Compare and Contrast

Exploratory Vs Explanatory Research

Exploratory Vs Explanatory Research

Exploratory Vs Explanatory Research

Exploratory research and explanatory research are two fundamental types of research studies, and they have different objectives, approaches, and outcomes.

Exploratory Research

Exploratory research is usually conducted when the researcher is trying to gain a deeper understanding of a particular phenomenon, situation, or problem. The primary purpose of exploratory research is to explore and generate ideas, hypotheses, and theories about a topic or issue that is not well understood. The researcher typically uses qualitative research methods, such as in-depth interviews, focus groups, or observational studies, to collect data. The data collected in exploratory research is usually descriptive and helps the researcher to identify patterns and trends, generate hypotheses, and develop a deeper understanding of the research problem. Exploratory research is usually the first step in a larger research project, and its results are used to guide the design of subsequent studies.

Explanatory Research

Explanatory research, on the other hand, is conducted when the researcher is trying to explain the relationship between variables or to test hypotheses that have been generated through exploratory research. The primary purpose of explanatory research is to explain why and how things happen. The researcher typically uses quantitative research methods, such as surveys or experiments, to collect data. The data collected in explanatory research is usually analyzed statistically to test hypotheses and to establish cause-and-effect relationships between variables.

Differences Between Exploratory and Explanatory Research

Exploratory ResearchExplanatory Research
ObjectiveTo explore and gain a deeper understanding of a research problemTo explain the relationship between variables or to test hypotheses
ApproachQualitative research methods (e.g., in-depth interviews, focus groups, observational studies)Quantitative research methods (e.g., surveys, experiments)
DataDescriptive, non-numerical dataNumerical data
AnalysisInductive analysis to identify patterns and themesDeductive analysis to test hypotheses
OutcomeGenerates ideas, hypotheses, and theoriesExplains why and how things happen
TimingUsually the first step in a larger research projectConducted after exploratory research to test hypotheses
ExamplesExploratory case study, ethnographyRandomized controlled trial, survey research

In summary, exploratory research is used to gain a deeper understanding of a research problem, while explanatory research is used to explain the relationship between variables or to test hypotheses. Both types of research are important and complement each other in the research process. Exploratory research is usually the first step in a larger research project, while explanatory research is conducted after exploratory research to test hypotheses and to establish cause-and-effect relationships between variables.

About the author

Muhammad Hassan

Researcher, Academic Writer, Web developer