Research can be classified into different types according to function—exploration, description, and explanation.
When its purpose is to provide a foundation for future studies, the research is called an exploratory investigation. This kind of research seeks to find more information about a topic and a broader perspective or additional knowledge to what is currently known. A researcher may explore a new topic of interest or explore new angles of a theory. Exploring new topics may lead to unexpected discoveries, ideas, or phenomena. Moreover, a researcher may also explore other perspectives or other processes aside from what is currently known, such as exploring a better process or finding new ways to deal with a particular process.
When the primary purpose of research is to give additional information on newly discovered ideas that are results of exploration, it is called descriptive research. Descriptive research fills in the details and gaps regarding a particular idea, with the intent to expand understanding. Here, more information is needed to be supplied in order to answer the ‘what’ and ‘how’ questions instead of formulating unsure explanations.
Once newly discovered ideas are described thoroughly, it is imperative for researchers to understand why these came into existence. Connection between these ideas needs to be established to advance the body of knowledge. This task of looking at how things are connected and how they interact is the primary purpose of an explanatory research. This type of research aims to explain relationships existing between variables, quantitatively or qualitatively.