Exploratory studies are used when the domain of interest has not been fully characterized; they help to characterize the domain, make conceptual distinctions, and identify questions for further research.
Exploratory research is appropriate in the early stages of understanding a domain or phenomenon. It gathers information and organizes it in a way that can provide significant insights that can guide further exploration and hypothesis formation. [[this is pretty much redundant with the purpose — add some narrative about the class of exploratory study methods and the properties of the group, or else eliminate this level of decomposition and modify the empirical method pattern to reflect that]]
Exploratory research often relies on qualitative approaches. These include informal discussions and more formal approaches such as structured interviews, focus groups, and case studies.
In the Examples section, Michaela Greiler, Arie van Deursen, Margaret-Anne Storey. Test Confessions: A Study of Testing Practices for Plug-In Systems. ICSE-12. This includes an organization map of the paper. This example uses the “Grounded theory” pattern.
Patterns Used By
The Exploratory study method uses a number of specific empirical method patterns, [[listed in the “Intermediate pattern’ section]]
Indicators for Use
[[early stages, when you need to formulate hypotheses]]
Contraindicators for Use
[[you need to test hypotheses]]