Descriptive Research design

Descriptive Research design

Descriptive research design is also called Descriptive research. It describes the sample situation, provides data about it and shows trends without making causal inferences. In other words, this type of study does not propose or test hypotheses about causality (e.g., A leads to B) but only seeks to observe correlations between different things (in which direction). The purpose of descriptive design studies can be:

  • Establishing parameters within which plans may be made;
  • Providing information on trends;
  • Initiating further investigation into new areas

What Are the Types of Descriptive Research and Design?

One of the fundamental differences between descriptive research and other types of design is that descriptive designs are purely about description. There are several different ways to categorize the different types of descriptive research:

  • By the characteristics of the population being studied (attributable versus non-attributable);
  • By type of relationship;
  • By level of measurement.

Here are some of the types of Descriptive Research designs

Descriptive-survey design:

This form of design is used to get factual information about a group. This can be achieved by taking samples of the population from different areas, and questionnaires are provided for that particular group. Survey design also includes extensive scale survey methodologies where the researcher may interview each individual or household. The data collected through such surveys will then be analyzed in numbers, frequencies and proportions to answer research questions efficiently.

Descriptive Research design

Descriptive Research design

Descriptive-normative survey

This design allows the researcher to get information about both descriptive and normative issues of a population. The different types of descriptive information include factual data obtained through sample surveys, whereas normative information deals with public opinion.

In this type of research design, researchers contact representative samples from the population being studied and ask them questions about how people think they believe or feel about particular issues such as teaching philosophies. The researchers record these opinions to help them understand what normative behavior within society on a particular issue is.

Descriptive-status survey

This design aims to describe the present situation, identify critical problems, and understand what kinds of changes may be needed. This type of research is practical. The researchers will usually use random sampling when collecting their data; during this process, they visit public institutions and businesses to get relevant facts and figures about the status quo. Data collected through descriptive-status surveys are analyzed in terms of frequencies, proportions or averages with the help of various statistical procedures such as percentage distributions or mean comparisons.


This is a combination of both survey and analysis designs. It refers to the process of studying data that are already in existence without conducting further research. In other words, descriptive analysis allows the researcher to look at recorded facts and figures, compare them with previous findings on similar issues and draw their conclusions about those facts.

Descriptive classification

This is a combination of both survey and review designs. In this particular design, the researchers will collect data from relevant institutions which are already in existence. They then use those facts and figures to understand the current situation of an issue.

As a way of analysis, descriptive classification can be used to study participants’ personalities or behavior by classifying them according to different dimensions such as aggressive/ friendly personality traits, male/female sex-role stereotypes, etc.


As the name suggests, this design is often employed to compare two different groups. For instance, an experimenter may want to compare one group that has been provided with certain information and another group that has not received any such information to study their different reactions.

Correlative Survey Design

This type of research design is used to examine how two or more characteristics are related. For instance, a researcher may want to study the relationship between religion and political beliefs in society.

Examples of Descriptive Research

Researchers in their daily practice use different types of descriptive research designs to answer various types of questions.

Comparing Student Performance:

This design is used to compare student performance in different subjects across multiple schools. The researchers start by sending out questionnaires to teachers of those subject areas being studied. These teachers are then asked to fill out the questionnaire according to the students’ performance, attitudes and overall behavior during that particular semester or academic year.

Scientific Classification

This is a type of research design in which researchers use quantitative and qualitative approaches to study characteristics and attributes. The researchers will first create detailed categories for various attributes based on two or more levels in this particular method. Later they select a representative sample from the studied populations and ask them questions about their personal experiences regarding these different dimensions.

Human Behavior

Descriptive research is also used to study individual behavior. For instance, an experimenter using a descriptive-comparative design may ask participants to engage in different behaviors (i.e., indulging in alcohol abuse), how they associate with certain groups or whether they feel more comfortable with other individuals who share their interests.

What are the Data Collection Methods in Descriptive Research? 

There are three main data collection methods in Descriptive research.

Observational Method

: Observation involves observing subjects in their natural settings. A researcher can use this technique to collect data related to people’s behavior, products and services, opinions etc. In observational research, the observers are not interfering with a situation or disturbing participants in any way. They gather information about it without altering the process itself.

The main advantage of observational research is that it helps realize more accurate results since researchers don’t have to alter anything about their respondents’ environment or way of life. However, some argue that such studies may fail to provide sufficiently valuable insights because they only focus on one individual or group at a time, thereby limiting the generalizability of data.

Case Study Method

A case study is a type of descriptive research that allows the researchers to gather extensive data about one individual or group. The most crucial strength of case studies is that they help provide more accurate insights into a particular subject since multiple aspects are studied at once. On the other hand, this method also has its share of limitations because it’s often very time-consuming and challenging for the investigators to analyze and interpret all the information collected from the study.

Survey Research Method

Surveys are one of the most commonly used research methods both in industry and academia. In such studies, participants respond to a set of questions or statements so that researchers can better understand how they react under certain circumstances.

This data collection method is considered very effective and beneficial since it allows researchers to collect information from a large number of participants at once. However, surveys also have their share of limitations. They may often fail to provide adequate information about every unit being studied because all responses are averaged together.

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Descriptive Research design

Descriptive Research design