Imagine that you are an owner of a bakery that is successfully selling cupcakes and birthday cakes. And you have a business idea about adding donuts to your inventory to sell to your customers. But before investing in that idea, you want to have some information to see whether or not this is a good idea for your business. But how do you obtain such data?
In this scenario, the research method you should go with is exploratory research design. It is a form of research that lets you explore new areas while looking at new sources and old databases. Let us start with the definition of explorer research.
As the name implies, exploratory research is about “exploring.” It is a type of research design where the researcher is trying to understand a subject matter that has not been explained before.
Or, in some cases, exploratory research is used when a research topic does not effectively answer questions, and it should be researched further. (Because it is quite difficult to find a topic that was not touched on before.) For example, your research problem could be about selling items or marketing research.
In Layman’s terms, exploratory research is trying to discover new things or discover more stuff about anything.
Exploratory research can be used in many fields, from medicine to marketing to education. Exploratory research is used when the administrators want to come up with new marketing strategies and when a new medical discovery will be made. Much like the exploration itself, the possibilities are endless. Let us see some exploratory research question examples:
Data collection is a critical part of exploratory research, even though it can be challenging to obtain data on a never-explored subject. Data collection helps narrow down the subject and figure out what kind of research has been done before. Data collection for exploratory research can be done in two different ways. The researcher can use primary research and secondary continue.
Data collection methods in exploratory research
Primary search is a type of research method where, during this method, you obtain knowledge directly from the source. It means talking to research participants, surveying a target audience, and doing observations without interference. Let us learn more about them:
Using focus groups can give you unbiased and fast data about the subject you want to explore. You can have two groups of people and see how different groups react to different elements. With this research approach, you can get a good idea of which of the two ways is better for your company.
Surveys are a great way to reach your audience and directly communicate with them. You can ask your questions and get immediate answers. When you use an online survey maker and create your surveys with your unique questions, you can collect answers without a sweat!
Interviews can be done both spontaneously and preplanned. When constructed with open-ended questions, it gives valuable insight to researchers. For example, the bakery owner mentioned above can briefly ask their loyal customers what more they would like to see in their shop. That is a great way to use exploratory research for marketing purposes.
Observation is a type of method where you gather the appropriate information from sheer observation when there is no interference. The searcher can set up cameras and observe the people in their own environments, or they can set up an environment where they can see the people’s reactions to something.
Secondary research is a type of research method you do not go to the source. You obtain the appropriate data about the subject from already published documents and studies completed.
The secondary research method is mostly done when doing primary research will be unethical or impractical. There are different source materials a researcher can make themselves. They can be physical copies of documents or books or online citations. You can also learn about secondary research on the blog of forms.app.
There are many useful academic papers and documents that can be found online. When the subject to be researched is clear, the researchers can look through online papers. Other online sources include the websites of competitors and social media platforms.
This method is quite similar to collecting data from the Internet, except these publications are physical copies. The published sources can be textbooks, journals, magazines, case studies, newspapers, and business journals. If you are operating a business and want to improve your sales in a way, you can go through annual reports of similar businesses to get a good idea.
When trying to discover new aspects on a certain subject, exploratory research gives a good starting point. The researcher does not know where they will end up, that is why they are not limited to the framework of their research methods.
However, this does not mean exploratory research is the only way. The researcher should always be mindful when it comes to the positive and negative sides of this research type. Here are the advantages and disadvantages of exploratory research:
Essential steps to conduct exploratory research
Until this part, we learned when to use exploratory research design, how to collect data, and the advantages and disadvantages of exploratory research. And now, if you believe this is the method for you, we can go through how to create one. Let us see the step-by-step guide:
First, identify the question you want answered. It does not have to be a specific question but a broad one. Because exploratory research is about exploring and finding out new things, it is perfectly okay to change direction according to your findings.
When you clearly identify the problem, you can create an initial hypothesis. Basically, you make an estimation of the outcome of the study. This allows you to go to the next step smoothly. And do not forget that you can change the theory according to what you find.
Determine the most suitable methodology for your problem. When it involves people and requires immediate answers, you can try surveys and interviews. But if it is a question about statistics and long-time manners, you can go through existing secondary sources.
After using the data you collected to identify patterns, themes, and trends, you can confidently report your findings. The findings will allow you to act accordingly, and you can make the best decision for your business.
When there is a study question needs to be answered, one of the effective research methods is exploratory research. During this method, the researcher tries to answer a question that has never been asked before. Or, they can build on a previously studied subject if they think the findings are not enough or are outdated.
This researcher can go with either a primary research method, a secondary research method, or even a mix of the two. If you are starting your own research, forms.app is a powerful tool that has many useful features. Be sure to check it out!
Defne is a content writer at forms.app. She is also a translator specializing in literary translation. Defne loves reading, writing, and translating professionally and as a hobby. Her expertise lies in survey research, research methodologies, content writing, and translation.