Descriptive research is mainly done when a researcher wants to gain a better understanding of a topic. The purpose of this descriptive research is to describe as well as to explain or validate, some sort of hypothesis on objectives when it came to a specific group of people. The following are the steps involved in descriptive research.

  • Selection and Statement of research problem and its significance.

  • Identification of objectives and their translation into criteria.

  • Determination of tools and techniques for data collection.

  • Identification of population of research situations and sample groups of the population.

  • Method and procedure of data collection.

  • Analysis and interpretation of data.

  • Writing of the report.

A) Selection and Statement of research problem and its significance.

The first step involved in descriptive research is the statement of the research problem. Here, you will have to ensure that in view of solving a problem the situations from where data can be gathered exist at present so that you can gather evidence about current situations from different sources. At this stage you may determine specific type or types of surveys most appropriate to the problem under investigation. For instance, the nature of the problem will dictate whether you will go for simply describing the status of situations, comparing the status of one situation with the other or to evaluate or assess the worthiness of development. Hence, you may pick up one or other kind of surveys like comparative and evaluative studies. From the time perspective, you can determine whether data will be gathered through longitudinal observations or cross-sectional surveys. From coverage of the population you will have to determine whether your study will be of the census type or sample survey type. Another dimension of research which is very common in surveys is a study of concomitant relationships between different variables. At the initial stage of conducting the descriptive study you must be clear about the nature of the problem and concerning the approach of the survey to be adopted in it.

B) Identification of objectives and their translation into criteria.

The second step of survey research is identification of objectives and its translation into criteria of investigation. Descriptive research in education is not similar to the kind of opinion polls you may witness in daily newspapers where the readers are asked to agree or disagree to any one point of view. The respondents are requested to email their views and the same appears in the next day's newspapers as a headline with how many agreed or disagreed with the point of view raised for the survey. Unlike such kind of one shot popular surveys, educational research involves complicated questions for investigation. As a researcher you must identify the issues and questions in the context of which the required knowledge of the situation is to be surveyed. Hence, you will have to specify them in the form of objectives. For example you may intend to study the reasons of school dropouts as perceived by school teachers; the relevant issues and problems concerning dropout phenomenon must be highlighted. The criterion measures of objectives may be stated clearly, in the case of evaluation study. For instance, for a study of the mid day meal scheme your objective may be stated as to study the impact of mid day meal scheme in terms of enhancement of enrolment of target group learner and their retention in schools. Hence, the criteria of success of a mid day meal programme is specified. Once the objective and criteria are stated specifically you will have to specify the nature of data to be gathered.

C) Determination of tools and techniques for data collection.

The third step involved in survey/ descriptive research involves identification of tools for concerned data collection. The tools may be of different types like questionnaires, interview schedules, checklists, rating scales, reaction scales, observation schedules, attitude scales, etc. You will have to identify whether relevant, valid and relevant tools are already available for your study or not. if appropriate and relevant tools are not available you will have to develop the required tools for investigation within the time frame of your study.

D) Identification of population of research situations and sample groups of the population.

The fourth step involves identification of population of research situations or respondents needed for a particular survey. In other words, the researcher must identify the universe of the study and specific population . The study may be of such a type where data may be collected from the whole population ie., census study; or from a representative sample of population ie., sample survey. Here, you will have to be sure of the accessibility of the population or sample for investigation. Moreover, you will have to ensure appropriateness of sampling keeping in view the scope of the study, its objectives and nature of data. Once you are clear about the nature of study, its objectives, nature of tools to be employed and their availability, and population and sample situations or respondents you will proceed for the next step of research ie., data collection.

E) Method and procedure of data collection

The data collection stage must have a sound base of planning of what data to be gathered? How will the tools be used for data collection? Training of researchers to use the tools for data collection, time required for field work or data collection etc. Hence, the success of a survey depends upon the appropriate design and adequate preparation for data collection from the situations. Data collection techniques involve many facets like observation records, administration of questionnaires in face to face situations or postal communication, face to face interviews or telephone interviews, locating respondents individually at their places of residence or workplace or locating them in group in classroom situations or workshops/meetings conducting observations directly or indirectly through participant forms etc, As a researcher, you will have to proceed with data collection keeping in view the research questions in mind, gathering of authentic and trustworthy data and reporting them objectively or without personal bias. Descriptive research may involve data collection through application of more than one approach. Moreover, more than one researcher or investigator may be required to gather extensive data. In this context, you will have to ensure proper training of field workers/investigators for maintaining uniformity in approach, corroboration of evidence gathered through different approaches on different dimensions of Data and appropriate recording of data.

F) Analysis and interpretation of data.

The sixth stage of survey research involves data analysis. Here you will have to take care of data collected from different sources, quantify and qualify them and categorize them component wise. Qualitative and quantitative techniques of analysis can be employed for data analysis keeping in view the objectives of the study.

G) Writing of the report.

The last stage of descriptive research involves reporting of research. Descriptive research involves extensive data. In this context you will have to be careful about the focus of investigation i.e, descriptive, comparative or evaluative. For Instance, descriptive research will require both description and interpretation of data in presentation. The comparative and evaluative surveys will require description, comparison or evaluation, and conclusions. The writing of the report must be pinpointed and objective oriented.