Purpose for research is generally classified into one of four categories:
- exploratory: to explore a new subject or problem - that has very little previous findings or conclusions; explores the problem and presents trends, patterns, possibilities and hypotheses
- descriptive: presents a problem or subject as it already exists; main purpose is to obtain, identify and present previous studies on a particular issue (often used in combination with another mode of research)
- analytical: starts with descriptive research, then creates conclusions by exploring or analyzing the relationships in the presented findings; purpose is to understand a problem by idenfying its causes and effects.
- predictive: takes descriptive and analytical research one step further, and predicts the problem happening again or somewhere else, based on the evidence surrounding its previous occurances.