what is descriptive research in science?

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gsenviro | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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In science, descriptive research deals with collecting information without any particular question or hypothesis in mind, whereas hypothesis-driven research is designed to test or verify a particular hypothesis. Descriptive research cannot answer the 'how/why/when' questions (which hypothesis-driven research does), rather it deals with 'what'. Although hypothesis-driven research is the preferred method in science, a number of scientific disciplines are mostly based on descriptive research. Such examples are astronomy, archaeology, paleontology, etc. are mostly descriptive in nature. Many of the other science majors such as microbiology and immunology started off as descriptive sciences and are now maturing into hypothesis-driven sciences. Initial observation and induction gives rise to novel hypotheses and helps scientists. In fact, Newton's laws of motion and gravitational constant can be considered results of descriptive research.