The field of science is full of opportunities for research, and all research has similar facets to it regardless of the subject or scope it approaches. Research in general is defined as the experience that starts when a researcher develops a question, hypothesis, or theory that needs to be tested and then begins to investigate it in a strategic manner. The study is then performed by the researcher or a team of researchers through systematically created steps, with the ultimate intent to be a solution to the problem or an answer to the question that is wholly unbiased.
The outcome of a research project can be found through methods such as surveys, experiments, or data analysis, or a combination of the three. The way these methods are used is broken into two categories: basic research and applied research.
Comparing Research Methods
To understand the difference between the two main research methods, you must first grasp what each of them entails.
“Basic” is considered the fundamental and pure type of research. This type of questioning is sparked by the researcher’s innate curiosity or passion about a question. They want to expand their knowledge on a subject and then pass that information on to others. In other words, they are seeking knowledge for knowledge’s sake only, not to add commercial value to anything or to invent something new.
Basic research is common in subjects like astronomy, theology, philosophy, sociology, and biology. Any question that warrants an answer to generate better understanding of a topic is basic research.
Applied research, on the other hand, is designed specifically to solve a problem in the world. The applied science researcher takes a need in society and attempts to fix that need. Applied research can include things such as reducing the use of nonrenewable resources by finding other alternatives to achieve the same output, cure a disease, or invent a new form of technology to make a process more efficient. Because of the potential to fix a problem, applied research tends to have much more commercial value than basic research. The potential for monetary gain makes the field of applied research more in-demand by governments and industries.
The Differences Between Basic and Applied Research
With that understanding of what each type of science is, it’s easier to grasp the differences and compare the two. A generalized breakdown is as follows:
● Basic research expands topics we already know; applied research is used to solve real-life issues
● Basic research is theoretical; applied research is often tactile and always practical
● Basic research can be used to generate theories that are universally applicable; applied research is only used to fix the problem at hand
● Basic research intends to develop more knowledge in the field of science and aid in predictions; applied research focuses on developing technology, efficiency, and other improvements
● The goal of basic research is to add knowledge to what we already know with no intent to use it beyond more information; the goal of applied research is to find a solution that we don’t know to a problem that exists
There are significant needs for both types of research, depending on the context you’re looking at.
When is Each Type of Research Used?
One type of research is not more important than the other, but each one is used for its own purposes.
Basic research is used for theoretical, universal questions. Studies performed through basic research are aimed at potentially expanding scientific knowledge. This type of research is used to develop predictions and test theories, particularly in nature. For instance, basic research would be used to determine whether climate change is real and, if so, at what level it would be occurring.
Applied research is used for practical purposes, with studies designed to solve a problem or answer a question. Studies in applied research have limited potential, since they are only designed to answer that one specific question or solve a specified problem. Applied researchers are concerned with developing technology or improving techniques to fix their focal issue. To continue the climate change concept, applied research would be used if basic research showed that there is a deterioration caused by climate change in an area. The applied researcher would attempt to find a solution to that problem.
As such, basic and applied research often go hand-in-hand.