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Descriptive Research Vs. Exploratory Research. Which One Is More Suitable For Social Sciences Dissertation?

There are different approaches to conducting social sciences dissertation research. But two important research designs are common in social sciences research. Researchers most frequently use descriptive and exploratory research designs for their research studies. You can write a social sciences dissertation using either descriptive or exploratory research. But before doing that, you need to know the difference between them. This article will compare the two most frequent research methods used in social sciences dissertations.

What is Descriptive Research in Social sciences dissertation?

As the name implies, descriptive research seeks to describe a specific social phenomenon or demography. It does not concern itself with the causes and reason behind a specific occurrence. But instead, the descriptive method probes into describing a phenomenon. Descriptive research is a methodology that seeks to describe the attributes of the variables under investigation. The primary aim of descriptive research is to describe the social phenomenon under investigation. Descriptive research is observational since the researcher does not seek to alter or modify the variables involved.

Descriptive research is primarily quantitative. It is most common in market research or survey polls. Governments and think tanks frequently use descriptive research to describe the features of a particular group of people. For example, a think tank that wants to describe the voting patterns of a group of people living in specific geography will use descriptive research. They will use a survey method to collect data about the voting patterns of a group of people.

The research will not determine the reasons behind the voting patterns but only describe the situation. Similarly, a company that wants to understand the consumer behavior of a particular group of people will do the same. Descriptive research encompasses quantitative variables, and the data collection methods involve surveys. You can hire a dissertation writing service if you are facing issues in both of these research types.

What is an example of descriptive research?

Imagine a researcher who wants to describe schoolteachers’ attitudes during the pandemic towards using Zoom software for teaching. He or she will seek to describe teachers’ attitudes about using Zoom for online teaching. The researcher will conduct a survey and try to ascertain the attitude of schoolteachers. He or she will not try the explain the reasons behind their different attitudes. The researcher will indulge only in the descriptive aspect of the research.

What are the advantages of descriptive research?

  • Descriptive research in social sciences dissertation seeks to collect and analyze quantitative data. It seeks to describe a social phenomenon’s features, traits, and characteristics. The researcher uses statistical analysis to describe the attributes of certain demography.
  • Descriptive research is observational. A researcher has no control over the variables, and he or she gets a chance to observe a group of people in natural settings
  • Researchers can dig further into the data obtained here because descriptive research highlights and describes correlations among variables. It directs academics to learn more about why specific themes exist and their connection. As a result, it leads scholars toward useful social science study.

What is exploratory research in social sciences dissertation?

Exploratory research is characterized as research conducted to learn more about a problem that isn’t clearly stated. It is carried out to gain a better knowledge of the current problem. But the results of exploratory research will not be conclusive. For this type of study, a researcher begins with a broad concept and uses the research to discover difficulties that can be a prelude to future studies. A key consideration is that the researcher must be willing to shift course if new information or insight becomes available.

Exploratory research is the most helpful research approach when a problem is still in its early stages. Exploratory research is commonly known as grounded theory research or interpretative research in academic jargon. The results achieved through exploratory research focus on the investigated phenomenon’s what, how, and why. Exploratory studies are qualitative.

What is an example of exploratory research?

Imagine a researcher who wants to investigate that what is the impact of Artificial Intelligence writing tools on the lives of academics? If nobody has studied this phenomenon, this research question is unexplored. Therefore, the researcher will try to gather evidence by formulating a research problem and collecting evidence pertaining to the research question. The researcher will aim to explore the impact of Artificial Intelligence writing tools on the lives of academics.

What are the advantages of Exploratory Research in social sciences dissertation?

  • Flexibility

Exploratory research gives the researcher a lot of leeways. The researcher can direct the course of the research procedures due to the lack of structure, which allows for more flexibility and independence.

  • Economical

Another advantage of exploratory research is the cost-effectiveness of the approach. Exploratory research engages a few people in surveys and interviews to define and comprehend the research problem.

  • Prelude to Future Research

Exploratory research can provide a stable platform for subsequent research on the same topic. A well-conducted exploratory study aids in the development of future studies on the investigated topic. It inculcates a sense of responsibility in the researcher to investigate the topic thoroughly and focus on accurate reporting of results.

  • Discovery of New Facts

Exploratory research helps researchers better grasp a largely unknown topic by discovering facts and bringing new knowledge to light.

What are the disadvantages of Exploratory Research in social sciences dissertation?

  • Inconclusive

Exploratory research yields speculative outcomes and is therefore inconclusive. This type of research aims to have a clear picture of the problem. These research findings cannot be used to make informed decisions.

  • Subjectivity

Exploratory research utilizes qualitative research methods to gather evidence for the investigation. Researcher bias is a common problem that occurs during exploratory research. The results are subjective since it does not utilize quantitative methods. Researchers survey and analyze multiple sources of information, and due to this variation, the insights generated are not objective.

  • Relies on Secondary Data Only

Secondary data may contain outdated information and may compromise the understanding of the existing problem.


The use of descriptive or exploratory research for your social sciences dissertation depends upon the inclinations of your research. Descriptive research is useful for you if you are seeking to describe a phenomenon. An exploratory research approach, however, is appropriate for your social sciences dissertation.

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