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What is Exploratory Research?

An exploratory research explores the feasibility and significance of a future study. It is a pilot study that studies a situation, phenomenon, or a problem on a small scale. Sometimes the researcher dos not know the exact nature of the problem under study. The researcher thinks of exploring the problem and its different aspects before beginning the main study. Therefore, it also helps the researcher understand different dimensions of the research problem.


Exploratory studies does not provide exact estimates of the prevalence of a phenomenon or provide a solution for a problem. But, they are very helpful in understanding possible outcomes or possible solutions. This enables the researcher to formulate the hypothesis for the future research. When the researcher is stuck and does not know what could be the hypothesis an exploratory study can help.

It is very insightful for the researcher to know about a topic before beginning to research it. The researcher learns more about the topic of research and this brings out chances of creativity which is otherwise not easy. A simple literature review can help the researcher understand about the topic. So literature review here means an exploratory study.

The researcher gets to know about the population that will become part of the research study later. This enables the researcher to know about the possible preference for any segment of population over other.

It also uncovers the objectivity of the study and sees the shortcomings and strengths of the study. This is very helpful when the researcher aims to conduct a big study and does not know the possible outcomes. Sometimes, an exploratory study uncovers that the study is not feasible due to possible subjectivity.

It helps the researcher know about the threats or shortcomings of a study. These may include lack of resources, data , information, value of the study, applications, or significance etc. The strengths of the study are also easy to explore with the help of an exploratory research. At the end the researcher can conclude whether to carry the actual study or not.

Methods in exploratory study

This type of study is common and can be undertaken in any fields of research. The researcher can use any method that can best help in understanding the topic of the study. Therefore, it is very flexible and the researcher can mold it according to the requirement of the study.

The researcher can accomplish exploratory study with the help of a mini survey, a focus group study, or literature review. Therefore, the researcher can use primary data or secondary data but in any case it is a short study. The researcher can ask for an interview to a few persons who know about the topic. The method of sampling and the choice of the participants is mainly based on convenience of the researcher.

The result is that the researcher gets insight about the topic and is better able to conduct the study. A short pilot study does not take much time but provides the researcher much help. The researcher is better able to formulate the hypothesis and select a better methodology. And gets more definitive about the topic. However, where prior knowledge about the topic is available the researcher may not find the need of an exploratory research.



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