Differences Between Basic and Applied Research

There are two different types of research: basic and applied research. These two research types are used in a variety of studies and field disciplines including psychology, biology and chemistry. These two types of research are also often on student’s college exams and even high school exams. Below, I have explained the two main differences between both basic research and applied research. I hope that this helps you either with your exams or with your own personal understanding of this distinction between two important types of research.

Basic research is about understanding the various processes between memory, learning, and knowledge. It is about finding information simply to find information. While it may become applied later, it is not sought out for its application to current events. With basic research, researchers choose to research topic of interest to them. It is about figuring out the answer without necessarily figuring out an answer that is applicable to curing a type of disease or to a current problem that they are trying to solve in science today. It is about finding knowledge. It is learning for learning’s sake. To learn because they are interested in how something works and want to find out how it works.

Applied research is about dealing with practical problems faced in our world today. For example, if someone were to do research on a way to end cancer then this would be applied research. If they are attempting to find the answer to something that would help solve a practical problem. With applied research, researchers are looking for answers that will be easily applied to current, modern concepts and problems. Most people need to find ways to make their research, “applied” because this is the way that they get grants. People do not want to fund a research project that does not have much application, if any, to the real world.

I have had to distinguish the difference between basic and applied research for a few classes that I am taking and have taken in college. To be able to do good science you need to understand this research difference and how it applies and/or impacts your individual research.  It is an important concept and unfortunately, many people do not understand the difference. It is a rather easy differentiation and does not require much explanation. Unfortunately most do not take the time to understand the difference between basic and applied research.