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These type of studies attempt to seek the cause and effect between different variables. The difference between these and experimental designs is the independent variable is not manipulated by the researcher and the effects of the independent variable on the dependent are measured and quantified. When assigning groups the researcher may not randomly assign but must use groupings that have formed naturally or pre-existing groups.


Groups that have been exposed to the treatment variable are compared with control groups that have not.


When reporting on the outcomes of these studies care needs to taken to not over generalise as these experiments have only shown a correlation between the variables that were selected to be used.


There are many other extraneous variables that can still affect the outcome.

Any kind of causation should only be inferred when all the variables and outcomes have been thoroughly investigated.

Examples of Causal/ Comparative Research Questions

The effect of birth order on future management roles and positions of responsibility.

The effect of premature birth on the later diagnosis of learning difficulties.

Correlational Research

Correlational research attempts to establish in there is a relationship between two or more different variables by using statistical data to determine whether there is a positive correlation, negative correlation or no correlation.


This type of research is only concerned with the correlation and whilst it will recognise trends and patterns in data, it does not usually analyse those more deeply to think about the causes and complexities for these trends and patterns.


The variables in this type of research are not (or should not) be manipulated but are studied as they occur naturally. Whilst patterns and trends can be identified, cause and effect should not be inferred from this.

Examples of Experimental Research 

  • The relationship between children referred to due to dysregulated, disruptive behaviour's therapeutic intervention and increased prosocial engagement in the classroom.

  • The correlation between children identified with additional learning needs and disruptive behaviour.

  • The relationship between birth order and levels of assertiveness in adulthood.

  • The correlation between parental mental health issues on adolescent mental health.

  • The relationship between exercise on adolescents presenting with mild low mood and anxiety.

Descriptive Research

Quantitative descriptive research aims to describe the current status of an identified variable and unlike some research designs, does not start with a hypothesis.


The hypothesis develops from the data collection and analysis, which then serves as the test of the hypothesis. 


This type of research project is used to provide systemic information about a particular phenomenon.


This type of data collection requires a great deal of care and attention paid to what is being studied and recorded and how these will be measured or coded.


It is the coding that makes the data quantitative and descriptive research might use both qualitative and quantitative methods.

Examples of Descriptive Research

A description of the type of resources offered in play therapy/ child counselling and their take up by clients.

A longitudinal description of the reasons children are referred for therapeutic intervention to determine what are the most common reasons for referral.

A description of how parents feel about children not being able to go to school during theCOVID19 lockdown

A description of the challenges faced by young people during the COVID19 lockdown.

Experimental Research

Experimental design followed the traditional scientific meths to establish cause and effect correlations between a group of determined variables that make up a research study.


This type of experiment is often thought of as being carried out under strictly controlled laboratory conditions, not this is not always the case if this type of research design is applied to the social sciences, which are carried out in contexts.


What is does mean is that the researcher attempts to control all the other variables except the independent variable which is manipulated to further understand its effects on the dependent variables.


Subjects are randomly assigned to either experimental or control groups in an attempt to remove further bias and make the research as objective as possible.

Examples of Experimental Research.

The effect of a new antidepressant on adolescent patients identified as suffering from moderate/severe depression.

The effect of a targeted speech therapy early intervention programme on KS2 SATS results.

Quantitative Approaches

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