Extensive research is used primarily to measure patterns of conditional incidence in a population. Its interest is in engaging in experimental measurement—through such methods as survey, questionnaire or other quantitative data gathering—the aspects of the sampled population which suggest statistical meaningful trend. The primary benefit to using extensive research is the capacity which it avails researchers to evaluate the presence and distributed range of the measured characteristic. For researchers, this is most useful where an unspecified and diverse but geographically or strategically selected population is concerned.
One determinable drawback to extensive research is that the observations which are there arrived upon are weighed down by a certain limitation. As the Sayer text denotes, there is a “limited explanatory power” to the use of information culled from a specific study. (p. 244) This is because the representative population used to deduce patterns or trends may be dictated by its geography or its temporal nature. Such is to say that information may not be applicable in new contexts, placing a limitation on the potential usefulness of such an approach.
Intensive research concerns the measurement of a distinctly identified group or even in an individual. The purpose will typically be to draw observations of a specific process or issue as it is embodied in the research subject. An example of this might be to select a group of HIV sufferers for a qualitative observation of lifestyle decisions. Here, the outcome will hinge on a broad array of contingent possibilities within a defined selection of candidates. A distinct benefit to this approach is the focus which it hones in on an identified causal characteristic.
Whether relating to race, ethnicity, gender, age group, socioeconomic class or any host of other defining characteristics or groups of characteristics, it is clear that intensive research is useful for isolating and subjecting to critical scrutiny the relationship between a specific group or individual and the examined condition, process or other variable. A drawback to the intensive method is the threat that once a subject has been subjected and a connection therefore assumed, the research may become locked into false assumptions.
Therefore, the usefulness of these findings will be necessarily contextualized by the inherency of a condition in the selected study population. This is to say that “causal powers of objects are gereralizable to other contexts as they are necessary features of these objects. ” (243) It may be difficult therefore to determine to what extent self-fulfilling prophecy will be have been produced by inherent bias in both the base study and its suggested implications.