Descriptive MethodThe meaning of the Descriptive Method in research is to develop, test and evaluate research instruments and methods. It explores phenomena in real life situations and uses a survey method. Common data gathering methods used are questionnaire, interview, and observation.
THE BASIC 3 TYPES OF DESCIPTIVE RESEARCH METHODThere are three main types of descriptive methods: observational methods, case-study methods and survey methods. This article will briefly describe each of these methods, their advantages, and their drawbacks. This may help you better understand research findings, whether reported in the mainstream media, or when reading a research study on your own. 1 Observational Method:With the observational method (sometimes referred to as field observation) animal and human behavior is closely observed. There are two main categories of the observational method — naturalistic observation and laboratory observation. The biggest advantage of the naturalistic method of research is that researchers view participants in their natural environments.
This leads to greater ecological validity than laboratory observation, proponents say. Ecological validity refers to the extent to which research can be used in real-life situations. Proponents of laboratory observation often suggest that due to more control in the laboratory, the results found when using laboratory observation are more meaningful than those obtained with naturalistic observation. Laboratory observations are usually less time-consuming and cheaper than naturalistic observations. Of course, both naturalistic and laboratory observation are important in regard to the advancement of scientific knowledge.2 Case Study MethodCase study research involves an in-depth study of an individual or group of indviduals. Case studies often lead to testable hypotheses and allow us to study rare phenomena.
Case studies should not be used to determine cause and effect, and they have limited use for making accurate predictions. There are two serious problems with case studies — expectancy effects and atypical individuals. Expectancy effects include the experimenter’s underlying biases that might affect the actions taken while conducting research. These biases can lead to misrepresenting participants’ descriptions. Describing atypical individuals may lead to poor generalizations and detract from external validity.
3 Survey MethodIn survey method research, participants answer questions administered through interviews or questionnaires. After participants answer the questions, researchers describe the responses given. In order for the survey to be both reliable and valid it is important that the questions are constructed properly. Questions should be written so they are clear and easy to comprehend. Another consideration when designing questions is whether to include open-ended, closed-ended, partially open-ended, or rating-scale questions (for a detailed discussion refer to Jackson, 2009). Advantages and disadvantages can be found with each type: Open-ended questions allow for a greater variety of responses from participants but are difficult to analyze statistically because the data must be coded or reduced in some manner.Closed-ended questions are easy to analyze statistically, but they seriously limit the responses that participants can give.
Many researchers prefer to use a Likert-type scale because it’s very easy to analyze statistically. (Jackson, 2009, p. 89) In addition to the methods listed above some individuals also include qualitative (as a distinct method) and archival methods when discussing descriptive research methods.
It is important to emphasize that descriptive research methods can only describe a set of observations or the data collected. It cannot draw conclusions from that data about which way the relationship goes — Does A cause B, or does B cause A? Unfortunately, in many studies published today, researchers forget this fundamental limitation of their research and suggest their data can actually demonstrate or “suggest” causal relationships. Nothing could be further from the truth. CHARACTERISTICS OF DESCRIPTIVE RESEARCHDescriptive research has the following characteristics:1.
Descriptive research ascertains prevailing conditions of facts in a group or case under study.2.It gives either a qualitative or quantitative, or both, description of the general characteristics of thegroup or case under study.3.What caused the prevailing conditions is not emphasized.4.
Study of conditions at different periods of time may be made and the change or progress that tookplace between the periods may be noted or evaluated for any value.5.Comparison of the characteristics of two groups or cases may be made to determine their similaritiesand differences.
6.The variables or conditions studied in descriptive research are not usually controlled.7.Descriptive studies, except in case studies, are generally cross-sectional, that is, it studies the differentsection belonging to the same group. 8.
Studies on prevailing conditions may or can be repeated for purposes of verification and comparison.VALUE, IMPORTANCE, AND ADVANTAGES OF DESCRIPTIVE RESEARCHAmong the value, importance, and advantages of descriptive method of research are the following:1.Descriptive research contributes much to the formulation of principles and generalizations inbehavioral sciences. This is especially true in casual-comparative and correlation studies. Whenseveral register the same findings on a certain subject, then a principle or generalization may beformed about the subject.2.
Descriptive research contributes much to the establishment of standard norms of conduct, behavior,or performance. This is especially true in psychological testing, as for instance, norms in anintelligence test.Normative standards are based on what are prevalent.3.Descriptive research reveals problems or abnormal conditions so that remedial measures may beinstituted.
It reveals to us what we do not want, what we want, and how to acquire what we want.4.Descriptive research makes possible the prediction of the future on the basis of findings on prevailingconditions, correlations. For instance, the winning candidate in an election may be predicted on thebasis of survey.5.
Descriptive research gives a better and deeper understanding of a phenomenon on the basis of an in-depth study of the phenomenon.6.Descriptive research provides a basis for decision-making.
Business managers often base theirdecisions upon business researches. Government policy makers usually rely upon descriptiveinvestigations for making the needed policies. In education, the curriculum has been constructedbased upon descriptive researches in child and adolescent psychology.7.Descriptive research helps fashion many of the tools with which we do research, such as, instrumentsfor the measurement of many things, instruments that are employed in all types of quantitativeresearch. These instruments include schedules, checklists, score cards, and rating scales.
Descriptivestudies contribute to the development of these data-gathering devices in two ways-first throughcreating directly a demand for them, and second through providing the normative, standardizing