5 Significant Differences Between Basic and Applied Research

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Difference Between Basic and Applied Research

Basic and applied research are two sides of same coin; thus, when you want to study a certain subject in depth, understand it completely, and form some concept of your own on the basis of your study, you need to research. Know the differences between basic and applied research that have been outlined here.

“What is research but a blind date with knowledge?”
― Will Harvey

According to Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, 10th Edition,  research is a “studious inquiry or examination; esp: investigation or experimentation aimed at the discovery and interpretation of facts, revision of accepted theories or laws in the light of new facts, or practical application of such new or revised theories or laws.”

Research is conducted to resolve the queries to fulfill the purpose of the investigation. It clears various doubts about concepts and phenomena. It is a continuous process, which has been conducted since the beginning of time, though it appears to have taken a more complex appearance now.

It is conducted in a systematic and an organized way. Every field has its own ways, means, and tools to conduct it. These tools are developed from time to time according to the need of the research and subject to be studied. But the tool that is applicable to one subject may not be appropriate for another; that is, it will have its pros and cons while dealing with the particular subject.


Basic research (also called pure research or fundamental (research) is a systematic study directed toward greater knowledge or understanding of the fundamental aspects of phenomena. Basic research is executed without thought of a practical end goal, without specific applications or products in mind.”

Applied research is a form of systematic inquiry involving the practical application of science. It accesses and uses some part of the research communities’ (the academia’s) accumulated theories, knowledge, methods, and techniques, for a specific, often state-, business-, or client-driven purpose.”
― National Science Foundation

Differences Explained

Basic Research Applied Research
Basic research is the result of curiosity that leads to increase in knowledge and does not focus towards solving a specific problem. Applied research works towards finding a proper and feasible solution to the problem. This research helps find out new solutions as well as works on the present ones by modifying them for a better performance, although it is not always generated by a negative situation.
It tries to explore the unknown while in pursuit of searching for information. Its focus lies in answering specific questions.
It aims at the expansion of knowledge. It is driven by curiosity, seeking knowledge systematically and methodically without its application in mind. Its goal is to improve human conditions. It searches for knowledge with a specific application in mind.
It lays the foundation for applied research. It is, thus, indirect in its approach. It targets the end result; hence, it has a direct approach. It resolves the problem with the help of information provided by basic research.
It plans the strategy. It checks the effectiveness of the strategy.



❑ Basic research could be conducted in this field to increase productivity, where theory is necessary as it involves calculation and assumptions related to the other factors that are directly or indirectly related to the production.

◆ Applied research is oriented towards rectifying the issue that might be dealing with a loss in the production and sales, and would come up with practical solutions to overcome the situation.


❑ Education is the field that needs to update itself according to the changing times. The varied curriculum, evaluation techniques, etc., need to be updated according to the demand of academics. These changes demand for extensive theory or in-depth knowledge of the subject; hence, basic research perfectly fulfills these demands.

◆ In this case, it is directed towards improving the performance of a student by providing various means, and allowing him/her to choose or select what is most appropriate towards his/her progress.


❑ In psychology, it helps to understand the human mind and behavior, but does not provide a solution to the practical problems faced. For example, it will help us understand the background of the individuals who are involved in criminal activities, but it will not provide us with the solution to avoid the situation.

◆ This will deal with conditioning of a situation for the fixation of desirable behavior by eliminating/replacing undesirable behavior.


❑ It helps an individual to understand the various investments he can undertake and the returns he would get after investing; this proves important from the point of view for opting for the most appropriate investment as per the requirement.

◆ Working towards increasing productivity, by understanding the quality of raw material, technology available, and investment required, a solution is provided, which will be immediately applicable.


❑ It deals with the study and investigation of performance of an employee. This will help understand the performance of the employee while working towards a target.

◆It will deal with improvement of attitude of workers towards their goal by providing certain incentives or rewards.


❑ It will look into the difference between a disease and disorder.

◆It will try to find the drug to treat the patient.

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