Difference Between Descriptive Research and Experimental Research

Main Difference

The main difference between the descriptive research and experimental research is that descriptive research describes some phenomenon or a group by exploring different characteristics of the specific group or phenomenon whereas experimental research is the research where the researcher manipulates the variable to come across findings or to arrive at conclusions.

Descriptive Research vs. Experimental Research

Descriptive research and experimental research are two of the many types of research. There are numerous types of research. Both of these types are different from each other.

Descriptive research is defined as a kind of research that describes some phenomenon or a group by exploring different characteristics of the specific group or phenomenon. Experimental research is defined as the research where the researcher manipulates the variable to come across findings or to arrive at conclusions.

The way of conduct of both types of research is distinct. It is easy to conduct descriptive research. Descriptive research is very likely to explain a connection between any of the two variables. Experimental research is harder to conduct for so many reasons, but it is considered more important.

Descriptive research describes the population by identifying the characteristics. Experimental research gives more focus on testing the hypothesis. The focus areas of both types of research differ in many aspects. There is no focus on causality in descriptive research. Experimental research permits the researcher to find causality.

The data processing in descriptive and experimental research varies. Descriptive research is mainly handled by making available data and processes this data by the statistical analysis.
Furthermore, descriptive research also sometimes collects data from other previous experimental researches. Experimental research focuses on where the data of an experiment comes from.

Descriptive research and experimental research have their own –WH questions to which they answer. Descriptive research answers the –WH question “what.” Experimental research answers the –WH question “why.”

In descriptive research, there is a correlation or link between two events but not tells how that relationship works. Experimental research demonstrates the correlation and also how that relationship works.

Comparison Chart

Descriptive ResearchExperimental Research
Measurement of attributes and behaviors through observationManipulation of the variable to conclude findings
Designing
SimpleComplicated
Answers
“What”“Why”
Focus on Causality
It does notIt does
Method
Identifying the characteristicsFocus on the hypothesis
Conduct
EasierHarder

What is Descriptive Research?

Descriptive research is defined as a kind of research that describes some phenomenon or a group by exploring different characteristics of the specific group or phenomenon.

The purpose of descriptive research is to direct the measurement of behaviors and attributes through observation methods rather than through an experimental method. Descriptive research is less likely to explain a connection between the two variables.

In descriptive research, there is a correlation or link between two events or variables. For example, it deals with such topics as “the average fat consumption of a country and the rate of heart disease in that country.”

The correlation makes predictions about the similarities between two variables that occur together. However, this correlation does not take causation into consideration. It does not tell how that relationship works.

By not focusing on causality, descriptive research allows the researcher to broaden his understanding of the population. It describes the population by identifying the characteristics. Also, descriptive research provides qualitative as well as quantitative data.

Descriptive research is mainly handling by making available data and processes this data by the statistical analysis. Descriptive research also sometimes collects data from other previous experimental researches.

Moreover, the project of descriptive research is simple and straightforward to design. This type of research has the question “what” to answer. In descriptive research, the main focus of the researcher is to describe the population by identifying the characteristics.

Descriptive research is used throughout the sciences, mainly in Political Science or Sociology. It focuses on social rather than practical issues.

What is Experimental Research?

Experimental research is defined as the research where the researcher manipulates the variable to come across findings or to arrive at conclusions.

Experimental research is hard to conduct for so many reasons. It requires many additional things for example, when manipulating an independent variable to observe its effect on the dependent variable, many other incidental variables like random assignment, use of a control group, single or double-blind design, etc have to be controlled and accounted for, if not then the results could be inaccurate or false.

However, this type of research is considered more important. It depends on the experimenter to decide that how can he control the independent variables; meanwhile, he measures the dependent variable.

Experimental research gives more focus on testing the hypothesis. It permits the researcher to find causality. Experimental research focuses on where the data of an experiment comes from.

It answers the –WH question, “why.” Experimental research demonstrates the correlation and also the causality of how that specific relation works. In experimental research, the main purpose of an experiment is to investigate the relationship between two variables which further helps in testing a hypothesis.

A psychologist can design an experiment by using the scientific method. The scientific method leads to satisfactory answers to the research question. The different types of experiments are single-subject study, quasi-experiments, correlation study, etc.

Main Steps of an Experimental Design

  • The identification of question
  • The creation of a hypothesis
  • The conduction of research for the information of the previous aspects
  • The definition of the dependent as well as independent variables
  • Determining the way of manipulation of the independent variable and the measurement of a dependent variable

Key Differences

  1. Descriptive research is defined as a kind of research that describes some phenomenon or a group by exploring different characteristics of the specific group or phenomenon whereas experimental research is defined as the research where the researcher manipulates the variable to come across findings or to arrive at conclusions.
  2. Descriptive research is easier to conduct; conversely, experimental research is harder to conduct.
  3. In descriptive research, there is a correlation or link between two events but not tells how that relationship works; on the contrary experimental research demonstrates the correlation and also how that relationship works.
  4. Descriptive research describes the population by identifying the characteristics, on the flip side, experimental research gives more focus on testing the hypothesis.
  5. A descriptive research project is straightforward to design; on the other hand, experimental research gets complicated to design due to many additional things.
  6. Descriptive research does not give focus on causality while experimental research permits the researcher to find causality.
  7. Descriptive research has the question “what” inversely experimental research answers the question “why.”
  8. Descriptive research is mainly handling by making available data and processes this data by the statistical analysis. It also sometimes collects data from other previous experimental researches contrarily experimental research focuses on where the data of an experiment comes from.

Conclusion

Descriptive research and experimental research are known as the two types of research. Both these types are different from each other based on their question, research design method, and other aspects.