“All progress is born to an inquiry. Doubt is often better than Overconfidence, for its lead to inquiry, and inquiry leads to invention” - Hudson Maxim
It has been seen that, in the context of development and planning out a research, the significance of the study lies in its quality and not in the quantity and the quality of your research depends on how strong your research strategy is. Therefore, there is a need to pay attention to the designing and following a correct strategy for improving the quality of your research.
Each research study is unique in its own way. You cannot exercise same procedure and approach to every new research. Every time a new strategy or an approach is applied on the basis of the time required to accomplish research, the main purpose of the research, surroundings in which research is conducted or on the basis of some similar dimensions.
Your main goal while conducting a research is to adopt a way of which the research objectives can be answered. While deciding that way, you should first identify the type and availability of the information that is required to fulfill your objectives of the research.
Types of Research Strategy
An appropriate research strategy not only provides a direction to your study but also helps in choosing the right methodology for collecting and analysis the data for your research. Therefore, it is very important to choose an appreciate strategy while conducting your research.
If we talk the types of strategies followed in research, there are generally of two basic types: Qualitative and Quantitative. However, if you go in deep there are many other strategies on the basis of your research type, such as Descriptive, Analytical, Applied, Fundamental, Exploratory, Critical, Interpretive and Predictive.
Let’s talk about each strategy separately and learn how to choose an appropriate strategy for your research study.
Qualitative Research Strategy
Not every time research involves numbers or calculations that you can analyze. Sometimes you need to understand the underlying opinions and reasons for deeper knowledge of the problem. It gives insights into the research problem and helps to achieve objectives of the research by various methods such as interviews, observations, textual material, open-ended surveys, oral history and focus groups.
Quantitative Research Strategy
Another way to figure out is to look at patterns in numeric data, which can only be analyzed using statistics. The statistical, mathematical, and numerical analysis of collected data comes under the quantitative strategy of research.
In academics, the first type of research strategy applied by researchers is always quantitative research. It focuses on when, where, what, how long and how often a specific phenomenon occurs. In quantitative strategy, the researcher plays with variables for the desired outcomes. You can see the best example of this type of research strategy in the natural world; U.S.A Census, Population rate and all other research involving a study of numerical data is carried out by quantitative research strategy.
In quantitative research data is collected through questionnaire, polls, and surveys.
Descriptive Research Strategy
As the name suggests, a descriptive strategy is used when you want to describe a particular situation. It observes and describes the behavior of an individual, community, group or a thing without affecting it in any way. The best part about descriptive strategy is that the subject is being observed in an unchanged and completely natural environment. It does not manipulate any condition; it just describes what already exists in surrounding and can help to uncover the hidden facts and figures of the subject.
In this research strategy, you do not have any control over the variables; you can only state what is happening and what has happened to your subject. In general, it answers ‘what’ category questions instead of ‘how’, ‘why’ or ‘when.’
Well! Now the biggest question is when you should choose descriptive strategy? When you want to study the relationship between two things, for an example, how many hours a student spends studying for the exams and his subsequent marks in that exam, so you make a correlational study. Or you want to know how changing the amount of water and sunlight affects the growth a plant, so you create an experimental study. Or you just want to observe and describe something, in particular, to understand it better, for example, ‘Life of a British student in American colleges’, so you design a case study.
The descriptive strategy involves three methods: Surveys, Observations, and Case studies to understand a specific set of variables and to collect data that provides a description of individuals, groups, communities or situations.
Analytical Research Strategy
Analytical research strategy involves the use of already available facts and information. A researcher studies and analyzes the available data in an attempt to explain the complex problems. It answers ‘why is it this way’ and ‘how it came to be’ type questions and usually concerns itself with cause-effect relationships.
Say, for example, your research is based on the Condition of slavery in America after Thirteenth Amendment. Examining the fluctuations of U.S.A position in Global Slavery Index during the period f 1865-2017 is an example of the descriptive strategy of research; while explaining why and how U.S slavery rates move in a particular way over this period is the analytical strategy of research.
It has been studied that most of the scientifically based problem-solving approaches use the analytical strategy to fulfill the aims and objectives of the research. By using this strategy, you can search critical details and new information to add ideas in the information being produced.
Applied or Action Research Strategy
Do you have any knowledge about Ebola virus? It is a virus that causes organs failure and can lead to death. The virus was first identified in 1976 and killed about 11,000 people in West Africa during the period to 2013-2015. After this many research was conducted to find the cure for this disease and finally in 2016, a research found the first vaccine that is 70-100% effective against this virus.
Why am I telling you this? This is because it is called as the applied or action research strategy; a research strategy that aims at finding the solution to an immediate problem. It is applied by an agency, company or government to address a particular problem. In the above case, the researcher did the investigation to find out the most effective treatment for Ebola virus and that what is the main purpose of applied strategy for research.
This strategy can be used in various fields, like for example, researching which strategy work best to motivate physically challenged students, studying different Cell phone designs to determine which is the most efficient for working women, Development of strategies to introduce change in Mc Donald global supply chain management or an investigation for the ways of improving employee motivation in Google.
Fundamental or Basic Research Strategy
Do you know the factors impacting each stage of a tertiary food chain? I guess you do! However, as a researcher, you are very curious to know their impact rate and therefore you want to critically analyze more about these factors. Well! What you exactly doing is that you are gathering knowledge for the sake of the knowledge and this is the fundamental research strategy.
It is basically an investigation and analysis of a phenomenon without any generalization for a better understanding of the subject. It is generally conducted with the desire of expanding knowledge and to add more information to a specific research area. The findings by this type of strategy are not directly applicable to the real world, but they enhance our understanding and knowledge of the world around people.
It may have limited direct applications, but the researcher has careful control over the conditions.
Critical Research Strategy
As the term reflects, a critical analysis is the foundation of this study. The critical research strategy is used to reveal faulty claims about the society. By this strategy, a researcher picks apart any conclusion or theory made about society or a particular culture. Researchers critically analyze and inquire prior finding and questions.
Say, for example, a person research and finds that Indians are likely to experience more racism than Nigerians in America. You as a researcher use critical research strategy to analyze and critique these findings by looking at factors other than racism cases that have been reported in the past. Specifically, you will not just look at one segment of society. You will go back to history and figure out the cause of this problem as well as how the problem came to this specific point.
In this strategy, a research not only evaluates the data but also suggest appropriate changes that target the problem. It answers the questions asking ‘why’ and ‘how.’
Interpretive Research Strategy
The interpretive research strategy is quite similar to qualitative research strategy. It interprets the social reality through a sense-making process rather than a hypothesis testing process. In simple words, it explains and understands the life and society through human experience. It focuses on human significance and meaning.
Let’s explain this using previous example; Indians are likely to experience more racism than Nigerians in America. Now by applying interpretive strategy you will first decode the collected data and recognize the different points of view of this result. To know each and every aspect of this finding, you will know the personal perspectives of some Americans and Indians as well as Nigerians living in the U.S. They will have different opinions. Each of them will explain the condition differently from each other. You will use these different opinions to give meaning to the data.
In this strategy, the highest priority is always given the view of the subject.
Exploratory Research Strategy
Want to launch a new innovative product to market? Let’s see what you will need; Idea, Finance, a team and an appropriate research strategy to explore the opportunities and challenges of the market. The best research strategy for this will be exploratory-explore the world around you.
It is conducted when there are very few or no earlier studies about the research problem. Exploratory research strategy focuses on gaining insight into the problem or a situation and does not provide the final solution for the research problem.
You can use a variety of methods like asking open-ended questions to the people, interviews, experiments, group discussions, or trial studies to gain the little amount of information.
Predictive Research Strategy
As it is very clear from the name that it predicts; it predicts what could happen in the future. This research strategy is about understanding the future of the research problem and its foundation is based on the probabilities. A predictive strategy is an appropriate option for providing estimation about the likelihood of a future outcome.
This strategy is very popular among companies and organization to forecast what might happen in the future. Say for example, what will be the sale of Starbucks at the time of new year, predicting what items customer will purchase in the recession year or what will the market value of a newly launched product at the end of the year.
“A good strategy is the key to successful research”