In scientific research, a descriptive correlational method refers to a type of study in which information is collected without making any changes to the study subject. This means that the experimenter cannot directly interact with the environment in which she is studying in a way that would cause any changes related to the experiment. These types of studies are also sometimes known as observational studies.
All descriptive correlational method studies have the same basic property of avoiding any direct changes in the environment of the study. However, there are a number of different types of descriptive correlational methods that each perform research in a slightly different way. Some scientists and researchers prefer to meet with a group of people one time and ask them questions. This is called a cross-sectional study, and as long as the scientists do not change the behavior of the people they are interacting with, it is a descriptive correlational study. Some researchers prefer to keep track of people over time. This is called a longitudinal study. In these cases, behavior must remain unchanged, but the subjects are often brought back in for further questions. Descriptive studies generally use surveys or other methods of data collection that rely on existing records.