how people behave in different situations, how they respond to different stimuli, and how their brains process information.
  • Sociology : Sociologists use research methods to study social phenomena, such as social inequality, social change, and social relationships. Researchers may use surveys, interviews, and observational studies to collect data on social attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors.
  • Medicine : Research methods are essential in medical research to study diseases, test new treatments, and evaluate their effectiveness. Researchers may use clinical trials, case studies, and laboratory experiments to collect data on the efficacy and safety of different medical treatments.
  • Education : Research methods are used in education to understand how students learn, how teachers teach, and how educational policies affect student outcomes. Researchers may use surveys, experiments, and observational studies to collect data on student performance, teacher effectiveness, and educational programs.
  • Business : Research methods are used in business to understand consumer behavior, market trends, and business strategies. Researchers may use surveys, focus groups, and observational studies to collect data on consumer preferences, market trends, and industry competition.
  • Environmental science : Research methods are used in environmental science to study the natural world and its ecosystems. Researchers may use field studies, laboratory experiments, and observational studies to collect data on environmental factors, such as air and water quality, and the impact of human activities on the environment.
  • Political science : Research methods are used in political science to study political systems, institutions, and behavior. Researchers may use surveys, experiments, and observational studies to collect data on political attitudes, voting behavior, and the impact of policies on society.

Purpose of Research Methods

Research methods serve several purposes, including:

  • Identify research problems: Research methods are used to identify research problems or questions that need to be addressed through empirical investigation.
  • Develop hypotheses: Research methods help researchers develop hypotheses, which are tentative explanations for the observed phenomenon or relationship.
  • Collect data: Research methods enable researchers to collect data in a systematic and objective way, which is necessary to test hypotheses and draw meaningful conclusions.
  • Analyze data: Research methods provide tools and techniques for analyzing data, such as statistical analysis, content analysis, and discourse analysis.
  • Test hypotheses: Research methods allow researchers to test hypotheses by examining the relationships between variables in a systematic and controlled manner.
  • Draw conclusions : Research methods facilitate the drawing of conclusions based on empirical evidence and help researchers make generalizations about a population based on their sample data.
  • Enhance understanding: Research methods contribute to the development of knowledge and enhance our understanding of various phenomena and relationships, which can inform policy, practice, and theory.

When to Use Research Methods

Research methods are used when you need to gather information or data to answer a question or to gain insights into a particular phenomenon.

Here are some situations when research methods may be appropriate:

  • To investigate a problem : Research methods can be used to investigate a problem or a research question in a particular field. This can help in identifying the root cause of the problem and developing solutions.
  • To gather data: Research methods can be used to collect data on a particular subject. This can be done through surveys, interviews, observations, experiments, and more.
  • To evaluate programs : Research methods can be used to evaluate the effectiveness of a program, intervention, or policy. This can help in determining whether the program is meeting its goals and objectives.
  • To explore new areas : Research methods can be used to explore new areas of inquiry or to test new hypotheses. This can help in advancing knowledge in a particular field.
  • To make informed decisions : Research methods can be used to gather information and data to support informed decision-making. This can be useful in various fields such as healthcare, business, and education.

Advantages of Research Methods

Research methods provide several advantages, including:

  • Objectivity : Research methods enable researchers to gather data in a systematic and objective manner, minimizing personal biases and subjectivity. This leads to more reliable and valid results.
  • Replicability : A key advantage of research methods is that they allow for replication of studies by other researchers. This helps to confirm the validity of the findings and ensures that the results are not specific to the particular research team.
  • Generalizability : Research methods enable researchers to gather data from a representative sample of the population, allowing for generalizability of the findings to a larger population. This increases the external validity of the research.
  • Precision : Research methods enable researchers to gather data using standardized procedures, ensuring that the data is accurate and precise. This allows researchers to make accurate predictions and draw meaningful conclusions.
  • Efficiency : Research methods enable researchers to gather data efficiently, saving time and resources. This is especially important when studying large populations or complex phenomena.
  • Innovation : Research methods enable researchers to develop new techniques and tools for data collection and analysis, leading to innovation and advancement in the field.

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Business Research Design: Exploratory, Descriptive and Causal Designs

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The objective of this chapter is to define and explain research design in detail. In this chapter, we discussed three major types of research designs, such as exploratory, descriptive and causal research designs. We also explained the mode of data used in each of these designs and the techniques to collect these data, which would ultimately helps the researcher to decide appropriate analysis technique. This chapter concludes with budgeting and scheduling of a business research project and elaborated the guidelines for writing a business research proposal. This chapter designed in such a way that the reader can appreciate these concepts by considering the examples and cartoon illustrations, which would better elicit and convince the concept understanding.

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By David Voreacos, Alex Nussbaum and Greg Farrel, Johnson and Johnson reaches a band-aid, Bloomberg Business week.

Due of lack of representativeness it is not possible to compare the results from different groups in a strict quantitative sense.

See Ref. Sudman ( 1980 ).

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Beri GC (1989) Marketing research, 1st edn. Tata McGraw-Hill, New Delhi

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Sudman S (1980) Improving the quality of shopping centre sampling. J Mark Res 17:423–431

Zikmund WG (2003) Business research methods, 7th edn. Thomson South-Western, Singapore, p 281

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In an experimental design, the primary goal is to isolate and identify the effects produced by the…

Dependent variable

Extraneous variable

Independent variable

An experiment has high… if one has confidence that the experiential treatment has been the source of change in the dependent variable.

Internal validity

External validity

Internal and external validity

Internal and external reliability

Which of the following is a threat to internal validity of an experimental design

Interaction of setting and treatment

Interaction effects of pre-testing

Reactive effects of experimental design

Which of the following effect in internal validity occurs when test units with extreme scores move closer to the average score during the course of the experiment

Statistical Regression

Selection bias


Which of the following statement is incorrect with respect to ‘An experimental design is a set of procedures specifying

How to test units (subjects) are divided into homogeneous sub samples

What independent variables or treatments are to be measured

What dependent variables are to be measured

How the extraneous variables are to be controlled

Randomization of test units is a part of…

A characteristic that distinguishes true experiments from weaker experimental designs is that true experiments include

Random assignment

Repeated measurements of the dependent variable

Random sampling

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Sreejesh, S., Mohapatra, S., Anusree, M.R. (2014). Business Research Design: Exploratory, Descriptive and Causal Designs. In: Business Research Methods. Springer, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-00539-3_3

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Experimental Research: Definition, Types, Design, Examples

Appinio Research · 14.05.2024 · 31min read

Experimental Research Definition Types Design Examples

Experimental research is a cornerstone of scientific inquiry, providing a systematic approach to understanding cause-and-effect relationships and advancing knowledge in various fields. At its core, experimental research involves manipulating variables, observing outcomes, and drawing conclusions based on empirical evidence. By controlling factors that could influence the outcome, researchers can isolate the effects of specific variables and make reliable inferences about their impact. This guide offers a step-by-step exploration of experimental research, covering key elements such as research design, data collection, analysis, and ethical considerations. Whether you're a novice researcher seeking to understand the basics or an experienced scientist looking to refine your experimental techniques, this guide will equip you with the knowledge and tools needed to conduct rigorous and insightful research.

What is Experimental Research?

Experimental research is a systematic approach to scientific inquiry that aims to investigate cause-and-effect relationships by manipulating independent variables and observing their effects on dependent variables. Experimental research primarily aims to test hypotheses, make predictions, and draw conclusions based on empirical evidence.

By controlling extraneous variables and randomizing participant assignment, researchers can isolate the effects of specific variables and establish causal relationships. Experimental research is characterized by its rigorous methodology, emphasis on objectivity, and reliance on empirical data to support conclusions.

Importance of Experimental Research

  • Establishing Cause-and-Effect Relationships : Experimental research allows researchers to establish causal relationships between variables by systematically manipulating independent variables and observing their effects on dependent variables. This provides valuable insights into the underlying mechanisms driving phenomena and informs theory development.
  • Testing Hypotheses and Making Predictions : Experimental research provides a structured framework for testing hypotheses and predicting the relationship between variables . By systematically manipulating variables and controlling for confounding factors, researchers can empirically test the validity of their hypotheses and refine theoretical models.
  • Informing Evidence-Based Practice : Experimental research generates empirical evidence that informs evidence-based practice in various fields, including healthcare, education, and business. Experimental research contributes to improving outcomes and informing decision-making in real-world settings by identifying effective interventions, treatments, and strategies.
  • Driving Innovation and Advancement : Experimental research drives innovation and advancement by uncovering new insights, challenging existing assumptions, and pushing the boundaries of knowledge. Through rigorous experimentation and empirical validation, researchers can develop novel solutions to complex problems and contribute to the advancement of science and technology.
  • Enhancing Research Rigor and Validity : Experimental research upholds high research rigor and validity standards by employing systematic methods, controlling for confounding variables, and ensuring replicability of findings. By adhering to rigorous methodology and ethical principles, experimental research produces reliable and credible evidence that withstands scrutiny and contributes to the cumulative body of knowledge.

Experimental research plays a pivotal role in advancing scientific understanding, informing evidence-based practice, and driving innovation across various disciplines. By systematically testing hypotheses, establishing causal relationships, and generating empirical evidence, experimental research contributes to the collective pursuit of knowledge and the improvement of society.

Understanding Experimental Design

Experimental design serves as the blueprint for your study, outlining how you'll manipulate variables and control factors to draw valid conclusions.

Experimental Design Components

Experimental design comprises several essential elements:

  • Independent Variable (IV) : This is the variable manipulated by the researcher. It's what you change to observe its effect on the dependent variable. For example, in a study testing the impact of different study techniques on exam scores, the independent variable might be the study method (e.g., flashcards, reading, or practice quizzes).
  • Dependent Variable (DV) : The dependent variable is what you measure to assess the effect of the independent variable. It's the outcome variable affected by the manipulation of the independent variable. In our study example, the dependent variable would be the exam scores.
  • Control Variables : These factors could influence the outcome but are kept constant or controlled to isolate the effect of the independent variable. Controlling variables helps ensure that any observed changes in the dependent variable can be attributed to manipulating the independent variable rather than other factors.
  • Experimental Group : This group receives the treatment or intervention being tested. It's exposed to the manipulated independent variable. In contrast, the control group does not receive the treatment and serves as a baseline for comparison.

Types of Experimental Designs

Experimental designs can vary based on the research question, the nature of the variables, and the desired level of control. Here are some common types:

  • Between-Subjects Design : In this design, different groups of participants are exposed to varying levels of the independent variable. Each group represents a different experimental condition, and participants are only exposed to one condition. For instance, in a study comparing the effectiveness of two teaching methods, one group of students would use Method A, while another would use Method B.
  • Within-Subjects Design : Also known as repeated measures design , this approach involves exposing the same group of participants to all levels of the independent variable. Participants serve as their own controls, and the order of conditions is typically counterbalanced to control for order effects. For example, participants might be tested on their reaction times under different lighting conditions, with the order of conditions randomized to eliminate any research bias .
  • Mixed Designs : Mixed designs combine elements of both between-subjects and within-subjects designs. This allows researchers to examine both between-group differences and within-group changes over time. Mixed designs help study complex phenomena that involve multiple variables and temporal dynamics.

Factors Influencing Experimental Design Choices

Several factors influence the selection of an appropriate experimental design:

  • Research Question : The nature of your research question will guide your choice of experimental design. Some questions may be better suited to between-subjects designs, while others may require a within-subjects approach.
  • Variables : Consider the number and type of variables involved in your study. A factorial design might be appropriate if you're interested in exploring multiple factors simultaneously. Conversely, if you're focused on investigating the effects of a single variable, a simpler design may suffice.
  • Practical Considerations : Practical constraints such as time, resources, and access to participants can impact your choice of experimental design. Depending on your study's specific requirements, some designs may be more feasible or cost-effective   than others .
  • Ethical Considerations : Ethical concerns, such as the potential risks to participants or the need to minimize harm, should also inform your experimental design choices. Ensure that your design adheres to ethical guidelines and safeguards the rights and well-being of participants.

By carefully considering these factors and selecting an appropriate experimental design, you can ensure that your study is well-designed and capable of yielding meaningful insights.

Experimental Research Elements

When conducting experimental research, understanding the key elements is crucial for designing and executing a robust study. Let's explore each of these elements in detail to ensure your experiment is well-planned and executed effectively.

Independent and Dependent Variables

In experimental research, the independent variable (IV) is the factor that the researcher manipulates or controls, while the dependent variable (DV) is the measured outcome or response. The independent variable is what you change in the experiment to observe its effect on the dependent variable.

For example, in a study investigating the effect of different fertilizers on plant growth, the type of fertilizer used would be the independent variable, while the plant growth (height, number of leaves, etc.) would be the dependent variable.

Control Groups and Experimental Groups

Control groups and experimental groups are essential components of experimental design. The control group serves as a baseline for comparison and does not receive the treatment or intervention being studied. Its purpose is to provide a reference point to assess the effects of the independent variable.

In contrast, the experimental group receives the treatment or intervention and is used to measure the impact of the independent variable. For example, in a drug trial, the control group would receive a placebo, while the experimental group would receive the actual medication.

Randomization and Random Sampling

Randomization is the process of randomly assigning participants to different experimental conditions to minimize biases and ensure that each participant has an equal chance of being assigned to any condition. Randomization helps control for extraneous variables and increases the study's internal validity .

Random sampling, on the other hand, involves selecting a representative sample from the population of interest to generalize the findings to the broader population. Random sampling ensures that each member of the population has an equal chance of being included in the sample, reducing the risk of sampling bias .

Replication and Reliability

Replication involves repeating the experiment to confirm the results and assess the reliability of the findings . It is essential for ensuring the validity of scientific findings and building confidence in the robustness of the results. A study that can be replicated consistently across different settings and by various researchers is considered more reliable. Researchers should strive to design experiments that are easily replicable and transparently report their methods to facilitate replication by others.

Validity: Internal, External, Construct, and Statistical Conclusion Validity

Validity refers to the degree to which an experiment measures what it intends to measure and the extent to which the results can be generalized to other populations or contexts. There are several types of validity that researchers should consider:

  • Internal Validity : Internal validity refers to the extent to which the study accurately assesses the causal relationship between variables. Internal validity is threatened by factors such as confounding variables, selection bias, and experimenter effects. Researchers can enhance internal validity through careful experimental design and control procedures.
  • External Validity : External validity refers to the extent to which the study's findings can be generalized to other populations or settings. External validity is influenced by factors such as the representativeness of the sample and the ecological validity of the experimental conditions. Researchers should consider the relevance and applicability of their findings to real-world situations.
  • Construct Validity : Construct validity refers to the degree to which the study accurately measures the theoretical constructs of interest. Construct validity is concerned with whether the operational definitions of the variables align with the underlying theoretical concepts. Researchers can establish construct validity through careful measurement selection and validation procedures.
  • Statistical Conclusion Validity : Statistical conclusion validity refers to the accuracy of the statistical analyses and conclusions drawn from the data. It ensures that the statistical tests used are appropriate for the data and that the conclusions drawn are warranted. Researchers should use robust statistical methods and report effect sizes and confidence intervals to enhance statistical conclusion validity.

By addressing these elements of experimental research and ensuring the validity and reliability of your study, you can conduct research that contributes meaningfully to the advancement of knowledge in your field.

How to Conduct Experimental Research?

Embarking on an experimental research journey involves a series of well-defined phases, each crucial for the success of your study. Let's explore the pre-experimental, experimental, and post-experimental phases to ensure you're equipped to conduct rigorous and insightful research.

Pre-Experimental Phase

The pre-experimental phase lays the foundation for your study, setting the stage for what's to come. Here's what you need to do:

  • Formulating Research Questions and Hypotheses : Start by clearly defining your research questions and formulating testable hypotheses. Your research questions should be specific, relevant, and aligned with your research objectives. Hypotheses provide a framework for testing the relationships between variables and making predictions about the outcomes of your study.
  • Reviewing Literature and Establishing Theoretical Framework : Dive into existing literature relevant to your research topic and establish a solid theoretical framework. Literature review helps you understand the current state of knowledge, identify research gaps, and build upon existing theories. A well-defined theoretical framework provides a conceptual basis for your study and guides your research design and analysis.

Experimental Phase

The experimental phase is where the magic happens – it's time to put your hypotheses to the test and gather data. Here's what you need to consider:

  • Participant Recruitment and Sampling Techniques : Carefully recruit participants for your study using appropriate sampling techniques . The sample should be representative of the population you're studying to ensure the generalizability of your findings. Consider factors such as sample size , demographics , and inclusion criteria when recruiting participants.
  • Implementing Experimental Procedures : Once you've recruited participants, it's time to implement your experimental procedures. Clearly outline the experimental protocol, including instructions for participants, procedures for administering treatments or interventions, and measures for controlling extraneous variables. Standardize your procedures to ensure consistency across participants and minimize sources of bias.
  • Data Collection and Measurement : Collect data using reliable and valid measurement instruments. Depending on your research questions and variables of interest, data collection methods may include surveys , observations, physiological measurements, or experimental tasks. Ensure that your data collection procedures are ethical, respectful of participants' rights, and designed to minimize errors and biases.

Post-Experimental Phase

In the post-experimental phase, you make sense of your data, draw conclusions, and communicate your findings  to the world . Here's what you need to do:

  • Data Analysis Techniques : Analyze your data using appropriate statistical techniques . Choose methods that are aligned with your research design and hypotheses. Standard statistical analyses include descriptive statistics, inferential statistics (e.g., t-tests, ANOVA), regression analysis , and correlation analysis. Interpret your findings in the context of your research questions and theoretical framework.
  • Interpreting Results and Drawing Conclusions : Once you've analyzed your data, interpret the results and draw conclusions. Discuss the implications of your findings, including any theoretical, practical, or real-world implications. Consider alternative explanations and limitations of your study and propose avenues for future research. Be transparent about the strengths and weaknesses of your study to enhance the credibility of your conclusions.
  • Reporting Findings : Finally, communicate your findings through research reports, academic papers, or presentations. Follow standard formatting guidelines and adhere to ethical standards for research reporting. Clearly articulate your research objectives, methods, results, and conclusions. Consider your target audience and choose appropriate channels for disseminating your findings to maximize impact and reach.

By meticulously planning and executing each experimental research phase, you can generate valuable insights, advance knowledge in your field, and contribute to scientific progress.

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Experimental Research Examples

Understanding how experimental research is applied in various contexts can provide valuable insights into its practical significance and effectiveness. Here are some examples illustrating the application of experimental research in different domains:

Market Research

Experimental studies are crucial in market research in testing hypotheses, evaluating marketing strategies, and understanding consumer behavior . For example, a company may conduct an experiment to determine the most effective advertising message for a new product. Participants could be exposed to different versions of an advertisement, each emphasizing different product features or appeals.

By measuring variables such as brand recall, purchase intent, and brand perception, researchers can assess the impact of each advertising message and identify the most persuasive approach.

Software as a Service (SaaS)

In the SaaS industry, experimental research is often used to optimize user interfaces, features, and pricing models to enhance user experience and drive engagement. For instance, a SaaS company may conduct A/B tests to compare two versions of its software interface, each with a different layout or navigation structure.

Researchers can identify design elements that lead to higher user satisfaction and retention by tracking user interactions, conversion rates, and customer feedback . Experimental research also enables SaaS companies to test new product features or pricing strategies before full-scale implementation, minimizing risks and maximizing return on investment.

Business Management

Experimental research is increasingly utilized in business management to inform decision-making, improve organizational processes, and drive innovation. For example, a business may conduct an experiment to evaluate the effectiveness of a new training program on employee productivity. Participants could be randomly assigned to either receive the training or serve as a control group.

By measuring performance metrics such as sales revenue, customer satisfaction, and employee turnover, researchers can assess the training program's impact and determine its return on investment. Experimental research in business management provides empirical evidence to support strategic initiatives and optimize resource allocation.

In healthcare , experimental research is instrumental in testing new treatments, interventions, and healthcare delivery models to improve patient outcomes and quality of care. For instance, a clinical trial may be conducted to evaluate the efficacy of a new drug in treating a specific medical condition. Participants are randomly assigned to either receive the experimental drug or a placebo, and their health outcomes are monitored over time.

By comparing the effectiveness of the treatment and placebo groups, researchers can determine the drug's efficacy, safety profile, and potential side effects. Experimental research in healthcare informs evidence-based practice and drives advancements in medical science and patient care.

These examples illustrate the versatility and applicability of experimental research across diverse domains, demonstrating its value in generating actionable insights, informing decision-making, and driving innovation. Whether in market research or healthcare, experimental research provides a rigorous and systematic approach to testing hypotheses, evaluating interventions, and advancing knowledge.

Experimental Research Challenges

Even with careful planning and execution, experimental research can present various challenges. Understanding these challenges and implementing effective solutions is crucial for ensuring the validity and reliability of your study. Here are some common challenges and strategies for addressing them.

Sample Size and Statistical Power

Challenge : Inadequate sample size can limit your study's generalizability and statistical power, making it difficult to detect meaningful effects. Small sample sizes increase the risk of Type II errors (false negatives) and reduce the reliability of your findings.

Solution : Increase your sample size to improve statistical power and enhance the robustness of your results. Conduct a power analysis before starting your study to determine the minimum sample size required to detect the effects of interest with sufficient power. Consider factors such as effect size, alpha level, and desired power when calculating sample size requirements. Additionally, consider using techniques such as bootstrapping or resampling to augment small sample sizes and improve the stability of your estimates.

To enhance the reliability of your experimental research findings, you can leverage our Sample Size Calculator . By determining the optimal sample size based on your desired margin of error, confidence level, and standard deviation, you can ensure the representativeness of your survey results. Don't let inadequate sample sizes hinder the validity of your study and unlock the power of precise research planning!

Confounding Variables and Bias

Challenge : Confounding variables are extraneous factors that co-vary with the independent variable and can distort the relationship between the independent and dependent variables. Confounding variables threaten the internal validity of your study and can lead to erroneous conclusions.

Solution : Implement control measures to minimize the influence of confounding variables on your results. Random assignment of participants to experimental conditions helps distribute confounding variables evenly across groups, reducing their impact on the dependent variable. Additionally, consider using matching or blocking techniques to ensure that groups are comparable on relevant variables. Conduct sensitivity analyses to assess the robustness of your findings to potential confounders and explore alternative explanations for your results.

Researcher Effects and Experimenter Bias

Challenge : Researcher effects and experimenter bias occur when the experimenter's expectations or actions inadvertently influence the study's outcomes. This bias can manifest through subtle cues, unintentional behaviors, or unconscious biases , leading to invalid conclusions.

Solution : Implement double-blind procedures whenever possible to mitigate researcher effects and experimenter bias. Double-blind designs conceal information about the experimental conditions from both the participants and the experimenters, minimizing the potential for bias. Standardize experimental procedures and instructions to ensure consistency across conditions and minimize experimenter variability. Additionally, consider using objective outcome measures or automated data collection procedures to reduce the influence of experimenter bias on subjective assessments.

External Validity and Generalizability

Challenge : External validity refers to the extent to which your study's findings can be generalized to other populations, settings, or conditions. Limited external validity restricts the applicability of your results and may hinder their relevance to real-world contexts.

Solution : Enhance external validity by designing studies closely resembling real-world conditions and populations of interest. Consider using diverse samples  that represent  the target population's demographic, cultural, and ecological variability. Conduct replication studies in different contexts or with different populations to assess the robustness and generalizability of your findings. Additionally, consider conducting meta-analyses or systematic reviews to synthesize evidence from multiple studies and enhance the external validity of your conclusions.

By proactively addressing these challenges and implementing effective solutions, you can strengthen the validity, reliability, and impact of your experimental research. Remember to remain vigilant for potential pitfalls throughout the research process and adapt your strategies as needed to ensure the integrity of your findings.

Advanced Topics in Experimental Research

As you delve deeper into experimental research, you'll encounter advanced topics and methodologies that offer greater complexity and nuance.

Quasi-Experimental Designs

Quasi-experimental designs resemble true experiments but lack random assignment to experimental conditions. They are often used when random assignment is impractical, unethical, or impossible. Quasi-experimental designs allow researchers to investigate cause-and-effect relationships in real-world settings where strict experimental control is challenging. Common examples include:

  • Non-Equivalent Groups Design : This design compares two or more groups that were not created through random assignment. While similar to between-subjects designs, non-equivalent group designs lack the random assignment of participants, increasing the risk of confounding variables.
  • Interrupted Time Series Design : In this design, multiple measurements are taken over time before and after an intervention is introduced. Changes in the dependent variable are assessed over time, allowing researchers to infer the impact of the intervention.
  • Regression Discontinuity Design : This design involves assigning participants to different groups based on a cutoff score on a continuous variable. Participants just above and below the cutoff are treated as if they were randomly assigned to different conditions, allowing researchers to estimate causal effects.

Quasi-experimental designs offer valuable insights into real-world phenomena but require careful consideration of potential confounding variables and limitations inherent to non-random assignment.

Factorial Designs

Factorial designs involve manipulating two or more independent variables simultaneously to examine their main effects and interactions. By systematically varying multiple factors, factorial designs allow researchers to explore complex relationships between variables and identify how they interact to influence outcomes. Common types of factorial designs include:

  • 2x2 Factorial Design : This design manipulates two independent variables, each with two levels. It allows researchers to examine the main effects of each variable as well as any interaction between them.
  • Mixed Factorial Design : In this design, one independent variable is manipulated between subjects, while another is manipulated within subjects. Mixed factorial designs enable researchers to investigate both between-subjects and within-subjects effects simultaneously.

Factorial designs provide a comprehensive understanding of how multiple factors contribute to outcomes and offer greater statistical efficiency compared to studying variables in isolation.

Longitudinal and Cross-Sectional Studies

Longitudinal studies involve collecting data from the same participants over an extended period, allowing researchers to observe changes and trajectories over time. Cross-sectional studies , on the other hand, involve collecting data from different participants at a single point in time, providing a snapshot of the population at that moment. Both longitudinal and cross-sectional studies offer unique advantages and challenges:

  • Longitudinal Studies : Longitudinal designs allow researchers to examine developmental processes, track changes over time, and identify causal relationships. However, longitudinal studies require long-term commitment, are susceptible to attrition and dropout, and may be subject to practice effects and cohort effects.
  • Cross-Sectional Studies : Cross-sectional designs are relatively quick and cost-effective, provide a snapshot of population characteristics, and allow for comparisons across different groups. However, cross-sectional studies cannot assess changes over time or establish causal relationships between variables.

Researchers should carefully consider the research question, objectives, and constraints when choosing between longitudinal and cross-sectional designs.

Meta-Analysis and Systematic Reviews

Meta-analysis and systematic reviews are quantitative methods used to synthesize findings from multiple studies and draw robust conclusions. These methods offer several advantages:

  • Meta-Analysis : Meta-analysis combines the results of multiple studies using statistical techniques to estimate overall effect sizes and assess the consistency of findings across studies. Meta-analysis increases statistical power, enhances generalizability, and provides more precise estimates of effect sizes.
  • Systematic Reviews : Systematic reviews involve systematically searching, appraising, and synthesizing existing literature on a specific topic. Systematic reviews provide a comprehensive summary of the evidence, identify gaps and inconsistencies in the literature, and inform future research directions.

Meta-analysis and systematic reviews are valuable tools for evidence-based practice, guiding policy decisions, and advancing scientific knowledge by aggregating and synthesizing empirical evidence from diverse sources.

By exploring these advanced topics in experimental research, you can expand your methodological toolkit, tackle more complex research questions, and contribute to deeper insights and understanding in your field.

Experimental Research Ethical Considerations

When conducting experimental research, it's imperative to uphold ethical standards and prioritize the well-being and rights of participants. Here are some key ethical considerations to keep in mind throughout the research process:

  • Informed Consent : Obtain informed consent from participants before they participate in your study. Ensure that participants understand the purpose of the study, the procedures involved, any potential risks or benefits, and their right to withdraw from the study at any time without penalty.
  • Protection of Participants' Rights : Respect participants' autonomy, privacy, and confidentiality throughout the research process. Safeguard sensitive information and ensure that participants' identities are protected. Be transparent about how their data will be used and stored.
  • Minimizing Harm and Risks : Take steps to mitigate any potential physical or psychological harm to participants. Conduct a risk assessment before starting your study and implement appropriate measures to reduce risks. Provide support services and resources for participants who may experience distress or adverse effects as a result of their participation.
  • Confidentiality and Data Security : Protect participants' privacy and ensure the security of their data. Use encryption and secure storage methods to prevent unauthorized access to sensitive information. Anonymize data whenever possible to minimize the risk of data breaches or privacy violations.
  • Avoiding Deception : Minimize the use of deception in your research and ensure that any deception is justified by the scientific objectives of the study. If deception is necessary, debrief participants fully at the end of the study and provide them with an opportunity to withdraw their data if they wish.
  • Respecting Diversity and Cultural Sensitivity : Be mindful of participants' diverse backgrounds, cultural norms, and values. Avoid imposing your own cultural biases on participants and ensure that your research is conducted in a culturally sensitive manner. Seek input from diverse stakeholders to ensure your research is inclusive and respectful.
  • Compliance with Ethical Guidelines : Familiarize yourself with relevant ethical guidelines and regulations governing research with human participants, such as those outlined by institutional review boards (IRBs) or ethics committees. Ensure that your research adheres to these guidelines and that any potential ethical concerns are addressed appropriately.
  • Transparency and Openness : Be transparent about your research methods, procedures, and findings. Clearly communicate the purpose of your study, any potential risks or limitations, and how participants' data will be used. Share your research findings openly and responsibly, contributing to the collective body of knowledge in your field.

By prioritizing ethical considerations in your experimental research, you demonstrate integrity, respect, and responsibility as a researcher, fostering trust and credibility in the scientific community.

Conclusion for Experimental Research

Experimental research is a powerful tool for uncovering causal relationships and expanding our understanding of the world around us. By carefully designing experiments, collecting data, and analyzing results, researchers can make meaningful contributions to their fields and address pressing questions. However, conducting experimental research comes with responsibilities. Ethical considerations are paramount to ensure the well-being and rights of participants, as well as the integrity of the research process. Researchers can build trust and credibility in their work by upholding ethical standards and prioritizing participant safety and autonomy. Furthermore, as you continue to explore and innovate in experimental research, you must remain open to new ideas and methodologies. Embracing diversity in perspectives and approaches fosters creativity and innovation, leading to breakthrough discoveries and scientific advancements. By promoting collaboration and sharing findings openly, we can collectively push the boundaries of knowledge and tackle some of society's most pressing challenges.

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Types of market research: Methods and examples


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Here at GWI we publish a steady stream of blogs, reports, and other resources that dig deep into specific market research topics.

But what about the folks who’d appreciate a more general overview of market research that explains the big picture? Don’t they deserve some love too?

Of course they do. That’s why we’ve created this overview guide focusing on types of market research and examples. With so many market research companies to choose from, having a solid general understanding of how this sector works is essential for any brand or business that wants to pick the right market research partner.

So with that in mind, let’s start at the very beginning and get clear on…

Market research definition

At the risk of stating the slightly obvious, market research is the gathering and analyzing of data on consumers, competitors, distributors, and markets. As such it’s not quite the same as consumer research , but there’s significant overlap.

Market research matters because it can help you take the guesswork out of getting through to audiences. By studying consumers and gathering information on their likes, dislikes, and so on, brands can make evidence-based decisions instead of relying on instinct or experience. 

what are the four types of studies in business research

What is market research?

Market research is the organized gathering of information about target markets and consumers’ needs and preferences. It’s an important component of business strategy and a major factor in maintaining competitiveness.

If a business wants to know – really know – what sort of products or services consumers want to buy, along with where, when, and how those products and services should be marketed, it just makes sense to ask the prospective audience. 

Without the certainty that market research brings, a business is basically hoping for the best. And while we salute their optimism, that’s not exactly a reliable strategy for success.

What are the types of market research?

Primary research .

Primary research is a type of market research you either conduct yourself or hire someone to do on your behalf.

A classic example of primary research involves going directly to a source – typically customers or prospective customers in your target market – to ask questions and gather information about a product or service. Interviewing methods include in-person, online surveys, phone calls, and focus groups.

The big advantage of primary research is that it’s directly focused on your objectives, so the outcome will be conclusive, detailed insights – particularly into customer views – making it the gold standard.

The disadvantages are it can be time-consuming and potentially costly, plus there’s a risk of survey bias creeping in, in the sense that research samples may not be representative of the wider group.

Secondary research 

Primary market research means you collect the data your business needs, whereas the types of market research known as secondary market research use information that’s already been gathered for other purposes but can still be valuable. Examples include published market studies, white papers, analyst reports, customer emails, and customer surveys/feedback.

For many small businesses with limited budgets, secondary market research is their first choice because it’s easier to acquire and far more affordable than primary research.

Secondary research can still answer specific business questions, but with limitations. The data collected from that audience may not match your targeted audience exactly, resulting in skewed outcomes. 

A big benefit of secondary market research is helping lay the groundwork and get you ready to carry out primary market research by making sure you’re focused on what matters most.

what are the four types of studies in business research

Qualitative research

Qualitative research is one of the two fundamental types of market research. Qualitative research is about people and their opinions. Typically conducted by asking questions either one-on-one or in groups, qualitative research can help you define problems and learn about customers’ opinions, values, and beliefs.

Classic examples of qualitative research are long-answer questions like “Why do you think this product is better than competitive products? Why do you think it’s not?”, or “How would you improve this new service to make it more appealing?”

Because qualitative research generally involves smaller sample sizes than its close cousin quantitative research, it gives you an anecdotal overview of your subject, rather than highly detailed information that can help predict future performance.

Qualitative research is particularly useful if you’re developing a new product, service, website or ad campaign and want to get some feedback before you commit a large budget to it.

Quantitative research

If qualitative research is all about opinions, quantitative research is all about numbers, using math to uncover insights about your audience. 

Typical quantitative research questions are things like, “What’s the market size for this product?” or “How long are visitors staying on this website?”. Clearly the answers to both will be numerical.

Quantitative research usually involves questionnaires. Respondents are asked to complete the survey, which marketers use to understand consumer needs, and create strategies and marketing plans.

Importantly, because quantitative research is math-based, it’s statistically valid, which means you’re in a good position to use it to predict the future direction of your business.

Consumer research 

As its name implies, consumer research gathers information about consumers’ lifestyles, behaviors, needs and preferences, usually in relation to a particular product or service. It can include both quantitative and qualitative studies.

Examples of consumer research in action include finding ways to improve consumer perception of a product, or creating buyer personas and market segments, which help you successfully market your product to different types of customers.

Understanding consumer trends , driven by consumer research, helps businesses understand customer psychology and create detailed purchasing behavior profiles. The result helps brands improve their products and services by making them more customer-centric, increasing customer satisfaction, and boosting bottom line in the process.

Product research 

Product research gives a new product (or indeed service, we don’t judge) its best chance of success, or helps an existing product improve or increase market share.

It’s common sense: by finding out what consumers want and adjusting your offering accordingly, you gain a competitive edge. It can be the difference between a product being a roaring success or an abject failure.

Examples of product research include finding ways to develop goods with a higher value, or identifying exactly where innovation effort should be focused. 

Product research goes hand-in-hand with other strands of market research, helping you make informed decisions about what consumers want, and what you can offer them.

Brand research  

Brand research is the process of gathering feedback from your current, prospective, and even past customers to understand how your brand is perceived by the market.

It covers things like brand awareness, brand perceptions, customer advocacy, advertising effectiveness, purchase channels, audience profiling, and whether or not the brand is a top consideration for consumers.

The result helps take the guesswork out of your messaging and brand strategy. Like all types of market research, it gives marketing leaders the data they need to make better choices based on fact rather than opinion or intuition.

Market research methods 

So far we’ve reviewed various different types of market research, now let’s look at market research methods, in other words the practical ways you can uncover those all-important insights.

Consumer research platform 

A consumer research platform like GWI is a smart way to find on-demand market research insights in seconds.

In a world of fluid markets and changing attitudes, a detailed understanding of your consumers, developed using the right research platform, enables you to stop guessing and start knowing.

As well as providing certainty, consumer research platforms massively accelerate speed to insight. Got a question? Just jump on your consumer research platform and find the answer – job done.

The ability to mine data for answers like this is empowering – suddenly you’re in the driving seat with a world of possibilities ahead of you. Compared to the most obvious alternative – commissioning third party research that could take weeks to arrive – the right consumer research platform is basically a magic wand.

Admittedly we’re biased, but GWI delivers all this and more. Take our platform for a quick spin and see for yourself.

And the downside of using a consumer research platform? Well, no data set, however fresh or thorough, can answer every question. If you need really niche insights then your best bet is custom market research , where you can ask any question you like, tailored to your exact needs.

Face-to-face interviews 

Despite the rise in popularity of online surveys , face-to-face survey interviewing – using mobile devices or even the classic paper survey – is still a popular data collection method.

In terms of advantages, face-to-face interviews help with accurate screening, in the sense the interviewee can’t easily give misleading answers about, say, their age. The interviewer can also make a note of emotions and non-verbal cues. 

On the other hand, face-to-face interviews can be costly, while the quality of data you get back often depends on the ability of the interviewer. Also, the size of the sample is limited to the size of your interviewing staff, the area in which the interviews are conducted, and the number of qualified respondents within that area.

Social listening 

Social listening is a powerful solution for brands who want to keep an ear to the ground, gathering unfiltered thoughts and opinions from consumers who are posting on social media. 

Many social listening tools store data for up to a couple of years, great for trend analysis that needs to compare current and past conversations.

Social listening isn’t limited to text. Images, videos, and emojis often help us better understand what consumers are thinking, saying, and doing better than more traditional research methods. 

Perhaps the biggest downside is there are no guarantees with social listening, and you never know what you will (or won’t) find. It can also be tricky to gauge sentiment accurately if the language used is open to misinterpretation, for example if a social media user describes something as “sick”.

There’s also a potential problem around what people say vs. what they actually do. Tweeting about the gym is a good deal easier than actually going. The wider problem – and this may shock you – is that not every single thing people write on social media is necessarily true, which means social listening can easily deliver unreliable results.

Public domain data 

Public domain data comes from think tanks and government statistics or research centers like the UK’s National Office for Statistics or the United States Census Bureau and the National Institute of Statistical Sciences. Other sources are things like research journals, news media, and academic material.

Its advantages for market research are it’s cheap (or even free), quick to access, and easily available. Public domain datasets can be huge, so potentially very rich.

On the flip side, the data can be out of date, it certainly isn’t exclusive to you, and the collection methodology can leave much to be desired. But used carefully, public domain data can be a useful source of secondary market research.

Telephone interviews 

You know the drill – you get a call from a researcher who asks you questions about a particular topic and wants to hear your opinions. Some even pay or offer other rewards for your time.

Telephone surveys are great for reaching niche groups of consumers within a specific geographic area or connected to a particular brand, or who aren’t very active in online channels. They’re not well-suited for gathering data from broad population groups, simply because of the time and labor involved.

How to use market research 

Data isn’t an end in itself; instead it’s a springboard to make other stuff happen. So once you’ve drawn conclusions from your research, it’s time to think of what you’ll actually do based on your findings.

While it’s impossible for us to give a definitive list (every use case is different), here are some suggestions to get you started.

Leverage it . Think about ways to expand the use – and value – of research data and insights, for example by using research to support business goals and functions, like sales, market share or product design.

Integrate it . Expand the value of your research data by integrating it with other data sources, internal and external. Integrating data like this can broaden your perspective and help you draw deeper insights for more confident decision-making.

Justify it . Enlist colleagues from areas that’ll benefit from the insights that research provides – that could be product management, product development, customer service, marketing, sales or many others – and build a business case for using research.

How to choose the right type of market research 

Broadly speaking, choosing the right research method depends on knowing the type of data you need to collect. To dig into ideas and opinions, choose qualitative; to do some testing, it’s quantitative you want.

There are also a bunch of practical considerations, not least cost. If a particular approach sounds great but costs the earth then clearly it’s not ideal for any brand on a budget.

Then there’s how you intend to use the actual research, your level of expertise with research data, whether you need access to historical data or just a snapshot of today, and so on.

The point is, different methods suit different situations. When choosing, you’ll want to consider what you want to achieve, what data you’ll need, the pros and cons of each method, the costs of conducting the research, and the cost of analyzing the results. 

Market research examples

Independent agency Bright/Shift used GWI consumer insights to shape a high-impact go-to-market strategy for their sustainable furniture client, generating £41K in revenue in the first month. Here’s how they made the magic happen .

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Types of Business Research

What is business research.

Business Research represents a structured approach to collecting appropriate information concerning a firm’s operations to optimize profits and facilitate well-informed decision-making. This process includes acquiring comprehensive data about diverse aspects of business, including market dynamics, consumer trends, and competitive landscapes, to pinpoint opportunities, minimize expenses, and boost overall business efficacy.

Key Takeaways: Business Research involves structured data collection to optimize profits and inform decision-making . Qualitative Research gathers non-numerical data for deep understanding. It includes interviews, focus groups, ethnographic studies, website visitor research, observational studies, and case studies. Quantitative Research quantifies social phenomena using statistical methods. Types of quantitative research include survey research, correlational research, causal-comparative research, experimental research, and literature research.

Table of Content

I. Qualitative Research

1. interviews, 2. focus groups, 3. ethnographic research, 4. website visitor research, 5. observational studies, 6. case study, ii. quantitative research, 1. survey research, 2. correlational research, 3. causal-comparative research, 4. experimental research, 5. literature research.

Qualitative Research is about gathering and studying information that isn’t numbers, like videos, words, or sounds, to grasp ideas, opinions, or experiences. It helps us dig deep into issues or come up with fresh research ideas. Unlike quantitative research, which deals with numbers, qualitative research focuses on understanding things more deeply rather than crushing statistics.

Interviews focus on a one-on-one dialogue between a researcher and a participant, aiming to delve into profound insights, opinions, and experiences concerning a specific subject.

  • Open Exploration: Interviews allow for open-ended and examining inquiries, enabling the exploration of intricate topics in depth.
  • Non-verbal Insight: They provide the opportunity to observe non-verbal hints and establish rapport with the participant, fostering a deeper understanding.
  • Clarification Opportunity: Additionally, interviews empower the researcher to seek further context and explain responses as necessary, ensuring clarity and depth in data collection.


  • Rich Data Yield: Interviews get comprehensive and detailed data from the participants’ viewpoints, offering valuable insights into their perspectives.
  • Personalized Interaction: They offer a personalized and interactive research methodology, allowing for tailored inquiries based on participant responses.
  • Flexibility: Interviews provide flexibility to adapt the questioning and focus areas based on the participant’s feedback, enhancing the depth of understanding.


  • Resource Intensiveness: Conducting and analyzing interviews can be time-consuming and resource-intensive, requiring substantial investment .
  • Potential for Bias: There’s a risk of interviewer bias or participant reactivity influencing the data, which may compromise its objectivity.
  • Generalization Challenges : Findings from interviews may be challenging to generalize due to the limited sample size, potentially limiting broader applicability.
For example, researchers from the Indian Institute of Management in Ahmedabad engaged in in-depth interviews with rural entrepreneurs in Gujarat to separate the motivations and hurdles underlying their entrepreneurial aspirations.

Focus groups involve small group discussions, typically comprising 6–12 participants, facilitated by a researcher to explore attitudes, perceptions, and behaviors around a specific topic.

  • Interactive Discussions: Focus Groups encourage group interaction and dynamic discussions among participants, supporting a collaborative exploration of the topic.
  • Observational Insight: They allow the researcher to observe non-verbal clues and group dynamics, providing additional layers of understanding.
  • Effortless Analysis: Additionally, focus groups provide the flexibility to analyze and follow up on interesting insights, enhancing the depth of exploration.
  • Contextual Data Generation: Focus Groups generate rich, contextual data through group interactions, offering insights into shared perspectives.
  • Diverse Perspectives: They enable the researcher to gather diverse perspectives on a topic, enriching the understanding of complex phenomena.
  • Cost-effectiveness: Focus Groups offer a cost-effective and efficient way to collect qualitative data compared to other methods, optimizing resource utilization.
  • Influence of Group Dynamics : There’s a risk that group dynamics may influence individual responses, potentially leading to conformity bias or dominant participant effects.
  • Generalization Challenges: Findings from focus groups may be difficult to generalize due to the small sample size and the specific context of the discussion.
  • Facilitation Complexity: Skilled facilitation is required to manage group dynamics and ensure balanced participation, adding a layer of complexity to the process.
For example, the National Institute of Design in India conducted focus group discussions with urban consumers to understand their preferences and attitudes towards sustainable fashion products.

Ethnographic Research involves the in-depth study of a cultural group or community, where the researcher immerses themselves in the natural setting to observe and understand the group’s behaviors, customs, and interactions.

  • Extended Engagement: Ethnographic Research focuses on the researcher’s prolonged immersion and observation within the research setting, allowing for in-depth understanding.
  • Cultural Context Focus: It focuses on understanding the cultural context and meanings behind behaviors and practices, uncovering deeper layers of understanding.
  • Multi-method Approach: Additionally, ethnographic research utilizes a range of data collection methods, such as participant observation, interviews, and document analysis, ensuring comprehensive data collection.
  • Holistic Understanding: Ethnographic Research provides a holistic and contextual understanding of the subject, capturing the complexities of human behavior and culture.
  • Rich Data Capture: It generates rich, detailed data that captures the variations of human behavior and cultural practices, offering insights that may not be accessible through other methods.
  • Insight Unveiling: Ethnographic Research allows the researcher to uncover hidden insights and challenge assumptions, shedding light on complex societal phenomena.
  • Resource Intensiveness: Conducting ethnographic research requires significant time and resources for the researcher to immerse themselves in the field, which can be challenging to sustain.
  • Potential for Bias: There’s a risk of researcher bias and subjectivity due to the close involvement with the research subject, which may influence data interpretation.
  • Generalization Challenges: Findings from ethnographic research may be difficult to generalize due to the unique cultural context of the study, limiting broader applicability.
For example, anthropologists from the Tata Institute of Social Sciences conducted an ethnographic study of the Warli tribal community in Maharashtra, India, to understand their traditional art, rituals, and livelihood practices.

Website Visitor Research involves the study of user behavior, preferences, and interactions on a website or digital platform to understand the user experience and inform design and content decisions.

  • Diverse Data Collection Methods: Website Visitor Research utilizes various data collection methods, such as web analytics, user testing, and online surveys, to gather comprehensive insights.
  • User Journey Understanding: It focuses on understanding the user’s journey, pain points, and decision-making processes, providing valuable information for website optimization.
  • Effectiveness Evaluation: Website Visitor Research evaluates the effectiveness of the website’s design, content, and functionality in engaging users and achieving desired outcomes.
  • Data-driven Insights: Website Visitor Research generates data-driven insights to optimize the website for better user engagement and conversion, boosting overall performance.
  • User Feedback Utilization: It enables the identification of user pain points and opportunities for improvement, guiding iterative design and content enhancements.
  • Cost-effectiveness: Website Visitor Research provides a cost-effective and scalable way to gather user feedback and behavior data compared to traditional methods.
  • Reliance on Self-reported Data: There’s a reliance on self-reported data from surveys or user testing, which may be subject to bias and inaccuracies.
  • Causality Establishment Difficulty: Difficulty exists in establishing causality between website elements and user behavior, requiring careful interpretation of data.
  • Researcher Presence Influence: There’s a potential for changes in user behavior due to the presence of the researcher, impacting the validity of findings.
For example, the e-commerce platform Flipkart conducted extensive website visitor research, including user testing and analytics, to understand the browsing and purchasing behavior of its customers and optimize the platform’s user experience.

Observational Studies involve the systematic observation and recording of human behavior, activities, and interactions in their natural environment without direct intervention from the researcher.

  • Real-world Context: Observational Studies focus on understanding the context and natural behaviors of the research subjects, providing insights into everyday situations.
  • Data Collection Techniques: Techniques such as direct observation, video recording, and field notes are utilized to gather data on human behavior and interactions.
  • Non-verbal Behavior Observation: They allow the researcher to gather data on non-verbal hints and spontaneous behaviors, providing a comprehensive view of human actions.
  • Insights into Real-World Behaviors: Observational Studies provide insights into real-world behaviors and interactions that may not be captured through self-reported data.
  • Uncovering Hidden Patterns: They enable the researcher to uncover hidden patterns and differences in human behavior, leading to a deeper understanding of the research subject.
  • Exploration of Complex Topics: Observational Studies permit the exploration of complex, dynamic, or sensitive research topics in their natural setting.
  • Observer Effect: There is a risk that the researcher’s presence may influence the observed behavior, potentially altering the natural state of the environment.
  • Generalization Challenges: Findings from observational studies may be difficult to generalize due to the small sample size and specific context of the observation.
  • Resource Intensiveness: Conducting comprehensive observational studies can be time-consuming and resource-intensive, requiring careful planning and execution.
For example, researchers from the National Institute of Design conducted observational studies in rural Indian communities to understand the daily routines, social interactions, and design needs of the residents to inform the development of appropriate technologies and products.

A case study involves an in-depth investigation of a single or multiple cases, such as individuals, firms, events, or phenomena, aiming to gain a comprehensive understanding of the subject.

  • Specific Context Focus: Case Studies focus on a specific, real-world case or situation in its natural context, allowing for detailed examination.
  • Multiple Data Sources: They utilize multiple data sources, including interviews, observations, and document analysis, to provide a comprehensive view of the case.
  • Holistic Understanding: Additionally, case studies aim to provide a detailed, holistic, and contextual understanding of the case, capturing various dimensions of the subject.
  • Depth of Understanding: Case Studies allow for a deep, refined understanding of complex phenomena, offering insights that may not be achievable through other methods.
  • Theory Development Support: They provide insights that can inform theory development and practical applications, contributing to knowledge advancement.
  • Unique Case Exploration: Case Studies enable the exploration of unique or rare cases that may not be accessible through other research methods, enriching the understanding of diverse contexts.
  • Limited Generalizability: Findings from case studies may not be generalizable to other contexts or situations, limiting their broader applicability.
  • Potential for Bias : There’s a risk of researcher bias in the selection and interpretation of the case, which may influence the findings.
  • Resource Intensiveness: Conducting a comprehensive case study can be time-consuming and resource-intensive, requiring substantial investment.
For instance, the Indian School of Business conducted a case study on the successful turnaround of Tata Motors, analyzing the company’s strategies, leadership, and organizational changes that led to its revival.

Quantitative Research constitutes a systematic approach aimed at gathering and analyzing numerical data to quantify social phenomena and generate empirical findings. By employing statistical and mathematical techniques, this method rigorously tests theories and hypotheses concerning individuals’ attitudes and behaviors. It adopts an objective and formal framework, emphasizing the precision and reliability of its outcomes.

Survey Research involves collecting data from a targeted group through surveys, questionnaires , or polls to gather insights and opinions on a specific topic.

  • Structured Questioning: It can efficiently gather quantitative data by utilizing structured questions.
  • Multi-platform Availability: Surveys can be conducted online, via phone, or in person, offering flexibility in data collection methods.
  • Large Sample Sizes: This method allows for the inclusion of large sample sizes, ensuring statistically significant results.
  • Snapshot of Population: Surveys provide a snapshot of opinions and behaviors within a population.
  • Diverse Participant Pool: They enable data collection from a diverse group of participants, enhancing the breadth of insights.
  • Quick Data Collection: Surveys offer swift data collection and analysis, facilitating timely decision-making.
  • Response Bias Risk: Surveys are prone to potential response bias or inaccuracies due to self-reporting.
  • Limited Depth: They offer a limited depth of insights compared to qualitative methods.
  • Response Rate Challenges: Surveys face challenges in ensuring high response rates and representative samples.
For instance, Nielsen India surveyed to gather consumer feedback on a new product launch in the Indian market.

Correlational Research will analyze the relationship between two or more variables to detect if changes in an individual variable are associated with changes in another.

  • Pattern Identification: Correlational Research can detect patterns and associations between variables.
  • Statistical Analysis: It involves using statistical analysis to measure the strength and direction of relationships.
  • Non-causal Inference: This method can infer associations between variables but does not establish causation.
  • Relationship Insights: Correlational Research provides insights into relationships between variables without manipulation.
  • Outcome Prediction: It allows for the prediction of outcomes based on correlations observed.
  • Preliminary Data: Correlational Studies offer valuable preliminary data for further research or hypothesis testing.
  • Causation Ambiguity: Correlational Research cannot establish causation or determine the direction of effects between variables.
  • Third Variables Influence: It is vulnerable to the influence of third variables or confounding factors that may affect the observed correlations.
  • Mechanism Explanation Limitation: Correlational Studies are limited in explaining the underlying mechanisms driving the relationships observed.
For instance, researchers at IIT Delhi conducted a correlational study to explore the relationship between air pollution levels and respiratory illnesses in urban areas.

Causal-comparative Research investigates the cause-and-effect relationship between variables by comparing groups that differ on a specific factor.

  • Impact Exploration: Causal-comparative Research focuses on exploring the impact of an independent variable on a dependent variable.
  • Natural Group Comparison: It involves comparing groups that naturally differ in the variable of interest.
  • Causal Relationship Determination: This method seeks to determine the causal relationship between variables.
  • Cause-and-effect Examination: Causal-comparative Research allows for the examination of cause-and-effect relationships in non-experimental settings.
  • Effects Insights: It provides insights into the effects of variables without direct manipulation.
  • Information Value : Causal-comparative Studies offer valuable information for understanding the impact of variables on outcomes.
  • Causality Ambiguity: Causal-comparative Research cannot establish a direct cause-and-effect relationship due to the lack of experimental control.
  • Confounding Variables Influence: It is vulnerable to invalid variables influencing the observed relationships between variables.
  • Effects Directionality Limitation: Causal-comparative Studies are limited in establishing the directionality of effects between variables.
For instance, researchers at IIM Bangalore conducted a causal-comparative study to investigate the impact of leadership styles on employee motivation in Indian organizations.

Experimental Research involves manipulating an independent variable to observe its effect on a dependent variable under controlled conditions to establish cause-and-effect relationships.

  • Participant Randomization: Experimental Research involves random assignment of participants to experimental and control groups.
  • Variable Manipulation: It allows for the manipulation of variables to establish causation.
  • Extraneous Variables Control: Rigorous control over extraneous variables ensures internal validity.
  • Causation Establishment: Experimental research establishes cause-and-effect relationships between variables.
  • High Internal Validity: It provides high internal validity through experimental control.
  • Findings Replication: It allows for the replication of studies to verify findings.
  • External Validity Limitation: Experimental Research may lack external validity due to artificial experimental conditions.
  • Resource and Time Intensiveness: This requires resources, time, and ethical considerations for conducting experiments.
  • Ethical Constraints: Ethical constraints may limit the manipulation of certain variables in experimental settings.
For example, researchers at AIIMS Delhi conducted an experimental study to investigate the effectiveness of a new drug treatment on a specific medical condition in Indian patients.

Literature Research involves reviewing existing literature, documents, and sources to gather information, analyze findings, and synthesize knowledge on a specific topic.

  • Synthesis and Analysis: Literature Research focuses on synthesizing and analyzing existing research and scholarly works.
  • Systematic Review: It involves a systematic review of literature to identify trends, gaps, and insights.
  • Comprehensive Overview: Literature Research provides a comprehensive overview of existing knowledge on a topic.
  • Broad Understanding: It offers a broad understanding of the current state of knowledge on a topic.
  • Gap Identification: It helps identify gaps in research and areas for further investigation.
  • Foundation Establishment: Literature Research provides a foundation for developing hypotheses and research questions.
  • Temporal Limitation: Literature Research is limited to existing literature and may not capture the most recent developments.
  • Selection Bias: It is vulnerable to bias in the selection and interpretation of literature.
  • Comprehensiveness Challenges: Literature Research faces challenges in ensuring the comprehensiveness and relevance of the reviewed literature.
For instance, researchers at IISc Bangalore conducted a literature review to explore the impact of climate change on agricultural practices in India, synthesizing findings from various studies and reports.

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Literature Reviews

  • Types of reviews
  • Getting started

Types of reviews and examples

Choosing a review type.

  • 1. Define your research question
  • 2. Plan your search
  • 3. Search the literature
  • 4. Organize your results
  • 5. Synthesize your findings
  • 6. Write the review
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  • Meta-analysis
  • Systematized


"A term used to describe a conventional overview of the literature, particularly when contrasted with a systematic review (Booth et al., 2012, p. 265).


  • Provides examination of recent or current literature on a wide range of subjects
  • Varying levels of completeness / comprehensiveness, non-standardized methodology
  • May or may not include comprehensive searching, quality assessment or critical appraisal

Mitchell, L. E., & Zajchowski, C. A. (2022). The history of air quality in Utah: A narrative review.  Sustainability ,  14 (15), 9653.  doi.org/10.3390/su14159653

Booth, A., Papaioannou, D., & Sutton, A. (2012). Systematic approaches to a successful literature review. London: SAGE Publications Ltd.

"An assessment of what is already known about a policy or practice issue...using systematic review methods to search and critically appraise existing research" (Grant & Booth, 2009, p. 100).

  • Assessment of what is already known about an issue
  • Similar to a systematic review but within a time-constrained setting
  • Typically employs methodological shortcuts, increasing risk of introducing bias, includes basic level of quality assessment
  • Best suited for issues needing quick decisions and solutions (i.e., policy recommendations)

Learn more about the method:

Khangura, S., Konnyu, K., Cushman, R., Grimshaw, J., & Moher, D. (2012). Evidence summaries: the evolution of a rapid review approach.  Systematic reviews, 1 (1), 1-9.  https://doi.org/10.1186/2046-4053-1-10

Virginia Commonwealth University Libraries. (2021). Rapid Review Protocol .

Quarmby, S., Santos, G., & Mathias, M. (2019). Air quality strategies and technologies: A rapid review of the international evidence.  Sustainability, 11 (10), 2757.  https://doi.org/10.3390/su11102757

Grant, M.J. & Booth, A. (2009). A typology of reviews: an analysis of the 14 review types and associated methodologies.  Health Information & Libraries Journal , 26(2), 91-108. https://www.doi.org/10.1111/j.1471-1842.2009.00848.x

Developed and refined by the Evidence for Policy and Practice Information and Co-ordinating Centre (EPPI-Centre), this review "map[s] out and categorize[s] existing literature on a particular topic, identifying gaps in research literature from which to commission further reviews and/or primary research" (Grant & Booth, 2009, p. 97).

Although mapping reviews are sometimes called scoping reviews, the key difference is that mapping reviews focus on a review question, rather than a topic

Mapping reviews are "best used where a clear target for a more focused evidence product has not yet been identified" (Booth, 2016, p. 14)

Mapping review searches are often quick and are intended to provide a broad overview

Mapping reviews can take different approaches in what types of literature is focused on in the search

Cooper I. D. (2016). What is a "mapping study?".  Journal of the Medical Library Association: JMLA ,  104 (1), 76–78. https://doi.org/10.3163/1536-5050.104.1.013

Miake-Lye, I. M., Hempel, S., Shanman, R., & Shekelle, P. G. (2016). What is an evidence map? A systematic review of published evidence maps and their definitions, methods, and products.  Systematic reviews, 5 (1), 1-21.  https://doi.org/10.1186/s13643-016-0204-x

Tainio, M., Andersen, Z. J., Nieuwenhuijsen, M. J., Hu, L., De Nazelle, A., An, R., ... & de Sá, T. H. (2021). Air pollution, physical activity and health: A mapping review of the evidence.  Environment international ,  147 , 105954.  https://doi.org/10.1016/j.envint.2020.105954

Booth, A. (2016). EVIDENT Guidance for Reviewing the Evidence: a compendium of methodological literature and websites . ResearchGate. https://doi.org/10.13140/RG.2.1.1562.9842 . 

Grant, M.J. & Booth, A. (2009). A typology of reviews: an analysis of the 14 review types and associated methodologies.  Health Information & Libraries Journal , 26(2), 91-108.  https://www.doi.org/10.1111/j.1471-1842.2009.00848.x

"A type of review that has as its primary objective the identification of the size and quality of research in a topic area in order to inform subsequent review" (Booth et al., 2012, p. 269).

  • Main purpose is to map out and categorize existing literature, identify gaps in literature—great for informing policy-making
  • Search comprehensiveness determined by time/scope constraints, could take longer than a systematic review
  • No formal quality assessment or critical appraisal

Learn more about the methods :

Arksey, H., & O'Malley, L. (2005) Scoping studies: towards a methodological framework.  International Journal of Social Research Methodology ,  8 (1), 19-32.  https://doi.org/10.1080/1364557032000119616

Levac, D., Colquhoun, H., & O’Brien, K. K. (2010). Scoping studies: Advancing the methodology. Implementation Science: IS, 5, 69. https://doi.org/10.1186/1748-5908-5-69

Example : 

Rahman, A., Sarkar, A., Yadav, O. P., Achari, G., & Slobodnik, J. (2021). Potential human health risks due to environmental exposure to nano-and microplastics and knowledge gaps: A scoping review.  Science of the Total Environment, 757 , 143872.  https://doi.org/10.1016/j.scitotenv.2020.143872

A review that "[compiles] evidence from multiple...reviews into one accessible and usable document" (Grant & Booth, 2009, p. 103). While originally intended to be a compilation of Cochrane reviews, it now generally refers to any kind of evidence synthesis.

  • Compiles evidence from multiple reviews into one document
  • Often defines a broader question than is typical of a traditional systematic review

Choi, G. J., & Kang, H. (2022). The umbrella review: a useful strategy in the rain of evidence.  The Korean Journal of Pain ,  35 (2), 127–128.  https://doi.org/10.3344/kjp.2022.35.2.127

Aromataris, E., Fernandez, R., Godfrey, C. M., Holly, C., Khalil, H., & Tungpunkom, P. (2015). Summarizing systematic reviews: Methodological development, conduct and reporting of an umbrella review approach. International Journal of Evidence-Based Healthcare , 13(3), 132–140. https://doi.org/10.1097/XEB.0000000000000055

Rojas-Rueda, D., Morales-Zamora, E., Alsufyani, W. A., Herbst, C. H., Al Balawi, S. M., Alsukait, R., & Alomran, M. (2021). Environmental risk factors and health: An umbrella review of meta-analyses.  International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Dealth ,  18 (2), 704.  https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph18020704

A meta-analysis is a "technique that statistically combines the results of quantitative studies to provide a more precise effect of the result" (Grant & Booth, 2009, p. 98).

  • Statistical technique for combining results of quantitative studies to provide more precise effect of results
  • Aims for exhaustive, comprehensive searching
  • Quality assessment may determine inclusion/exclusion criteria
  • May be conducted independently or as part of a systematic review

Berman, N. G., & Parker, R. A. (2002). Meta-analysis: Neither quick nor easy. BMC Medical Research Methodology , 2(1), 10. https://doi.org/10.1186/1471-2288-2-10

Hites R. A. (2004). Polybrominated diphenyl ethers in the environment and in people: a meta-analysis of concentrations.  Environmental Science & Technology ,  38 (4), 945–956.  https://doi.org/10.1021/es035082g

A systematic review "seeks to systematically search for, appraise, and [synthesize] research evidence, often adhering to the guidelines on the conduct of a review" provided by discipline-specific organizations, such as the Cochrane Collaboration (Grant & Booth, 2009, p. 102).

  • Aims to compile and synthesize all known knowledge on a given topic
  • Adheres to strict guidelines, protocols, and frameworks
  • Time-intensive and often takes months to a year or more to complete
  • The most commonly referred to type of evidence synthesis. Sometimes confused as a blanket term for other types of reviews

Gascon, M., Triguero-Mas, M., Martínez, D., Dadvand, P., Forns, J., Plasència, A., & Nieuwenhuijsen, M. J. (2015). Mental health benefits of long-term exposure to residential green and blue spaces: a systematic review.  International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health ,  12 (4), 4354–4379.  https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph120404354

"Systematized reviews attempt to include one or more elements of the systematic review process while stopping short of claiming that the resultant output is a systematic review" (Grant & Booth, 2009, p. 102). When a systematic review approach is adapted to produce a more manageable scope, while still retaining the rigor of a systematic review such as risk of bias assessment and the use of a protocol, this is often referred to as a  structured review  (Huelin et al., 2015).

  • Typically conducted by postgraduate or graduate students
  • Often assigned by instructors to students who don't have the resources to conduct a full systematic review

Salvo, G., Lashewicz, B. M., Doyle-Baker, P. K., & McCormack, G. R. (2018). Neighbourhood built environment influences on physical activity among adults: A systematized review of qualitative evidence.  International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health ,  15 (5), 897.  https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph15050897

Huelin, R., Iheanacho, I., Payne, K., & Sandman, K. (2015). What’s in a name? Systematic and non-systematic literature reviews, and why the distinction matters. https://www.evidera.com/resource/whats-in-a-name-systematic-and-non-systematic-literature-reviews-and-why-the-distinction-matters/

Flowchart of review types

  • Review Decision Tree - Cornell University For more information, check out Cornell's review methodology decision tree.
  • LitR-Ex.com - Eight literature review methodologies Learn more about 8 different review types (incl. Systematic Reviews and Scoping Reviews) with practical tips about strengths and weaknesses of different methods.
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  • Last Updated: May 17, 2024 8:42 AM
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Business vs. Entrepreneurship: What’s the Difference Between These Degree Paths?

Business is an evolving, in-demand, and dynamic industry full of diverse career paths. Within the field, there is truly something for everyone: number-crunchers, strategic thinkers, creative marketers, organizers, decision-makers, budgeters, motivational leaders, and, of course, ambitious entrepreneurs. No matter your skill sets and interests, the world of business has something to offer you.

For individuals who have maybe dreamt up a start-up, or have goals to run a company, there are two typical pathways you can pursue in business school: business and entrepreneurship. While these terms are often used interchangeably, they involve unique approaches and mindsets, and therefore slightly different studies and career outcomes.

Business vs. entrepreneurship definitions

At a high-level, business refers to the producing, buying, and selling of goods or services in exchange for profit. It is an overarching job sector that encompasses a wide range of operations, including manufacturing, retail, finance, marketing, leadership, and more. At its core, business involves the creation and exchange of value between individuals, organizations, or entities. It often operates within a structured framework, with defined goals, processes, and hierarchies with an organization or company. Businesses can vary in size, from small start-ups to large global corporations, but all types of businesses play a key role in driving economic growth, creating employment opportunities, and satisfying the needs and wants of their consumers. The most successful businesses effectively manage resources, adapt to market changes, and strive for innovation and efficiency to remain competitive in their respective industries.

Entrepreneurship , on the other hand, refers to the process of identifying, creating, and pursuing new business ventures. These ventures are typically established with the goal of addressing unmet needs in an industry, or creating value in new and novel ways. For example, an entrepreneur might start a tech company, launch a new business, or design a new product. Sometimes, entrepreneurs will innovate within existing companies, but all share the common drive to bring their business ideas and concepts to fruition. Entrepreneurship, as a branch of business, embodies a mindset characterized by innovation, creativity, risk-taking, and the willingness to undertake challenges in pursuit of one’s goals. Successful entrepreneurs possess vision, initiative, and determination, as well as the skills needed to break into a competitive market and thrive.

Now, the question is: As an aspiring business leader, which area of study is best for you?

Business degrees vs. entrepreneurship programs

Business and entrepreneurship programs are both incredible options for business-minded individuals, and can help you develop valuable, versatile skills that can be applied to any career. However, the subject matter of these programs can vary, so it’s important to do your research before choosing the best degree program for you.

There are many different types of business degrees but, most commonly, the term “business degree” refers to a business administration degree. Business administration degree programs cover a broad range of topics related to various aspects of operating a business. They typically include courses in management, finance, economics, customer relations, accounting, marketing, and business law and ethics. The specific curriculum will vary depending on the degree you choose, as business administration programs can be found at the associate, bachelor’s, and master’s degree level.

Because of the broader nature of business administration, many programs will enable you to carve your own path through a concentration or customized elective coursework. For example, at Goodwin University, our BS in business offers 27 credits of open electives, as well as directed electives, so that students can hone in on their interests and professional goals. For some, this might involve taking more courses in entrepreneurship and small business management. For others, it might also involve studies in modern marketing methods.

Interested in earning a business degree? Download our free guide to getting started .

Entrepreneurship degree programs, as you might expect, are more concentrated in focus than a business administration degree. These programs focus on the knowledge one needs to start, grow, and manage a new business venture. While entrepreneurship programs may cover some foundational business topics (e.g. accounting and marketing) to prepare students for the daily operations, they typically place a greater emphasis on subjects and skills relevant to entrepreneurship , such as market research, business plan development, and leadership.

Entrepreneurship degrees may be offered in silo. More often, however, you might find that entrepreneurship is a concentration or specialization that you can pursue within a business degree program. At Goodwin University, for example, students within our associate degree program have the option to complete dedicated entrepreneurial coursework and a practical internship. Through this experience, students gain hands-on practice in small business management and walk away with the capacity to bring their own business to life.

While both business and entrepreneurship programs provide valuable knowledge and skills, a business administration degree offers a broader foundation in various aspects of business management, and an entrepreneurship program offers a more specialized focus on starting and growing new ventures. These differences translate to the varying career options and outcomes available after graduation from either type of program.

Business vs. entrepreneurship career options

Business degree programs offer a comprehensive understanding of how businesses function and operate and, as noted above, cover a breadth of topics related to daily management. Business degree candidates learn the ins and outs of strategic planning, operations management, and customer relations. They gain transferable skills and fundamental knowledge in areas from human resources to marketing/advertising. As a result, they leave well-equipped for careers in (but not limited to):

  • Business management
  • Human resources (HR)

Entrepreneurship studies are specifically focused on bringing business ideas to life, and giving students the tools they need to launch, as well as operate, their own business successfully. They offer students skills in business development, market research, small business management, and more. Graduates of an entrepreneurship-focused program will be best suited to:

  • Achieve leadership roles
  • Consult other small businesses
  • Start and run their own company
  • Work within existing corporations to inspire and innovate (called intrapreneurship)

At the end of the day, choosing the right degree for you is as simple as evaluating your specific career goals, interests, and aspirations within the business world. If you desire a lucrative career in business, a business administration degree is a great way to develop your foundational skills and knowledge. But if you are looking for the specific tools and knowledge needed to launch a business of your own, an entrepreneurship program is going to be a better fit for your needs.

Whether you are interested in entrepreneurship, or looking to explore your options in business school, Goodwin is here to guide you. Learn about our business programs in Connecticut by visiting us online here !

Female labor force participation

Across the globe, women face inferior income opportunities compared with men. Women are less likely to work for income or actively seek work. The global labor force participation rate for women is just over 50% compared to 80% for men. Women are less likely to work in formal employment and have fewer opportunities for business expansion or career progression. When women do work, they earn less. Emerging evidence from recent household survey data suggests that these gender gaps are heightened due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Women’s work and GDP

Women’s work is posited to be related to development through the process of economic transformation.

Levels of female labor force participation are high for the poorest economies generally, where agriculture is the dominant sector and women often participate in small-holder agricultural work. Women’s participation in the workforce is lower in middle-income economies which have much smaller shares of agricultural activities. Finally, among high-income economies, female labor force participation is again higher, accompanied by a shift towards a service sector-based economy and higher education levels among women.

This describes the posited  U-shaped relationship  between development (proxied by GDP per capita) and female labor force participation where women’s work participation is high for the poorest economies, lower for middle income economies, and then rises again among high income economies.

This theory of the U-shape is observed globally across economies of different income levels. But this global picture may be misleading. As more recent studies have found, this pattern does not hold within regions or when looking within a specific economy over time as their income levels rise.

In no region do we observe a U-shape pattern in female participation and GDP per capita over the past three decades.

Structural transformation, declining fertility, and increasing female education in many parts of the world have not resulted in significant increases in women’s participation as was theorized. Rather, rigid historic, economic, and social structures and norms factor into stagnant female labor force participation.

Historical view of women’s participation and GDP

Taking a historical view of female participation and GDP, we ask another question: Do lower income economies today have levels of participation that mirror levels that high-income economies had decades earlier?

The answer is no.

This suggests that the relationship of female labor force participation to GDP for lower-income economies today is different than was the case decades past. This could be driven by numerous factors -- changing social norms, demographics, technology, urbanization, to name a few possible drivers.

Gendered patterns in type of employment

Gender equality is not just about equal access to jobs but also equal access for men and women to good jobs. The type of work that women do can be very different from the type of work that men do. Here we divide work into two broad categories: vulnerable work and wage work.

The Gender gap in vulnerable and wage work by GDP per capita

Vulnerable employment is closely related to GDP per capita. Economies with high rates of vulnerable employment are low-income contexts with a large agricultural sector. In these economies, women tend to make up the higher share of the vulnerably employed. As economy income levels rise, the gender gap also flips, with men being more likely to be in vulnerable work when they have a job than women.

From COVID-19 crisis to recovery

The COVID-19 crisis has exacerbated these gender gaps in employment. Although comprehensive official statistics from labor force surveys are not yet available for all economies,  emerging studies  have consistently documented that working women are taking a harder hit from the crisis. Different patterns by sector and vulnerable work do not explain this. That is, this result is not driven by the sectors in which women work or their higher rates of vulnerable work—within specific work categories, women fared worse than men in terms of COVID-19 impacts on jobs.

Among other explanations is that women have borne the brunt of the increase in the demand for care work (especially for children). A strong and inclusive recovery will require efforts which address this and other underlying drivers of gender gaps in employment opportunities.

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