This type of research investigates an area or issue on which little previous work has been carried out. In an organisational setting it may be used to discover whether or not a problem exists.
Sometimes research is implemented strategically, where researchers take account of current situations and speculate as to their future implications. For example, the introduction of a specific government policy might raise implications for practitioners involved in its implementation. Research of this nature might speculate as to what these implications might be and develop a programme of inquiry that can inform future responses to these issues.
Descriptive work aims to gather information that illuminates relationships, patterns and links between variables. An example would be an investigation of the link between students' study skills and course drop-out rates.
Explanatory research aims to show why relationships, patterns and links occur. Using the example from 3, how could study skills support improve student retention? And does this depend on other factors such as different types of support available?
The purpose of this type of research is to develop a model that predicts the likely course of events given particular intervening variables or circumstances.
To evaluate the impact of something, for example a new policy, event, law, treatment regime or the introduction of a new system.