The goal of all explanatory research is to answer the question of why. Explanatory research attempts to go above and beyond what exploratory and descriptive research to identify the actual reasons a phenomenon occurs. An example of descriptive research would be a study that finds that Christian couples are twice as likely to divorce as Jewish couples. An explanatory researcher would then be interested in the reasons behind these facts.
There are many other goals of good scientific exploratory research. They include explaining things in detail and not just reporting. It should build and enrich the reasons behind a theory. If there are several explanations for a particular phenomenon, it should determine which one is the best answer. If a theory has already been developed, the focus will be on testing a theory's predictions or principles. If the results consistently agrees with the theory, it is valid. If experiments fail to produce the same results as the original theory, in all likelihood the theory is false and a return to the scientific method will need to be undertaken to find a better explanation as to the phenomenon.
Explanatory research also attempts to build and elaborate on theories and add to predictions and principles where possible. This is done by using the scientific method to test the evidence to extend an idea put forth or use it to reach into new areas and issues as well as new topics which science can address in an attempt to improve the quality of life for people.
Science today is a tool to advance technology and improve the quality of life for people all over the world. Explanatory research is one of the primary methods used in this effort and the scope of its use is expanding to fields other than science to achieve predictable results.