Explanatory Research Definition, Types, Comparison, Advantages, disadvantages

Explanatory Research (ER) study of a subject to gain further insight about it. In ER, the researcher starts with a general idea and uses research as a tool which could lead to the subjects that would be dealt in the incoming future. It is meant to provide details where small amount of information exists. For starting your research you need to create a research outline or speech outline to pitch your research idea.

Conducted in order to help us find the problem, this type of research is not used to give us some conclusive evidence, but helps us in understanding the problem more efficiently. When conducting the research, the researcher should be able to adapt himself/herself to the new data and the new insight that he discovers as he/she studies the subject.

It does not aim to provide final and conclusive answers to the research questions, but allows the researcher to explore the research with varying level of depths.  “It has been noticed that “exploratory research is the examination, which shapes the base for different inquiries about, it is the building obstruct for alternate looks into.”, it is the building block for the other researches. It can even help in deciding the exploration configuration, testing philosophy and information gathering strategy”. Research allows the researcher to tackle such problems where no or less research has been done.

Advantages of Explanatory Research:

  • Increasing Understanding:
    The purpose of explanatory research is to increase the understanding of a researcher on a certain subject. It does not provide conclusive results because lack of its statistical strength, but it makes the researcher determine how and why things happen.
  • Flexibility of Sources:
    Secondary sources, such as published literature or data, are commonly used in explanatory type of research. Care ought to be taken to choose a scope of fair-minded sources to give a wide and balanced comprehension of the subject.
  • Better Conclusions:
    Exp-Research can be very advantageous in directing subsequent research approaches. A great understanding of the subject allows the researcher to hone subsequent research questions and can greatly increase the usefulness of a study’s conclusions. This exploration is likewise exceptionally valuable in deciding the best way to deal with accomplish a specialist’s goal.

Disadvantages of Explanatory Research:

  • Bias information:
    Exp-Research generates such types of information and interpretations which could sometimes lead to banal information.
  • Useless samples:
    Exp-Research studies make use of modest number samples which could not be for a targeted/ specific type of audience.

Types of Explanatory Research

Some of the popular methods of explanatory research design include literature searches, depth interview, focus groups, and case analysis.

  • Literature Search or Literature Research
  • Depth interviews
  • Focus Group Research
  • Case Analyses Research

Literature search:

Literature search is one of the most fastest and least expensive mean to discover hypothesis and provide information about the subject we’re studying. There is enormous amount of information available on the internet, libraries. The literature search may include magazines, newspaper, trade literature and academic literature.

Example of Literature research: Expect an issue is “The reason are item deals lower?” This can without much of a stretch be assessed with the guide of distributed information which ought to specify “whether the issue is an “industry issue” or a “firm issue”.

Depth interview:

Literature search is a good start but it would be much preferred to talk to a person who is well informed about the specific subject that you’re studying. These people can be professionals or person outside the organization. Depth interviews are widely used to tap information and the experience of the individuals with the information related to the specific subject we’re studying. Anyone with information related to the problem is a strong candidate for the depth interview.

Depth Interview Example: A youngsters’ book distributor got valuable data in regards to a business decay by talking with administrators and teachers who uncovered that expanding quantities of individuals were utilizing library offices and conceivably purchasing less books for their kids.

Focus groups:

Another method used is the gathering of the people who have a common objective and has information about the specific problem at hand. Focus group can have 8-12 members. While selecting the members, it should be kept in mind that the individuals have information about the problem.

Case Analysis:

Researchers can understand and tackle the problem more efficiently by dealing with the carefully selected cases or cases of the phenomenon. Analysis of the case of the organization which has gone through the same case will help in dealing with the problem more efficiently.

Case Analysis Example: L.L.Bean is perceived for its excellent request satisfaction. Notwithstanding amid the bustling Christmas season, the company for the most part fills more than 99 % of its requests accurately. Hence, different organizations have tried to enhance their own particular request satisfaction by bench-marking L.L.Bean.

Why explanatory research:

This type of research allows the researcher to provide deep insight about a specific subject, which gives birth to more subjects and provide more opportunities for the researchers to study new things and questions new things. The deep study of subjects creates a cycle and, the critical thinking/study of the subject creates more questions and those questions lead to more ways for the researchers to study more things related to that subject.

Purpose of Explanatory Research:

Exploratory researches are normally led when an issue is not obviously characterized. It permits the agent to familiarize with the issue or idea to be examined, and conceivably create theories (meaning of theory) to be tried. By and large, this type of research is completed by the utilization of center gatherings or little gathering dialog’s, that are every now and again used in looking into the market. Exp. Research can be immensely valuable for social research. They are vital when an agent is breaking new ground and they ordinarily convey new data about a point for research. They’ve likewise been a hot-spot for grounded hypothesis.

Exploratory research studies have three main purpose: to fulfill the researcher’s curiosity and need for greater understanding, to test the livability of beginning a more top to bottom review, and furthermore to build up the techniques to be utilized as a part of any after research ventures.

Explanatory Research vs Descriptive Research:

  • Descriptive research, being quantitative in nature, is not efficient to open ended questions, this type of research can answer these questions more efficiently.
  • research is more flexible as compared to that of descriptive research.
  • Descriptive research is uses the tools like, mean, average, median and frequency. On the other hand, Explanatory research allows the researcher to use the tools which are more qualitative in nature.
  • The amount of information that the researcher has in mind, determines which type of research he/she should use to get better results. With only vague ideas in mind it would be good for the researcher to go with exp. research. On the other hand, information like quantitative data allows the researcher to go for descriptive research which leads to unearthing specific relationships.
  • Explanatory research needs to be conducted first, and then use that collection of information which is required for descriptive research.


The explanatory research is such type of research which is a pillar to the other type of researches. If we want to do other type of researches then we should always do this type of research first because without it the research would be incomplete and it wouldn’t be efficient as compared to that research which has been completed in order. this type of research works to give your survey and research design a better focus and significantly limits any unintended bias.

About the author

Waqas Muhammad

Muhammad Waqas is mentoring new students to win scholarships since long time. He realized the fact that it is essential to create a platform where students can find authentic opportunities to apply for and ask questions regarding any relevant matters.

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