A research project always begins with selecting a topic. The next step is for researchers to identify the specific areas of interest. After that, they tackle the key component of any research problem: how to gather enough quality information. If we opt for a descriptive research design we have to ask the correct questions to access the right information. 

For instance, researchers may choose to focus on why people invest in cryptocurrency, knowing how dynamic the market is rather than asking why the market is so shaky. These are completely different questions that require different research approaches. Adopting the descriptive method can help capitalize on trends the information reveals. Descriptive research examples show the thorough research involved in such a study. 

Get to know more about descriptive research design.


  1. Descriptive Research Meaning

  2. Features Of Descriptive Research Design

  3. Types Of Descriptive Research

  4. Descriptive Research Methods

  5. Applications Of Descriptive Research

  6. Descriptive Research Examples



Descriptive Research Meaning


A descriptive method of research is one that describes the characteristics of a phenomenon, situation or population. It uses quantitative and qualitative approaches to describe problems with little relevant information. Descriptive research accurately describes a research problem without asking why a particular event happened. By researching market patterns, the descriptive method answers how patterns change, what caused the change and when the change occurred, instead of dwelling on why the change happened.


Features Of Descriptive Research Design


Descriptive research refers to questions, study design and analysis of data conducted on a particular topic. It is a strictly observational research methodology with no influence on variables. Some distinctive features of descriptive research are:


  • It’s a research method that collects quantifiable information for statistical analysis of a sample. It’s a quantitative market research tool that can analyze the nature of a demographic
  • In a descriptive method of research, the nature of research study variables is determined with observation, without influence from the researcher
  • Descriptive research is cross-sectional and different sections of a group can be studied
  • The analyzed data is collected and serves as information for other search techniques. In this way, a descriptive research design becomes the basis of further research


To understand the descriptive research meaning, data collection methods, examples and application, we need a deeper understanding of its features.


Types Of Descriptive Research


Different ways of approaching the descriptive method help break it down further. Let’s look at the different types of descriptive research:


  • Descriptive Survey

    The descriptive survey gathers data about different subjects. To determine the literacy rate of women under 20 for instance, a survey of the region may be the best research tool. This can also help determine the different qualifications of educated women from that region.

  • Descriptive Normative Survey

    This is achieved by introducing the normative element into a descriptive survey. Here the result of a study is compared with the norm. The growth rate in children from a region can be compared with the average height and weight of well-developed children. If the average height and weight are more than or equal to the accepted value, or the norm, then growth has been satisfactory.

  • Descriptive Status

    This type of research quantitatively describes real-life situations. For example, to understand the relation between wages and performance, research on employee salaries and their respective performances can be conducted.


  • Descriptive Analysis

    This technique analyzes a subject further. Once the relation between wages and performance has been established, an organization can further analyze employee performance by researching the output of those who work from an office with those who work from home.


  • Descriptive Classification

    Descriptive classification is mainly used in the field of biological science. It helps researchers classify species once they have studied the data collected from different search stations.


  • Descriptive Comparative

    Comparing two variables can show if one is better than the other. Doing this through tests or surveys can reveal all the advantages and disadvantages associated with the two. For example, this technique can be used to find out if paper ballots are better than electronic voting devices.


  • Correlative Survey

    Correlative surveys can establish a relationship between two variables by determining how they’re related. An increase in fuel prices will lead to an increase in public transportation fares and a decline in automobile sales.

The researcher has to effectively interpret the area of the problem and then decide the appropriate technique of descriptive research design


Descriptive Research Methods

A researcher can choose one of the following methods to solve research problems and meet research goals:


  • Observational Method

    With this method, a researcher observes the behaviors, mannerisms and characteristics of the participants. It is widely used in psychology and market research and does not require the participants to be involved directly. It’s an effective method and can be both qualitative and quantitative for the sheer volume and variety of data that is generated.


  • Survey Research

    It’s a popular method of data collection in research. It follows the principle of obtaining information quickly and directly from the main source. The idea is to use rigorous qualitative and quantitative research methods and ask crucial questions essential to the business for the short and long term.


  • Case Study Method

    In this method, a sample group carved out of a larger group is tested. Based on the study, the characteristics of the sample group can be used to describe the larger group. This is usually effective in less diverse samples since it’s difficult to generalize people.


Case studies tend to fall short in situations where researchers are dealing with highly diverse people or conditions. Surveys and observations are carried out effectively but the time of execution significantly differs between the two. 


Applications Of Descriptive Research

There are multiple applications of descriptive research design but executives must learn that it’s crucial to clearly define the research goals first. Here’s how organizations use descriptive research to meet their objectives:


  • As a tool to analyze participants: It’s important to understand the behaviors, traits and patterns of the participants to draw a conclusion about them. Close-ended questions can reveal their opinions and attitudes. Descriptive research can help understand the participant and assist in making strategic business decisions
  • Designed to measure data trends: It’s a statistically capable research design that, over time, allows organizations to measure data trends. A survey can reveal unfavorable scenarios and give an organization the time to fix unprofitable moves
  • Scope of comparison: Surveys and research can allow an organization to compare two products across different groups. This can provide a detailed comparison of the products and an opportunity for the organization to capitalize on a large demographic
  • Conducting research at any time: An analysis can be conducted at any time and any number of variables can be evaluated. It helps to ascertain differences and similarities


Descriptive research is widely used due to its non-invasive nature. Quantitative observations allow in-depth analysis and a chance to validate any existing condition.


Descriptive Research Examples


There are several different descriptive research examples that highlight the types, applications and uses of this research method. Let’s look at a few:


  • Before launching a new line of gym wear, an organization chose more than one descriptive method to gather vital information. Their objective was to find the kind of gym clothes people like wearing and the ones they would like to see in the market. The organization chose to conduct a survey by recording responses in gyms, sports shops and yoga centers. As a second method, they chose to observe members of different gyms and fitness institutions. They collected volumes of vital data such as color and design preferences and the amount of money they’re willing to spend on it.
  • To get a good idea of people’s tastes and expectations, an organization conducted a survey by offering a new flavor of the sauce and recorded people’s responses by gathering data from store owners. This let them understand how people reacted, whether they found the product reasonably priced, whether it served its purpose and their overall general preferences. Based on this, the brand tweaked its core marketing strategies and made the product widely acceptable.


Descriptive research can be used by an organization to understand the spending patterns of customers as well as by a psychologist who has to deal with mentally ill patients. In both these professions, the individuals will require thorough analyses of their subjects and large amounts of crucial data to develop a plan of action.


Every method of descriptive research can provide information that is diverse, thorough and varied. This supports future research and hypotheses. But although they can be quick, cheap and easy to conduct in the participants’ natural environment, descriptive research design can be limited by the kind of information it provides, especially with case studies. Trying to generalize a larger population based on the data gathered from a smaller sample size can be futile. Similarly, a researcher can unknowingly influence the outcome of a research project due to their personal opinions and biases. In any case, a manager has to be prepared to collect important information in substantial quantities and have a balanced approach to prevent influencing the result. 

Harappa’s Thinking Critically program harnesses the power of information to strengthen decision-making skills. It’s a growth-driven course for young professionals and managers who want to be focused on their strategies, outperform targets and step up to assume the role of leader in their organizations. It’s for any professional who wants to lay a foundation for a successful career and business owners who’re looking to take their organizations to new heights.

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