Definition, Types & Examples of Explanatory Research Questions

The definition of description is what makes things clearer. An example of an explanation might be a science teacher explaining to his students how plants need sunlight to grow.
As mentioned earlier, exploratory research is used to better understand the research question, not to answer the research question in isolation. Therefore, it is helpful to answer questions such as “what,” “how,” and “when,” rather than “why.”

Explanatory research often focuses on the “why” question. For example, a company may ask why a customer isn’t buying a product or how the sales process can be improved.

Explanatory questions

Descriptive questions try to explain the cause of something. For this, we need to examine the relationship between different variables. However, just finding correlations between variables is not enough. To answer these questions, it is imperative that the cause precedes the effect and that the third variable is not the cause of the correlation. In ‘theory’, cause and effect are linked by a ‘causal mechanism’.

These questions are descriptive survey questions and are therefore distinguished from others.

Explanatory question types

There are various interpretations, but the most prominent are:

Descriptive research question: Refers to a question that has never been asked before or has been asked many times. Descriptive research questions are intended to answer or clarify “gaps” in our knowledge and understanding.

Descriptive Quantitative Questions: Structurally, descriptive quantitative questions involve independent and dependent variables and the relationships between these variables should be questioned.

Examples of explanatory questions

The questions are designed to determine the cause of a problem. They usually start with “why”, but can also contain question words such as “what” or “how”.

These are some examples:

  • What is the reason for the high rate of illnesses in the seat of Parliament?
  • Why does any substance melt at a certain temperature?
  • Why do the leaves change color in autumn?

Example of a quantitative explanatory question

  • What is the relationship between [independent variable] and [dependent variable] for [target population]?

You must play with the wording of your questions, reviewing and adapting them as you see fit. The goal is to make sure that the research question reflects what you really want to know in the study.

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