If you are not entering a “undiscovered cave” in your research, that is, if you do not need to explore about the nature of some problem simply because it has already been studied before, perhaps the purpose of your research is basicly descriptive. In other words, you do not need to ask yoursefl “what is happening” because this question has already been answer before and you just need to describe the phenomena.
This kind of research take place when you need a clear picture of the phenomena. So, in this case you will not need a lantern but a painting brush. Your role will consists of collecting certain information and describe it, as a painter does when doing a portrait.
Descriptive studies usually aims to answer “what” research questions. Following our previous post example on wine industry, imaging now that the polish market is actually a mature market, that is, though beer and vodka are more popular drinks, the truth is that over the last years the wine has carved a niche in this country, included Spanish wines. For this reason, after a review of literature you have learnt a lot about Polish delight. Now, what you need is just describe the numbers of wine exportation. For this reason to contact the Spanish Chamber of Commerce in Poland and ask for details. Together with it you collect information of the number of wine shops starte up last three years in Poland.
Bear in mind that a descriptive study may be the forerunner of a exploratory study. If after analysing wine industry data you see that the importation in Poland has hardly increase 1% last three years comparing with the 15% of other countries in European Union like Hungary or Romania, you might consider doing also an exploratory study by mean focus group to understand the nature of this phenomena.
The same way, in management it is very common that a descriptive study is the precursor of a explanatory study. What is an explanatory study? Read this other post.
- Are you entering a undiscovered cave? #researchdesign (researchmethodsgdansk.wordpress.com)