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Writing a research paper: Types of Research

This libguide is for those just learning how to research. It will tell what research is, identify different resources for information as well as citing information.

 Four popular methods of research for middle school





Direct Observation

Techniques of descriptive research include interviews (asking a predetermined list of question) and observations (taking notes on what is happening).   Different types of observations include:

Participant:  The researcher joins in the activitiy they are observing (try to play an instrument when observing the school band).

Direct:  The group the researcher is observing knows they are being observed.

Indirect: The group being observed does not know they are being observed.


Historical Research

In historical research, an attempt is made to interpret and reconstruct past events.  Oral history is a technique used in this approach.  This research can be done using history books, old newspapers, or through interviews. This type of research is typical for Social Studies or History classes.

Example: If you are researching the United States Space Program, ask youur grandparents where they were when Neil Armstrong landed on the moon and what information they know about the event.

Experiment picture

In experimental research, variables are manipulated to determine the effect of a particular treatment.  The end result is typically what is written about in experimental research. This research is typical for Science classes.


For example: Two people take a pretest, and receive the same score.  One student receives lessons to improve their score, the other student do receives no lessons, however they both take a post test. teh Variable would be lessons.  The end result would be the scores on the final test.  Which student did better, or did they score the same grade again (higher or lower).


In survey research, the investigator attempts to discover attitudes or opinions field by large numbers of people concerning particular issues or ideas.  Surveys can put into reports then can be used to improve services.

Example:  Surveys can determine if a particular program is liked, or the number of people that use different services.