Comparative research
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Comparative reserach (the design of)

In comparative research two or more groups or situations are compared with each other to find out whether they differ on some aspects.

The design of comparative research

When looking at the design of a research six types can be distinguished. One of them is comparative research. This type of research will be described on this page.

Comparative research has this kind of design:


Group A     M or R           O1

Group B     M or R           O1

It simply says: this research is done by collecting data at a specific moment from two groups of respondents or objects which are carefully selected (R) or matched (M).

In the above design only two groups are displayed, but many more groups can be added to the model. Also highlight this sentence: nothing has been said about the size of the group; the minimum could be even 1.

Some research questions for a comparative research are:

  • Do men and women have a different opinion about Donald Trump?
  • To which school should I send my child?
  • Do the stores in the centre of the town make more profit (than the stores elsewhere)?
  • Do people in the Netherlands earn more money than in Sweden?

The list of questions is almost infinite.

Remarkable for comparative research is that the type of analysis is vertical. If you look at your database, the respondents or objects are in the first column. The selected attributes are on the first line. Even if there are only two objects, the database should be organised this way. Now in comparing objects on certain attributes, the comparison is always vertical.

Read more about the longitudinal design in our paper: How to create research designs and conceptual models.

Related topics to comparative research

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Every research can be classified on three dimensions:
   1) the research design
   2) the location of data collection and
   3) the number of cases.
Together they form the research cube. With this classification 72 types of research can be distinguished.

Research Cube of Research Coaches

A perfect research starts with a good research question.

The biggest cause of a tough ongoing research is a bad research question. Do you have a good one?

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