Research Writing

Non experimental research Features Types Examples

An experimental research is one in which uncontrolled or manipulated study variables. To develop the research, the authors observe the phenomena to be studied in their natural environment, obtaining the data directly to analyze them later. In this article we will provide you information about Non experimental research.

The difference between non-experimental and experimental research is that, in the latter, variables are manipulated and the study is carried out in controlled environments. So, for example, gravity is experienced by intentionally dropping a stone from various heights.

On the other hand, in non-experimental research, researchers go, if necessary, to the place where the phenomenon to be studied occurs. For example, to know the consumption habits of young people, surveys are conducted or observed directly, but they do not receive drinks.

This type of research is very common in areas such as psychology, measurement of unemployment rates, consumer studies or opinion polls. Generally, these are pre-existing events, developed under their own laws or internal rules.

Non experimental research projects

Compared to what happens with experimental research, the non-experimental variables studied are not deliberately manipulated. The way forward is to observe the phenomena to be analyzed as they occur in their natural context.

Therefore, there are no stimuli or conditions for the subjects under study. These are in their natural environment without being transferred to any laboratory or controlled environment.

Existing variables are of two different types. The former are called independent, while the so-called dependent are a direct consequence of the former.

In this type of research, the relationship between causes and effects is investigated to draw valid conclusions.

As exprofeso situations are not created to investigate them, it can be said that non-experimental projects study existing situations developed under their own internal rules.

In fact, another denomination given is that of ex post facto researches ; that is, about facts realized.

Differences with experimental designs

The main difference between the two types of research is that in the experimental designs there is a manipulation of the variables by the researcher. Once the desired conditions are created, the studies measure their effects.

On the other hand, in non-experimental researches, this manipulation does not exist, but the data is collected directly from the environment in which the events occur.

It cannot be said that one method is better than the other. Each is equally valid, depending on what will be studied and/or the perspective the researcher wants to give to their work.

Due to its own characteristics, if the research is experimental, it will be much easier to repeat it to guarantee the results.

However, environmental control makes some variables that may spontaneously seem more difficult to measure. It’s the exact opposite of what happens with non-experimental projects.

Features of Non experimental research

As noted above, the first characteristic of this type of research is that there is no manipulation of the variables studied.

Typically, these are phenomena that have already occurred and are analyzed later. In addition to this feature, other peculiarities present in these drawings can be observed:

– Non-experimental research is widely used when, for ethical reasons (such as giving drinks to young people), there is no option to carry out controlled experiments.

– Groups are not formed to study them, but they already exist in their natural environments.

-Data is collected directly, then analyzed and interpreted. There is no direct intervention on the phenomenon.

– It is very common for non-experimental designs to be used in applied research, as they study facts as they occur naturally.

– Given the characteristics presented, this type of research is not valid for establishing unequivocal causal relationships.


Transverse or sectional design

This type of non-experimental research project is used to observe and record data at a specific and, by its very nature, unique time. Thus, the analysis performed focuses on the effects of a phenomenon that occurs at a given time.

Related:   James Chadwick: Biography, Atomic Model, Experiments

As an example, one can mention the study of the consequences of an earthquake on housing in a city or on school failure rates in a given year. You can also use more than one variable, making the study more complex.

The cross-sectional design allows covering different groups of individuals, objects or phenomena. When developing them, they can be divided into two different groups:


The aim is to investigate incidents and their values, in which one or more variables appear. Once the data is obtained, a description is simply made.


These projects try to establish the relationships between various variables that occur at a given time. These variables are not described one by one, but try to explain how they are related.

Longitudinal drawing

Contrary to what happens with the previous design, in the longitudinal one, the researchers try to analyze the changes that certain variables undergo over a period of time. You can also investigate how the relationships between these variables evolve during this time.

To achieve this goal, it is necessary to collect data at different times. There are three types in this design:


They study the changes that occur in some populations in general.

Group evolution

The subjects studied are smaller groups or subgroups.


Similar to the previous ones, but with specific groups that are measured at all times. These researches are useful for analyzing individual changes together with the group, allowing you to know which element produced the changes in question.

Examples of Non experimental research

In general, these drawings are prepared for the study of events that have already occurred, and therefore it is impossible for the variables to be controlled. They are very common in all types of statistical fields, both for measuring the incidence of some factors and for opinion studies.

alcohol effects

A classic example of non-experimental research is studies on the effects of alcohol on the human body. As it is unethical to give studied subjects the drink, these drawings are used to obtain results.

The way to achieve this would be to go to places where alcohol is regularly consumed. There you measure the degree to which this substance reaches the blood (or you can collect data from the police or a hospital). With this information, the different individual reactions will be compared, drawing conclusions about it.

opinion polls

Any survey that attempts to measure the opinion of a specific group on a topic is carried out using non-experimental designs. For example, polls are very common in most countries.

School performance

It would only be necessary to collect statistics on student outcomes offered by the schools themselves. If, in addition, you want to complete the study, you can look for information on the socioeconomic level of the students.

Analyzing each data and relating it, a study is obtained on how the socioeconomic level of families affects the performance of students.

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