Differences between Descriptive and Experimental

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Descriptive and Experimental research can be viewed as on a continuum of a degree of variable manipulation  - from no control to strict control.

Research Project Component Descriptive Research Experimental Research
Research Purpose Explore associations between variables Establish causation
Hypotheses Speculative and typically non-directional Specific and directional
Data Collection Structured data collected from samples of respondents and sometimes secondary data Experimental variable manipulation and variable controls
Data Collection Method Surveys, including mail, telephone and personal interviews, and secondary data Field and Laboratory Experiments
Inferences Variable Associations Causal Relationship

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