Conclusive Research

As the term suggests, conclusive research is meant to provide information that is useful in reaching conclusions or decision-making. It tends to be quantitative in nature, that is to say in the form of numbers that can be quantified and summarized. It relies on both secondary data, particularly existing databases that are reanalyzed to shed light on a different problem than the original one for which they were constituted, and primary research, or data specifically gathered for the current study.

The purpose of conclusive research is to provide a reliable or representative picture of the population through the use of a valid research instrument. In the case of formal research, it will also test hypothesis.

Conclusive research can be sub-divided into two major categories:

  1. Descriptive or statistical research, and
  2. Causal research

Descriptive Research

Descriptive research or statistical research provides data about the population or universe being studied. But it can only describe the "who, what, when, where and how" of a situation, not what caused it. Therefore, descriptive research is used when the objective is to provide a systematic description that is as factual and accurate as possible. It provides the number of times something occurs, or frequency, lends itself to statistical calculations such as determining the average number of occurences or central tendencies.

One of its major limitations is that it cannot help determine what causes a specific behaviour, motivation or occurrence. In other words, it cannot establish a causal research relationship between variables.

The two most commonly types of descriptive research designs are

  1. Observation and
  2. Surveys

Causal Research

If the objective is to determine which variable might be causing a certain behaviour, i.e. whether there is a cause and effect relationship between variables, causal research must be undertaken. In order to determine causality, it is important to hold the variable that is assumed to cause the change in the other variable(s) constant and then measure the changes in the other variable(s). This type of research is very complex and the researcher can never be completely certain that there are not other factors influencing the causal relationship, especially when dealing with people’s attitudes and motivations. There are often much deeper psychological considerations, that even the respondent may not be aware of.

There are two research methods for exploring the cause and effect relationship between variables:

  1. Experimentation, and
  2. Simulation