Exploratory research encompasses investigating and examining a natural and social phenomenon. The purpose is to add or create knowledge. Different types of research try to comprehend a particular research problem or issue. The approach that a researcher uses to analyse a research problem depends upon the nature of the study. The choice of an appropriate methodology depends on research objectives. Researchers also have to consider limitations of the study and time constraints. The outcome and findings of the research depend upon the kind of approach a researcher uses. So, the preliminary step is to formulate a research design. A research design helps the researchers identify what they want to examine and how they will do it.
There are many various research designs, but our main focus is to understand the concept of exploratory research. Exploration means an in-depth analysis of a particular problem not clearly defined before. In the same vein, exploratory research relates to the thorough investigation of a problem. The primary aim of this type of research is to study the uncovered and overlooked aspects of a research problem. The objective of exploratory research is to examine research questions thoroughly. It enables the researchers to gain deeper insight into the issue. Exploratory research is also synonymous with interpretive research and the grounded theory approach. So, researchers need to familiarise themselves with the concept of exploratory research. This article by top researchers of a dissertation writing firm will discuss exploratory research and the best way to do it.
What Is Exploratory Research?
Exploratory research signifies the extrapolation of available knowledge. It leads to the discovery of additional information relevant to the research problem. The research may not be relevant to the study that answers a specific research question. Instead, it is the pursuit of knowledge to formulate foundational knowledge about a particular subject. The formulation of foundational knowledge serves as a preamble for further research. Exploratory research usually involves examining uncovered aspects of a natural or social phenomenon.
For example, you are thoroughly examining the existing knowledge about MBA graduates and employability skills. You will have to collect all the relevant information and literature and compile a comprehensive list of all the lesser-known data. It will help you highlight a gap in the studies, leading to additional information not available before. Importantly, exploratory studies serve as a precursor to future research about the relevant research problem of that subject.
What Are The Attributes Of Exploratory Research?
- Interactive and Open-Ended
- It takes a lot of time
- Extensive examination of available literature and knowledge
- The objective should be to create value; otherwise, it becomes a futile exercise
- Generates qualitative results
- Researchers also utilize quantitative methods for surveys and experiments
Generic Research Questions
- What is the nature of the problem that a researcher intends to study?
- What is the purpose of this study?
- How many topics does the researcher want to include in this study?
How To Do Exploratory Research?
Identification of a Research Problem
The first step is to pinpoint the research problem and identify whether it is worth pursuing. An unexplored research problem is highly valuable for such studies.
Formulation of a Research Problem or Hypothesis
After identifying the research problem, the next job of a researcher is to formulate a hypothesis or a research problem. The research problem aims to find solutions for unexplored and under-researched studies. Research questions help to formulate a research problem.
Pioneer of Future Research
The researcher compiles all the relevant data on the research problem. After that, the researcher conducts descriptive or interpretive analysis. Researchers mostly use qualitative methods to analyse the data and affirm or negate the value of the research problem. Exploratory research is time-consuming and requires a lot of patience. The researcher has to be flexible enough to consider the impact of different variables. A researcher must be open to changing his/her stance on the original research problem in the case of discovering new insights.
Data Collection Methods for Exploratory Research
Primary Research Methods
Primary research methods encompass the following techniques to collect data for exploratory studies:
Direct observations pertain to studying the subjects in their natural environment. Moreover, it aims at evaluating behaviours, situations and events in exploratory studies. A researcher can observe subjects in their natural settings through their consent. To get an objective view of the physical conditions, the researcher can observe the subjects from afar without their knowledge. A researcher can utilize structured observations when the aim is to collect quantitative data. For qualitative data, researchers mostly use unstructured observation techniques.
Researchers use surveys by defining a population sample. Through surveys, researchers gather insights into behaviours, opinions, attitudes, beliefs, and practices.
Researchers also gather data from focus group discussions. Focus groups comprise a small number of people having similar attributes. Researchers make notes and observations of the entire discussion about the specific issue.
Interviews are time-consuming, but they tend to produce quite effective results. Researchers either conduct face to face interviews or through voice calls or video calls.
Secondary Research Methods
On the other hand, secondary research methods encompass data collection from newspapers, journal articles, magazines and books. Researchers also analyse archival studies and government documents. Exploratory studies have to analyse the available literature extensively. The purpose is to identify gaps and formulate patterns.
A literature review is a systematic analysis of the entire body of knowledge on a particular subject. The researcher aims to identify the missing gaps and critically analyses the literature to justify the relevant research problem.
Case studies also prove to be helpful in exploratory studies. The researcher compiles all the relevant case studies and does a comprehensive analysis.
Limitations of Exploratory research
Like every other research design, the exploratory study also has some limitations. Exploratory studies have the following limitations.
- They are inconclusive
- Biased and subjective data collection
- Qualitative in nature and ignore the quantitative aspects
- Generalization of small case studies to the entire populations
- Secondary data collection sources are old and outdated for unexplored research areas
- Investigate ambiguous research problems
- No conclusive answer to the research problems
Exploratory studies are beneficial for generating foundational knowledge. It can create an impetus for future research. The research process is time-consuming, and the researcher must be open-minded and patient. The researcher must be ready to deal with any contingencies that might surface during the research. Exploratory studies require flexibility to reformulate the research problem if any contradictory evidence emerges during the studies.