Explanatory Research Definition, Types, Comparison, Advantages, disadvantages

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Explanatory Research is the conducted for a problem which was not well researched before, demands priorities, generates operational definitions and provides a better-researched model. It is actually a type of research design which focuses on explaining the aspects of your study in a detailed manner. The researcher starts with a general idea and uses research as a tool which could lead to the subjects that would be dealt in the incoming future. It is meant to provide details where a small amount of information exists for a certain product in mind of that researcher. For starting your research, you need to create a research outline or speech outline to pitch your research idea to your professor or a boss or in a board meeting.

Explanatory Research is conducted in order to help us find the problem that was not studied before in-depth. The Explanatory research is not used to give us some conclusive evidence but helps us in understanding the problem more efficiently. When conducting the research, the researcher should be able to adapt himself/herself to the new data and the new insight that he discovers as he/she studies the subject.

It does not aim to provide final and conclusive answers to the research questions but allows the researcher to explore the research with a varying level of depths.  “It has been noticed that “exploratory research is the examination, which shapes the base for different inquiries about, it is the building obstruct for alternate looks into.”, it is the building block for the other researchers. It can even help in deciding the exploration configuration, testing philosophy and information gathering strategy”. Research allows the researcher to tackle such problems where no or less research has been done.

Purpose of Explanatory Research:

  • Increasing Understanding:
    The purpose of explanatory research is to increase the understanding of a researcher on a certain subject. It does not provide conclusive results because of lack of its statistical strength, but it makes the researcher determine how and why things happen.
  • The flexibility of Sources:
    Secondary sources, such as published literature or data, are commonly used in the explanatory type of research. Care ought to be taken to choose a scope of fair-minded sources to give a wide and balanced comprehension of the subject.
  • Better Conclusions:
    Exp-Research can be very advantageous in directing subsequent research approaches. A great understanding of the subject allows the researcher to hone subsequent research questions and can greatly increase the usefulness of a study’s conclusions. This exploration is likewise exceptionally valuable in deciding the best way to deal with accomplish a specialist’s goal. The CV is also very important

Explanatory Research Challenges:

  • Bias information:
    Exp-Research generates such types of information and interpretations which could sometimes lead to banal information.
  • Useless samples:
    Exp-Research studies make use of modest number samples which could not be for a targeted/ specific type of audience.

Explanatory Research Types

Some of the popular methods of explanatory research design include literature searches, depth interview, focus groups, and case analysis.

  • Literature Research
  • In-depth study of every single problem
  • Focus Group Research
  • Case Analysis Research

Literature search:

A literature search is one of the fastest and least expensive means to discover hypothesis and provide information about the subject we’re studying. There is an enormous amount of information available on the internet, libraries. The literature search may include magazines, newspaper, trade literature, and academic literature.

Literature research example: Expect an issue is “The reason is item deals lower?” This can without much of a stretch be assessed with the guide of distributed information which ought to specify “whether the issue is an “industry issue” or a “firm issue”.

Depth interview:

The literature search is a good start but it would be much preferred to talk to a person who is well informed about the specific subject that you’re studying. These people can be professionals or person outside the organization. Depth interviews are widely used to tap information and the experience of the individuals with the information related to the specific subject we’re studying. Anyone with information related to the problem is a strong candidate for the depth interview.

Depth Interview Example: A youngsters’ book distributor got valuable data in regards to a business decay by talking with administrators and teachers who uncovered that expanding quantities of individuals were utilizing library offices and conceivably purchasing fewer books for their kids.

Focus groups:

Another method used is the gathering of the people who have a common objective and has information about the specific problem at hand. Focus group can have 8-12 members. While selecting the members, it should be kept in mind that the individuals have information about the problem.

Case Analysis:

Researchers can understand and tackle the problem more efficiently by dealing with the carefully selected cases or cases of the phenomenon. Analysis of the case of the organization which has gone through the same case will help in dealing with the problem more efficiently.

Case Analysis Example: L.L.Bean is perceived for its excellent request satisfaction. Notwithstanding amid the bustling Christmas season, the company, for the most part, fills more than 99 % of its requests accurately. Hence, different organizations have tried to enhance their own particular request satisfaction by bench-marking L.L.Bean.

Why explanatory research:

The Explanatory Research allows the researcher to provide the deep insight into a specific subject, which gives birth to more subjects and provides more opportunities for the researchers to study new things and questions new things. The deep study of subjects creates a cycle and, the critical thinking/study of the subject creates more questions and those questions lead to more ways for the researchers to study more things related to that subject.

Purpose of Explanatory Research:

Exploratory researchers are normally led when an issue is not obviously characterized. It permits the agent to familiarize with the issue or idea to be examined, and conceivably create theories (meaning of theory) to be tried. By and large, this research is completed by the utilization of center gatherings or little gathering dialog’s, that is every now and again used in looking into the market. Exp. Research can be immensely valuable for social research. They are vital when an agent is breaking new ground and they ordinarily convey new data about a point for research. They’ve likewise been a hot-spot for the grounded hypothesis.

Exploratory research studies have three main purposes: to fulfill the researcher’s curiosity and need for greater understanding, to test the livability of beginning a more top to bottom review, and furthermore to build up the techniques to be utilized as a part of any after research ventures.

Explanatory Research Definition, Types, Comparison, Advantages, disadvantages:

  • Descriptive research, being quantitative in nature, is not efficient to open-ended questions, this type of research can answer these questions more efficiently.
  • research is more flexible as compared to that of descriptive research.
  • The descriptive research uses the tools like mean, average, median and frequency. On the other hand, Explanatory research allows the researcher to use the tools which are more qualitative in nature.
  • The amount of information that the researcher has in mind, determines which type of research he/she should use to get better results. With only vague ideas in mind, it would be good for the researcher to go to exp. research. On the other hand, information like quantitative data allows the researcher to go for descriptive research which leads to unearthing specific relationships.
  • Explanatory research needs to be conducted first, and then use that collection of information which is required for descriptive research.

Causal Research (Explanatory research)

Causal research, also known as explanatory research is conducted in order to identify the extent and nature of cause-and-effect relationships. Causal research can be conducted in order to assess impacts of specific changes on existing norms, various processes etc.

Causal studies focus on an analysis of a situation or a specific problem to explain the patterns of relationships between variables. Experiments are the most popular primary data collection methods in studies with causal research design.

The presence of cause cause-and-effect relationships can be confirmed only if specific causal evidence exists. Causal evidence has three important components:

1. Temporal sequence. The cause must occur before the effect. For example, it would not be appropriate to credit the increase in sales to rebranding efforts if the increase had started before the rebranding.

2. Concomitant variation. The variation must be systematic between the two variables. For example, if a company doesn’t change its employee training and development practices, then changes in customer satisfaction cannot be caused by employee training and development.

3. Nonspurious association. Any covarioaton between a cause and an effect must be true and not simply due to other variable. In other words, there should be no a ‘third’ factor that relates to both, cause, as well as, effect.

The table below compares the main characteristics of causal research to exploratory and descriptive research designs

Causal research Exploratory research Descriptive research
Amount of uncertainty characterising decision situation Clearly defined Highly ambiguous Partially defined
Key research statement Research hypotheses Research question Research question
When conducted? Later stages of decision making Early stage of decision making Later stages of decision making
Usual research approach Highly structured Unstructured Structured
Examples ‘Will consumers buy more products in a blue package?’‘Which of two advertising campaigns will be more effective?’ ‘Our sales are declining for no apparent reason’‘What kinds of new products are fast-food consumers interested in?’ ‘What kind of people patronize our stores compared to our primary competitor?’‘What product features are the most important to our customers?’

Main characteristics of research designs

 Examples of Causal Research (Explanatory Research)

The following are examples of research objectives for causal research design:

  • To assess the impacts of foreign direct investment on the levels of economic growth in Taiwan
  • To analyse the effects of re-branding initiatives on the levels of customer loyalty
  • To identify the nature of impact of work process re-engineering on the levels of employee motivation
Advantages of Causal Research (Explanatory Research)
  • Causal studies may play an instrumental role in terms of identifying reasons behind a wide range of processes, as well as, assessing the impacts of changes on existing norms, processes etc.
  • Causal studies usually offer the advantages of replication if necessity arises
  • This type of studies are associated with greater levels of internal validity due to systematic selection of subjects
Disadvantages of Causal Research (Explanatory Research)
  • Coincidences in events may be perceived as cause-and-effect relationships. For example, Punxatawney Phil was able to forecast the duration of winter for five consecutive years, nevertheless, it is just a rodent without intellect and forecasting powers, i.e. it was a coincidence.
  • It can be difficult to reach appropriate conclusions on the basis of causal research findings. This is due to the impact of a wide range of factors and variables in social environment. In other words, while casualty can be inferred, it cannot be proved with a high level of certainty.
  • It certain cases, while correlation between two variables can be effectively established; identifying which variable is a cause and which one is the impact can be a difficult task to accomplish.


The explanatory research is such type of research which is a pillar of the other type of researchers. Before initiating work for your next research, one should always conduct explanatory research first, because without it the research would be incomplete and it wouldn’t be as efficient. Explanatory research works to give your survey and research design a better focus and significantly limits any unintended bias information.

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