Types of research

There are different ways and modalities that are used to carry out an investigation. As the main instrument to share knowledge, research is used in order to describe, discover or make predictions about phenomena, events, relationships, among others.

Types of research according to purpose

Basic or fundamental research

It deals with abstract or intricate themes, whose depth and results simulate not having applications of immediate quality for society. For example, studying elementary particles like neutrinos and antineutrinos in physics.

Applied research

The aim is to find solutions that have applicability in the short or medium term. For example, the study of the immune response against a pathogen to originate a vaccine that can protect against infection.

Types of research according to the results

correlational research

Its objective is to determine if two or more variables are related. A variable is a peculiarity of interest that can change between individuals, such as weight, temperature, health status, among others.

This investigation does not attempt to determine the causes with respect to the correlations. For example, there is a correlation between children with asthma and mothers who smoked during pregnancy; It does not mean that asthma in children is caused by their parents’ smoking habits.

descriptive research

Descriptive research seeks to define, classify or determine a phenomenon. It is a type of non-experimental research, where the scientist has no control over the events, variables or environments of the study.

Within the investigation we found different classes and they are the following:

  • Case study: a detailed description of a person or a few people is made. For example, when investigating a rare disease in a person.
  • Naturalistic observation: information on organisms in their natural environment without the researcher hindering or establishing any interaction. For example, Jane Goodall’s research on chimpanzees since the 1970s.
  • Survey studies: Start with a large number of people and ask them about their opinions, attitudes, or behaviors. For example, marketing studies of a product where surveys are made about it to a large group of individuals.
  • Focus groups: they are ordered and organized groups to discuss a topic for a certain time. For example, groups of teachers to examine the teaching tactics of the mathematics curriculum in high school.

Types of research according to the method

Quantitative investigation

This research uses data that is measured and statistically analyzed. For example, to establish which genes are related to a disease, the genetics in patients and their healthy relatives are analyzed to determine where the differences or mutations are found.

Qualitative research

It is research that does not involve numerical measurements. Qualitative studies are given through interviews or observations. Here an example, marketing studies for the degree of acceptance of a definitive brand of toothpaste.


mixed research

When quantitative and qualitative methods are mixed in an investigation, we speak of mixed research. An example is the study carried out by Thøgersen-Ntoumani and Fox to investigate the physical activity and well-being of company employees. The quantitative part was the measurement of physical activity while the qualitative analysis was done through interviews.

Types of research according to the academic area

Scientific investigation

It has topics associated with the natural sciences, such as physics, biology, chemistry, among others. In this, the scientific method is applied, an objective systematic procedure that tries to test the hypotheses that can expose a certain observed phenomenon.

Social investigation

It is based on the observation of the behavior of human populations. The social sciences have sociology, anthropology, political science, psychology, education, among others. It generally contains qualitative or mixed methods, case studies, and documentation.

Investigation criminal

Performs actions to express the background of a crime or crime. The investigation of corporate crimes or (white collar), crimes committed usually committed by people of high socioeconomic status, who proceed illegally to acquire economic and social benefits.

journalistic investigation

Research is carried out to discover information that is not visible to the general public.

For example, journalist Brian Deer in 2004 highlighted the flaws in the work linking the measles, mumps and rubella vaccine to autism.

Types of research according to the disciplines involved

interdisciplinary research

Interdisciplinary research merges the knowledge of one discipline to acquire knowledge in a different discipline. This is seen in some cases as a new discipline. For example, biological anthropology that studies the human being as a biological entity.

multidisciplinary research

Various disciplines that help with their individual knowledge in solving a problem are complemented. For example, to discover the reasons why older males had a high mortality rate from such a disease, immunologists, geriatricians, geneticists, hematologists, and bioinformaticians were brought together.

transdisciplinary research

Collaboration between disciplines takes shape and new models and innovations are formed to solve a common problem. For example, research into the relationship between cancer and energy combines the biology, genetics and genomics of energy balance with contributions from psychology, nutrition and oncology.

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